Launch of "Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the Twenty First Century"

A new addition to the field of Thomas Muir was marked with the publication of "Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the Twenty First Century". The collection is edited by Prof. Gerard Carruthers of the University of Glasgow and Don Martin, Secretary of Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries and contains fifteen essays by a range of authors including the editors, Sir Tom Devine of the University of Edinburgh and Alex Salmond. The  launch on Thursday 15th December 2016 at the Kelvin Hall featured contributions from the editors, and Sir Tom Devine who gave his personal view of the position and role of Thomas Muir in the development of radical thought in the British Isles.

Don Martin holding a copy of "Thomas Muir of
Huntershill: Essays for the Twenty First Century" at the launch.
Further information on the book can be obtained at the Thomas Muir website by following this link.

Antiquarians assist with Kirkintilloch's Cowgate Gateway Markers Project

On Friday, 25th November 2016, five of the Antiquarians attended what they thought was a seminar to discuss the Cowgate Gateway Markers Project proposed for Kirkintilloch. Faced with a workshop to demonstrate how to design in clay, although rather diffident at first, Les Jenkins, Shirley Cowan, Ros McMeekin, Liz Corroon and David Graham together with representatives from other groups rolled up their sleeves and got 'stuck in'. With assistance from the tutor, Marion Smith - a sculptor from Largo who has been commissioned to design the Gateway Markers, we spent an interesting couple of hours working with clay, seaside shells and fabrics to design and cast plaques in plaster of Paris.
While waiting for our work to dry and enjoying a much needed cuppa, Marion asked us for knowledge of the history of Kirkintilloch and what we considered might make suitable markers for the Gateway Project. Ideas ranged from the Roman era to Tom Johnston. Marion noted these suggestions and indicated that she would be interested in others before the end of 2016 and can be contacted via Marion showed the group examples of previous commissions in stone, metal and wood which can be found in towns throughout Scotland including Keith and Anstruther.
Further information on the Cowgate Gateway Markers can be obtained from Iain Brodie (07990-775116,
Contributed by Elizabeth Corroon and Rosalind McMeekin

The Antiquaries on social media and in the press

The Society is now on social media via a Twitter account created and maintained by Valerie McClure. The intention is that as time goes on, "following" and "retweeting" will spread information on its activities.

Reports of Antiquaries meetings will also be available from time to time in the Kirkintilloch Herald courtesy of. Les Jenkins. The first to be published was a summary of the first meeting of the session - "Boundary Stones of Baldernock Parish" - Niall Logan's talk on Thursday 6th October.
It is hoped that both of these initiatives will increase our public profile.

Reid Harrison and Paul Bishop: Tomatoes, Tulips and Chrysanths at Temple Farm near Allander Toll: Thursday 1st December 2016

The last Antiquaries talk for 2016 will be held on Thursday 1st December when Reid Harrison and Paul Bishop will deliver a presentation on 'Tomatoes, Tulips and Chrysanths at Temple Farm near Allander Toll'. The talk will be illustrated by a truly stunning set of coloured images of activities at the farm during the 1950s and early 1960s, taken by members of the Harrison family, the farm's owners. As a member of the family Reid Harrison remembers these activities very well - indeed he features in several of the slides. So he will present the material with some authority, ably supported by Antiquaries member, Professor Paul Bishop. Temple Farm was on the site of what is now Dobbies Garden Centre.
Reid Harrison driving the tractor at Temple Farm. (© Reid Harrison) 
Tulips under glass at Temple Farm. (© Reid Harrison)

Review: Thomas Muir Symposium: Scottish and Irish Radicals: Thursday 13th October 2016

The seventh annual Thomas Muir Symposium was held in Bishopbriggs Academy on 13th October. It was organised by the Friends of Thomas Muir and its Chair, Jimmy Watson. Provost Una Walker welcomed the delegates as did Mark Hanniffy, Consulate General of Ireland in Scotland. This year’s theme was Scottish and Irish Radicals. As usual there were contributions from academics and school pupils.

Professor Gerard Carruthers of Glasgow University spoke about Alexander Geddes and the Scottish Radicals. Geddes was a Roman Catholic priest who was sympathetic to the American and French Revolutions. An early supporter of women’s rights, he translated the Bible into English for Catholics. He was anti Henry Dundas and pro Thomas Muir. Geddes was a very liberal, enlightened Scot who saw good things in John Knox. He died in 1802. Professor Carruthers spoke with his usual authority and brought a rather bizarre man to life.

Dr Carol Baraniuk (also of Glasgow University) then spoke about Radicalisation in 1790s Ulster with an emphasis on the Scottish connection. Newspapers in Ulster spread the word about what was being said and done across the North Channel. In September 1793 the Belfast Newsletter published a report of Thomas Muir’s trial. The content of Dr Baraniuk’s paper was excellent but it was delivered in a very monotonous tone. It would have been an impressive essay but was an indifferent speech.

After the interval Brian Skillen spoke couthily about radicalism in Ireland and Scotland, having lived in both places. Bishopbriggs Academy pupils then played Scottish music, and acted out a short drama about the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320. The latter was performed by the school’s Advanced Higher history class who are studying the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Don Martin informed us about future Friends of Thomas Muir events. A book, Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the twenty-first century will be published in December. 

A short question and answer session brought an interesting afternoon to a close. 
Les Jenkins

Thomas Muir 1765-1799

Don Martin: Tom Johnston in Kirkintilloch: Thursday 3rd November 2016

The next Antiquaries talk, on 3rd November, will be entitled ‘Tom Johnston in Kirkintilloch'. Don Martin, the Society's Secretary, will describe Tom Johnston’s remarkable spell on Kirkintilloch Town Council during the period 1913-1922, when at his suggestion the Council introduced an impressive range of new services, including municipal pictures (cinema), municipal kitchen, municipal restaurant, municipal shower baths, municipal bank, municipal farming, municipal piggery and a municipal goat-herd. Some of these were approved unanimously by the Council, but it is fair to state that some had a somewhat chequered history. Don will show how lessons learned by Johnston in Kirkintilloch during World War I were put to good use when he later served as Secretary of State for Scotland, during Wold War II.

Niall Logan: Boundary Stones of Baldernock Parish: Thursday 6th October 2016

The 2016-17 session of Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries commences on Thursday 6th October with "Boundary Stones of Baldernock Parish". The full programme for the winter can be viewed on the 2016-17 Programme page.

Baldernock Parish (©  Estate of Ewen Bain)

Niall Logan has been a keen amateur of vernacular architecture and its conservation for many years, and has restored – single-handed – his 18th-century farmhouse over 35 years. Although his first love was archaeology, he did not follow this as his career, but has now found his way back to it. He retired as Professor of Systematic Bacteriology at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2014 and promptly became the Chairman of the Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group. In 2013 he co-founded the Baldernock Local History Group, and he now devotes much of his time to the study of vernacular architecture, and to researching the local history of his parish.

The unveiling of Alexander Bain's Emmy

On Thursday 25th August 2016, the Emmy awarded to Alexander Bain was unveiled by Mrs Rhondda Geekie, Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) and Dr Ivan Ruddock, President of Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries in the Auld Kirk Museum, Kirkintilloch. This was in the presence of Provost Una Walker, EDC councillors and staff, press and members of the Society. Prior to the unveiling, the background to the award and the engineering achievements of Alexander Bain were summarised by the principal speakers Councillor Geekie and Dr Ruddock - both talks serving as excellent reminders of the global acknowledgement of the singular innovations of Alexander Bain and his contributions to modern life, i.e. the electric clock, the fax machine and the underlying principles of television. Those present were delighted to learn that the statuette will remain in the Auld Kirk Museum for public display and were reminded that Alexander Bain is buried in the Auld Aisle Cemetery in Kirkintilloch.
David Graham

Rhondda Geekie and Ivan Ruddock unveiling the Emmy

East Dunbartonshire Doors Open Day 2016: Tom Johnston's Kirkintilloch, Saturday 10th September 2016, 2.00 pm

As part of East Dunbartonshire's 2016 Doors Open programme, Don Martin, the Society's secretary, will lead a guided walk round sites in Kirkintilloch associated with the famous Scottish politician, and historian Tom Johnston. The walk will depart from outside William Patrick Library at 2.00 pm and will include buildings used for emergency council services during World War 1 when Johnston was a member of Kirkintilloch Town Council. The full programme for Open Doors may be found here.

Ivan Ruddock

Report on the Summer Outing: Saturday 4th June 2016

In the year of Architecture, Design and Innovation, the Society organised its outing to include aspects of each area. At 10.00 am on Saturday 4th June, we assembled at the start of what turned out to be an excellent outing for 29 members of the Society on a dry and sunny day.

Members of the Society after arriving at Holmwood House
We began with a visit to Holmwood House (NTS) on the south side of Glasgow with a guided tour by extremely well-informed gentlemen guides whose bubbling enthusiasm for the property was both 'infectious' and very informative. Our next stop was at Eaglesham where there was time for a picnic lunch, coffee in the Eglington Arms or a stroll around this picturesque village. Refreshed the group proceeded to the National Museum of Rural Life, Wester Kittochside, East Kilbride. Here again, we were divided into groups to facilitate tours of the heavy agricultural machinery in the basement of the Museum and the associated working farm, accessed via a bumpy road by a tractor pulled carriage, comprising the old farm house and various buildings including milking shed, stables and the piggery. The day was rounded off by a meal in the Redhurst hotel, Giffnock after which we were returned to Kirkintilloch by about 7.30 pm having had a full and most enjoyable day.

Holmwood House
Holmwood House. This property was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson who found inspiration for his architecture and ornamentation, not from foreign travel and a 'grand tour', but from books about the architectural design of Antiquity; like previous stone masons and architects, he adopted ideas from preceding civilisations who were influenced by elements from Egyptian, Minoan, Greek, Roman and other cultures.

The house was built 1857-8 in countryside on the banks of the White Cart River overlooking Cathcart Castle which is now obscured by trees. Principal features include the asymmetrical design of the house with its Greek post and lintel construction using flattened and cylindrical pillars and the arch and cupola as perfected by the Romans, possibly developed from beehive tombs like the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae. The colours and decorative motifs such as 'Greek Key', and stylised plant forms such as the acanthus and other geometric designs would not have been out of place in the time of Homer! A further unusual feature is a continuous wall that joins the house with the Stable Lodge. The house was designed for the paper manufacturer James Couper as a business and family home. It is a little jewel-like mixture of styles, decoration and Mediterranean colours reminiscent of Knossos that still provides an intimate and inviting home.

The cupula above the stairs
Members in the dining room
listening to one of the NTS guides
A doorway with Greek and Egyptian motifs
Holmwood House's garden

Eaglesham. This was developed as a planned village by Alexander, 10th Earl of Eglington, around 1796 and comprising two rows of white washed houses facing each other across a wide expanse of grass in an otherwise rural setting. In 1824, a corn mill was built and then subsequently cotton mills were constructed that provided materials for the hand-loom weavers of the village. The attractive white church has a Covenanters Memorial to the religious strife in the area and in more recent times the village was famous for a plane crash on 10th May 1941 when a Messerschmitt 110 carrying Rudolf Hess on a mission to see the Duke of Hamilton came down in a field close to the village.

The Covenanter monument in Eaglesham's

National Museum of Rural Life. The final visit of the day was to this museum that exhibits the development of all aspects of agriculture, animal husbandry and farming machinery which have not only reduced the number of workers required to farm but have greatly improved the efficiency of the simple plough and hay fork of yesteryear. Again, we enjoyed an enthusiastic account of the exhibits and learned that many of the features had been donated from home and abroad. Although few members were able to visit the site’s extensive galleries, we were treated to a 'whistle stop' tour of the machinery store before being encouraged to visit the related farm house left unchanged since the childless Reid family departed after donating the property to the nation. We were fortunate to see live demonstrations of milking and learn of the impressive list of championships won by the herd. For some of us, perhaps the most lingering memory was of the young Clydesdale horse standing in the yard that was being introduced to its harness. The farm house itself brought back memories of the homes of grandparents with their 'old-fashioned' furniture and decoration and a parlour (drawing room) used only on Sundays or important occasions.

The farmhouse at the National Museum of Rural Life, Wester Kittochside
Members admiring a young Clydesdale horse

Inside the combine harvester store

A member practicing
her milking skills

Ros McMeekin and David Graham

Places of Worship Project in Scotland: Progress report

Scottish Church Heritage Research Ltd (SCHR) with the support of Historic Scotland and the Church of Scotland has been established to compile a Places of Worship database as a contemporary record of Scotland's built religious heritage. Now many churches lie redundant, while others have been reused, redeveloped and in some cases, demolished. The database contains varying amounts of information on some 10,500 sites that have been identified in Scotland for possible inclusion in the project. Of these SCHR has identified 34 Places of Worship in Kirkintilloch and surrounding district that meet the criteria for inclusion in the national database.

Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries (KDSA) signed up to this project in 2015 (announced here in February 2015), and since then time and effort have been spent on identifying which Places of Worship in the ambit of the Society would be suitable to 'kick start' its contribution to this Scotland-wide proposal. To further the Society's contribution we have taken part in additional training and discussed various aspects of the project with appropriate people at both regional and national levels. It is quite clear now that progress across Scotland has not been as quick as had been anticipated, in large measure because of the magnitude of the project and the time and effort required to gather and collate the information required for each church.

Lenzie Union Church  (© Copyright G Laird and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

Nevertheless, in spite of a rather slow start, we are pleased to announce that the first contribution from the Society has been completed and submitted to SCHR. As anticipated, this has been achieved for Lenzie Union Parish Church, in large measure due to the efforts of Bill Williamson together with other members of the congregation. In recognition of the considerable heritage value of the submission, permission has been sought and given for it to be posted on KDSA’s web site where it is available as a download by clicking here. We strongly recommend that it should be read by members of the Society.

Donald Macleod, Bill Williamson and David Graham.

Summer Outing: Saturday 4th June 2016: Updated

This year the Society's annual Summer Outing on Saturday 4th June 2016 will be to the National Museum of Rural Life, Kittochside, East Kilbride and Alexander "Greek" Thomson's Holmwood House, Cathcart, Glasgow. The coach will leave Sainsbury's car park, Kirkintilloch at 10.00 am, returning in the evening at about 7.30 pm after a meal. The ticket price is currently set at £40. Please contact the Society through its email address if you are interested in taking part or have any queries.

An engraving of Holmwood House

Wester Kittochside farmhouse at the National Museum of Rural Life

Report: Extraordinary General Meeting, Thursday 7th April 2016, and Annual General Meeting, Thursday 21st April 2016

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Society was held on Thursday 7th April 2016 to consider the recommendations of the Constitution Review Group. The review of the Constitution was launched at the 2015 Annual General Meeting with the members being invited to submit comments on its thirteen clauses. The group proposed revisions to all clauses and added a fourteenth on the duties of the President and Vice-President. Apart from the clause on the name of the Society, these were all accepted, although two clauses were referred back to the group for modification. The Society thanks the group (Dr David Graham, Mrs Rita Bennie, Mrs Elizabeth Coroon, Mr Les Jenkins) for its work over the past year

The Society's Annual General Meeting was held two weeks later on Thursday 21st April 2016. At this meeting, the President presented his report on the year's activities and a financial report in his other current role as acting Treasurer. The final version of the Constitution was also accepted by the members present, at which point the Office Bearers and Committee stood down on account of them having been elected for only one year at the 2015 AGM because of the Constitutional review. Mrs Mae Pitcairn, as Honorary President, then occupied the chair for the purpose of nominating a candidate for President. After the election of Dr Ivan Ruddock as President, he resumed as chairman of the meeting which subsequently elected the remainder of the Office Bearers and Committee, i.e. Vice-President: Dr David Graham; Secretary: Mr Don Martin; Treasurer: vacant; Committee: Mrs Rita Bennie, Mrs Elizabeth Coroon, Mrs Ianthe McAlpine, Mrs Valerie McClure, Mr Hugh Oliver. In addition, the existing Honorary Members - Mrs Mae Pitcairn (Honorary President) and Mrs Ros McMeekin (Honorary Vice-President) - were joined by Mr Bill McNeill due to him being the immediate past-President as stipulated by the new Constitution.

Ivan Ruddock

Annual General Meeting: Thursday 21st April 2016

This session's Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 21st April 2016 at 7.30 pm. It is the opportunity for all members to have their say in the running of the Society. At the 2015 AGM, it was decided that the existing committee should continue until this year on account of the proposed review of the Constitution; consequently, all the office-bearer and committee member positions are eligible for re-election.

Ivan Ruddock

Paul Bishop: "Mineral transport on the Forth & Clyde Canal": Updated

Due to a technical problem preventing the projection of his presentation, Prof. Paul Bishop was unable to give his talk, "Mineral transport on the Forth & Clyde Canal", which was scheduled for Thursday 3rd March 2016. It is now hoped that it can be included in the Society's programme on a later occasion.

Ivan Ruddock

Extraordinary General Meeting: 7th April 2016

The Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) is now scheduled for Thursday 7 April 2016 at 7.30 pm. Please note that this is different from that listed in the 2015-16 syllabus (10 March 2016).

The purpose of the meeting is to consider and vote on the recommendations of the working party that has been reviewing the Constitution since spring, 2015. Prior to the meeting, members will receive the report of the working party in good time to consider the proposals. It is hoped that there will be a good attendance of members at this important meeting which is linked to the future of the Society.

Please note that only current members who have paid the 2015-16 subscription will be eligible to vote at the EGM.

Ivan Ruddock

David Brown: Updated

It is with great sadness that the Society has learned of the sudden death of Mr David Brown, its Treasurer, on Thursday 25th February 2016. His funeral will take place on Tuesday 8th March 2016 at 10.30 am in Lenzie Union church followed by Daldowie Crematorium at 12.00.

Ivan Ruddock

Ivan Ruddock: "Alexander Bain; the real father of television?": Wednesday 9th March 2016, 2.00 pm

This year's Local History Week in East Dunbartonshire (5-12 March) with its theme of "Celebrate Engineering and Technology" is an appropriate occasion to look at the life and career of Alexander Bain, the nineteenth century clockmaker, telegraph engineer and inventor. Ivan Ruddock will explore the claims that he contributed significantly to the development of television. Bain, who is buried in Kirkitilloch's Auld Ailse Cemetery, was recently awarded a Technology and Engineering Emmy by the United States National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of his invention of scanning for image transmission. The Emmy was accepted by East Dunbartonshire Council and arrived in Kirkintilloch in early February where it go on public display in the Auld Kirk Museum. BBC Scotland coverage of the award can be seen by clicking here and here.

The event will be on Wednesday 9th March 2016 in the Barony Chambers, Auld Kirk Museum, Kirkintilloch at 2.00 pm.

The Emmy 
(© National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences)
Alexander Bain in 1876 (© IET)

Ivan Ruddock

Paul Bishop: "Mineral transport on the Forth & Clyde Canal": Thursday 3rd March 2016

In March 2015, Paul Bishop spoke to the Society on the watermills of Milngavie and Baldernock. Since then, he has retired as Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Glasgow and become a member of the Society. This time his topic is directly linked to Kirkintilloch and District; it focuses on mineral transport on the Forth & Clyde Canal arising from its roles as a transport artery for Central Scotland, and as a convenient outlet for mined coal to be exported due to its strategic location within the lowland coal field.

Cadder Pit No.17 (© East Dunbartonshire Council)
Ivan Ruddock

Members' Night: A Place to Remember: Thursday 18th February 2016

The Society's annual Members’ Night will be held on Thursday 18th February 2016, and this year the theme will be "A Place to Remember". Members are invited to speak for a few minutes on somewhere that is of significance to them. 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. If anyone wishes to be added to the list of speakers, please contact Ivan Ruddock as soon as possible via the Society's email address.
A possible place to remember?
Ivan Ruddock

Report: "The Kilsyth Quilt" and The Garrell Vale Optimists Group

Eight members of the Optimists Group at Garrell Vale Community Centre visited the Society on Thursday 4th February 2016 to show and explain the background to the creation of the "Kilsyth Quilt". Marion McBride, Anne Russell and Violet Gourlay described in speech and verse how it was made as part of the members' participation in the Discovery Awards programme. A presentation of photographs from around Kilsyth focused on scenes which inspired the panels in the quilt. The visit was warmly received and appreciated by the members of the Society present.

Members of the Garrell Vale Optimists Group and the Kilsyth Quilt at the Antiquaries on Thursday 4th February 2016 along with Ivan Ruddock, Society President, (left ) and Don Martin, Secretary, (right).

Ivan Ruddock

Anne Russell and the Garrell Vale Optimists Group: "The Kilsyth Quilt": Thursday 4th February 2016

Kilsyth Historic Quilt was created by the Optimists Group at Garrell Vale Community Centre. The panels in the quilt illustrate historical events and locations in the surrounding district. The quilt will be brought along to the meeting where Anne Russell and members of the Group will describe it and the background to the project during their presentation.

The Kilsyth Quilt (© Cumbernauld News)

Ivan Ruddock

The award of Alexander Bain's Emmy and associated press coverage

The posthumous presentation of an Emmy to Alexander Bain (1810-77) took place in Las Vegas on 8th January 2016 during the 67th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards ceremony held as part of the Consumer Electronics Show. The acceptance of the award by the Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, Mrs Rhondda Geekie, can be viewed here on YouTube.

The role played by Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries was highlighted in much of the associated news coverage, including the following:

BBC News
The Scotsman
The Herald
Glasgow Evening Times
Kirkintilloch Herald
Milngavie & Bearsden Herald

An interview with the Society's President, Ivan Ruddock, was included in BBC 1 Scotland's "Reporting Scotland" on Thursday afternoon, 7th January and BBC Radio Scotland's "Good Morning Scotland" on Thursday 7th January and Sunday 10th January.

Ivan Ruddock

Kirkintilloch on the BBC again?: Update on Alexander Bain's Emmy

The posthumous award by the United States National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences of an Emmy to Alexander Bain was reported on this blog on 2nd September 2015. This was in recognition of his 1843 invention of image scanning and transmission that was fundamental to the subsequent development of television.

With the presentation taking place during the 67th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in Las Vegas on Friday 8th January 2016, BBC Scotland is planning to broadcast news of the event in Reporting Scotland some time in the week beginning Monday 4th January 2016; it is already on the BBC's website at this link. Kirkintilloch, as Alexander Bain's last resting place, and the Antiquaries are both highlighted.

The Emmy 
(© National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences)
Alexander Bain in 1876 (© IET)

Ivan Ruddock