Whitehill Former Pupils’ Club
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Memories of Dennistoun in the 1960's from Agnes Lagden, inspired by our walking tour of Western Dennistoun.
“My memories of the route you are are the smells. The smell of the books in the library. The smell from Tennant's Brewery in Ark Lane as you raced up the hill to Golfhill annex (visiting the wee sweet shop on the way for a quarter of cola cubes) and then the smell from W D & H O Wills cigarette factory. I remember being disappointed that having just left Haghill primary school, I found myself spending most of the week in another primary school! The smell of chlorine from Dennistoun Baths (I had been a member before we went there as part of PE). I remember Miss Simpson keeping us in the pool until the very last minute and having to race back to school still damp, clothes sticking to us, in time for Mr Low's geography class or face "the belt". And of course, trying to appear avant-guard drinking Russian tea in the Rendezvous.”
A Whitehill Former Pupil who made a Difference
This account of the life of Dr. Martha Davidson Devon is summarised from her obituary which was published in the British Medical Journal, January 20th, 1962.
Martha Davidson Devon was born in Glasgow on 2nd April, 1897, the daughter of Dr. James Devon, himself a man of great distinction. She was educated at Whitehill School, probably during the period of 1909 to 1914 or 1915, continuing at Glasgow University. She graduated with “ the Scottish Triple Qualification” in 1923 and took up resident posts at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. She specialised in psychological medicine.
In 1928 she entered general practice and took up a locum position on Islay, which led to her appointment as the first woman doctor to the small isles of Rum, Muck and Canna, from Eigg on which she lived. There was no transport on the islands, no telephone except at the post office which was two miles away. The mailboat called once per week. Visiting calls to patients was on foot and by small boat often crossing 20 miles of open sea.
Being a constant sufferer from such poor and primitive conditions, Martha's abiding interest was in improving them. In 1931 the Department of Health asked her for suggestions , she proposed flying a surgeon and sister to the patient. The idea was laughed at, so she promptly persuaded the editor of the Daily Record, then running stunt flights, to fly her to Eigg, landing on the beach. Thus she pioneered the first medical flight to the islands, now quite commonplace.
In 1936 after eight years of this strenuous life Dr Devon was appointed to the parish of Glenelg on the western seaboard of Inverness-shire. This is a wild and wintry location which at that time was served by gravel roads. Her patients were located across a wide area, mountainous and riven by deep and long sea lochs. Travel to many was by boat, but during this time she learned to drive. The war added to her duties as she took up the role of Medical Officer to the Home Guard.
After the war she continued as the local doctor serving her community. Her psychological training helped her to see more than met the eye, her judgements were rarely in error and she had great sympathy and understanding for her scattered patients, especially the elderly.
In her leisure time she bred budgerigars in her open air aviary and worked for charitable causes, again for the benefit of the elderly.
In Martha's later years she suffered from arthritis, aggravated by years of strain and exposure and retired to the drier Cromarty Firth area, where she lived for only a year. Dr Martha Davidson Devon died on 31st December, 1961 aged 64.
Many thanks to Isabelle Simpson, cousin of Dr Martha Devon and herself a former pupil of Whitehill School, for providing this most inspirational story for inclusion on the website.
Re 1st "Dramatic Club" photo I believe the first 2 ladies in 2nd row are Marianne Kilgour and Maureen Irvine (my heart-throb whom I believe married another FP Iain Irwin) and the three boys in the front , from the left are self, Tom McNab and (I think) George Taggart.
2nd "Dramatic Club" back row Tom McNab is first male and self third, Maureen is 1st left in middle row. First left in 2nd row in fourth photo is David Peat with Danny Ballantyne beside him and Gibson Miell third from the left in the front row.
Many thanks to Sheena and Gordon Caskie (1947-1953)
I have been researching some of my father’s early history and believe that he was a pupil at Whitehills School in the 1930s. The attached picture shows him wearing, I believe, a Whitehills School blazer. He had just won the sprint championship organised (I think) at Kelvin Hall as part of the Glasgow Civic and Empire Week May 29th to June 6th 1931. The pocket watch (sadly stolen during a burglary) bore the inscription “W. Cameron Civic Week 1931” but I cannot make out the inscription on the cup. I was also unable to identify the school blazer badge but having deciphered that the motto was Altiora Peto I traced the motto and badge to Whitehill.
I wonder if the photograph would be of interest to your archivist?
If the school records have any information that goes back to Waverley Cameron’s time at Whitehill I would be very interested to learn what you have.
Noël Cameron BEd, MSc, PhD, CBiol, FRSB
Professor of Human Biology
Centre for Global Health and Human Development
National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine
School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences
Daniel Robertson - Junior Cup Winner, 1958
The photo of Waverley Cameron with the Junior Sports Champion Willis Cup gave me a feeling of 'deja vu' and prompted me to dig out this one of me in 1958 - same trophy - same pose - similar curtain backdrop - probably the same photo studio (Lawries in Hillfoot Street).
Obituary published in the Herald, 10th April 2017, of James Kirkwood a Former Pupil of Whitehill School
Article from the Glasgow Herald, 24th September 1946, and Memoriam for John Haddow Young contributed by Lilias Thompson.
Memorabilia from Catherine Benton.
1970 - Captains and Prizewinners
Back Row - I Raitt, R L Heron, C A Smith
Middle Row - D Munro (Boys’ Captain), I G Sharp (Vice Captain)
Front Row - Catherine Benton (Runner Up Dux), Marjorie Rae (Dux), Sharon Condes (Girls’ Captain)
Thank you to Catherine for supplying the missing magazines.
It’s the role of head teachers to appear set in authority and their situation helps them leave an impression on their pupils. But in a long life involving journalism, politics, the Church, National Service, and sundry diversions I have rarely encountered anyone whose power of personality equalled that of Robert Weir, head master of Whitehill before, during, and for a couple of years after the Second World War. Here are two contrasting memories of Bobbie Weir (as we called him out of his hearing), one stamped on a first-year class, the other intensely personal.
A boy was suspected of stealing money from others in the class and eventually confessed. The “heedie” himself came to administer public execution before the class: six thunderclaps of the belt, bravely borne. And then an order to the class: the matter was finished. There had been guilt, confession, punishment, and absolution. We had perhaps been thrilled by the spectacle but we respected the process and obeyed the order.
A year or two later I had a teacher of French whom I both disliked and feared. As we awaited our turn to read extracts from a “French reader” my nervousness brought on a speech impediment, leaving me breathlessly tongue-tied or tongue-twisted. As time went on it got worse. But the lady had more kindness than she showed. One day she sent me to see the head master, with whom she must have discussed my case.
For about a quarter of an hour he talked things over with me. I hope it does not seem blasphemous to say it was like a talk with a loving God, but a burden of my fear rolled away (and, on a quite different plane, it was to alter my then sceptical attitude to some miracles recorded in the New Testament).
My tongue was loosened, my breathing controlled. If anything remains of the problem Bobbie Weir cured, thanks to the concerned teacher, it is that in broadcasting I have always disliked speaking any words not of my own choice and phrasing.
ROBERT WEIR (Contribution from R.D. (Bob) Kernohan.)
Photograph given by Gordon Caskie at the Autumn Lunch
1967 Photo - Alex Orr
In the 1960’s I took many pictures of pupils at Whitehill where I was also a pupil.
Attached is a typical example from 1967. From left to right are George Crockett (who went on to graduate in medicine at Glasgow University), Gordon Collie, Alice Platt and Alex Erskine (who went on to graduate as an architect at Strathclyde University).
Hope this is of interest.
Millar Cliff - John Munro
This contribution from John Munro, who has been looking to find any of our 1960's teachers
still on the go.
“As a matter of interest I have been trying to locate some of our former teachers in the 1960s. By chance I came across a street in Dumfries called Millar Cliff Road and thought that there couldn't be two 'Millar Cliffs'? Right enough the road - the only road with that name in the UK - is named after our Millar Cliff. He left Whitehill in 1974 and took up a post as the head teacher at Maxwellton High School in Dumfries. I called the Council and asked if they knew if he was still alive. A representative confirmed that he was and later that day - having passed on my phone number to the Council - I got a phone call from his wife to say that he is frail and suffering from Parkinsons. He is now 92. I passed on our best wishes on behalf of the FP club.”
George D. Buchahan. ( 1920's -1930's)
We have managed to acquire a silver medal, awarded to George Buchahan, for Art, in 1930.
This medal appeared on ebay and was spotted by Bill Sang who managed to obtain it at a knockdown price.
Further research has revealed the following information on George and his very full life. He was born in 1912 at Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire, but his family moved to Dennistoun and he attended Whitehill School. He was a member of the Boys Brigade and learned piping in the 139th company at St Andrews East Church on Alexandra Parade. He is mentioned in school magazines of that time as a cricketer and also having won a silver medal at the Glasgow schools art competition at Kelvingrove.
He studied design and engraving at Glasgow School of Art and on the outbreak of war he
was drafted and became a signaller with the 2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment and was sent to the Far East. He was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and survived the death marches, disease and deprivation for three years before repatriation to Britain.
George emigrated to Canada and settled in Ottawa working as a graphic artist, but
continuing to grow his influence in piping. He became Pipe Major of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, a founding member of the Ottawa Piping Club and taught and played in the Ottawa Police Pipe Band. He often complained about the winters in Canada and returned to Scotland, but just as often returned to Ottawa. He passed away in 2002, aged 90 years.
Agnes Lagden (nee Barr)
The Dennistoun Cameo booklet made interesting reading. (see www.whitehillfp.org website) A big thank you to Bill and Ron. I was particularly interested in William Allan's reference to his time at Bennet Furnishings in Fordneuk Street as my maternal grandfather worked there and it is where he met the lady who would become my grandmother.
Sometimes when walking from my home in Gateside Street (off Duke Street) to Granny's in the Gallowgate my mother would point to Fielden Street (leading to Fordneuk Street) and tell me that Granny and Granpa had worked down there.
I was told that he "courted" her with a bag of preserved ginger. Not surprisingly, I too have a great liking for preserved ginger. I remember as a child wondering if my school desk had been made by the grandfather I sadly never knew.
Perhaps some of the other FP's might like to read the recollections of the actor Bill Paterson (Whitehill FP) "Tales from the Back Green" if it is still in print. These were short stories originally broadcast on BBC Radio in 2006 and turned into a book in 2008.
I have just read the most recent newsletter and was interested in John's information about Mr Cliff and thought I would share this with you.
I was in touch over the years with Jane Harvey (head of music in the 60s) who became Jane Crighton on marriage. After her marriage she moved to Perthshire and laterally became the organist in a church in Bridge of Earn. About 12 years ago a member of my church here in Carluke was being inducted as minister in the Bridge of Earn church and along with a bus load of others I attended. Jane's name was on the order of service so I went looking for her at the end. She had also been asking around folk if anyone knew if Christine O'Neill was in attendance. We met up and had a good old chin wag. Jane and I had actually met up in Edinburgh though in the 1980s as I used to sing nightly throughout the Summer months in a Scottish show for tourists at Prestonfield House. Jane was coming down to Edinburgh to meet up with someone so booked an overnight in a hotel and came along to the dinner and show. Over the years since I had left Whitehill we had kept in touch by exchanging Christmas cards and the occasional phone call.
However 3 years ago and again 2 years ago when her card came in I felt there was something wrong and wondered if she actually was suffering from dementia. I have not heard from her since Christmas 2017 so can only assume that either she has died or has moved into a care home.
She was a lovely lady and was very supportive of me at school. Jane came to Whitehill at the start of my 5th year which was 1965. I was not studying music at that time as Mrs Campbell the previous head of music had told me that I could not do higher music in singing as I could not play the piano. However following on from being adjudicated in the Bridgeton Burns Club Competition by Lillian Liddle a teacher at the RSAMD things all changed. Miss Liddle contacted Mr Morrison to ask why this pupil was not studying music, Jane and then my parents were all called to his office and it was agreed that I would study music in singing and learn to play the piano in 6th year. I was half way through 5th year at this stage and Jane came in early to school to coach me and also during lunch periods and sometimes after 4 o'clock. She also arranged immediately for me to be given piano lessons at school and then in 6th year music was a subject on my timetable. Jane certainly went the extra mile for me and I did get my higher music. When I phoned her to tell her on the morning that my results came in she said "well Christine I will tell you now that I thought that you were just going to miss getting the higher but I am delighted that you have managed it". She obviously had had her reservations about my chances but had kept that naturally to herself. I have always been so grateful to Jane for the encouragement that she gave me.
Ken is a very active member of Rotary and has served as President of Braids Rotary Club in Edinburgh on two occasions, over the years. He is currently District Polio Coordinator and spends his time visiting other clubs promoting the effort on polio eradication and raising funds for this work. He has recently been in India helping with oral polio vaccination, and later the same month in Tanzania donating sewing machines to a school and other sectors of local communities. Ken has recently been awarded the British Empire Medal for his community work.
Tom McNab GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART
The books still breathe here,
Though now burnt to ashes
They can never leave us,
Their thoughts remain
Before we build again
Page by page,
Thought by thought
Word by word they stay
Embedded in the memories of those
That they for countless years surrounded.
Here in horizontal ruins
We stand inside within
His vertical imagination
Travel within his thoughts
Within the winding stairs of his creation.
The light,it always found a friend here,
Here atop the Hen Run
The place of women's sweetest thoughts
Their walk,their art, their chatter.
Truly, the air is drenched with them,
So there can be no fading of this sweet light
That remains forever.
This is black, this is burnt.
This is surely lost forever
But no; Mackintosh remains,
Even in cinders,
Even in shattered windows,
For he is yet alive,
No mere fire can ever take him from us.
Do not try to understand,
For understanding has no place here
Only to be,
Only to see
Only to find joy
Within these distant past imaginings.
And others dwell here still,
Those stern, dreich Glasgow sires who bid him
Sat forever, stiff at their committee table,
Scottish men of commerce
Frozen in their thoughts,
But setting him free
To live his.
STEVEN SMITH (Dennistoun on Line)
(Steven, middle of the photo with black fleece and grey T shirt)
On Sept 15 2017 myself and a group of 14 other serving soldiers will depart Dublin Airport on the first leg of our journey towards Mount Everest Base Camp. The journey will be a long one, with a stop off in Abu Dhabi then on to Kathmandu where we will be staying in the British Gurkha Nepal Camp. After some days to get adjusted, get kit and equipment organised we will begin our journey of walking through one of the most beautiful and extraordinary places in the world, with our goal being Mount Everest Base Camp, at a height of 17,600ft (5,364m).
I grew up in Alexandra Parade in Dennistoun and my childhood was a fantastic one with a few bumps in the road. I was the youngest of 3 brothers raised solely by my mum in our home in Alexandra Court. I attended Alexandra Parade Primary School before moving on to Whitehill Secondary School, just to confirm, school days really are the best of your life. We moved away from Dennistoun very abruptly when I was 11 due to the passing of my oldest brother Jake.
Although we had moved away I still attended school and frequently visited Dennistoun during the week, and mostly every weekend. I had brilliant friends there and I still classed it as my home. I left Whitehill in 2003 to start my life in the big bad world. After some years as an apprentice mechanic and another few odd jobs, I found myself working for FirstBus in Glasgow, which was a fantastic job if you could avoid the weekends, mostly you couldn’t though.
I had always flirted with the idea of joining the Army but never really took it any further as things always seemed to get in the way, probably just me doubting myself. But decided to go for it and in August 2011 started my basic training in Pirbright. After what felt like a lifetime of training I was posted to Northern Ireland and haven’t looked back. It has been an amazing few years across the water, I met my partner who is now my wife and I am the father of two boys, Lewis and Ollie. We frequently visit Glasgow and stay in my mum’s house in Hogganfield. I still make the point to visit Dennistoun when I am home and sneak in for a pint in the La Cala.
Adventurous Training is huge in the Army, to me it is a key factor in recruitment and retention. I have been in the Army for 6 years now and have experienced some amazing things. It would definitely be a career I would recommend to anyone looking for something that little bit different.
The organisation and man hours spent on this trip have no doubt being exhausting for our leaders Major Swanson and Corporal McWhirter. I had the great opportunity to climb Mount Toubkal, Morocco in November 2015 with them and it was the best trip I have ever been on, including lads holidays. This is one of the reasons I joined the Army. As the trip is just around the corner we are making some last minute adjustments and getting our kit organised. I won’t say how much I’m looking forward to our expedition as my wife will read this article. But pretty excited anyway.
Steven Smith, September, 15th 2017.
Thomas (Ogilvie) Geddes - Information received from his great-nephew, Ian McCracken
Tom and the Middleton girls 12-07-1915
Born 7th June, 1891 at Old Machar, Aberdeenshire. Killed at the Battle of Loos 26th September, 1915.
Son of George and Jane Stewart Hutchison Middleton Geddes.
By the start of World War One, his family had moved to 18 Queen Mary Avenue, Crosshill, where surviving members stayed until the late 1950’s.
Thomas Geddes was killed at the Battle of Loos.
He was 24 years old and at the time of his death was a Sergeant in Company “C” of the 7th Battalion, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, Army Number 13506.
According to the Scottish National War Memorial website, he was “killed in action”; however, the story passed down through the family was that a former comrade who returned told the family that he had been killed by British artillery fire “friendly fire” as it is now called. His body was never found, so he has no grave but is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, and on the Roll of Honour of Queen’s Park Parish Church.
ROLL OF HONOUR OF QUEEN’S PARK PARISH CHURCH
The medals he would have been due to receive were sent to his parents in 1922 with the letter below.
We received an email from Archie Munro, seeking to find a friend with whom he had lost touch.
“I was only given the address of this website today. It came from my brother who lives in Australia and he received it from a school friend, who also lives in Australia.
My name is Archie Munro, I was at the school from 1946 to 1950. The name of the person I would like to contact is Angus Stewart, who I believe became a Church of Scotland minister.”
With the help of Robert Watt, we managed to find details of Angus Stewart and We replied,
“Dear Archie, after a bit of research, I am sorry to tell you that Angus Stewart died on 11th August 2011. I have added a link to his obituary which appeared in the Glasgow Herald. https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-herald-1130/20100911/283575216780940
Sorry not to have positive news for you.”
Archie replied, “Thank you so much for your reply and for the research you did to track down Angus Stewart. I was so sorry to learn that he had died, but at our age this is what can happen. I last saw him and his wife in 1950 when I left school. For three years the three of us and two others did Greek together. After spending a year in the School of Navigation at the Tech I went to sea in the Merchant Navy and lost touch with all my former school friends. I left Glasgow in 1967 and did not return until 1990 when I took over the Marine Office for the next four years. After retiring I moved to the Wirral and then to Bath where I live now. I was interested to read Angus’s obituary. He certainly had an interesting life in the Church of Scotland. Needless to say I now regret not tracking him down when I was living in Scotland from 1990 to 1996.
Thank you again for all the trouble you have taken to find out about Angus.”
Email from Charlotte Duncan (nee Stewart)
“This is an email which I never thought I would have occasion to send. I was a pupil at Whitehill Secondary from 1960 - 1964, leaving from S6. Thereafter I returned to my home city of Aberdeen to go to University. Subsequently, I have spent the rest of my life in the city of Aberdeen but predominantly in Aberdeenshire. At school my best friends were Janice Brand and Eileen Loudfoot (School Captain and Vice-Captain respectively in 1963 -64). Since then we have lost touch. At University other Whitehill pupils were Herbert Kerrigan, Sinclair Ferguson, Robin Mc Leish, Sheila Benzie and Wilma Fisher. I have been in contact with Herbert since then and also with the late John Tulloch, my History teacher and his wife May, who still lives in Nairn, I am reliably informed.
Yesterday evening I was working on a talk I am to give to my Rotary Club next week and the Latin tag "Altiora sectando" sprung into my mind. As my Higher Latin from 1964 does not extend to this I googled it and was surprised to find whitehillfp.org. Thereafter a number of hours of exploration, education and surprise to find my pictures in Hockey teams etc!
In 1993 my husband, a newly appointed HMI Education based in Glasgow, visited Whitehill School on his first secondary school inspection. He asked the Head Teacher for details of the association to be told it was defunct!! End of trail.
Coincidentally, I also came across pictures of a fellow pupil Ken Logan, known then as Kenny, who is now a Rotarian in Edinburgh Braid Club and End Polio Now Officer in that district. We have visited a number of that district's events so I may well have spoken to him. Edinburgh Braid is the club a good friend of ours also belongs to. It's a small world.
Firstly, then can I please join the association? Also are any of these people or others from this time members or do you know of their whereabouts? I believe Janice Brand's father was president of the Association at one time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Charlotte Duncan (Charlotte Stewart then)”
If you would like to make contact with Charlotte, please let me know and we will pass on her contact details.
Alan Wright in Australia.
In Lockdown Issue 4 June 2020, Iain included the text of an email from me showing that we had been in Sydney since 1969. Why did we come to Australia and Sydney in particular? A wee bit history.
After leaving school in 1956, I studied chemistry part-time and worked for Colvilles, latterly in the Technical Services Department at Cambuslang; Jean also studied and worked in Glasgow City libraries. I continued my involvement in sport and was captain of the FP 1st XV for a year and also played for the West v East in a representative match. We married in 1960 and in 1961 I started work in the Analytical Laboratories with Pfizer in Sandwich, Kent. Consequently, we moved to Ramsgate and Jean was employed in the Pfizer Animal Health Division library.
In Kent I played for Thanet Wanderers and was also in a Kent XV against London All Blacks.
In 1963, Pfizer built a petrochemical plant in Baglan Bay near Port Talbot in South Wales and I was transferred there as Quality Control manager.
We lived in a small village – Bryncoch – near Neath and once again Jean was left to complete a move from our ‘old’ house to a new house as I was in Conroe, Texas, USA getting technical information for the new plant.
Settling into the village at that time was interesting as we were among the first of half a dozen ‘newcomers’ but the fact that we were Scottish and I played rugby helped a bit, but nevertheless we made a number of firm friends there.
In the following 5 years we had our two eldest children – Gillian and David. Continuing in sport, I played rugby for the local team - there were only two of us non-welshmen in the side and I was No 2 in the Neath Golf Club team.
In 1968 I was transferred to the Pfizer factory – Kemball Bishop - in Bromley By Bow where I carried out research on food additives, cyclamates and even, hops!
So, we moved to Harold Wood in Essex but after 12 months or so, it was decided to close this old factory and move to a new facility in Ringaskiddy near Cork in Ireland.
The option of Eire in 1969 did not appeal even though it was a fair distance from ‘The Troubles’ in the north. A quandary indeed!
A few days later, I was asked to escort ‘an important visitor’ around the factory. It transpired that this ‘visitor’ was the general manager of Pfizer in Australia. We got on well and over dinner he said, “Jump in a plane and come to Sydney”. Problem solved!
We had then to start the logistics of selling up, shipping belongings, visiting Australia House to arrange visas etc. We did have contacts in Australia - Ian and Grace Halliday who had been at
Whitehill with us, now living in Wollongong NSW and with who we had corresponded over the years. After a few hiccups we eventually took off on 21st October 1969 but as £10 migrants there were no seats available for our children who had to sit on our laps! How we survived the flight - London – Bahrain - Bangkok – Darwin – Sydney, I cannot imagine but I guess we generated a lot of adrenalin and nervous energy with the prospect of a totally new experience on the other side of the world.