...and notable or distinguished people connected with the Royal Burgh
© Rutherglen Heritage Society.
This list includes famous and notable people who were born in Rutherglen (this colour of box).......
......along with people who, although not born in the town, have a strong association with the Royal Burgh, having been brought up there, or moved there to live, work or be educated (this colour of box).
Each entry contains a brief biography sourced from other websites, except those written by contributors. Links provide further information on external websites, including more detailed biographies where appropriate.
With many thanks to our contributors :
Robert Harvey of Football Memories Scotland
and members of the Auld Rutherglen Facebook page
Archie Baird, footballer
8 May 1919 – 3 November 2009, Baird became a famous player at Aberdeen. He lived next to Overtoun Park. Archie escaped from an Italian POW camp in World War II and made his way back to Rutherglen. He wrote a book about his life. (Robert Harvey)
Baird was born in Rutherglen. Having played for local Junior clubs in the area, he signed for Aberdeen before the Second World War but the war started before he had made the first team. He joined the British Army, but was captured and held as a prisoner of war. He escaped and lived with an Italian family as their "son". In 1989, he published an autobiography, Family of Four, which described these experiences. Source: Wikipedia
He returned to Aberdeen before the end of the war. His good form in this period earned him selection for Scotland in a friendly match against Belgium in early 1946. Baird was one of nine Scotland players making their international debut in the match,
Archie Baird was the brother of Mamie Baird (see below)
Archie Baird in later life
John Logie Baird, engineer and inventor
Before achieving fame as one of the inventors of television, Baird, born in Helensburgh in 1888, had a variety of jobs, one of them in Rutherglen. While working in the town, he evidently lived in the bungalow on the corner of Blairbeth Road and Broomieknow Road.
Left, John Logie Baird pictured in Rutherglen Power Station
In 1915 Baird applied for a job at the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company and was taken on as an assistant mains engineer, supervising the repair of all electricity breakdowns in the Rutherglen area.
Baird stayed with the power company for three years, but found it "a horrible job", often having to stand outside all night in the rain and cold. "Sordid, miserable work, punctuated by repeated colds and influenza", is how he put it, but he was unable to get a better job because he was always ill. "Finally," he wrote, "I decided it was hopeless and I had better try and start some business which was less strenuous and in which I would be my own master."
He had already taken a civilian job as Assistant Mains Engineer at the Clyde Valley Power Station in Rutherglen. He could scarcely have found more unsuitable work.
It consisted in being on call at any hour of the day or night — he had a phone in his lodgings — to gather his gang of navvies and trace and repair electrical faults. He got cold after cold.
The job was a dead end as he earned 30/- (₤1.50) a week with no chance of promotion because of his bad health and frequent absences. He was left with little alternative to launching out in business on his own account.
His first invention was an attempt to create artificial diamonds. He embedded a stick of carbon in a concrete-filled pot and passed an enormous current through it, to imitate the force and pressure which creates real diamonds.
This fused all the lights in Rutherglen, and although he soon restored them his bosses were not pleased and it hastened his departure from Rutherglen and the Clyde Valley Power Station. In the ensuing unpleasantness the pot of possible diamonds disappeared and it has never come to light again.
Source: Helensburgh Heritage Trust
Researched by Colin Findlay
Mamie Baird, journalist and author
Born: 24 October, 1925, in Rutherglen. Died: 12 April 2012, in Balmore, near Glasgow,
Due to her married name, Mamie Magnusson inevitably found herself referred to as “the wife of Magnus”, the famous TV presenter on Mastermind who grilled lesser mortals seated in the famous black chair. But Mamie was a brilliant journalist in her own right, indeed a pioneer of women’s journalism in the post-war years, initially at the Sunday Post and later at the Scottish Daily Express on Glasgow’s Albion Street, at the time every young Scottish would-be journalist’s dream. Source: The Scotsman
Mamie Baird is the mother of broadcaster and writer, Sally Magnusson
Late in life Mamie Baird developed dementia. In 2015, her daughter Sally wrote ‘Where Memories Go’ an emotive and practical account of the day to day effect that the condition had on her mother and her relatives and details the issues it raised in terms of finding measures to provide care for her and improve her quality of her life. The The book had an enormous impact with both carers and professionals involved in researching the condition. Sally has become extremely successful in promoting further research into the management of the condition and providing support for carers.
Alex Bennett, footballer
Born: 20 October 1881
Died: 9 January 1940
Alexander (Alex) Bennett was one of the first players to play for both Celtic and Rangers. He was also a Scottish internationalist and played for Rutherglen Glencairn when they won the Scottish Junior Cup.
Alex Bennett wearing a Scotland cap
Janet Brown, entertainer
Janet McLuckie Brown (14 December 1923 – 27 May 2011) was a Scottish actress, comedian and impressionist who gained considerable fame in the 1970s and 1980s for her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher. Brown was the wife of Peter Butterworth who was best known for his appearances in the Carry On films. Butterworth died in 1979 and Brown never remarried. Source: Wikipedia
Andy Cameron, entertainer
He was born in London while his father, Hugh Cameron, was serving in the Army during World War II. Cameron was raised by his grandmother, Isabella 'Bella' Cameron, in the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen, south-east of Glasgow, Scotland. Prior to pursuing this career he had worked for a time with the Glasgow-based structural engineering firm, Sir William Arrol & Co. and for Glasgow Corporation Transport. Source: Wikipedia
Steven Campbell, artist
Steven Campbell (1953–2007) was born in the Burnside district of Rutherglen, attended the town's Academy and worked as an engineer at Clydebridge Steelworks before studying at Glasgow School of Art as a mature student, from 1978 to 1982. Initially he studied the then still new subject of performance art, but quickly gave this up for painting.
At the end of his studies he was awarded the Bram Stoker gold medal, and gained a Fulbright Scholarship which he used to go to New York to study at the Pratt Institute. This move resulted in many of his early exhibitions taking place in New York, including his first solo show, in 1983, at the Barbara Toll Gallery. Source: Wikipedia
Steven Campbell. Portrait by John Byrne
Marie Cassidy, pathologist
Professor Marie Therese Jane Cassidy (born 1951) is a pathologist and academic. From 2004 to 2018 State Pathologist of Ireland, the first woman to hold the position. She is Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin.
William Gemmell Cochran, statistician
Cochran studied mathematics at the University of Glasgow and the University of Cambridge. He worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station from 1934 to 1939, when he moved to the United States. There he helped establish several departments of statistics. His longest spell in any one university was at Harvard, which he joined in 1957 and from which he retired in 1976. Source: Wikipedia
William Gemmell Cochran
William Dixon Cocker, poet, critic and dramatist
William Dixon Cocker was born on 13 October 1882 in Drumbeg Cottage in Rutherglen, the son of James Cocker and his second wife Jeannie Miller Gow. His paternal forebears had been Glasgow merchants for three generations, James being a stationer; his mother’s family were farmers in the parish of Drymen, near Loch Lomond. The Cockers had a small cottage on the family’s land there, which they used at weekends and holidays, William thus growing up with a close association with the agricultural life depicted in his poems, and a natural understanding of the Scots spoken in that area.
Cocker worked for the Daily Record, serving as their drama critic for over twenty years, and then for the Evening News, totalling over 50 years, retiring aged 74 when the News ceased publication. In WWI he served with the 9th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Highlanders), then transferred to the Royal Scots, and was taken prisoner in 1917.
William Dixon Cocker
He wrote a small amount of war poetry (in English) including Up the Line to Poelkapelle, The Sniper and a five-part sonnet cycle Sonnets in Captivity. Sadly he lost two brothers in the war and both parents died around the same time. He is best known for his humorous poems in Scots, often on Biblical themes, such as "The Deluge", on the story of Noah and the Flood. Books of his poems include "Poems: Scots and English", Further Poems", "New Poems" and "Random Rhymes and Ballads" and he also wrote a dozen plays, short stories and several local history books. Cocker died in 1970.
Source: The Sunday Class.
Robbie Coltrane, actor
Robbie Coltrane OBE (born Anthony Robert McMillan; 30 March 1950) is a Scottish actor and author. He is known for his roles as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, as Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in the James Bond films GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, and as Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald in the British TV series Cracker during the 1990s.
Coltrane was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, the son of Jean Ross (née Howie), a teacher and pianist, and Ian Baxter McMillan, a general practitioner who also served as a forensic police surgeon. He has an older sister, Annie, and a younger sister, Jane. Coltrane is the great-grandson of Scottish businessman Thomas W. Howie and the nephew of businessman Forbes Howie. Source: Wikipedia
Rev. John Dickson, minister
The Covenanters are so named for the series of bonds or covenants by which the adherents bound themselves to maintain the Presbyterian doctrine in consequence of the strenuous efforts Roman Catholics were making to regain their hold upon Scotland,
Son of Quentin Dickson of Dalmellington, John Dickson was minister at Rutherglen from 1650, and was imprisoned on the Bass Rock from 1 September 1680 to 8 October 1686, for preaching outdoors at services known as 'conventicles', without a licence. After the Glorious Revolution he returned to his old parish in Rutherglen. He died on 12 January 1700, aged about 71. Source: Wikipedia
"The covenanters were a group of individuals from varied backgrounds who supported the National Covenant and carried out many activities to prevent the imposition of an episcopal church on the people of Scotland by James VI, Charles I and Charles II against the will of the Scottish people."
Above, first page of a letter written from the Bass Rock by Rev. Dickson during his imprisonment
Left, a conventicle near Loudon Hill. Rev. Dickson would have preached at similar illegal outdoor services.
Extract from Rambles Round Glasgow,
Hugh MacDonald, 1856
'At the period when our
covenanting forefathers made such a noble stand for liberty
of conscience and the independence of the national church,
the minister of Rutherglen was a Mr. John Dickson. In
consequence of an information lodged by Sir James Hamilton
of Ellistoun, this good man was dragged from his church, and
put in prison. We shall quote a passage from Wodrow's
History, to show the sequel:—Mr. Dickson was kept in
durance till the parliament sat, when his church was vacated
and he was brought into much trouble. We shall afterwards
find him a prisoner in the Bass for near seven years ; and yet
be got through his troubles, and returned to his charge at
Rutherglen, and for several years after the Revolution
served his Master there, till his death in a good old age.
Dougie Donnelly, television presenter
Donnelly was born in Glasgow, where he began his career with Radio Clyde in the 1970s, presenting the top-rated Mid Morning Show from 1979 until 1992, and was twice voted Scottish Radio Personality of the Year.
He joined BBC Scotland's Sports Department in 1980, presenting programmes such as Sportscene Live (which includes events such as the Scottish Cup Final and Scotland internationals), Afternoon Sportscene, the network's rugby union coverage, and football World Cups in 1990 and 1998. He presented two series of a TV chat show, Friday Night with Dougie Donnelly directed by Martin Cairns, and was TV Personality of the Year in Scotland in 1982.
He left the BBC after the 2010 Scottish Cup Final, his 33rd in a row, and is currently[when?] lead commentator on European Tour Productions' worldwide live TV coverage of golf's European Tour, travelling to around 20 tournaments a year around the world. Source: Wikipedia
Fionna Duncan, musician
Fionna Duncan, b. 1939, has been described as a 'national treasure'. She started singing with jazz bands in the 1950s and her obvious enthusiasm for the music and her ready humour have continued through the years making her a popular performer who knows how to interpret a jazz standard. In 2009, Fionna was named as Best Jazz Vocalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards.
Fionna was born in the Temperance Hotel, Garelochhead, during a ‘black out’ in the second month of World War 2. The family moved to Glasgow for her father’s business where Fionna went to Rutherglen Academy. Fionna did well at the Academy where she came away with a Higher Music Pass and was singing with various jazz bands in the area until in 1955 she became the vocalist with the Lindsay MacDonald Modern Jazz Quartet which had a regular Saturday night spot at Glasgow University’s Snug Bar. Source: sandybrownjazz.co.uk
Fionna also sang with the George Penman Jazzmen, (see George Penman's section, below on this page) featuring on their 1980 LP Fidgety Feet.
James Gilmour, missionary
James Gilmour (1843-1891) was born at Cathkin, Gimour received his Masters degree at Glasgow University in 1867, before entering missionary service with the London Missionary Society. He received further training at Cheshunt Congregational Theological College, Cambridge and at the society's missionary seminary at Highgate, as well as Chinese courses in London.
Gilmour was ordained in 1870 in the Augustine Chapel, Edinburgh, before commencing missionary service in China and Mongolia.
During a brief return to London in 1882-83, Gilmour published Among the Mongols.
He was made chairman of the North China District Committee of the London Missionary Society in 1891 at Tianjin. However, he died from typhus fever that year.
Source: The University of Glasgow Story
Left, house where James Gilmour was born. Painting by Thomas Grant.
Dr. James Gorman
The statue at the corner of Main Street and Queen Street of a man sitting in a chair with a pile of books at this side, is that of Dr. James Gorman. Born in Rutherglen in 1832, he qualified in medicine and joined his father’s practice in the town. He soon established a reputation for clinical excellence. Indeed, a Glasgow Professor of Surgery stated that if he fell ill, Dr. Gorman would be the man he would go to.
In addition to treating private patients, he took on the role of parish doctor whose duty it was to provide free treatment for patients on the Poor Roll. It was known that even if a patient was not on the roll but of limited means, Dr. Gorman would charge a reduced fee, or even no fee at all. He also assumed the role of factory inspector and was often first on the scene of an industrial or mining accident.
Such was the town’s high regard for him, that after his death in 1899, the citizens collected funds for a memorial, and commissioned the sculptor John (Johan) Keller, Professor at the Glasgow School of Art, to produce the statue we see today.
Above, Dr. Gorman's statue, corner of Main Street and Queen Street.
Above, Dr. Gorman's house today, corner of Main Street and Victoria Place, over what is now Marini's chip shop. Thanks to Zen Boyd of Rutherglen Heritage Centre for her help in identifying this location.
Dr. Gorman lived in a house at the corner of Main Street and Victoria Place, above what is now Marini’s chip shop. He inherited the property which comprised a surgery and domestic accommodation,
Although he did not marry, his was still a large household. In 1881, it consisted of: himself; his brother William, an unemployed accountant; his brother Charles, manager of a pharmacy; his cousin Mary Gribbin, who was the housekeeper; William Fisk, a dispenser in the surgery; and servants Margaret Pollock and Janet Stuart. Dr. Gorman is buried in Rutherglen Old Parish Churchyard.
Sir Robert Kelly, Chairman, Celtic FC
Lived in Burnside, Rutherglen, until his death in 1971
Sir Robert Kelly was born in Blantyre in 1902, one of 10 children of James Kelly, Blantyre businessman, player and captain of Glasgow Celtic FC. Sir Robert was educated at St Aloysius and St Josephs, Dumfries and became a stockbroker by profession. Like his father, he became a director of Glasgow Celtic FC and was chairman of the club between 1947 and 1971. He was appointed to Celtic Board in 1932 following the death of his father.
He later became Celtic’s first President. For the best part of the next two decades Kelly’s influence would be all encompassing. He was a mostly conservative figure with an exceptionally high regard for tradition and discipline. Never one to duck from confrontation, with players or the football authorities, his reign was laced throughout with controversy.
As an administrator and legislator, he was a highly regarded talent and his expertise were utilised by both the Scottish Football League and the SFA, serving as president for both authorities. His persuasive debating skills were demonstrated in 1952 when he took on and defeated the SFA – who were threatening Celtic with expulsion unless the Irish tricolour was removed from the Parkhead flagpoles - in what became known as the ‘Flag Flutter’.
In 1969, he was knighted for services to Scottish football. He died on 20th April 1971. His rule of Celtic had been total. His sternness, stubbornness and meddling in team affairs had rankled many a player and fan. Yet, ultimately, he was the man who had overseen the greatest period in Celtic’s history
With thanks to Paul Veverka of Blantyre Project
Left, Sir Robert Kelly
'Sir Robert as I remember always went to Mass in St Columbkille’s about 10 to 15 minutes late and proceed all the way to the front row, His house is the big house at the junction of Blairbeth Road and Hillend Road, He was knighted after Celtic won the European Cup in 1967.'
Stan Laurel, entertainer
During the early years of the twentieth century Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel moved with his parents up from Ulverston in Cumbria to Rutherglen, when his father was appointed manager of the Metropole Theatre in Glasgow. While living at Buchanan Drive, Stan attended Rutherglen Academy. His first appearance on stage was at the age of sixteen, at the Panopticon in Glasgow, in 1906.
Right, Stan Laurel c. 1920. (Public domain photo)
George Logan, entertainer
George Logan was born on 7 July 1944 in Rutherglen, Scotland, to a musical and theatrical family. He was educated at the Rutherglen Academy and Glasgow University, while studying piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music.
A classically trained pianist, he has a particular interest in opera and vocal music.
Immediately after leaving Glasgow, Logan worked in London as a computer programmer, but continued to use his skills as a pianist around the London clubs and pubs, accompanying stage acts. In 1970 he met and became friends with Patrick Fyffe, and together they formed Hinge and Bracket, making their first appearance in 1972.
After the death of his stage partner, and a few seasons of pantomime, he retired from the stage in 2004. Source: Hinge & Bracket Official
Right, George Logan (glasses) as Dr. Evadne Hinge of Hinge & Brackett
Tom McGrath, playwright
Tom McGrath (1940-2009) Born in Rutherglen in 1940, he lived in London in the 1960s and was strongly associated with the UK’s underground ‘counterculture’ as founding editor of the hippy bible International Times. He returned to Scotland in 1969 and studied for a degree in English and drama. In 1972 McGrath worked with Billy Connolly as musical director of The Great Northern Welly Boot Show. He also managed the Third Eye Centre (now Centre for Contemporary Arts) for three years from 1974.
He is most famous for writing the popular play Laurel and Hardy. McGrath’s later work included The Hardman in collaboration with gangster-turned-sculptor Jimmy Boyle and an adaptation of Tankred Dorst’s Merlin. More recently, he was Scottish Arts Council’s associate literary director: a post crucial to the development of many younger playwrights which McGrath held for over a decade. Source: whatsonstage.com
John McFarlane McGregor
John McGregor was among the many Scots who left this country with his family in search of a better life in Australia under the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme introduced after World War II, popularly known as 'the £10 Poms' scheme.
Born in 1940, he attended St. Columbkille's School until 1951 when he and his family left their home in Kirkwood Street, setting sail for Australia from Liverpool on the MV Cheshire. They arrived eight weeks later in Fremantle, Western Australia, en route to the immigrant reception camp at Bonegilla, Victoria. The McGregors were then moved to Wangaratta, Victoria, where migrants were accommodated in Nissen huts which were ill-suited to cope with summer temperatures which were often over 100 degrees fahrenheit.
Left, John McGregor
After two years, the family moved to Gepps Cross Hostel in South Australia, a purpose-built facility for immigrants. It covered a vast area, and housed around 2,000 families at any one time.
Many disillusioned migrants returned to the UK, including John's parents and his sister Catherine, who returned to Rutherglen after eight years.
Right, the Nissen huts at Wangaratta. Photo courtesy of John McGregor
John stayed on in Australia, telling the Rutherglen Reformer in 2018, “I was doing an apprenticeship, but I did promise that I’d go back when I’d completed it. I never did. I have never returned to Scotland. Now that I’m a pensioner, that dream is now totally out of the question.” He now lives in Tea Tree Gully, just outside Adelaide, with his wife Halina.
John wrote about his family’s experience in Gepps Cross Hostel in the book Tin Huts And Memories, which tells how uncomfortable life was there in those early years.
Link: For John McGregor's full interview with the Rutherglen Reformer in 2018, click here
Edwin Morgan, poet
Edwin Morgan, 1920 - 2010, one of Scotland’s most talented poets was born in Glasgow and attended Rutherglen academy. As a child, he displayed his love of literature by the large amount of books he devoured. Recognising his vocation, his parents made a financial sacrifice to fund the many book clubs he joined. After school he was admitted to Glasgow University where he read French and Russian. Despite his commitment to pacifism, he served his country by joining the RAMC as a non-combatant. He returned to his studies after the war and graduated as an MA in 1947.
As an able scholar, he joined the University as a lecturer and was ultimately appointed Professor of English in 1975. He rapidly established his reputation as a poet with works ranging from classical sonnets to blank verse. Intertwined with his work was his commitment to Socialism and his love of Scotland. The quality and content of his works can be gauged by his volume of Collected Poems.
From 1990 onwards he became increasingly involved in his support of the LGBT community, promoting its acceptance in society. Writings covering this and his many other interests is to be found in his work, Nothing Not Giving Messages: Reflections on his Work and Life, published from 1990 onwards.
His pre-eminence as a Poet and his contribution was recognised in 1999 when he was appointed Glasgow Poet Laureate. In 2004 he made history on his appointment as first Scots Machar. Other awards were the OBE and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
At the time of his death he highlighted two of his vocations by donating £980,000 to the Scottish Nationalist Party and £1,000,000 for the creation of awards to promising young poets in Scotland.
John McAlpine, foreman blacksmith, councillor
1830 - 1905
Born in Rothesay, John McAlpine moved to Rutherglen in the early 1860s to become Foreman Blacksmith in the shipbuilding yard of T.B. Seath & Son. He is noted in Rutherglen Lore (written by W Ross Shearer, 1922) as well known in Rutherglen for ‘being the only man to have ever sailed a ship all the way from Rutherglen Quay to London’.
According to his obituary in the Rutherglen Reformer, ‘during the 42 years of his residency in the Royal Burgh took an active interest in its municipal, parochial and religious affairs.’
Here are further extracts from the obituary, confirming the high regard in which he was held:
‘But perhaps it was as a Town Councillor he was best known. In 1880 he entered the Council and from that date until his health broke down a few years ago he laboured assiduously for the weal of the burgh.’
‘He was a prominent reformer, and it was largely at his request that the proprietors of the Rutherglen Reformer first published the local paper for this district. At that time Cambuslang, East Kilbride, Pollokshaws, Strathbungo and Bridgeton were included. Most of the places have now, however local papers of their own.’
‘In his vocation as foreman blacksmith at the shipbuilding yard of Messrs T. B. Seath and Company, deceased was highly respected. Not only did he overtake his duties as foreman, but in the flourishing days of the firm, took a prominent part along with Mr Wright and Mr John Reid in all the launches, and it was to Mr McAlpine the late Mr Seath entrusted the safety of the newly-launched vessels in navigating them to the ports from which they were to sail.’
‘In all phases of life and work, Councillor McAlpine was a veritable Goliath. There seemed no task too great for him to successfully accomplish. But the time came, as it does to all mortals, when his health broke down and from that time he gradually became weaker.’
Right, John McAlpine funeral report, Rutherglen Reformer
‘Rutherglen will miss his manly form, but the memory of so vigorous and energetic a life ought to set an example to those he has left behind him.’
With many thanks to Bill Tennant
Click on this link for more information about John McAlpine:
Bobby Murdoch, footballer
Robert White Murdoch (17 August 1944 – 15 May 2001) was a Scottish professional footballer, who played for Celtic, Middlesbrough and Scotland. Murdoch was one of the Lisbon Lions, the Celtic team who won the European Cup in 1967. He later managed Middlesbrough FC
Brought up in Rutherglen, he lived there for most of his life and attended local St. Columbkillle's Primary school (a classmate was Tommy McAvoy who went on to become the long-serving MP for the area),before moving to Our Lady's High Secondary in Motherwell. Murdoch first joined Celtic in 1959, earning £3 per week as a part-time player while also being employed as a sheet-metal worker. He played for junior club Cambuslang Rangers for two years to gain experience before joining Celtic as a full-time professional.
Nicholas Parsons, TV and radio presenter
......and member of the Rutherglen Repertory Theatre!
Best known for hosting the Radio 4 comedy series Just A Minute since it began in 1967, Parsons also hosted TV shows such as Sale of the Century, appeared on the likes of Have I Got News For You and the Benny Hill Show, and even guest-starred on Doctor Who.
However, his earliest paid work came in the Royal Burgh in the 1940s, when he was a member of the Rep, then based at a church on East Main Street.
Parsons was working in Clydebank at the time and joined the group to indulge his passion for theatre and comedy.
Several years ago he recalled his memories with the Rep, which was at the time known as the MSU Repertory Theatre.
Nicholas told the Reformer: “I have got great sentimental memories of my time in Rutherglen with Molly Urquhart’s company MSU Repertory Theatre, in the old church.
“I was an apprentice engineer in the shipyards in Clydebank at the time, and had a big rush to get back over to Rutherglen, and then afterwards get the last tram back.
Above, Nicholas Parsons
“That was my first professional paid acting experience and it was a wonderful time with some great people. I can’t believe that it was in the late 1940s, getting ‘the green car doon tae Rutherglen,’ and all those wonderful people, like John Macrae, the school master, who became Duncan Macrae, and Gordon Jackson was there as well.
“Yes, I have so many happy memories of coming out to Rutherglen and appearing in those Scottish plays.
“I’m an old sentimentalist – my grandfather was Scottish, so I have a attachment to my time there, and it was a good part of my life.”
Source: Rutherglen Reformer
Above, 1953 map showing the location of Rutherglen Rep in East Main street, opposite Green's cinema
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
George Penman, jazz musician
George Penman was one of the most prominent figures in the of Traditional Jazz scene in Scotland from the late 1950s. Born 1939 in Reid Street, Rutherglen, he attended the same bible class as comedian Andy Cameron (see his item on this page). George formed his first band in 1959, appearing at regular gigs in Lenzie. In 1962, the band won a recording contract with Parlophone in London. In due course, ‘trad’ jazz music was replaced in popularity by new stars such as the Beatles. Undeterred, George returned to Glasgow where he and his band enjoyed a large following of dancers and jazz aficionados.
Left, George Penman pictured on the cover of the LP Fidgety Feet. Photograph by Sandy Ferguson.
Regular venues for the band included the St. Andrews Hall and Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow, and the Eglinton Arms Hotel, Eaglesham where, in late 1980, the live LP Fidgety Feet was recorded. Over the years George’s band gained a wider audience through appearances on radio and television. In 1961, the band won a Scottish jazz band championship and in the following year won all the major awards at the North of Scotland Jazz Festival.
Held in high regard by other musicians, George participated in sessions with other band leaders such as Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and in the late 1970s, Acker Bilk. Fellow Scot Karl Denver heard the band playing Wimoweh, a 1930s African pop hit, and with his trio made a successful cover version of that song in 1961.
George enjoyed a particularly long career and continued playing, despite ill health until his death in 2009.
Researched by Bill MacLennan.
Many thanks to Carol Penman for providing much valuable additional information and for letting us have the images shown.
Click here to read George Penman’s Herald obituary:
Above, front cover of the LP Fidgety Feet, featuring Malky McCormick’s caricature of the George Penman Jazzmen and Fionna Duncan (see her item on this page).
Left, the George Penman Jazzmen playing in front of the Douglas Hotel, Brodick, Isle of Arran.
Archie Robertson, footballer
Archibald Clark Robertson, born in Busby, East Renfrewshire (15 September 1929 – 28 January 1978) was a Scottish footballer who spent most of his career with Clyde, firstly as an inside right and latterly as manager. He is the only Clyde footballer to have played in the World Cup Finals (1958 ) when still a Clyde player. Plus he is the only player to have scored a last minute goal direct from a corner kick in a Scottish Cup Final. (Ack. Robert Harvey)
Robertson joined Clyde from Rutherglen Glencairn in 1947, on a part-time basis as he continued his studies towards a degree in chemistry. He spent the next 14 seasons with the Bully Wee, during which time he experienced relegation on three occasions, although he also helped the side win the Division Two title twice, in 1951–52 and 1956–57.
Rev. Thomas Sneddon, minister
We received this submission from Aaron Sneddon in Canada, about his great grandfather,
'So here is what I know of my great grandfather, Rev. Thomas Sneddon. He was born in Rutherglen on September 3, 1885 and died in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada on September 25, 1976. His parents were Richard Sneddon and Isabela Aitken. He moved to Canada in 1910 with his best friend James Gowans, also from Rutherglen. They apparently flipped a coin between Canada and Australia.
Thomas went to the Robertson College in Edmonton, Alberta and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1918.
His postings were as follows, all in Alberta, Canada:
Haynes 1925-1927 - Church Union in Canada with the Methodist Church so he is now a United Church Reverend.
and then he moved to Red Deer and worked there from 1955-1976 as a retired Assistant Reverend.
Above,Thomas Sneddon and wife Janet, arriving in Canada in 1921.shortly after their wedding in Rutherglen.
On May 18, 1921 he travelled back to Scotland after telling his best friend that he was going back to marry his sister, Janet Gowans (born in Amesville, Pennsylvania, USA but the family moved back to Rutherglen during the coal strikes). James had no idea that Thomas was even interested in his sister. On September 4, 1921 they were married in Rutherglen and then on October 9, 1921 they moved to Canada.
They had 4 children: Richard Alexander September 5, 1922-2007, James David 1924-1960 (died in a helicopter crash, he was a pilot in WWII), Mary Isabel 1927-2017, and Robert William 1929-2002. The reason I started on this journey was the death of my great aunt Mary.
Left, Thomas Sneddon on a trip through the Rocky Mountains, 1952.
Now some funny coincidences for you. Thomas presided over the funeral of Magnus Kustner in Mayerthorpe. This is only significant as my Grandfather Richard Sneddon (born in Medicine Hat in 1922) moved back to Mayerthopre after WWII and eventually married a girl named Helen Miller who is the granddaughter of Magnus Kustner. I found this out during my searches. Even more remarkable as we knew the family as Kiistner but during my research I found the Kustner name and knew that they had changed it to Kiistner but couldn't find their original name until I found this church record.
My brother’s first major girlfriend was in Bonneyville and when he brought her, she told us how her great aunt and uncle were married by Thomas while he was there.
In 1918 during the flu epidemic, there is a story that he helped out in the community and was known to help his parishioners and others at will. It was published in the town history of Mirror.
There is a stained glass in his memory at the Gaetz Church in Red Deer.
Above, Thomas Sneddon memorial stained glass window, Gaetz Memorial United Church, Red Deer.
Recently I was given handwritten notes of baptisms of my aunts and uncles that he performed in Red Deer.
Just so you know, my daughter and I came to Rutherglen this summer and we were in the Rutherglen Reformer twice as my search for my tree led me to a reunion I helped create the Gowans family (Janet's sisters' descendants) and the only living Sneddon branch in Scotland that I could find that were directly related to Thomas .'
(Text and images by Aaron Sneddon, November 2019)
Left, Thomas and Janet Sneddon, silver wedding photograph, 1946.
Dougie Thomson, musician
Thomson's musical career began in August 1969, when he joined Glasgow band "The Beings". In September 1971 he joined The Alan Bown Set where he briefly worked with future Supertramp colleague, John Helliwell. In February 1972, Thomson auditioned for Supertramp, and ended up playing several gigs as a temporary stand-in, joining permanently in 1973.
Thomson played with Supertramp on all of their most famous albums: Crime of the Century, Crisis? What Crisis?, Even in the Quietest Moments, Breakfast in America, Paris, Famous Last Words, Brother Where You Bound and Free as a Bird.
Thomson was a member of Supertramp until the band went on hiatus in 1988.
John Alston Wallace, mining entrepreneur and politician
Rutherglen in Victoria, Australia is a small town renowned for its involvement in the wine industry. Its name is a memorial to one of the state’s founding fathers, John Alston Wallace (1824 -1901)
Born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, he was the son of a successful draper, town councillor and magistrate. Leaving school, he went into in his father’s business, but went on to work for a draper in Glasgow. He then established a mining venture near Airdrie, but hearing about the gold rush in Victoria, Australia he went out there to join his brother in 1852,
soon making a successful strike in the Ovens goldfield. He used his newly acquired wealth to establish a chain of hotels providing accommodation for the crowds of hopefuls moving to the area to make their own fortunes.
He continued his involvement in gold mining, and became a director of the Ovens Gold Field Water Company. Soon after, he established the Chiltern Valley goldfield. One of his contributions to the industry, was to use steam power as a more efficient means of separating gold ore from its detritus.
In 1882, having sold off his businesses, Wallace entered politics and from 1882 to 1901 was a member of the Legislative Council of the Eastern Province of Australia. At the same time, he used his wealth to develop an effective hospital service in the area and to make generous donations to support the Salvation Army and provide succour for the poor of the state.
A financial depression in the 1890s had an adverse effect on his investments but this did not deter him in his political and charitable work. He died in 1901, highly respected by all who knew him.
Researched by Bill MacLennan
John Alston Wallace
Left, a reminder of Rutherglen’s famous son is to be found in the Old Parish Church burial ground where John Alston Wallace commissioned a monument to his father James Wallace, 1793 - 1874
Image credit: Bill MacLennan
Background map: Bartholomew Survey Atlas of Scotland 1912, reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland