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.

Shandon Hydro Hotel in Verse


The new institution is getting into fame already, if we may judge from the following vers de Societie:

A Young Man’s Lament

Woe worth the day when first I saw
The Shandon Hydropathic!
Since that date I lament my fate
In language most emphatic

A country lad, my heart was glad,
And quite untouched by Cupid;
But by his tricks I’m in a fix
That almost drives me stupid!

Two girls were there – one dark, one fair,
And both so sweet and kindly,
That to decide I scarcely tried,
But flirted with both blindly.

At breakfast with my Hebe blonde
I discussed love and bacon.
And offered scones in deep low tones
That were with pathos shaken.

But when we dined, my changeful mind
Preferred the darker beauty!
To praise brown eyes, and hair likewise,
I found it then my duty.

They both were kind, and both inclined
To look on me with favour;
I cannot test which I like best,
So cannot try to have her.

What can I do? If one I woo,
I’ll set the other laughing;
And then how small I’d feel, if all
The time they’d been but chaffing!

Take warning then by me, young men,
Don’t try flirtation double;
For if you do, you’ll prove it true,
‘Twill only bring you trouble


Dear blog reader

I do hope you found the above as enjoyable as I do. It certainly gives us an insight into goings on at the Hydro plus the fact that someone was inspired to write a poem at the Hydro.

Christmas at Shandon 1879

Dear blog reader, this is the third part in the series looking at what was the focus in Shandon in a particular week in time. These reports appeared in the first 1880 edition of the Helensburgh News reporting on Christmas night at the Hydro and those people who were staying at the Hydro that Christmas.




On Christmas night there was a large attendance of visitors, and the energetic manager (Mr G R McKenzie) did all in his power to provide for their comfort and amusement. The list of visitors found in another column will show at once the numerous and influential party. The proceedings began in the afternoon with a concert, under the leadership of the Hillhead Musical Association, comprising the following: Mr and Mrs Zavertal, Mr Zavertal senior, Herr Vogt, Miss Munro, Mr John Gardiner, Mr Black and Mrs William Duff. In the evening there was an assembly, which took place in the large hall, tastefully decorated with evergreens and appropriate devices. Altogether a most pleasant day and evening were spent. On the following evening there was a dramatic entertainment, the piece performed being ‘Breach of promise’ in which the following took part: Mr John Mowat junior, Mr F Morrison, Mr W Mollison, Mr T Duff junior, Mr W Duff and Misses Duff.



Mr Robert Milne, Misses and Master Milne, Aberdeen; Mr and Mrs Cassels, two children and maid, Glasgow; Mrs Oliphant, Edinburgh; Mr, Mrs and Misses Galt, and maid, Glasgow; Mr Wm Johnston, Paisley; Mr John Cochrane, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Cunningham, two children and maid, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Biggam, Airdrie; Miss Smith, Stirling; Mrs Birrell and party of eight, Glasgow; Misses Cunningham and Ritchie, Glasgow; Mr A W and Miss Clark, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Black, Glasgow; Messrs Riddoch, Partick; Mr and Mrs James and Mr Fred Morrison, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Sharp, Helensburgh; Mr and Mrs Eric Anderson, Ceylon; Mr and Mrs Robert Crawford, Glasgow; Mr, Mrs and Misses Morrison, Glasgow; Mr Silva White, Mr Steel, Mr Davis, Mr P McLellan, Mr Mitchell, Glasgow; Mr Urquhart, Edinburgh; Mr and Misses Ritchie, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Henry, Miss and two Messrs Grierson, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs Thomas Duff, Glasgow; Messrs and Misses Duff, Glasgow; Messrs Black, Schuman, Sorley, McDonald and Walker, Glasgow; Messrs Gardener, Elkhurst and Mollison, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs ZAvertal, Mr Zavertal senior, Miss Munro, and Herr Volt, Glasgow; Messrs Cook, Riddle, Jeffrey, Connell and Hatton, Glasgow; Mr John Milne, Aberdeen; Bailie and Mrs Clark, five children and two nurse, Glasgow; Mrs Harvey, Miss Mories, Miss Nicol and Miss Aikman, Glasgow; Mr and Mrs James Leitch and Miss Stewart, Glasgow; Bailie and Mrs Mowat, Miss and two Messrs Mowat, Glasgow; Reverend A P Arnott and Master Arnott, Edinburgh; four Misses Cross, Glasgow; Messrs Hedderwick, Moffat, Arrol, McLean and McCarlie, Glasgow; Mr Stewart, Stirling; Mr George Drummond, Glasgow; Mr Cree, Glasgow; Mr Russell, Paisley; Mr F F Porter, Glasgow; Mr Duncan Smith, two Messrs Smith, Edinburgh.

Drowning opposite Blairvaddich

Dundee Evening Telegraph 23 September 1884

Sad drowning of two boys near Helensburgh

Shortly after four o’clock yesterday, two lads named Gordon Carnachan, son of Dr Carnachan, and Archibald Campbell, son of Captain Campbell, of the Circassia, each aged about 16, started from Clynder in the lugsail boat Zulu to cross the loch.

When opposite Blairvaddich they were observed by Archibald Donaldson, coachman, Hydropathic, who was returning with his horses from Helensburgh, to proceed to the bow of their boat, which immediately sank bow first, the lads clinging to the mast.

Donaldson at once tied his horses to the rail, and by means of a punt lying on the shore proceeded to the scene of the accident. On his way he was passed by a large dog which had accompanied the boys, swimming to the shore.

On reaching the spot nothing could be found save the caps of the unfortunate lads. As both were particularly intelligent and well known, their sad end has occasioned the utmost gloom on both sides of the loch. Up to nine o’clock boats were engaged trawling for the bodies, but without result.

Hatches, Matches and Dispatches, part 2

Dear blog reader

This is the second part in a series of Shandon hatches, matches and dispatches that have appeared in the newspapers.

I always find such finds very exciting in my own 30 years of family history research and I hope this helps anyone doing similar Shandon-based research.

Please note that for privacy reasons all entries will be 100 years old and over.

(Glossary: inst/instant means of the present month, ult/ultimo means of last month)


St James’s Gazette, 29 July 1884

Sons –  Bell, wife of Mr Henry, of Summerhill, Shandon, NB, at Cornwall Terrace, Regent’s Park, NW, July 27

London Evening Standard, 3 March 1888

Bell – March 1, at 5, Cornwall Terrace, Regent’s Park, NW, the wife of Henry Bell, Summerhill, Shandon, of a daughter


The Examiner, 14 July 1833

[Also in the York Herald, the Inverness Courier and the Perthshire Courier]

At Blairvaddoch, Charles, second son of the late Sir W Forbes, of Pitsligo, Baronet, to Jemima, daughter of the late Colonel Ronaldson MacDinell, of Glengarry and Clanronald

Westmorland Gazette, 9 November 1833

[Also in the Sun, the Scotsman and the Inverness Courier]

Ay Blairvaddoch, Dumbartonshire, Andrew Bonar, Esq, banker in Edinburgh, to Marcelly, daughter of the late Colonel Ronaldson MacDonnell, of Glengary and Clanronald.

Greenock Advertiser, 9 October 1855

On the 4th instant, by the Rev Dr Buchanan, Mr William Wyse Ritchie, Edinburgh, to Mary, eldest daughter of Duncan Turner, Esq, Lagbuie, Shandon

Illustrated London News, 5 November 1870

On the 27th ult., at Lagbuie, Dumbartonshire, by the Rev Dr Robert Buchanan, John M Easton, CE, Nursingpore, India, to Lucy, daughter of Duncan Turner, Esq.  No cards.

Helensburgh News, 25 March 1880

At 20 Park Circus, Glasgow, on the 23rd inst., by the Rev James Smith, Crammond, uncle of the bride, assisted by the Rev Donald MacLeod, DD, William G Wilson, to Ann, youngest daughter of the late Duncan Turner, Lagbuie, Shandon

The Scotsman, 31 December 1908

MacLellan – Guild – At Holy Trinity, Sloane, London, on the 30th current, by the Rev H R [illegible], MA, Wm Turner MacLellan, son of the late [illegible] MacLellan of Blairvaddich, Dumbartonshire, to Mabel, daughter of the late J Wyllie Guild, Glasgow

The Scotsman, 21 June 1917

A wedding was solemnised by the Rev Canon Leighton Crane at Cobham Parish Church, on June 18th, between Captain J Archibald Cowie, HLI, son of the late Archibald Cowie, Esq., of Cardross, and Mrs Cowie, Moffat and Esmee Mary, daughter of Carl Grabowsky, Esq., of Linnburn, Shandon, Dumbartonshire


Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 17 November 1877

[Also appeared in the Dundee Courier]

At Lagbuie, Shandon, on the 15th inst., Duncan Turner, in his 79th year

The Scotsman, 16 February 1878

Died at 4 Grosvenor Terrace, Glasgow, on the 14th inst., Janet MacLellan, in her 71st year, widow of Duncan Turner, Lagbuie, Shandon

Dundee Courier, 12 April 1882

At Ardchapel, Dumbartonshire, on the 8th inst., Georgina Frances Downie Cullen, wife of William Swan, LLD, Emeritus Professor in the University of St Andrews

Dundee Courier, 21 November 1892

[Also in the Morning Post and in the Northern Whig]

Sanders – At Altnacoile, Shandon, on the 17th inst., Bertha, widow of the late Commander C D Sanders, RN, aged 52

The Scotsman, 8 March 1913

Brown – At Bournemouth, on the 7th inst., A R Brown, Summerhill, Shandon, Gareloch, Hon Consul for Japan at Glasgow (and of A R Brown, McFarlane & Co Ltd)

Hampshire Advertiser, 3 March 1917

Brown – on the 26th ult., at Kayama, Bournemouth, Louisa, widow of A R Brown, late of Summerhill, Shandon

The Scotsman, 29 September 1919

Anderson – at Hampstead, London, on the 25th inst., Robert Hood Anderson, eldest son of the late Sir James Anderson, MP, of Blairvaddich, in his 87th year

Death of Mr William Gunn of Shandon

Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser 14 May 1859

In our obituary today many will regret to observe the name of Mr Gunn of Shandon Bank, for a considerable period extensively engaged in business in this city, and who for a number of years has lived in retirement on his property at Shandon Bank, on the Gareloch, near Helensburgh, on the results of his successful industry.

For several years he has been afflicted with an internal complaint, and some three or four weeks ago came to Glasgow to try what the best medical skill could do for him, as his country residence is at considerable distance from that of any practitioner. His disease, however, baffled th best skill and most unwearied care, and on Sabbath last he sunk under the disease.

For many years we have had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and have always found him faithful, warm-hearted, and considerate friend. During his long life he was remarkable for his strict attention to religious duties, and though unable during his last hours to articulate, he was able to give evidence that his end was peace.

Greenock Advertiser 10 May 1859


At Buccleuch Street, Glasgow, on the 8th instant, Mr William Gunn, of Shandon Bank, aged 76.

Shandon Yacht Fire

The Scotsman 26 July 1930

Yesterday, when two engineers were endeavouring to start the engines of a twin-screw cabin cruiser on the Gareloch near the Glasgow Motor Boat Racing Club’s pier at Shandon, one of the engines mis-fired and an explosion occurred, throwing one of the men into the fore-saloon with great violence.

A fire broke out, and the Helensburgh fire brigade extinguished it, but not before considerable damage had been done. The boat, which belonged to Mr R Mitchell, late of Shandon Hydro, was a 60-foot twin-screw cabin cruiser, and the damage is estimated at £1000.