Past Meetings

As examples of the interesting talks which have been held in previous sessions at the Society, the list shown opposite are ones which the Society has heard in the past.


Beauty and the Banknote.
The Images of women appearing on banknotes over the past two centuries. Virginia Hewitt, former curator at the British Museum

The Mystery of HMS Dasher
This vessel exploded off Arran in March, 1943 killing 379 people, but only 23 bodies are in marked graves. John Steele, a writer from Ardrossan, believes this was a cover up by the British Admiralty.

The History of the Glasgow Undergrounds. The well known broadcaster Colin MacKay has made a study of these, one of which predates the London system. A new light on our well loved Clockwork Orange.

Kidnapped and the Appin Murder
Did Alan Breck really kill the Red Fox and then flee across half of Scotland together with David Balfour? Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "Kidnapped" around this incident and there is a Stevenson Way tracing their flight, which finishes up in Corstorphine where the two bronze figures can be seen. Our speaker Ian Logan has made a study of this.

The Poor Law Archive.
Dr. Irene O'Brien
is chief archivist at the Mitchell Library and a specialist in family history.

On the Trail of Queen Victoria in the Highlands and Mountaineering Ascents in the Cairngorms.
Mr. Ian Mitchell
, a historian, traveller and author, has published a book on the subject which won the Outdoor Writers' Guild for Excellence.

Members' Night - short talks...
Benbecula, the Dark Island.
Keystone Mill, Milngavie.


Mary, Queen of Scots.
Margaret Lumsdaine
, President of the Marie Stuart Society cast a new light on the life and times of the tragic queen.

Charles Dickens and the Art of Medical Observation
Professor Ian Bone
, a Neurologist, gave an insight into Dickens’ amazing knowledge of medical conditions as shown in his novels.

The Selden Map of China
Vanessa Collingridge
, the well known broadcaster and author, made a welcome return visit, this time opening up a fascinating find of a 400 year old map throwing new light on Chinese trading.

I Went to Tristan
Jimmy Crawford
recounted his visits to the island of Tristan da Cunha, a tiny speck in the South Atlantic. A volcanic eruption in 1961 caused the islanders to evacuate but returned in 1963.

The Jewels of Maryhill
Dr. Gordon Barr
is the Heritage Development Officer for Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust and told of the newly renovated halls, particularly the stunning stained glass windows from 1878 which showcase twenty of the historic trades of the area.

Gecas The War Criminal who lived in Edinburgh
Mr. Len Murray
, retired solicitor, was professionally involved with this person who unfortunately was never brought to justice.

Members' Night - short talks...
The Great Tapestry of Scotland
The Ha-has of Dougalston
The Great Railway Races.


Christian Cadell - The Witch Pricker of Nairn
Susan Morrison the well known historian and comedienne told the bewitching story of this extraordinary character living in the 1660s. Not for the faint hearted.

John Rae and the North-West Passage
Dr. David Lawson with his affection for Orkney where John Rae was born related the courageous journey taken by him through the Arctic and beyond to find this elusive seaway. His pioneering work is at last being appreciated albeit a century after his death.

The First and Last British Armoured Battleship Afloat
Hamish MacDougall, our last chairman, talked about HMS Warrior, from 1860 to today (and forever)


The Art of Forgery
Professor Roy Burdon gave an insight into whether it is Fake or Fortune. The historical problems which confront potential art buyers and art forgers will be explored along with forgers’ preferences and reasons for pursuing the trade.

Working Class Courtship and Marriage, 1855-1939
Our speaker focussed on the diverse nature of the working class family and illustrated how premarital sex, cohabitation and marriage breakdown are by no means new phenomena.

The history of the Glasgow Veterinary School
Professor Oswald Jarrett told of the modest beginnings in a small shoeing forge in Sauchiehall Lane in 1862 to the present large complex at Garscube Estate. The School has been at the forefront of innovation in animal welfare, public health, basic research and veterinary education. Recent research has been done on the feline leukaemia virus.

AGM and Members' Night
Short talks on:
The Tay rail bridge disaster
Palmyra in Syria


Making Archaeology and its Sciences do Something Useful
Dr. Brian Moffat made a welcome return to give an update of the investigations at the mediaeval hospital at Soutra; exotic plants brought in for medical purposes still in use today and other strangely prophetic skills.

The Key to the Punjab - the Great Sikh Fortress of Govindgarh, Amritsar
Tom Addyman is an archaeology expert and involved in a major project to preserve a “Unique Indian Fortress” adjacent to the major city of Amritsar – famed for its golden temple.

The Archaeology of the Islands of Loch Lomond
Fiona Baker is a consultant archaeologist. She was responsible for The Loch Lomond Survey carried out between 1995-98 which was commissioned by the Friends of Loch Lomond. She works all over Scotland at present dealing with river hydro schemes.


Old Glasgow Through the Lens
Mr. Douglas Annan gave a wonderful tour of Glasgow from his collection of old photos from the Annan collection dating back as far as 1855.

The Comet, the Clyde and the Commerce
Mr. Burns Shearar's talk presented a picture of the problems facing travellers on Clydeside in the early 1800s, the successes and disaster which befell The Comet, the perils of early steam navigation and the quite amazing development of the shipyards on the Clyde.

The Final Years of British Rule in Africa
Mr. Callum Christie was one of the last generation of British district officers and one of a few still able to recount this closing period of British Imperial history through his contemporary letters.

Isabella Elder, the greatest Benefactor Glasgow ever had.
Dr. Joan McAlpine talked on Isabella Elder who inherited her husband’s shipyard on his early death. She died herself in 1905 having left large sums of money to deserving causes e.g. the Fund for Indigent Widows among others. Her portrait hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

AGM and Members' Night
Short talks on:
The Scottish Bicycle
My Family at War
The island where nothing makes sense.


Captain Cook, Obsession and Betrayal in the New World
Dr. Vanessa Collingridge returned to talk on the three epic journeys where Captain Cook discovered more of the earth’s surface than any other man. Not only was he a prolific seaman, but he was also valued as a scientist, cartographer and surveyor. Quite simply, James Cook was the greatest explorer in history. In this richly-illustrated talk Vanessa talked about the life and voyages of the explorer Captain James Cook - and why he spent years searching for a Great Southern Continent that didn’t exist!

The Cochno Stone
Kenny Brophy talked about "The Cochno Stone" in Clydebank which is now one of the most important prehistoric rock-art sites in Scotland. This talk will recounted its colourful history, from antiquarian discovery, to being painted by Ludovic Mann, to vandalism and burial. The story was brought up to date with details of the excavation of the Cochno Stone in 2016 and provide updates on analysis of the data gathered during this fieldwork.

The Lord Lyon King of Arms – Court of the Lord Lyon
The Lord Lyon King of Arms gave a short history of the Lyon Court which is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms, maintaining the Scottish Public Register of Arms and Genealogies.


From Romans to Rabbits
Carol Primrose spoke about Cawder and its history. Part of the Antonine Wall crosses the area which was subsequently granted to a follower of King David 1 in the 12th century and became the home of the Stirlings of Cawder until the present role as a golf course.

The History of Quarriers Homes
Anna Magnusson gave a lecture on the beginning of the institution founded by the shoemaker William Quarrier in the 1870s. He himself had experienced a very impoverished childhood, a situation which he overcame through hard work, determination and Christian faith. Out of the orphanage he founded grew a children’s village where poor children from the town and cities of Scotland might enjoy a new life in cottage homes under supervision of house fathers and house mothers. This grew to a self-contained community with a church and a large school.

Crannogs – Farmstead or Fortress
Nick Dixon gave a fascinating talk on crannogs and other artificial islands in Scottish lochs which can be considered, by their nature being surrounded by water, as fortresses. However, underwater excavations have demonstrated a massive amount about the way of life of their inhabitants. Clear evidence for farming, hunting and gathering show that the crannog dwellers were sophisticated farmers and exploited the landscape around them for a varied food supply. The evidence for Homestead or Fortress was explored.

AGM and Members' Night
Short talks on:
Gavin's Mill
Using Computer Simulation in Archaeology
La Belle Place in Glasgow
Shackleton....and Me!


The History of Mugdock
Alan McBride - Alan works for the Ranger Service at Mugdock and has an in-depth knowledge of the place. From 14th century castle and sinister gallows, to a WWI gun site and a zoo with wandering elephant, Mugdock has seen the lot.

The Stuart Plots
Susan Morrison - Kidnapping, murder and treasonous intrigue were all part of the royal day for a Stuart Monarch. From James VI, such dangers were hereditary, with both his parents victims of conspiracy. Comedian and presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Time Travels, Susan explored three plots that had a lasting impact on James VI, from his own narrow escape at Gowrie House, to the fatal undoing of his mother through the Babbington Plot and the trail of guilt surrounding his father’s murder that night in the Kirk O Fields. A night of kidnap, mayhem, murder and ink!

Piety and Politics: The making of the King James Bible
Nicholas Gray - Just over 400 years ago Scottish King James inherited the English Crown and a country in ferment. James decided to commission a new Bible translation both to unite his people and also fix his own regal position in the new Union. The idea was not a new one; it was a re-run of an idea he had hatched in Fife several years before. Would it succeed? Third generation Bible publisher Nicholas Gray, whose company holds a royal licence to print the Bible in Scotland, explored the background to the first printing of the Authorized Bible in 1611 and assesses its legacy for the world.


The Antonine Wall
Jim Walker - The Antonine Wall was the frontier built by the Roman Army between AD 140-142 on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. It ran for 40 Roman miles (60km) from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick, and consisted of a turf rampart with a stone base topped with a wooden fence and boardwalk. The frontier was abandoned just 20 years after being built, with the army withdrawing to Hadrian’s Wall.

The History of Forensic Science in Scotland
Sarah Reid - Sarah is a Forensic Scientist at the Scottish Police Authority and talked on the science in Scotland.

Scottish Paintings
Alan MacDonald - The two earliest paintings by Scottish artists in the Glasgow Museums are a portrait of Harry Nisbit, Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1598, by George Jamesone, and a still life of Game Birds, by William Gouw Ferguson, c1640.The collection of paintings in Glasgow Museums includes works by these and many other Scottish artists such as Ramsey, Raeburn and C.R. Mackintosh and many of these paintings illustrate significant figures of events in the history of Scotland, and formed the core of Alan’s presentation.

Arran in Books - from the 18th century to present
John Jackson - A collection of books accumulated for the last fifty years was the basis of a look at various historical themes about the island – the clearances and the profound social changes of the eighteenth century; the growth of tourism; and the development of the science of geology in which Arran played a big part. And as an aside, something about the books themselves and the development of publishing.

AGM and Members' Night
Short talks on:
Milngavie Water Works
Symerhill and Ludwig


Glasgow West End Delusions of Grandeur
Prof. Michael Moss - The West End of Glasgow is often presented as a masterpiece in Victorian upmarket housing. This is far from the truth. Much of it was jerry built and many of those involved in its development were no better than scoundrels. Many of the mansions failed to find buyers and were let and very quickly split up into multiple occupancy. The root of the problem was that Glasgow was over-built. There were too many houses chasing too few occupants chasing too many houses.

Girton and Newnham College Nursin in Serbia in WW1
Carol Parry and Elaine Morrison - Based initially in Troyes, France, this all-women Unit, working under the French Army served briefly in Serbia and then established a large tented hospital in Salonica. Through the drive of its chief Medical Officer, Glasgow graduate Dr. Louise McIlroy, the Unit had, by the end of the war created an orthopaedic centre and dental department.

Sir THomas Lipton
Laurence Brady - Sir Thomas Lipton, lst Baronet, KCVO was a Scotsman of Irish parentage who was a self made business man, merchant and yachtsman. He engaged in extensive advertising for his chain of grocery stores and his brand of Lipton Teas.


Alexander Greek Thomson, Glasgow's Architect
Ian McGillivray - What is so special about Alexander Greek Thomson? And why Greek? An illustrated response that looked at his work, its sources and its continuing influence and relevance.

Bridgescapes, an Illustrated Talk
Bruce Keith - With the opening of the Queensferry Crossing in September 2017 it was apposite to celebrate the long and illustrious history of bridges within Scotland. This also included viaducts and aquaducts, and many of the iconic bridges in Glasgow and its hinterland were featured.

Remaining lectures were all cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AGM and Members' Night


Cancelled due to pandemic.

AGM and Members' Night
An AGM was held on Zoom.
Ailsa Turner also gave a talk on the artist David Wilkie.


Session started in November

Flax and linen in the West of Scotland-
Prof Paul Bishop

The Spanish Civil War-
Jordi Cornella

From Cults to Constantinoble - the art of David Wilkie-
Ailsa Turner

160 Years of Water to Glasgow-
Katy Lamb

Historical Shop Fronts of the West End-
Iain Wotherspoon

Durham and Dunbar - Scottish Soldiers at Palace Green-
Richard Annis

AGM and Members' Night