John Logie Baird Display

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bairdA professionally designed exhibit about John Logie Baird was installed in the library in West King Street in the spring of 2000.

The design is such that it can be moved and taken to another site when the Heritage Trust has premises of its own. The aim was to present an aspect of John Logie Baird which is rarely portrayed in all the writings about him.

In the research for this, Trust president Professor Malcolm Baird, son of John Logie Baird, was most helpful and his sister, Mrs. Diana Richardson, performed the unveiling ceremony in May 2000.

This is a graphic exhibit with some interactive elements and livened by cartoons, giving it an appeal to children.

In it John Logie Baird is revealed as a warm and engaging man, a man with dynamism, humour and commitment which made him an exceptional person. The exhibit begins by showing the young John Logie Baird at home in Helensburgh where he was born and brought up.

Among his many projects during his boyhood was the development of a telephone exchange which came to an end abruptly when one of its low-hanging wires nearly cut off the head of a passing hansom cab driver!

He was a keen photographer and, with a friend, built a glider which ended its life disastrously at its launch and gave John Logie Baird a lifelong fear of flying. Some of his escapades were in company with his friend Jack Buchanan, who later became a star in Hollywood.

His experiments did not stop with adult life. He developed a "cure" for piles and a watertight sock, which was a great commercial success and soon there were travelling salesmen travelling the length and breadth of the country — even Selfridges in Oxford Street, London, bought six dozen pairs.

But his experimenting got him into trouble again and, while working with the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Codr-douglas-brownmpany, he tried to make a diamond by applying the full force of the sub-station’s power to a rod of carbon embedded in concrete. The resultant explosion plunged a sizeable part of Glasgow into darkness and he lost his job.

His next project was to set up a jam factory in Jamaica to partner his other current commercial project — "Osmo" boot polish. The jam was not a success and he sold all his (substandard) stocks for £15 to a man who made sausages, and then he came home.

The exhibit then goes on to refer to some of his less well known work with the development of colour television and his connection with the military and top secret work in the development of radar.

After three years in Helensburgh Library the exhibit was moved on loan to Strathclyde University under the care of Dr Douglas Brown (left), who heads the Strathclyde Science and Technology Forum. An expert on Baird, he has given talks to the Trust and conducted workshops for local primary schools on behalf of the Trust.