Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

On Thursday 13th February 2014 at 7.30pm


99 people


Ms Petrina Cairns (President)



Ms Cairns welcomed ladies, gentlemen and councillors along to the members night of the OGC and thanked everyone for coming on this cold night.

Ms Cairns explained fire drill procedures, housekeeping rules and also requested that all mobile phones to be put on silent or switched off.



Sallie Marshall, Jim O'Kane, Maureen McRobb, Isabel Haddow, John McKnight, May Arnott.



The minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 9th January 2014  were approved and proposed by Sam Gordon and seconded by Margaret Kerr. There were no amendments or matters arising.


President's Report

Ms Cairns how much she had enjoyed the excellent talk on The Comet and the vision of Henry Bell given at last months meeting by Burns Shearer.

Ms Cairns reminded members to check out the notice board which has some information on Peter Fyfe and a print out of the original OGC minutes from his talk in 1917. There's also copies of the quiz which we will have at a 15 minute break.

This years club Summer outing is to the newly refurbished Abbotsford House, Melrose on Saturday 14th June. Prices and High Tea details still to be finalised. If you would like to provisionally put your name down then see Gaynor/Shona at the refreshments.

Author Gill Hoffs has sent an open invitation to club members to attend a reading of her book. The book is titled 'The Sinking of RMS Tayleur : The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic', the talk is in Waterstones, Argyle Street on Wednesday 19th February at 7pm. There were at least 78 Scots on board the ship when she sank, including four families from Glasgow who may well have descendants still living in the area unaware of their ancestors link with the disaster.

Even Lochs Heritage Project (which incorporates Provan Hall) has just been given a first round pass at last weeks Heritage Lottery Fund board meeting. This means that funding has been awarded to help develop the project towards a second round application for 4.2 million of Heritage Lottery Fund funding.

The ever popular Antiques Roadshow will be at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries on Thursday 9th October.

Glasgow Canals Unlocked - a new app for mobile phones by Scottish Waterways Trust and Scottish Canals. A guide to a 10 mile stretch of the Forth and Clyde Canal can now be downloaded onto your mobile phone. Old photos can be accessed as well as video clips and facts about the canal. There is a free brochure in tonights edition of the Evening Times, or, one can be picked up at Maryhill Burgh Halls where they also have an exhibition.

Professor Donald Meek will give a talk called 'Govan and the Gaels : Gaelic perspectives on life and work in an industrial community' on 8th March at 2pm in Govan Old Parish Church. The Govan Stones Project are also still looking for volunteer guides.


Ms Cairns said that she would like to give a special thanks to Glickmans for coming along tonight with their collection of sweeties and also to Councillor Yvonne Cucuk for taking time out of her very busy schedule to attend our meeting.


Secretary's Report



Ms Cairns said "The Old Glasgow Club has, as part of it's archive collection a box of glass magic lantern slides depicting

old scenes of Calton - still in the original box with full annotations.

When looking into the old Club minutes books I discovered that we are almost to the day of the anniversary of Peter Fyfe's original talk on 16th February 1917.

Given that the spotlight is firmly on the East End of Glasgow this year, the Directors made the decision to digitise the slides so that we could show them to the members.

We still have the original magic lantern projector but unfortunately it needs some repair work and the obligatory Pat test for it to be used in a public area. But never say never.

There is more information on Peter Fyfe on the noticeboard.

Enough of me talking, let Anna Forrest and Peter Mortimer tell you what a City Sanitary Inspector sees.....A Tour Round the Calton."


"A Tour of the Calton" using magic lantern slides, digitised, full property and rights of the Old Glasgow Club (purchased 1936) - mostly the work of Peter Fyfe, Sanitary Inspector, Corporation of Glasgow. Mr Fyfe gave a paper on this subject which he read on 15th February 1917.

Using the essay and many of the digitised slides in order, we have recreated the "walk" and hope to recreate the atmosphere of The Calton of 1917.


We start at 'The Coat of Arms' pub, Glasgow Cross where Miss Agnew meets Mr Peter Fyfe, it's February 1917. Miss Agnew explains she has been to a ladies meeting and is walking to the Green. Mr Fyfe explains that he is 'walking' the tour for which he will read a Paper and show his magic lantern slides of The Calton area to the Old Glasgow Club.

Miss Agnew says that she plans on attending that lectures as she is a new Lady Member of that prestigious club. Mr Fyfe is surprised at the fact that ladies are now admitted to the Club.


Mr Fyfe explains his expert knowledge of the area and that his is one of three Sanitary Inspectors instructed to oversee the area and report on 'the irregular streets and decaying tenements' of this large area. Although the area is 327 acres, the land density is not extreme as the ward has the whole of Glasgow Green on its southern side.


Mr Fyfe explains that the boundaries for North are Gallowgate to Glasgow Cross. South follows the River Clyde till reaching the bridge at Main St. Bridgeton. East runs up centre of Main St. Bridgeton, along Canning Street. until Abercrombie St. up to Gallowgate. West boundary is the shortest, from Glasgow Cross down Saltmarket to the Clyde.


Mr Fyfe tells Miss Agnew that the 1695 meaning of 'Calton' or Caltoun is taken from the Gaelic a'Chaltainn, meaning 'the hazel wood'. Old Calton is mostly weavers and cordiners. The area is also known as 'Barrowfield' or 'Burrelfield' where the land is set out in barrel or burrel shaped ridges. It is also known locally as 'Blackfaulds' due to the surface coal workings making the land area black.


However, the Calton of the rural and leafy hazel wood and Cammlachie Burn has gone and we are now in 1917 where much of this area will be cleared of decay and drunkenness in this proud Second city of the Empire.


Mr Fyfe and Miss Agnew take their tour down Salt Market, turn into St Andrew St, along to St Andrews Church which is also known as the Tobacco Lords Church. They look at Quarriers City Orphans' Home and the former houses of the gentry that are now common lodging houses for "women of a very low class", surrounded on all sides by the temptations of the "wee pawn and the public house". Within a stones throw, down Low Green St, and into Steel St, we see that "great hospital for souls" the Tent Hall. A monument to the Christian endeavours of the United Evangelistic Association of Glasgow.


They now turn into Greendyke St and see the 'Deil's Kirk' also known as St Andrews-in-the-Green. Further along, at No 59 they pass the 'Old Clothes Market' which has recently been cleared and disinfected for the use as accommodation and training hall for the 9th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry.


They walk on to London Road, past the Saracen's Head Inn (an original staging post), down Charlotte Lane and note Glasgow's most mobile piece of architecture, the McLennan Arch in Charlotte St. forming the entrance to Glasgow Green.

Pass into Kent St. then Moncur St. Bain Square and they are looking across Gallowgate to the steeple of St John's Parish Church in Bell St. On Bain Square is St Luke's Parish Church with the playground opposite. Children are playing under the watchful eye of 'Old Bob', the park-keeper.


Mr Fyfe and Miss Agnew head to the north corner of Bain Square, glancing along King Street, formerly known as 'Beggars Row'. They turn into Moncur Street. walking past the Glasgow Medical Mission where "the body ailments of our poorer classes receive expert attention free of charge". Along Main St. to Kirk St. and passing the Corporation 'Farmed-Out Houses' 1904 which were built to meet the needs of the poorest for the lowest rents.


They talk about No 1 Well St. now being used by Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College as a Weaving School, now loomless but students have carried their knowledge and skill to the US where this particular form of weaving durable fabrics (denim) amassed fortunes. Other nimble fingers are spoken about, this time at Agnew's Chocolate Factory, where the girls employed look healthy and are shod. It's just one of the many sweet and confectionary works in Calton as sugar, cocoa and coffee beans are easily transported. Camp Coffee, Glickman's to name a few.


Turning into Kirk Street and they see that the backlands are falling into decay. Moving along into Moncur Street. and Saturday sees the kerbside is busy. The vacant grounds are leased to two parties who sub-let stances and hire out barrows to those who sell all kinds of merchandise. Locks, keys, linoleum. The stances cost from 6d to 9d per barrow and the stall holder can often clear 1 per day. They see a lady stall holder with a feather in her cap, Mr McDonald the bookseller, plant barrow, clothes stalls and lino being sold by Dutch Auction. They can also see the covered accommodation at Moncur/Kent St. "All the heterogeneous mass of clothing, clocks, watches, hats, books - where they have come from is one of the mysteries of City life".


Miss Agnew asks Mr Fyfe if they could have a wee rest, maybe an ice-cream or a poke of sweeties from Glickman's before they go back down into the old Burgh.


Break and Quiz


Green St. and they are looking at the 'Day Industrial School' which had just been expanded and altered in 1917 to accommodate 300 children. It was used as a huge creche, pupils being children of parents who worked all day. The children have breakfast, dinner and tea at the cost of 1/- per child per week.


From Green St. to Great Hamilton St. which used to be a footpath known as 'The Pleasants', rising from west to east and leading to Tobago St. On the west side of Tobago St. is the 'Calton Cabinet Works'. They also pass The Calton Parish Church which was built in 1793 at no 27 Tobago St. Passing now into Stevenson St. named after Nathaniel Stevens, second Provost of Calton. Here they see 'Backland Dwellings', built in the 1890s to ease congestion. In 1917 they were in want of upkeep and repair and in their last phase as human dwellings.


Turning up Struthers St. and they are now in the centre of the hand-loom weaving area and turn into Bell St. They stop to watch Mr and Mrs McLaughlin and Betsy McLaughlin at their hand looms. Short pieces were produced more cheaply on the hand-loom than on the power-looms. A good weaver could produce 8 yards per day. Hand-loom weavers often started work at the age of 10. In the 1840s - 50s there were 34 weaving shops in Bell St. alone.


Walking eastwards to the boundary of the north part of Calton, Abercromby St. (formerly Witches' Lone), Miss Agnew and Mr Fyfe pause to look at the 'Abercromby St. Common Lodging House', opened by the Corporation in 1900 as a hostel for those men down on their luck. They continue south towards Canning St, where they reach the foot of John St. via Landressy St and are reach the point of the 'Landressy St. Turkey Red Dye Works'.


At the foot of James St. and facing the Green they see the 'Logan and Johnston Institute - School of Domestic Economics 1890'. Girls are trained in the homely arts, "make good mothers and educated and self-reliant housekeepers".

Further along in Greenhead St. is the former Greenhead House which had been build for Dugald McPhail, cotton baron.

Philanthropist James Buchanan left 30,000 for the care and education of fatherless boys. The mansion had recently been extended and was now where some 340 boys were fed, schooled, disciplined and trained in various crafts.


Miss Agnew and Mr Fyfe watch the children playing near Greenhead Baths, also known as 'McPhun's Park' or the 'Daisy Green'. They cross over the road, past the washing on the Green and the Greenhead Baths and Washouse. The Green has been used by Glasgow citizens for over 200 years for washing, drying and bleaching.


They now pass that brilliant piece of Victorian advertising and architecture, Templeton's Carpet Factory, built in 1889 and designed by Glasgow Architect, William Leiper. They also pass 'Glasgow Green Railway Station' built in 1890 by the Caledonian Railway Co. through the Glasgow Central Line. The station looks onto the magnificent People's Palace, Glasgow Green which was built 1896-7 and opened in 1898. It was designed by A.B. MacDonald, City Engineer. The Winter Gardens is in the form of the upturned hull of Nelson's flagship, 'Victory'.


At the end of their tour and Miss Agnew and Mr Fyfe recall that poor looking creature in Green St. just standing outside the public house. She just stood there........Annie McWhirter.


 Ms Cairns speaks as Annie McWhirter :

"My name is Annie McWhirter, man man's name is Jimmy......Sometimes I just come here and stand outside the pub my Jimmy drank in. He played the fiddle and when he didna have the coin for a dram, he would take up his fiddle and come home drunk. I usetae wish he widnae drink, me and the weans didnae always want to sing and dance when he rolled in tae the hoose.

He's in Flanders noo, he joined the 9th Battalion the day they came on the Green marchin' and singin' and playin' their drums. They taught him tae fight, gied him a gun and he couldnae wait tae go.

We manage aw right, I fill the pirns for a weaver in the week and get 10d on a Friday, I clean in pubs and the sweetie factory so we aye get sugar. I don't like the Munitions place, ye lose yer fingers and wan o' the bullets might get my Jimmy. He's promised tae bring back a medal........surely this war will soon be over.


Sing Song: When this Ruddy War is Over


Q  How many people went to war from the Calton ?

A  There's a PDF file on everybody from Glasgow who went to war. Calton had it's fair share. There's a few projects

     happening around the city with the Centenary of the outbreak of the WW1 coming up. One of them is about womens

     work during the war. The women paid a huge contribution to working, they had to step into the breach, the munitions

     factory at Parkhead etc. They played an enormous part in the war efforts, lots of jobs that were traditionally done by

     men. Peter Fyfe's slides are wonderful for capturing the period.

Q  The McLennan Arch ?

     It was originally the centrepiece of the frontage of Robert and James Adam's Assembly Rooms on Ingram Street.

     When Assembly Rooms were demolished it was reconstructed at the end of Monteith Row near Greendyke Street in

     1894. It was moved again in 1922 to another site on the Green opposite Charlotte Street. There were problems with

     the foundations, causing the arch to tilt so the arch was moved for a fourth time. Moved to it's current location

     opposite the High Courts in 1991.

Q   Is David Dale's house in Charlotte Street ?

A    They demolished it in the 1950s knowing full well that it was David Dale's house and a Robert Adam building. There

      was a huge outcry which is probably why the less grand Robert Adam house at no 52 Charlotte Street was left


Q   What were the weavers wages like ?

A    I'm not sure what the pay structures were like. I know that around 1820 there was a call for reform from a lot of

      weavers. The Cammlachie Weavers, a small village where most of the population were employed in hand-loom

      weaving were viewed as scabs by the wider weaving community and some nasty stuff happened. The weaving

      trade was a forerunner to the Red Clyde. It's very hard to say what the wages were since it depended on how many

      of the family were working the looms. They were paid on their output.

Q   Landressy Street ?

A   It's quite an important street, it's a derivation from the time of Henry Menteith who brought workers from France to

     show weavers the Turkey Red Dye process. The leader of the workers was called Pierre Papillon, these workers

     came from Landres in France. Landressy Street was also the site of a tram depot.

Q  Vinegar Hill ?

A   It was the hub for show people and the prime site for the annual carnival.

Q  The present Templeton Carpet Factory ?

A   When the new factory was being constructed in 1889, on November 1st, during a gale, the new wall (due to insecure

     fittings) collapsed on the adjacent weaving sheds. 29 women were killed.

     I have been doing a survey at the Southern Necropolis and found a headstone for  Maggie Shields, one of the women

     killed in the disaster.

Q  Councillor Yvonne Cucuk would like to know of anybody that is related to any of the women involved in the disaster ?



Vote of Thanks

Ms Cairns said "thanks to all Directors for their hard work this evening, thanks to Anna and Peter for their time, effort and their Oscar winning performance. Thanks also to Gavin, as always, for his technical genius. And thank you, the members for watching, but, the stars of the evening are definitely the slides themselves."



The well deserved winner of the quiz is James Hane




Next Directors Meeting - Thursday 6th March 2014

Next Members Meeting - Thursday 13th March 2014


Ms Cairns thanked everyone for coming and wished all a safe journey home.


                                                                                                                                                Shona Crozer

                                                                                                                                                Recording Secretary