Robert Napier’s Obituary



Mr Robert Napier, the celebrated engineer, died on Friday morning at three o’clock, at West Shandon on the Gareloch. He had reached a venerable age, having been born on the 18th June, 1791.

He was a native of Dumbarton, where his father carried on business as a master blacksmith, and was universally respected. Mr Napier was thus in a manner born into the iron trade, and was destined to participate in its development. At first he took his father’s business, and was esteemed an excellent tradesman, his workshop on settling in Glasgow being in a court off Canon Street, not far from the Old University, where James Watt had previously worked out his great invention in connection with the steam engine.

While beginning, however, in a comparatively humble department of iron craft, his active and ingenious mind soon induced him to branch into the manufacture of hydraulic presses and other machines, and ultimately to concentrate his energies on the construction of steam engines, in which he achieved the highest eminences and laid the foundation of his prosperous fortune. When he entered upon the trade of a general engineer, Mr Napier removed to Camlachie Foundry, where he obtained ample scope for the development of his business. Here he undertook the execution of very important contracts, and, among others, that for the pipes required by the Glasgow Water Company in bringing in a copious supply of water from the Clyde above the city.

The Vulcan Foundry, which he afterwards set up in Washington Street, became by degrees a mighty concern, and one of the lions of the city often visited by distinguished and sometimes illustrious strangers. It would be about the year 18[illegible]4 that he first began to acquire celebrity as a maker of marine engines, having supplied several Clyde steamers, which took an easy lead for the beauty, substantiality, and smooth working of their machinery. His very first effort in marine engineering consisted, we believe, in making the engines for a small paddle-steamer, named the Leven, which plied between Glasgow and Dumbarton. A cousin of the deceased, Mr David Napier, who had assisted the famous Henry Bell in the construction of the ‘Comet’, had removed to Lancefield from Camlachie Foundry when Mr Robert Napier entered upon its occupancy; and in time the latter gentleman again succeeded his cousin in the Lancefield Foundry, where a fresh impetus and greater room were afforded for his operations. The vessels engined by Robert Napier became the quickest on the river, and enjoyed an almost entire immunity from accident, owing to the thoroughness and solidity of their workmanship.

Throughout his career, from the time he entered into possession of Lancefield Foundry, Mr Napier had the good fortune to have his efforts seconded by a true mechanical genius, the late Mr David Elder, whose son, the late Mr John Elder, afterwards rose to distinction in the same walk. Mr Napier was also fortunate in the time in which his career of industry commenced. Marine engineering on the Clyde was in its infancy, with a vast future before it, and the opportunity was favourable for his at once aiding and sharing in its development. From the engineering of small river steamers, he gradually came to supply engines for first-class coasters, and for ocean steamers of the largest size, while with every fresh development of his now large business, he acquired fresh reputation, and an increasing amount of work.

He was thus brought into contact not only with the great shipowners of the country but with the Government, for whom he executed many important orders. His name as am engineer became in this way famous not only in England but throughout the world. For a long time his attention was exclusively devoted to engineering, but about 35 years ago he began to combine shipbuilding with the making of engines and from his building yard at Govan, the Black Prince, and other of the largest class of warships were launched. Some of the earliest Cunard liners also bore the Napier name and mark. He was indeed associated with Mr George Burns, Sir James Campbell, Mr McIver of Liverpool, and others, in the starting of that famous line. He engined the Britannica, Acadia, Caledonia, Columbia, Hibernia, Cambria, America, Niagara, Europa, Candia, Arabia, most, if not all, of which have now been superseded by larger vessels, both build and engined by Mr Napier, such as the Persia, 3000 tons and 850 horse power, the Scotia, 4000 tons and 1000 horse power (which is now laid up in Gareloch in consequence of the dull state of trade), and the China, 2540 tons and 550 horse power.

Mr Napier executed many important orders for the continental mercantile companies, and war vessels for the French, Turkish, Russian, Danish and Dutch Governments. For our own Government, besides the Black Prince, he build the Malabar, 4174 tons and 700 horse power; the Audacious and Invincible, armour-clad frigates, each 3775 tons and 800 horse-power. He also constructed a number of armour-clad turret vessels, and was the builder of the well known Hotspur, launched in 1870. But in this hurried sketch it would be impossible for us to attempt any detailed list of the many magnificent specimens of marine architecture which have given lustre to his name and renown to his native river.

The time of Mr Napier was so thoroughly engrossed with his extensive business that he took little or no part in municipal affairs. He was, however, a hearty supporter of the Glasgow Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders, a useful member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was ever ready to appreciate and encourage the genius of invention. His fame as an engineer and shipbuilder was worldwide, and he had many honours from abroad in recognition of his eminence. At the Paris Exhibition of 1855, where he was a juror, Mr Napier received from the late Emperor Napoleon the Decoration of Knight of the Legion of Honour. He was one of the committee who organised the Fine Art exhibition in South Kensington Museum in 1862, and indeed was never absent from the lists of the promoters of such objects of national and international importance. Mr Napier was president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers during their meeting in Glasgow in the summer of 1864. He is succeeded in the firm of Robert Napier & Sons by his youngest son, Mr John Napier, who has conducted the business for a number of years. Mr James M Napier, the other son of the deceased is a member of several societies, and a well-known inventor.

From a social point of view, there was everything to admire and love in Mr Napier’s character. Benevolent in disposition, plain and unaffected in deportment, and affable and winning in his manners, he was personally a favourite with all classes. He was a great collector of articles of vertu, and a liberal patron of the fine arts, and his beautiful mansion on the Gareloch, where his declining years were spent, and where he has just closed his career, contains numerous treasures of rare and almost fabulous value. Mr Napier has left a grown-up family, but his wife pre-deceased him about six months ago.

Review of the Shandon Hydro on opening



The palatial structure at West Shandon, built by the late Robert Napier, and now the property of the Shandon Hydropathic Company, was yesterday publicly inaugurated, and is now open for the reception of visitors.

The existing building, on which considerable alterations and improvements have just been effected, is a large and handsome Elizabethan pile, commanding the beautiful scenery of the Gareloch. The entrance is in a lofty turreted tower on the east side, and the principal rooms are arranged along the south front, between which and the Gareloch is an ornamental flower garden. A conservatory, 165 feet long, runs out from the west front, and is to be connected with the drawing-room by a glass passage. Behind the great corridor is a large and handsomely finished room built by Mr Napier as a picture gallery, and behind this again are two other rooms used as a billiard-room and museum. The rest of the building, consisting of kitchen and servants’ accommodation etc etc is hardly in keeping in size with what ahs been described, and is badly arranged, having been added to and altered from time to time.

In acquiring the property the directors employed by Messrs Peddie, Kinnear & Peddie, of Edinburgh, to prepare designs for the additions and alterations required to fit the building for a first-class hydropathic establishment. The directors chose a design for the extension of the building on the north side. The accommodation it provides consists of 44 bedrooms on the ground floor and the same number on the upper floor. The rooms are reached form the main building by two covered bridges, that at the lowest wing being chiefly for the use of the servants, and an exit is also provided to the grounds by a door in the north side. The alterations on the main building consist chiefly of erecting a new back stair and some reconstruction of the partitions to adapt the rooms to their new purpose. The picture gallery is to be used as a recreation-room, and the museum and billiard-rooms are thrown into one and extended northward to form a large dining room 42ft by 39ft by 25ft 6 in high. The total number of guests’ rooms will be 132. The large conservatory will be used as a promenade or recreation gallery. Adjoining the main building, and connected with it by a covered passage, will be placed the bath buildings, in which will be a complete set of private and general baths for hydropathic treatment as well as for ordinary use. Sea water will be pumped up to the large swimming bath to each of the private baths it may be required for. The total cost of the additions and alterations has been estimated at about £17,000. We may here add that a new pier is about to be erected at the northern entrance to the establishment by the trustees of the late Sir James Colquhoun, Bart..

On the invitation of the directors of the company, a large party of ladies and gentleman from Edinburgh, Glasgow and townships on the west coast visited the establishment yesterday, and were shown over the building and the grounds. Reaching Helensburgh by rail, the company were conveyed to Shandon by one of the steamers belonging to the North British Railway Company, which was represented on the occasion by Mr John Walker, of Edinburgh, general manager, and Councillor Grierson, of Glasgow, one of the directors. Amongst other gentlemen present were ex-Baillie Morrison, Glasgow, chairman of the board of directors of the Hydropathic Company; Baillie John Ure, Cairndhu; Councillor Mowat, Glasgow; the Rev J L Fogo, Row; General Furlong, Merchiston; Mr C E Irwin, Glasgow; Mr Walter McLellan of Blairvaddich; Mr James Arthur of Barshaw; Major Colquhoun, Bencruach Lodge; Mr John Horsburgh, Edinburgh; Mr William R Lawson, Edinburgh; and Mr Robert Jamieson, Edinburgh. The weather was of that unsettled character which, usually described as on the whole unpleasant, was in the special circumstances of yesterday the occasion of singularly beautiful glimpses of sea and sky and shore-land. The summit of the hills surrounding the Gareloch were covered with snow, while the lower slopes glowed in the rich tints of autumn, and over all heavy storm-clouds heightened the wintry aspect of the scene, on rolling quickly away left the upland bathed in sunshine which seemed to belong to mid-summer. Under such rapid and effective transitions, the Gareloch revealed every hour new forms of beauty.

The visitors having gone through the grounds and inspected the establishment, an adjournment was made to the conservatory, where about 200 ladies and gentlemen sat down to an elegant luncheon, under the presidency of Baillie Morrison. After luncheon the chairman made a few remarks. Speaking on behalf of the directors, he cordially welcomed their friends who had honoured them by attending, and said they were anxious that everything should be done in the future to promote the comfort of their guests. They had resolved, the chairman added, to alter the hour of retiring for the nigh generally adopted in such establishments by extending it to 10.30pm, and they had also agreed that all outdoor and indoor games, such as cards, chess, draughts etc should be permitted and encouraged, with the enforcement of a strict prohibition against gambling. He concluded by thanking Messrs Grierson and Walker, on behalf of the directors, for having placed one of the steamers of the North British Railway Company at the disposal of their guests. Tea and coffee were afterwards served, and then the company returned to the steamer.

Sale of the Shandon collection part 2

Dear blog reader

The blog posts on this website started a few months ago with a report on one of the days’ sale of the Shandon collection and, at long last, here is a second part in this series. Enjoy.





The sale of the second portion of the Shandon collection commenced in the rooms of Messrs Christie, Manson & Woods, at one o’clock today.

The objects of art offered were miniatures, bijouterie, watches, snuff-boxes, carvings in ivory and Italian carvings in wood. There was but a scanty attendance in the room, most of those present being dealers, and the bidding was exceedingly slow, owing to the long time taken in the examination of each object when it was put up, those attending the sale having evidently not looked at the various articles befroehand as much as is generally the case. Of the various objects offered today, the snuff-boxes, many of which were very handsome, fetched the best prices.

The sale commenced with lot 1501, a miniature on enamel by H P Bone of Inigo Jones, after Van Dyck, which went for £3; and the next, a fine head of the Magdalen, by the same painter, after Guido, brought £3 15s. Another of the Earl of Westmoreland fetched £4 12s 6d and one of the Duchess of Hamilton, after Lely, £5 10s. An effective oval enamel of Mirevelt by Bone went for £5 15s. A small portrait of the Duc de MOntpensier fetched 3 gs, and a miniature of the poet Thomson by Bone, after Aikman, 6 gs, while a fine portrait of Rembrandt, which came next, was cheap at £7. A large square enamel by Bone of Lavinia Countess of Spencer, after Reynolds, ran up to £21. Then came Louis XIV, a remarkably fine small oval enamel, on gold, went to Mr Boore for 26 1/2 gs. A tiny oval enamel by Zincke (1517) fetched 5 gs, and another of a lady in a blue dress £9 5s. A large enamel of Dr Johnson, after Sir J Reynolds, by W Essex, ran up to £26. The next lot, Frances Marchioness of Camden, a very fine enamel by Bone after Reynolds, fetched £37. The last miniature, one of the Duke of Wellington, by Bone, realised 10gs.

The bijouterre came next, commencing with a gold ring with landscape and cows in wax, which went for £1 18s. A badge of the Pitt Club, with cameo portrait of Pitt set in silver gilt fetched £3 15s. The next lot, a gold medal with the arms of the City of Glasgow, formerly worn by the Lord Provost, realised 7 guineas, and a large gold brooch which followed, £9. A pendant jewel, a jacinth in the shape of a vase, and three pearls sold for the same price, and a gold ring with the Lord’s Prayer written on the space of 3-16ths of an inch in diameter, for £17. A Cinque Cento jewel for a lady, hanging round the neck, with pearls, stones and enamel, ran up to £35. A Dresden porcelain etui went to £8, and one of Battersea enamel, mounted in gold, for 10 gs. A needlecase formed as a bambino, of Dresden, mounted in silver, which was exhibited at Leeds, realised £22.

The watches came next, the first offered being one in an oval case of silver gilt and rock crystal, by Marc Gerard, Paris, form the Soltikoff Collection, which ran up to 10 1/2 gs. A small watch by Lagisse, in silver gilt case, went at £3 10s, on by Dollent, Paris (1554), for £4 10s, and the next, an oval silver clock watch by Johann Satler, for £6. A silver watch by Fromantin, with Time drawing the chariot of Sun, sold for £7. An oval watch by Dudunt of Blois, from the Soltikoff collection (1559), a very fine old specimen, was soon run up to £28, and another, from the same collection, bought 7 1/2 gs. A small gold watch by Gretton (1561) fetched £3 5s, and a small silver clock-watch by Marckwick (1564) £3 10s. The next lot, a silver gilt repeating watch by Hallier, London, set in brilliants, exhibited at Leeds, went at £14 10s. A gold watch by Brillon, Paris, enchased gold case, with plaques of Dresden porcelain, exceedingly fine, ran up to £3 10s. A small watch by Hubert Ronen, with rock-crystal back and front, went for 10 1/2 gs. A silver gilt repeating watch (1573) fetched £4; and one by Kange, in gold case, 7 gs. A gold watch by Coulin & Bry, Geneva, went at 10 gs; and the next lot, one by Le Blanc, Paris, in gold case, dial and hands set with brilliants, for 12 gs. A watch by Berthon, in gold case, enamelled (1578), realised £4; and the final lot of the watches today was a small one by Marchand et Fils, Paris, in oval gold snuffbox, the dial set with diamonds, which was run up to £26, and was sold, like many others, to Mr Grindley.

The first of the snuff-boxes was an octagonal bloodstone box, gold-mounted, a beautiful specimen, which was knocked down for £36. A circular box, with a pastoral subject, went for 7 1/2 gs. A horn box, on gold pique work (1585), fetched £3 5s; the next, of tortoise-shell, in the form of a ship, £5 10s; and the following one, of polished jasper, £3 15s. An oval box, of beautiful moss agates, mounted in gold (1592) soon ran up to £21 10s. The next lot, a one of black japan lacquer, fetched 6 gs. An oval tortoise box, with pique work (1597), brought £5; and the next lot, a similar one, exhibited at Manchester, the same price. An oval gold and silver gilt box, with a moss agate on the top, went to 10 gs. An oval box, made of the wood of Shakespeare’s mulberry tree, with a gold medal on the lid, formerly in the possession of David Garrick, realised £10; and the next lot, an oblong enamelled box, 7 1/2 gs. A round tortoise-shell box, with an oval portrait on the lid, mounted in gold, fetched £14; and the next, with an oval enamel, £5 10s. A box with oval enamel of the Nativity brought 5 1/2 gs; a circular iron box (1612), and the next lot, one of white enamel, were sold together for 11 gs. An oval-shaped Mocoa stone patch box, mounted with chased gold (1617), was sold with the preceding lot, a wooden box, for £20 10s. Then came an important lot, an oval gold box, time of Louis XV, with dark purple panels and an oval enamel miniature of a lady, which was bought by Mr Josephs at £85. A shaped oval silver box, which came next, went for 27 gs. The last of the snuff boxes, a round shell box lined with gold, with a miniature of Anne of Russia, was not dear at 12 1/2 gs.

The ivory carvings came next in order. A small bust of a man (1622) sold for £9, and an oval medallion, with a portrait of a lady, temp. Queen Anne, for £8. ‘Morning’ and ‘Night’, two reliefs after Thorwaldsen, were sold together for 52 gs to Mr Lawrie, of Glasgow. ‘Mercury and Pandora’ after Flaxman, followed for 12 gs, and a statuette of the Madonna and child for £3. a box carved with masks brought 4gs; a large upright plaque carved with the Crucifixion (1632 ) went for 5 1/2 gs, and a small statuette of the infant Christ, the next lot, for £15 to Mr Whitehead. A pair of Indian figures, partly gilt, fetched £5 10s. A small statuette of Mars, with lance and shield, 17th century, went to Mr Lawrie for £7, being £1 for every inch of its height. A pair of statuettes (1637) were sold for 33 gs. Then came a set of four small statuettes, French work of the 17th or 18th century, from Alton Towers, which were knocked down for 21 gs. A statuette of a man, set with small rubies and diamonds (1639), went at 30 gs, to Mr Whitehead. A small pounce bottle. carved with Bacchanals. Dutch work (1700) went for £2 15s. A statuette of a mendicant with a wooden leg, and an old women, the companion, seventeenth century work, and about eight inches high, were sold for 27 gs, to Mr Lawrie. A statuette of an infant Bacchanal, the last ivory, fetched £4.

Italian carvings in wood followed. An small box, and a boxwood spindle, carved with figures, went for £3 5s; and the lower portion of a distaff, which followed, for 2 gs. A curious desk knife, with long boxwood handle, seventeenth century, went for 6 1/2 gs; and another, also beautifully carved, on a thin stem, for 10gs, to Mr Lawrie. A Venetian candlestick, of sandlewood (1655), fetched £9 10s, and two more followed for 7 1/2 gs. A pair of Venetian walnut wood bellows, with carved wood of the 16th century, very handsome, ran up to 17 gs. The next lot, ‘The Conversion of Saul, a composition of numerous figures, fetched 18 1/2 gs. A Venetian oblong casket of sandalwood, carved (1660), went to 10 gs. A pair of walnut wood brackets fetched 6 gs. Then came another pair of Venetian bellows of walnut wood, with figures, partly gilt, which brought 15 gs, while a pair which followed, with handsome nozzle, sold for 13 gs. A cedarwood carving of Jezebel, eleven inches high, with many figures, realised 9 gs. a pair of Neapolitan statuettes followed, of ivory wood, of a mendicant and his wife, which brought £5 10s. The last lot today was a Neapolitan group in ivory, with drapery of carved wood, and an aged person carrying a Cupid on his back, very curious, and about 19 inches high, which was knocked down for 17 gs to Mr Lowenstein.

The total realised by today’s sale was £1410, making the grand total up to the present time £35,755.

The MacLeods of Fuinary

Dear blog reader

This week’s blog posts highlights 2 happenings at Shandon associated with the MacLeod family who owned the Fuinary house.

The MacLeod family were predominantly Church of Scotland ministers (a long line of ministers going back to the eighteenth century) but also had medical men in their family.

Reverend Norman MacLeod, who married Agnes Maxwell, was a Church of Scotland mininster, poet and writer.

Norman and Agnes had 3 sons, Norman, Donald and George. Norman and Donald also became Church ministers and George (George Husband Baird MacLeod to give him his full name) was a surgeon.

George Husband Baird MacLeod:

Norman junior’s grandson was George MacLeod who founded the Iona community.

George MacLeod founder of the Iona community:

Below are 2 reports of some of the happenings of the MacLeod family at Fuinary.





Shandon, Saturday.

Mr Alexander P Lyon, head gardener to Lady MacLeod, Fuinary, Shandon, met with a distressing shooting incident.

It appears that Mr Lyon had gone to shoot a hawk which had been making depredations among the poultry, and was carrying the gun behind him with the barrel downwards. It is supposed that it came in contact with his right foot, and went off, and the contents were discharged into his right heel.

He was removed in the ambulance to the Victoria Infirmary, Helensburgh.



The death has occurred at Fuinary, Shandon, Dumbartonshire, of the Rev William Houldsworth MacLeod, late minister of Buchanan parish. Mr MacLeod, who was 71 years old, was the last surviving son of the late Sir George Husband Baird MacLeod, MD, LLD, Professor of Surgery in the University of Glasgow. He was educated at the University of Cambridge, where he obtained the degree of BA in 1885, and at Glasgow University, where he received the BD degree in 1888. Licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, he became assistant at Govan, and in 1892 he was ordained at Buchanan.

In 1916-17 Mr MacLeod acted as chaplain to the late Duke of Montrose, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Car accident 1904



Last night about seven o’clock an accident occurred by which a young lady received injuries, and damage was done to a car and a house and a van. The motor car belonged to Mrs Kirkpatrick, of Lagbuie, Shandon, and at the time, besides the driver, there were on the car Miss Jane Kirkpatrick and other members of the family. The motor was proceeding towards Helensburgh. Between Glenfeulan and Fuinary the road takes a sharp bend, and before rounding this the driver of the motor blew his horn. The road is downhill, and the motor at the time was running free-wheel. On turning the corner the driver found the road in part blocked by a lorry and a spring van. It is alleged that the lorry and van were abreast of each other, thus making it impossible for the motor to pass.

The motor driver put on his brake and clutch, and came to a dead stop just in front of and nearly touching the van. The horse reared, and came heavily down upon the bonnet of the motor, then rolled sideways, and became jammed between the motor and the lorry, receiving very severe injuries, while the van was also damaged. The fore part of the motor was also damaged by the horse’s plunging. Miss Kirkpatrick, who had been seated beside the driver, had her foot jammed, and was taken to a neighbouring cottage, and medical aid summoned. The driver of the van escaped unhurt.

Shandon in January 1886

Dear blog reader, this is the fifth part of a series looking at the news in Shandon in particular weeks in history. In the week leading up to Thursday 28 January 1886 Reverend Millar gave a lecture on Scottish songs, the Mutual Improvement Society heard a lecture on lighthouses and the annual aquatic entertainment and the new pier were being anticipated.




On Friday evening the schoolroom was crowded to its utmost capacity to hear a lecture by the Rev Hugh Miller, who took for his subject ‘The Songs of Scotland. Mr Miller was also assisted by a choir under the leadership of Mr Donald McCallum, which greatly added to the evening’s enjoyment. The lecture itself was most enjoyable. The humorous quotations from the old Scotch songs kept the audience in constant amusement. The choir, which did its part well, was strong and well-balanced, all the songs being rendered with great spirit, giving evidence of careful training on Mr McCallum’s part. The following are the names of the songs sung: ‘March of the Cameron Men’, ‘Johnnie Cope’, ‘Kate Dalrymple’, ‘Aye waukin’, oh’, ‘The Laird o’ Cockpen’, ‘A wee bird cam”, ‘John Anderson, my Joe’, ‘Green grow the rashes’, ‘Willie Wastle’, also a solo by Miss Finlay, ‘Auld Robin Gray’, which was sung very nicely. Mr McCallum sung ‘John Grumlie’ and ‘Oor Mary had an e’e tae a man’, which fairly took the house by storm. Miss Tina McLachlan and Mr S Priestley were efficient accompanists. On the motion of the chairman (Mr A J Kirkpatrick), votes of thanks to the Rev lecturer, Mr McCallum, the choir and others, were heartily responded to, thus ending os of th emost enjoyable evenings that has been in Shandon for a long time.


The annual swimming entertainment in connection with the Hydropathic establishment will take place this (Thursday) evening. The exhibition will be given in the large bath, and Mr Priestley will be assisted by several experts in the art of natation.


At the weekly meeting of the members on Monday evening, Mr Andrew Vallance read a paper on ‘Lighthouses’, in which he gave some interesting information concerning the building of these structures and the life which is led within them. At the close, Mr Vallance was awarded a hearty vote of thanks.


Arrangements are being made for the erection of a pier on iron pillars at Shandon. The new pier will be run out opposite the Free Church, and when completed will be a great convenience to residents, as the present pier at Balernock is nearly a mile above the village.

Shandon in January 1885

Dear blog reader, this is the fourth part of a series looking at the news in Shandon in particular weeks in history. In the week leading up to Thursday 22 January 1885 Reverend Millar gave a lecture in the West Free Church, Helensburgh and there was aquatic entertainment at the Hydro.




The Rev Mr Millar delivered a lecture in the hall of the West Free Church, Helensburgh on Friday evening. He took for his subject ‘Words, their Roots and Blossoms’ which was handled in a masterly manner, and was agreeably interspersed with humorous anecdotes. The lecture was under the auspices of the Literary Society, the Rev Mr Leitch, the president, occupying the chair.


A grand aquatic entertainment took place in the Shandon Hydropathic Baths, in connection with the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, on Friday evening.

Among those present were Mr J R Cunningham, Mr Stephen Mason, Glasgow, Mr Peter McLeod, and a number of the ladies and gentlemen of the Gareloch. The room was crowded. Mr Priestley, vice-president, was in the chair, and, in opening the proceedings, he said he had been requested to take the chair, but he thought it would have been more consistent, considering the crowded state of the room, to have asked him to take the water.

Most of them were aware that this was the second entertainment of the same kind in connection with the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement association, and the one held last year had given such satisfaction both to the members and the public, and from the kindly notices of the press, our president, the Rev Mr Millar, was determined there should be another. That was no doubt the reason of their meeting that night. He said he had been asked if the last entertainment did any good. He could give that answer now to the gentleman who asked it, and he could say to all of them that a goodly number of the young men belonging to the association could now swim that could not swim before.

Mr President also said if ever he should make the acquaintance and be on friendly terms with any gentleman who should either be in this Parliament or the new one, he should most certainly ask him to support or bring in a bill making swimming compulsory and a part of the education of each child. (Applause).

The programme commenced by various styles of swimming by Messrs Strauss, Hamilton, and Stevenson, of Glasgow, members of the West of Scotland Swimming Club, and their graceful movements met with deserved applause.

Trapeze by Master John Priestley; neatly done.

Exhibition of fast swimming – ten lengths of the baths, by Messrs Williamson and S Priestly, both members of the West of Scotland Swimming Club. Great interest was taken in this race, both competitors having met on several previous occasions in important events. The Shandon representative won by a touch.

Exhibition of plate swimming by Mr G Hamilton; met with a hearty response.

Ornamental entertainment by Messrs Strauss and Stevenson was watched with great interest, and was one of the greatest features of the evening, their beautiful movements meeting with cheer after cheer.

Distance diving, object diving, and plunging, by S Priestley, Williamson and Strauss. Williamson succeeded in bringing to the surface eight objects out of nine, and the cheers of the company. S Priestly dived and swam four lengths underneath the water – a performance that was greeted with great eclat. The plunging and diving of Mr Strauss was greatly admired.

Masters John and Edmund Priestley swimming, diving, and plunging. The movements of the younger were watched with great interest, as he looked so small in the water. Their performance was greatly cheered.

Strauss and Williamson touching and turning, as used in fast swimming, was well appreciated, and deservedly so.

‘The First Swimming Lesson’ was the event of the evening, and kept the audience in a continued roar of laughter. The characters were – Professor Hoodwink, Mr Stevenson; Mr Jones, Mr Hamilton; Mrs Jones, Mr S Priestley; Master Tommy Jones, Mr W Priestley. Professor Hoodwink first entered, and after telling the audience that he had been engaged at Shandon as professor of swimming, at 3s 6d per week, all found, said that he expected a pupil that afternoon, when a loud knock intimated the arrival of Mr Jones. After a hearty greeting, Mr Jones asked the Professor’s fee for lessons in swimming, and was answered 10s for the first two lessons, the last two being free. Mr Jones, in his droll way, said he would take the last two first, and if his Tommy got on well he would see about the other two lessons. Mrs Jones and Master Tommy now entered. Mrs Jones, with the usual umbrella and a tremendous improver, leading her son Tommy, who being naturally afraid of the water required a lot of coaxing with a large scone and toys. The Professor got the belt round Tommy, but it slipped off, and Mrs Jones being anxious about her son, tried to reach him, when she fell into the water head foremost, Mr Jones and the Professor following. The scene that followed was indescribable, and between the screams of Mr, Mrs, and Tommy Jones, and the plaudits of the company, one would have thought that the building was coming down.

Aquatic Football Match – 5 on each side – created great merriment. the match ended in a draw.

Mr Priestley, at the conclusion of the sports, thanked the audience for their attendance, and the West of Scotland members for their evening’s entertainment.

Mr J R Cunningham, of Bloomfield, proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Priestley for the manner in which the entertainment had been carried out, and the great treat they had enjoyed; and the most successful and novel entertainment ever given by the Young Men’s Association was then brought to a close.

Mr Alex Vallance ably supported Mr Priestley in carrying out the proceedings.

Death of Edinburgh Banker at Shandon



The death is announced at Shandon of Mr Alexander Duncan, agent of the National Bank of Scotland (Limited), High Street, Edinburgh.

The deceased, who had been in indifferent health for some time, went to Shandon a little over a week ago, and had, it was believed, derived considerable benefit from his stay there. On Monday, however, he became seriously ill, and died about midnight, the cause of death being heart failure.

Mr Duncan began his professional life as a banker in Newburgh, Fife, at the age of seventeen years. He came to Edinburgh more than forty years ago, when he became connected with the Commercial Bank. Some years later he opened the High Street branch of the National Bank, which he has conducted with great success.

He was for many years a well-known figure in the Old Town, by the merchants of which he was held in high regard alike for his business and social qualities. He is survived by three daughters.

A Shandon Elopement



Some little sensation has been created in the Gareloch district by the elopement of a young working-man’s wife with her cousin.

It appears that a gardener named Thomson and his wife, residing in the Shandon district, were recently visited by Thomas Barr, an engineer, lately returned from China, and who is a cousin of Mrs Thomson’s. While ostensibly making a friendly stay of eight days, Barr succeeded in ingratiating himself with his cousin as to induce her to elope with him on Monday, Mrs Thomson on the day in question being supposed to be on a visit to her father’s house in Helensburgh.

When the fact became know that Barr and Mrs Thomson had disappeared together, inquiry was made at the young man’s parents, who reside in Govan, and the information was elicited that Barr has taken train for London, and the supposition is that Mrs Thomson has gone with him.

Much sympathy is felt for Thomson, who has taken very much to heart the desertion by his wife. The levanting wife leaves a child behind.

School Inspector’s Report




The following is a copy of H M Inspector’s report of this school:-

“The present teacher has been in charge only since January, but has already made a marked impression. The school is taught with great firmness, vigour and quietness.

The pupils are uncommonly tidy. The tone is very earnest and healthy, but wanting somewhat in geniality. The results, which included the second standard, were very good indeed.

The reading might be more fluent, but was very distinct. Intelligence should receive increased care, and simultaneous answering be sparingly used.

The singing was uncommonly good and expressive, and was done in two parts, very rare with pupils so young. Industrial work was very creditable.”


Dear blog readers

A future goal of mine is to locate the records for this school. I haven’t yet found which archive they are lodged with.