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THE redevelopment of the historic Helensburgh seafront mansion Cairndhu — home for many years of the first Baron Strathclyde — is already attracting admiring glances.

The peerage became extinct when the Baron, Alexander Ure, died in the house on October 2 1928, and Cairndhu remained a private home until the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a degaussing base.

FILM STAR Deborah Kerr spent the first four years of her life with her parents in Helensburgh, but was born in Glasgow — and her birthplace has been marked with a blue plaque.

She was born Deborah Jane Trimmer in a maternity home in the west end on September 30 1921. At that time it was St James Terrace, but today it is 7 Ruskin Terrace, home of Mark and Laura Dunn.

A 97 YEAR-OLD woman thought to have been the last surviving link with RAF Helensburgh and the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Rhu died recently at the age of 97.

In 2020 Helensburgh Heritage Trust presented Frances McLaren, who had no surviving close relatives, with a framed certificate of appreciation of her wartime service.

HER Royal Highness Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, had a huge impact on Helensburgh and Garelochside, where she lived in Rosneath Castle and loved the beauty and quietness of the Gareloch.

The area provided a haven for her in her later years after a fascinating and busy earlier life inevitable for a daughter of Britain’s longest serving monarch from 1837-1901.

HELENSBURGH has always prided itself that a Prime Minister came from the burgh, despite the fact that he is known as “The Unknown Prime Minister”.

A Conservative, the Rt Hon Andrew Bonar Law MP occupied 10 Downing Street for just 209 days in 1922-23, succeeding the much better known Liberal, David Lloyd George, who had served from 1916-22.

A HELENSBURGH man who served as a County Councillor for 23 years was a First World War hero who won the Victoria Cross, the top award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

Colonel George de Cardonnel Elmsall Findlay was born on August 20 1889 in Cardross and died suddenly at his burgh home, Drumfork House, on June 26 1967 at the age of 77.

MENTION Neilson Gray and Carisbrooke in Helensburgh — and thoughts immediately turn to a noted World War One war artist.

But Norah Neilson Gray’s big brother Andrew (below right) also played a significant role in wartime, and he is regarded as one of the pioneers of wireless telegraphy.

A FAMILY which had a home at Shandon for nearly a century included some of the most gifted churchmen that Scotland has ever produced.

The MacLeod family from Fiunary, overlooking the Sound of Mull, gave more than 550 years of ordained service to the Church.

AS HELENSBURGH has developed over the years, not always for the better, so too has Shandon.

It is a good example of a community where changes have been especially pronounced, with the loss of many features.

THE HELENSBURGH Town Council visitors book, covering 1947-75, appeared for sale at an auction house in Folkestone in Kent in May — and has been bought by Helensburgh Heritage Trust.

Quite how it got there is a mystery. However the Trust was alerted to its potential sale both by member Penny Johnston and by Phil Worms of the former Helensburgh Heroes project.

2020-21 Annual Report

The past year has been a very challenging time for everyone. There can be no organisation, employer or indeed any citizen who has not been affected in some way. Helensburgh Heritage Trust is no exception to this and like many other organisations we have been driven in the direction of technology and the internet to maintain continuity.

A series of Board meetings as well as our AGM have been held via the Zoom Platform. This has meant some alterations to our constitution and I would like to thank Stewart Noble in particular for his experience and diligence in this respect.

Our previous Chairman, David Clark resigned at the end of the last financial year and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Trust Board to thank David for his sterling work over the years. After several months with no chairman, I decided to offer the board my services and I’m delighted to say that I was elected by them in August. It will be a big job to try to match David’s enthusiasm and effort but I will do my best.

I would also like to thank Geoff Tompson who resigned from the Trust Board in September. Geoff and his wife Trudi were both directors but sadly Trudi had to resign because of ill health in 2018 and passed away not long afterwards, after succumbing to a bravely borne illness. We understand Geoff’s decision and thank him for his contribution. Geoff’s departure has been balanced by the co-opting of Alison Gildea to the board. It is good to have another woman on the board – particularly one with the array of business and creative skills that Alison brings.

It was very disappointing for us to have to cancel our series of Winter Talks at the Council Offices. There was, of course no alternative to this. However, Stewart Noble held a very interesting and enjoyable ‘webinar’ talk on John Logie Baird. Donald Fullarton and Jim Chestnut have continued to improve the excellent HHT website which attracts considerable interest worldwide. During the year a couple of newsletters were produced for members. On the social media side, our Helensburgh Memories Facebook Group once again saw growth and now has more than 8,400 members worldwide.

Planning permission has been granted for a display board beside the RAF Helensburgh memorial at Kidston Park. Although the cost of this can be met from the Trust’s own funds, we are grateful for considerable assistance of a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. Further donations will of course also be much appreciated.

The Trust has significant input into the committee which has been formed with a view to celebrating the centenary of John Logie Baird’s invention of television in 1925. This committee includes Iain Baird, the pioneer’s grandson as well as Brian Keating who is the man behind the Scottish Submarine Centre and the Tower Digital Arts Centre. We look forward to keeping you informed of progress in organising exhibitions and events to celebrate the achievements of Helensburgh’s  most famous son.

Robert Ryan

Welcome to Helensburgh Heritage

Bells Comet

WELCOME to the Helensburgh Heritage Trust website.

We hope you find it simple to navigate, with 1,691 articles, a Photo Gallery with 2,165 images in 23 albums, letters, 18 document downloads, and links to 113 local websites.

Contributions are welcome, and should be emailed using Contact Us.

Follow this link to see a list of, and links to, all the articles in the various categories.

2020-21 Winter Open Meetings

All 2020-21 open meetings were cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions. The programme for 2022 will be announced later in the year.
Meetings, open to all, in Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre, East Clyde Street, 7.30pm.

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Charity Number

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation
SC024603