A strong radical tradition existed in the area since the
Radical Upheavals in the fist part of the 19th century. Radicals
throughout Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales had been fired
with the ideals of Revolutionary France. Thrushgrove Estate
was owned by a radical businessman called James Turner, who
had a tobacconist shop in High St. near the university. The
grounds of Thrushgrove contained a mansion and a cottage and
ran from Castle St to around Garnock St. These grounds were
the scene of the biggest radical gathering ever seen in the
British Isles, in October 1816. This gathering had been banned
by the City Magistrates but Thrushgrove was just outside the
city limits. However the 42nd Regiment was on stand-by as
the Magistrates felt treason was in the air. His
Majestys ministers were reported to be in a state of
great alarm. Resolutions at the meeting were said to be mild
and reasonable. They sought a redress of grievances in the
House of Commons.
The Lord Provost had said if the meeting was held on Glasgow
Green, it would be at the Radicals peril. The Magistrates
would call out the 42nd Regiment and with their bayonets keep
them at bay. They were also denied use of the Trades House,
Sanny Roger, East end radical weaver and poet (who incidentally
wrote The Muckin o Geordies Byre)
penned the following verse amid the ferment going on in the
city at the time:
Vile sooty rabble what dye
by raisin a this dreadful din
do you no ken what horrid sin
ye are committing
by haudin up your crafts sae thin
for sig a meeting?
Vile black-nebs! Doomed through life
and howk amang your native sludge
wha ist gives you the fight to judge
o siccan matters
that ye maun grumble, grunt an grudge
at us, your betters?
Base rads! Whos ignorance surpasses
the dull stupidity of asses
think ye the privileged classe
care aught aboot ye?
If only mair ye daur to fash us
by George! Well shoot ye!
Weve wealth o sodgers in
to keep sic ragamuffins doun
and gin ye dinna settle soon
by a thats guid!
well gar the common sewers rin
wi your base bluid.
Tak, therefore, this kind admonition
recant, repent, be a submission
and, as a proof that your contrition
is frae the heart
in Gudes name burn that vile petition
before ye part.
It was during the emergency James Turner came forward and
offered the radicals the use of the fields of Thrushgrove.
It is believed upwards of 40,000 attended the meeting, which
lasted from 12 to 4pm. Order prevailed throughout. James Turner
was later charged with high treason and imprisoned in the
Bridewell. However he was freed and lived as a highly respected
citizen, dying in the West end of the city around 1887. In
1832 a memorial to the radical weavers John Baird and Andrew
Hardie, who were executed after the Battle of Bonnymuir, was
erected in James Turners grounds at Thrushgrove, Garngad.
This forms part of the present monument at Sighthill Cemetery.
The Radical Movement was strong around the Townhead area
and there was a branch of the Radical Union in Castle St.
William Flanagan, a weaver from Dobbies Loan was a delegate
from this branch and took part in the 1820 Radical Uprising
at Bonnymuir. The youngest participant at Bonnymuir was Andrew
White, a bookbinder, who was deported to Australia. He later
returned and died in the Royal Infirmary in 1872 (White was
a member of one of the unions that preceded my own union:
the Graphical, Print and Paper Workers Union). Many of the
immigrants who came to west central Scotland would be familiar
with the Chartist and Radical movements. Most of the Irish
who came to Garngad came from the Northern counties where
prior to the foundation of the Orange Order, radical Presbyterians
had found common cause with dispossessed Catholics. Jews and
Poles and Lithuanians arrived, fleeing Czarist Pogroms and
oppression. Highlanders would be familiar with the Land League
Battles. All these became a factor in the growth of left wing
politics in Glasgow and central Scotland. So, in a way, in
a short period, politics became even more radicalised with
the emergence of leaders like John McLean, Willie Gallagher,
John Wheatley and Jimmy Maxton. McLeans forbears came
from (?) and Willie Gallagher was of Irish origin on his fathers
side. John Wheatley was born in Bonmahon, County Waterford,
Ireland. He came to Scotland as a child and was reared in
a miners row at Braehead, a village that lay between
Bargeddie and Baillieston. He became M.P. for Shettleston
and was Minister of Health in the first Labour government.
He and Maxton were I.L.P. men and did not claim to be Marxists
like McLean and Gallagher. All four had their differences
but held each other in high respect.
For a long time the Irish immigrants, in Garngad, like other
parts of the city remained more interested in the Irish home
rule issue. There were many differences of opinion among the
Irish in the Garngad as elsewhere on issues like the Easter
Rising; support for World War One, etc. There was a Sinn Fein
hall in Castle St and a branch of Cumann AMain (the
womans section of the Republican movement). There was
also a strong Hibernian movement and there was no love lost
between the Republicans and the Hibs, as the Hibs had supported
John Redmond, who supported enlisting in World War One, on
the basis that Ireland would be granted home rule.
The Hibernian Hall was opened in Garngad Rd in 19 (?) by
Joseph Devlin, a controversial populist figure, who was Irish
Nationalist M.P. for West Belfast. The official name for this
hall was The Joseph Devlin Memorial Hall but was
always known as The Hibs. Some years ago it was
sold by the A.O.H. (the Ancient Order of Hibernians) to St
Rochs Parish and it became known as Royston Social
Club. Latterly, the club has been in private hands and
was recently burned down.
However, Wheatley was mainly responsible for switching the
Irish allegiances to Labour and after the earlier rebellion
and the period of the Irish Civil War, most of the Irish and
those of Irish origin involved themselves in Scottish politics,
particularly in the Labour and Trade Union movement. Jimmy
Maxton, later M.P. for Bridgeton lived at Garngad Square from
Vincent Flynn (1909 -1991) was born in Garngad Avenue (now
James Nisbet St). he rose to become General Secretary of the
Print Union SOGAT, now part of my own union. Vincent was one
of the most respected figures in the Trade Union movement.
He and his wife Ann were part of the Glasgow Workers Theatre
Group which met in premises at the corner of High ST and George
St (now an art shop).
A number of Garngad people were members of this group including
Marian Robertson, James Carrol, Chic Dinning and Jimmy Sutherland.
Marian lived for much of her life in Earlston Avenue and at
Sighthill. She worked in the printing trade and was one of
my predecessors as branch president. A life-long Communist,
Marian was named as Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year.
After retiring from the printing trade, Marian served as
secretary of Royston Pensioners Action Group and as secretary
and founder of the Retired Members section of my own union.
James Carrol fought in the International Brigade in the Spanish
Civil War, the monumental fight against fascism that preceded
the 2nd World War, (he was also a founder member of Scottish
CND). It is said that more men from Glasgow fought in the
International Brigade than from any other city. A number of
Garngad men joined the anti Franco forces, including
James pal Chic Dinning, Willie McLean, Winnial McLean
and Charlie Cheeky McCaig. Jock Shields died in
the conflict. James Sutherland was one of the original pioneers
of Scottish television and also did a bit of acting. Chic
Dinnings widow, the late Helen, told me that on one
occasion James was at a grand dinner, seated next to some
hyphenated colonel. This bloke looks at Sutherland and said:
What school did you go to Sutherland?
Jimmy replied: Rosemount
The hyphenated twit replied Rosemount, Oxford or Rosemount,
Jimmy riposted with Rosemount, Garngad.
This theatre group played a major part in bringing the great
Paul Robeson. They were one of the groups that helped form
Glasgow Unity Theatre which led to the foundation of the Citizens
In more recent years Pat Kelly, who came from Roystonhill,
served as President of the STUC. Pat was a member of the General
Council for the STUC for many years and representing PTC,
the Civil Service Union. Phil McGarry from Provanmill is Scottish
Organiser for RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) and
a member of STUCs General Council. John Reidford, a
member of the FBU (Fire Brigades Union) was for many
years secretary of Glasgow Trades Council.
about Provanmill and Blackhill
to history index page
to site index page
about Garngad characters (Mick McLaughlan by Michael Keenan)
about entertainment in the area
about sports in the area
about schools in the area
about churches and religion in the area
the 'Farewell to Garngad'
about a poet from 'Little Ireland'
the conclusion by writer James Friel
to history index page
to site index page