I think it's safe to say that David was the foremost living authority on the history of Rutherglen. He passed away unexpectedly on 3rd. November 2020, just a few days before his 74th. birthday.
David was born and bred in Rutherglen, and was immensely proud of the history and heritage of the town of his birth. He was also very proud of both his Irish and local ancestry. Some of his Jackson ancestors are interred in the Old Parish churchyard.
While not a trained historian, he had an academic's meticulous approach to research and a determination to get the facts right for the many subjects he investigated. He travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting local libraries, churches and museums in search of information - pieces of the jigsaw he needed to complete his research.
I got to know David quite well in the past four years through the local history programmes he and I made for CamGlen Radio. David's passion for Rutherglen and his encyclopedic knowledge of its history, particularly as it related to the people of the town, really come across in those programmes, making them a hugely valuable audio archive to be enjoyed by anyone interested in the history of the Royal Burgh today, and by future generations.
While David could see some benefit in researching local history online, his preferred method of seeking out information was very traditional. He spent many hours with his notebook in the Glasgow Room at the Mitchell Library, poring over the archives there, carefully noting down his findings. When I asked him recently if he had ever thought about buying a wee laptop and getting himself online to do some research, he replied that he had being doing things 'his way' quite successfully for so long, and saw little point in changing now. Besides, he added, it was always best to seek out and find answers in the archives in person.
As well as his research work, on his own account and often for other people, David was tireless in his efforts to preserve the fabric of Rutherglen's heritage. In 2011 while a member of the Heritage Society, he played a large part in getting a new boundary stone put in place in Glasgow Road, replacing an 1851 stone which had been lost. In 2018, he successfully lobbied to have a large tree in the Old Parish churchyard cut down. David had noticed that if the tree had fallen onto St. Mary's Tower towards which it was leaning, serious damage would have been done to the 15th. century structure.
Attending a presentation in 2015 about the history of coal mining in Rutherglen, David loudly voiced that every village and town in Lanarkshire with a mining connection has a memorial to the miners, except Rutherglen! This motivated Rutherglen Heritage Society to have a memorial erected to the memory of the miners who worked in the town's coal pits. David would have been at the unveiling of the memorial earlier this year, but sadly the memorial has been delayed by Covid-19.
Earlier this year, David was in Wetherspoons in Rutherglen Main Street, patiently pointing out to a bemused duty manager, that the artwork on the wall of the pub supposedly depicting 'Rutherglen Main Mill 1662', in fact, showed the wrong mill! More recently, he drew attention to the poor condition of the walls and railings surrounding the Old Parish Church.
He was a regular visitor to the Heritage Centre in Rutherglen Library where he gladly shared his knowledge with the visitors to the Wednesday Drop-In. The photograph of David at the beginning of this article was taken at the Heritage Centre in November 2017.
David was the 'go-to' man for any questions relating to Rutherglen's heritage, a living archive of the town's long history. A proud Ruglonian, and a well-kent figure around the town, he will be greatly missed.
Above, David, second from left, with members of the Heritage Society inspecting boundary stones in 2011.