William B Black: "Frae a' the Airts": Thursday 7th January 2016

Our member Bill Black is a retired training officer who specialises in seeking out unusual "nooks and crannies" of local history. He has published a wide range of articles in different journals. His scope ranges right across the West of Scotland, but he always seems to find time to mention his native Maryhill. We can anticipate that this will be the case with his talk to our January meeting, a miscellany entitled "Frae a' the Airts".

Maryhill Barracks
Ivan Ruddock

Kirkintilloch on the BBC?

The latest programme in David Hayman's series on ships and shipbuilding is "Scotland's Vital Spark: The Clyde Puffer". It will be broadcast on BBC2 Scotland on Monday 14 December 2015 at 9.00 pm and will continue to be available on BBC iPlayer until 4 January 2016. It will hopefully feature the role played by Kirkintilloch and its puffer builders.

The launch of a puffer on the Forth and Clyde canal in Kirkintilloch.

A puffer under repair in Kirkintilloch.

Ivan Ruddock

John Hood: "The Carbeth Hutters": Thursday 3rd December 2015

John Hood is a long-standing member of Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries and has provided it with numerous talks over the years. During his working life he was Chief Librarian of the former Clydebank District Council, where he gained for his employer a reputation for publishing some outstanding local history volumes. In retirement he has researched and prepared many illustrated books for the well-known Stenlake Publishing series. One of these, on Old Drymen and the Blane and Endrick Villages (2000), included some annotated photographs of the Hutters' site at Carbeth; John's talk is an expanded version of this research on the Carbeth community that was created soon after the First World War. .

Carbeth (© Carbeth Hutters Community Company)

Carbeth, 1963 (© Carbeth Hutters Community Company)

David McVey: "The Thirty-Nine Steps: 100 years on": Thursday 5th November 2015

David McVey is an old friend of the Society and last spoke to it in March 2014 when his subject was Sir Walter Scott and the 200th anniversary of Waverley. This time, he will talk on John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps which was first published in book form in October 2015 and was the first of his novels to feature Richard Hannay as the hero.

Cover of the first edition, 1915.
 (© The Collectors Club of Great Britain)


David McVey writes both fiction and non-fiction and, as well as his writing, he currently teaches Communications part-time at New College Lanarkshire.

Jimmy Watson and Don Martin: "Thomas Muir 250 - celebrating a local hero": Thursday 1st October 2015

Jimmy Watson is Chair of the Friends of Thomas Muir, a Bishopbriggs-based group that has been leading the celebrations to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of 'The Father of Scottish Democracy' this year. He will describe the programme of events that is being organised and will also talk about some key events in Thomas Muir's life, especially the great significance of his trial, on charge of 'Sedition', in August 1793. Don Martin will complement this with an account of the circumstances that provided context for Muir's campaigns. Jimmy Watson is a haulage contractor with the Watson family firm in Bishopbriggs. His office is at Huntershill, just across the road from Thomas Muir's former home.
Jimmy Watson speaking on Thomas Muir.
This is the first meeting in the Society's 2015-16 session. Please note that meetings will once again be held on Thursdays and, although the Society is remaining in The Park Centre, it is moving to the MacKay Hall, i.e. the former church. Entrance to this hall is via the door on the right hand side of the premises. The programme for the year can be previewed here and an application form to join the Society can be downloaded from the Membership page.

Please be aware that parking in the Regent Centre (Tesco) car park is limited to two hours and that this restriction is now being enforced 24 hours a day by the company managing it.

Ivan Ruddock

A new session, an old night and the end of an era

The new session for Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries starts on Thursday 1st October 2015 when Jimmy Watson and Don Martin present "Thomas Muir 250: celebrating a local hero". An application form to join the Society can be downloaded from the Membership page.

Meetings will once again be held on Thursdays having been on Fridays for the past two sessions due to the availability of a suitable venue. The Society is remaining in The Park Centre but moving to the MacKay Hall. Entrance to this hall is via the door on the right hand side of the former church building. The programme for the year can be previewed here.

This session also marks the end of an era and the beginning of another following the resignation of Mr William "Bill" McNeill as President at April's Annual General Meeting. A member of the Society for 37 years, he was the 11th President, although the 10th person to occupy the office from its foundation in 1933, and was the longest serving at 24 years. This period coincided with a strong increase in the membership from less than fifty to over one hundred but the choice of meeting night and venue was as much an issue at its beginning as at its end. In 1994 Bill introduced the very successful evening walks that for many years was the Society's contribution to Local History Week. When this April event was later moved to March, the Society's contribution has usually taken the form of an afternoon talk due to the shorter days ruling out an outdoor activity in the evening.

Bill McNeill

Bill's devotion to the Society is another example of his involvement in the community. It sits alongside being an elder in St David’s Memorial Park Parish Church, a patron of Kirkintilloch Players and a volunteer with the Seagull Trust and Strathkelvin Talking Newspaper.

His Presidency will be remembered for his low key style of chairmanship at meetings and the warmth of his welcome to all arriving. The members of the Committee are also grateful to his wife Jean for the lavish hospitality she provided as a reward for working through long agendas. The Society looks forward to seeing Bill and Jean at its future meetings, but now relaxing and enjoying the evenings’ proceedings.

Ivan Ruddock

It's official! Alexander Bain is the father of television

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the United States announced today (2nd September 2015) that an Emmy has been awarded to Alexander Bain to recognise his invention of scanning and image transmission. The Emmy is the television equivalent of the Oscar and is one of the highest honours associated with this particular medium, and Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries played a part in this decision.

The Emmy 
(© National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).
Alexander Bain (1810-77) was born in Watten, Caithness and died in poverty in Broomhill Home, Kirkintilloch. For a few years he was a successful entrepreneur and business man, and although his achievements include the invention of the electric clock and important contributions to the electric telegraph, he is now known worldwide as the inventor of the fax machine. This early form of image transmission combined elements of electric clocks and telegraphs but the breakthrough was the concept of dissecting an image, sending it as a varying electric current in a wire, and then reversing the process to reassemble the image. It was the first time that an image was ever transmitted from one location to another and is the basis of the process used later by the developers of mechanical and electronic television. The link with the fundamentals of television was explored by Ivan Ruddock in "Alexander Bain: The Real Father of Television?" published in the Summer 2012 issue of Scottish Local History.
Alexander Bain in 1876 (© IET).
Alexander Bain's headstone in Kirkintilloch's Old Ailse Cemetery.

Ivan Ruddock

Lenzie Old Parish Church's new weather vane: Thursday 2nd July 2015

Miss Susan Ross, a member of Kirkintilloch and District Society Antiquaries of long-standing, helped to dedicate Lenzie Old Parish Church's new weather vane on Thursday 2nd July 2015. This was the culmination of extensive repairs to the steeple which involved the rebuilding of part of this familiar landmark.
Susan and a representative of the contractor with the weather 
vane before it was hoisted to the top of the steeple.

The Lion Foundry on BBC Alba: Wednesday 24th June 2015

BBC Alba is showing again the 1978 series, Diary of Britain, which focuses on the lives of fifteen communities throughout the United Kingdom.

Episode 2, broadcast on Wednesday 24th June 2015 was "Men and Iron" which followed the work of Kirkintilloch's Lion Foundry between the 11th and 15th of December 1978. It is available here on BBC iPlayer until 19th July 2015.

Report on the Summer Outing: Saturday 6th June 2015

Notwithstanding the wet and windy weather, 31 boarded the coach at 9.30 am in Sainsbury’s car park in eager anticipation of a full day’s outing. Travelling by motorway the group arrived at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway for the great majority to catch the 10.45am train to Manuel hauled by the former LNER steam locomotive Morayshire. As the train departed the station, those on the platform and also some of the passengers were reminded of their childhood - not only by the spectacle but also by the sight and smell of steam, smoke and sulphur fumes!
Morayshire after arrival at Mauel station. © I.S. Ruddock




The Turkish Class 8F undergoing restoration. © I.S. Ruddock





















The travellers returned some 60 minutes later to begin a visit of the Museum of Scottish Railways which houses a fine collection of exhibits that record and display railway history - both steam and diesel. Departure from Bo’ness was scheduled for 1.00 pm which gave the group sufficient time to appreciate the exhibits including the LMS designed Class 8F locomotive No.45170 built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow and first steamed on 28th February 1942; after modification, it was shipped by the Ministry of Supply to Turkey and but repatriated to the UK in 2010. This visit was a great start to the day. 

The End of an Era: Update on the Annual General Meeting, Friday 17th April 2015

An important event in the life of the Society occurred at the 2015 AGM on 17th April when Mr Bill McNeill resigned as President. Bill has been a member of the Society for 37 years and was the eleventh and longest serving President. He took up the post in 1991 and during this period the Society’s membership grew to its present large size. The Society is grateful to Bill for his dedicated service and looks forward to welcoming him back to its meetings in the coming session.

As the AGM also included the launch by David Graham of the review of the Society’s constitution, an interim President (Ivan Ruddock) was elected for the 2015-16 session with the other office bearers and committee members remaining unchanged. New elections will take place at the 2016 AGM.

Summer Outing: Saturday 6th June 2015

This year the Society's annual Summer Outing will be to Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway and Hopetoun House. The coach will leave Sainsbury's car park, Kirkintilloch at 9.30 am, returning in the evening. Provisional programme: visit the railway museum at Bo'ness, spend free time in Linlithgow and have lunch, tour Hopetoun House, have a meal and then possibly view the Kelpies on the way home. Further details will be posted here as they are finalised but in the meantime please contact the Society if you have any queries.
© I.S. Ruddock

Annual General Meeting: Friday 17th April 2015

This session's Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday 17th April 2015 at 7.30 pm. It is the opportunity for all members to have their say in the running of the Society.

The Places of Worship in Scotland Project

Sponsored by the Church of Scotland (Scottish Church Heritage Research Ltd - SCHR) and Historic Scotland, The Places of Worship in Scotland project has been established to “promote the recording of church sites and buildings of all places of worship in Scotland, for the benefit of everyone interested in understanding and protecting this rich heritage of the people of Scotland”.

SCHR has set up The Places of Worship project to complete an online resource of places in Scotland. The website (www.scottishchurches.org.uk) includes limited details of some 10,500 sites and full information of others, for example Fettercairn Parish Church.

UPDATE: Iain Whyte: "Send back the money - a Scottish slavery issue": Friday 27th March 2015

Due to snow, Iain Whyte's talk planned for Friday 16th January 2015 had to be cancelled at short notice. The Society is pleased to announce that it has been re-scheduled for Friday 27th March 2015 at 7.30 pm.

The talk will deal with a problem that occurred after the Disruption of 1843 when nearly 500 ministers left the Church of Scotland, taking many members of their congregations with them, to form the Free Church. In order to build churches for the new Free congregations funding was sought from a range of sympathetic sources. The problem arose when it was accepted from Presbyterian churches in slave-holding communities in America. Needless to say, this was extremely controversial. The Reverend Dr Iain Whyte is a retired Church of Scotland minister who has published three books on attitudes to black slavery in Scotland.

Local History Week 2015

This year’s East Dunbartonshire Local History Week will be held from Saturday 7th March until Saturday 14th March. As usual the Antiquaries will contribute their own event. This will be a talk on ‘Rita – the Muse: the Origins of Japanese Whisky’ by Peter McCormack and Janice Miller of East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture, at the Barony Chambers (adjacent to the Auld Kirk Museum) at 2.30pm on Wednesday 11th March. It will tell the romantic story of how Kirkintilloch woman Rita Cowan became involved in the export of a staple Scottish industry to Japan. A good attendance is expected and seating is limited, so members are advised to come early.
Rita Taketsuru (Cowan)
The majority of the Local History Week events are organised by EDLC, but like the Antiquaries several East Dunbartonshire local history groups are organising their own events. The Friends of Thomas Muir will have an exhibition of John Kay etchings ‘The Times of Thomas Muir’ at the Huntershill Village Coffee Shop, with a relevant talk at 7.00pm on Thursday 12th March (7.00pm). At Milngavie Heritage Centre (Milngavie Town Hall) there will be historical exhibition about villages adjacent to Milngavie, ‘Milngavie’s Neighbours’ (10th-14th March 10.00am-5.00pm). Villages covered will include Balmore, Bardowie, Baldernock aend Mugdock.

Paul Bishop: "Water mills of Milngavie and Baldernock": Friday 13th March 2015

When Paul Bishop moved to Scotland from Australia in 1998, he and his wife bought The Mill House in Baldernock, the small rural parish between Milngavie and Torrance. Since then, he has been researching the history of the Mill and of others in Baldernock and Milngavie using old maps, archives and analysis of the sediments in the Baldernock Mill dam. These mills embody features that make Scottish mills distinctive from those in England. Baldernock Mill is a particularly good example of a small Scottish rural mill, with its varied history as corn mill, saw mill, and rural dwelling. A minor disaster there even rated a mention in the Kirkintilloch Herald in 1932. This talk features images of parts of Baldernock mill that have been rarely seen and now will never been seen again as the mill is currently being completely re-developed as a 21st century dwelling.
Baldernock Mill (© Copyright Chris Upson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

Members’ Night: My Favourite Object: Friday 27th February 2015

The Society's annual  Members’ Night will be held on Friday 27th February 2015. This year the theme will be ‘My Favourite Object’ (reprise of a popular topic of many years ago). Members will be invited to display and describe a favourite object in their personal possession. These presentations should be broadly historical, but ‘history’ can be widely interpreted in this respect, and no limits in time or space will be set. Members will be invited to offer their personal contributions to the event at our meetings of 16th January and 13th February. About a dozen such presentations are sought with about five minutes allocated for each.
A possible favourite object? © I.S. Ruddock

David Graham: "The Glasgow Humane Society": Friday 13th February 2015

The history of this iconic Glasgow Institution will be told from its inception in 1790 until the present day. Modelled on the Royal Humane Society of London it has provide a continuous rescue service from immersions that have taken place in the River Clyde and associated lochs, ponds and waterways. Housed on Glasgow Green its history mirrors the changes that have taken place on the haughs of the river, and the development of the City as a port and a major manufacturer of ships. Largely funded by bequeaths, subscriptions and donations, it has employed Officers of the Society whose dedicated work has saved the lives of many who, either by accident or intention, have fallen into the swirling waters of the river. Recent legislation has changed the primary purpose of the Glasgow Humane Society although it and its officers remain 'dear to the heart' of the citizens of the City.

UPDATE: Iain Whyte: "Send back the money - a Scottish slavery issue": Friday 16th January 2015

Unfortunately the talk planned for Friday 16th January 2015 had to be cancelled at short notice due to the inclement weather. The decision was taken in the late afternoon during the heavy snow shower which started then. It is hoped that Iain Whyte's talk can be rescheduled for another Friday night this spring.