Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club
Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street
On Thursday, 12th November 2015 at 7.30pm
Mr Stuart Little (President)
Mr Little thanked everyone that managed to make it tonight and added that it looked like the storm, 'Abigail' may have taken her toll on some of our members and visitors.
Mr Little explained fire drill procedure, housekeeping rules and requested that all mobile phones be switched to silent or off.
Bill Crawford, Alastair Ross, Simon Brown, Brian Henderson, Dorothy Blair, Gillian McGugan, John McGugan, Janette Knox, Petrina Cairns, Marion McGuigan, Jim O'Kane, Molly Crighton
The minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 15th October were approved and proposed by Gaynor MacKinnon and seconded by Isabelle Haddow.
There were no amendments or matters arising.
Mr Little told us that he had nothing to report but would like to say a few words from his school days that were written by the poet Thomas Hood, his thoughts of November.
"No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon!
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease -
No comfortable feel in any member No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!November!"
Mrs McNae thanked everyone for braving out on this blustery evening and asked members to take note of upcoming events and dates.
Firstly, e-minutes. As a club we are endeavouring to become more efficient and at the same time using less paper and incurring a reduced printing cost.
You would be receiving the minutes the week before the meeting which will give you time to read them thoroughly before voting them through.
Your email address will be merged into a mailing list which the Club Secretary will hold as an 'undisclosed' list so others won't be able to see your address.
Mrs McNae reminded members to pick up any remaining Membership cards if they hadn't already done so and also, if they could pick up some OGC leaflets and distribute them to friends, work colleagues etc.
There's lots going on in the coming months which you can keep up to date with on the OGC Facebook page (currently standing around 500 likes), People Make Glasgow peoplemakeglasgow.com and What's On Glasgow www.whatsonglasgow.co.uk
The Annual Glasgow Charities Christmas Fayre is taking place on Tuesday, 17th November, 10am-4pm. As usual it is taking place at Glasgow City Chambers and entry is free.
The dates for 'Doors Open' 2016 have been announced, 12th - 18th September.
The Turner Prize 2015 is being held at Glasgow's Tramway. An exhibition of work by four shortlisted artists will be free and will run from 1st October, 2015 until 17th January, 2016. The winner of the prize will be announced on 7th December, 2015.
An open invitation has been extended to members to attend the talk being given by renowned historian, Tim Clarkson on his latest book, 'Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age'. The talk will be followed by refreshments and a chance to view the Govan Stones.
The talk is free and is at Govan Old Parish Church on 25th November at 6.30-8.30pm.
Mr Little introduced Colin Mackie. This is a return visit for Colin who is going to give a talk on "The Southern Necropolis - Memoirs of a Happy Reaper." Colin is going to give us an update on what has been going on since his last visit
Good evening, once again thank you for letting me revisit the OGC to update you on what's been happening at the Southern Necropolis.
It was Charlotte Hutt, a history teacher and Colin's Guidance teacher at Aldelphi Secondary School in the Gorbals where
Colin went to school that sparked his interest in Southern Necropolis. Charlotte knew about the historical aspects of the Gorbals. She may have been from the West End but she had a passion for Gorbals history and she had a dream to see the Southern Necropolis restored to it's former glory. She felt that it was overlooked compared to our cousin in the north of the city.
The cemetery is 21 acres in size with some 250,000 people buried there within the many lairs. The cemetery was established in 1839 and the first burial took place in 1840. There are three sections, the Central (opened in 1840), Eastern (opened in 1846) and the larger Western section opened in 1850. The entrance is via the grand gatehouse which was built in 1848 to the designs of Glasgow architect Charles Wilson.
There are many unusual causes of death listed on the Victorian headstones that sound odd to us today : Grocer's Itch (skin disease caused by mites in sugar or flour), Nostalgia (died of a broken heart), fever and a bad leg and Bad Blood (Syphilis) are just some of the many that are listed.
Charlotte's dream and our aim is to bring the cemetery back to 'life' and make it a destination for families and visitors.
We've had an Easter egg hunt where we planted little eggs with historical questions, Halloween guided tours with the 'Happy Reaper' and recently launched a heritage walk. The walk is gps so it is reliant on satellite. The app is free and is called 'Gorbals'. The Southern Necropolis is just one of 8 walks featured on the app.
It had always stuck in Colin's mind that one of Charlotte's wishes was to see a wedding take place in the cemetery. On the 27th of June this year Colin and his bride, Elsie, who are both founding member of SNAG tied the knot on the Franciscan Circle opposite the Gatehouse. Along with the 50 invited guests there were the residents of the graveyard. Colin was quoted as saying "there can't be too many people who can say they had 250,000 ex-residents of Glasgow at their wedding".
Along with joyful occasions we also attend to the constant growth of ivy and accumulation of heavy vegetation along the pathways and covering many of the walls and headstones. Thankfully due to local resident, Rick this is now being addressed.
We are currently in progress towards clearing and maintaining the 31 characters within the site trail and have just recently completed cleaning the 'White Lady' monument, taking care not to look her in the eye incase we turned to stone!
The Gatehouse is a major project that we hoping to start in the next few years with an aim to refurbishing it to it's former glory. It is very fitting considering that the one of Glasgow's famous architects and the man responsible for the gatehouse, Charles Wilson, along with his family, is buried within the back left quarter of the central section of the cemetery.
There's a big future for the Southern Necropolis and fortunately it's in safe hands with the Southern Necropolis Action Group and our partnerships.
We are there every Sunday from 12 noon until 2pm. Please feel free to get involved, come for a guided tour or download the tour from the website. Website address is southernnecropolis.co.uk. You can get more information on this page and also contact us directly or download the app.
Q Can you tell me how many gravestones there are or an approximate number, please ?
A That's a future project for us as there are areas that don't have many stones. There's probably a good few thousand stones. We are hoping to get some kind or record, there are lots of lovely stones, no tombs as such.
Q I've been in the cemetery quite a few times and there is a grave of a woman that was in the Spanish Civil War ?
A That's Agnes Harkness who is recorded on her husband, James Reston's headstone as the 'Heroine of Matagorda' Like many women at the time, Agnes and her son had accompanied her husband on the Campaign. There had been an order given for troops to withdraw from Matagorda. During their withdrawal Agnes made three forays across the battery, amid shot and shell to retrieve belongings, her son and to carry water to the soldiers. Queen Victoria heard about her and McGonagall wrote a poem about her called 'A Humble Heroine'.
Q I've found it difficult to find out the names of particular people in a lair. How many and the names ? A The Mitchell are working on digitising the names of people in the lairs.
Q Who was the last person buried there ?
A The last burial was roughly around 5 years ago, in the central section. Anybody buried here now will have to have a lair certificate. If there's room in the lair you can be buried there but there will be no new graves.
Q You told us before about one of the times you took your Niece to the Southern Necropolis.
A Yes, I used to take my Niece when she was 3 or so. She learned her numbers and letters here. This particular day we were at a row of headstones and I was concentrating. Nicole told me that there was a man wanting to talk to me. I turned round looking for the man, I couldn't see anyone....Nicole described a man wearing a hat standing beside us! I got scared, gathered our stuff and quickly left. Another time, one of the first times that Nicole had been there she turned around and waved as we were leaving.
Q Is any work being done on the Old Gorbals burial ground ?
A Not as such but there's a lovely wee orchard there.
Q Can I ask you what date we got married on, Colin ?
A Yes, 27th of June this year.
Q Colin's wife, Elsie prompts him on telling members about tours of the Southern Necropolis ?
A The next tour will take place some time in the New Year.
Q Elsie asks Colin to tell us about the most recent tour ?
A Oh, we had a Halloween tour for the younger members of the Community, to get a link with them and create interest. Last year we had 110 children. This year we had an amazing tour, nearly 300 children dressed as vampires, zombies and wearing plague masks. It's the most amount of people we've had on a tour.
Q You keep mentioning that esteemed people such as Alexander 'Greek' Thomson and Thomas Lipton. Are there any other famous people buried there.
A Yes, Allan Glen, George Geddes and family, Wee Willie White (the blind flute and flageolet player), James Napier Cousland the architect and the founders of 'Camp Coffee', the Paterson family. We've basically got 33 notable people on our tour. If you go to our website you can download the Southern Necropolis Heritage Trail.
Vote of Thanks - Ruaraidh Clark
Ruaraidh said that he had arrived here this evening very much expecting the grim reaper and instead we got the happy reaper. Great gallows humour to the burial business, Colin. This is your third time giving a talk here, you've already got the book and the cuddly toy, now you've got the fridge magnet.
On behalf of the Old Glasgow Club thank you so much for your entertaining and informative talk.
AOCB - None
Next Ordinary Meeting - Thursday 10th November
Next Directors Meeting - Thursday 10th November immediately following the Ordinary Meeting.
Mr Little tells us that there are plans to bring the Clyde Steamer, The Queen Mary back to Glasgow. There is ongoing fundraising and Robbie Coltrane is one of the names behind it.
Mr Little wished everyone a safe home on this very stormy night.