History of the Society

The inaugural meeting of the Milngavie and Bearsden Historical Society was held in Kilmardinny House on Monday 13th January, 1975. There were three lectures that first session and these proved such a success that the first full year (1975-76) saw the numbers top 100. That year there was a full programme of lectures, field trips were begun and Magnus Magnusson became Patron of the society, a post he held until his death on 7th January 2007. His daughter, Sally Magnusson, succeeded him as Patron. The early days of the society have been documented in a booklet called "20 Years On : Milngavie and Bearsden Historical Society".

A Local History Group was soon formed to carry out research into the history of our own locality. Its members have carried out considerable research into various aspects of the area, including farms and clubs and societies. They also acted as advisors for an exhibition of Local History put on in the Lillie Art Gallery in 1987 and its members contributed a number of articles to "Remains to be Seen", the booklet that accompanied it. (A second revised edition was edited by Ms Sheena Peters). Members of the Local History Group provided the text that accompanied two maps of Bearsden published jointly by the Society and Heatherbank Press. The group still meets regularly.

There was also a costume group which met for a number of years but no longer meets.


In the early years the society was involved in some "hands-on" archaeology helping at a number of sites and carrying out its own dig at Crossburn on the Stockiemuir Road. The Society published a short Biography of John Glassford, the famous "tobacco lord" who owned Dougalston Estate, written by Colin Castle, a Chairman of the Society. In recent years, the activities have been limited to monthly talks on a wide variety of topics from October to March each year and excursions to sites of historic interest in the summer months. Most years have seen one full day excursion and a more local evening excursion. In recent years, day outings have included:-

  • Dunfermline to visit the Abbot House Heritage Centre, the Abbey Church and the
  • Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum
  • Stanley Mills, Perthshire and Drummond Castle Gardens
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia, Lauriston Castle gardens and the Gallery of Modern Art
  • Chatelherault and the Hamilton Mausoleum

Evening visits have included the Britannia Music Hall, the Mosque, Trades Hall and the Kibble Palace. Recent lecture topics have included:-

  • "An update on the archaeology of Soutra" by Dr Brian Moffat
  • "Ancient Egyptian Tomb Painting" by Angela Mcdonald
  • "Old Highland Life: A Unique Collection" by Catherine Gillies
  • "Heroes of the Scottish Reformation" by Professor P. Howie
  • "The Story of Macbraynes" by Ian McCrorie
  • "The Insatiable Thirst for Porcelain in the 18th Century" by Mrs Joanna Weld-Forrester
  • "Boudicaa" by Vanessa Collingridge
  • "Scotland under the Hammer" by Fiona Watson