Another Baird in business

John Logie Baird
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annie-bairdTV INVENTOR John Logie Baird was not the only entrepreneur in his Helensburgh family, it has emerged.

This followed the discovery of an advertisement for Old Gareloch polish in the back premises of T.G.Allan’s shop on the seafront, along with some old rusty tins of polish which were thrown out.

On the advertisement were the names Baird and MacDonald, and it was assumed that the Baird must be John Logie Baird, who at one time had a workshop in that area of the town.

gareloch-polish-ad-w“Not so,” the inventor’s son, Professor Malcolm Baird, president of Helensburgh Heritage Trust, responded when asked about it. “You are right about the connection with my family, but it was not JLB, it was his sister Annie Baird.”

She also grew up at The Lodge in West Argyle Street and lived there until her death in 1971. After she died, Professor Baird had the job of dealing with all her papers.

“I remember a letter from someone apologising to her for the failure of the business project on Old Gareloch polish,” he said. “This would have been some time around 1935.

“Aunty had inherited some money from her father a few years earlier. Some of it was spent in bringing mains electricity to The Lodge, and it seems that she also put some money into the Old Gareloch business venture in partnership with MacDonald.

“Unfortunately I did not keep the letter and after nearly 50 years I cannot be sure that the signatory was MacDonald, but it probably was.

“Annie would have been inspired by my father’s business activities in the early 1920s, which included Osmo boot polish!”

It was the success of another John Logie Baird invention, the Baird Undersock, said to guarantee cool feet in the summer and warm feet in the winter, which enabled him to go on and develop Osmo boot polish, a special shoe cleaner.

Within a year, selling his products directly to local retail chemists, he built himself a fairly respectful and profitable business.