Thursday 31 October 2013

Derelict Church In Greenock

This is the former Nelson Street E U Church in Greenock.

It has been lying empty for quite a while now.

Unfortunately vandals and the passing of time have made it quite derelict.

Such a shame!

The Greenockian

Wednesday 30 October 2013

A Bull Fight in Greenock - 1866

No, not this kind of bull fight!

More like raging bulls!  This is an article from the Glasgow Herald of 24 January 1866.

Sounds like there was utter chaos on the quayside.  I love the description of "great consternation among the strangers and loungers on the quay" and everyone having to run for safety.

Bulls, sheep, horses, loungers - must have caused quite a stir in the town!

Still, looks like it all ended well with no human casualties!

 The Greenockian

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Greenock's Caged Bird

I pass by the McLean Museum & Art Gallery in Greenock at least a couple of times a week and only noticed for the first time yesterday that this sculpture in the Museum gardens is actually a bird.

Not only that, but I discovered that it was created by the celebrated local artist George Wyllie (1921-2012)!

Named "Caged Peacock", it was originally commissioned for Princes Square, Glasgow and brought to Greenock in 2006 where it was given a lovely new home in the gardens outside the McLean Museum.

Made of stainless steel and glass, it is 3 metres high.

Note to self when walking around Greenock - don't just look - SEE!

The Greenockian

Friday 25 October 2013

John Galt - Who Stole His Head?

John Galt (1779-1839) is perhaps one of Greenock's most famous inhabitants - chiefly known as a novelist and poet. 

Although he was born in Irvine, his family moved to Greenock when he was young, and he died here after a life spent in many other parts of Britain and abroad.  There are several plaques commemorating him in the town.

This plaque is on the wall of a building on the corner of Westburn Street and West Blackhall Street and marks the place where the house in which he died once stood.

 John Galt is buried in the Inverkip Street Cemetery in Greenock.  This plaque is at the entrance to the cemetery.  He is buried along with other family members - his parents and sister.

The grave is beautifully kept.

Galt is also commemorated by a fountain on the Esplanade at the bottom of Roseneath Street .  This was the idea of Allan Park Paton, former librarian of Greenock.

This is what should be in that space!
Unfortunately, the metal plate of his profile has been stolen by vandals.  Let's hope that a replacement will be put in place soon.

John Galt was a remarkable man.  I'll be writing much more about him in later posts.

The Greenockian

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Highland Mary's Grave

Great to see that the Greenock Burns Club have been given a grant to help restore the Highland Mary monument in Greenock Cemetery.

Highland Mary (Mary Campbell) was the love of Robert Burns life.  They were due to sail away to start a new life in Jamaica.  Before he could meet with her at their port of departure in Greenock, Mary died of a fever in 1786.

The Greenockian

Sunday 13 October 2013

Beauty in Glass

This beautiful window can be found in Lyle Kirk, Esplanade, Greenock (formerly the Old West Kirk.

Entitled Music, it was designed by Edward Burne-Jones in 1867/68.  He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  The window itself was made by William Morris & Co.

Isn't it absolutely beautiful?

Friday 11 October 2013

Quintin Leitch, Merchant of Greenock

Quintin Leitch of Greenock was a man who took full advantage of the town's good Atlantic trading position on the west coast of Scotland, the new shipbuilding endeavours in Greenock and his family's trading links to make a name for himself as a successful townsman.  Born to merchant James Leitch and his wife Mary Orr in 1774, Quintin was the eldest of the family.  He had three brothers - James, Robert and William who all became successful businessmen in Greenock.  He also had a sister, Mary.  This is a memorial to him in the Wellpark Mid Kirk in Greenock.

The memorial was described in 1828 by Daniel Weir as -

"... elegant monument to the memory of Quintin Leitch, an amiable and highly gifted individual, who was for six years Magistrate of Greenock, and who saw executed, during this short period, the greatest improvements which Greenock can boast of."

Previous to becoming a town official, Quintin Leitch went to sea in command of his own brig Clyde, built by Steele & Carswell at their yard in the Bay of Quick in Greenock in 1796. 

In the early days, his family were involved in trade with the West Indies importing mahogany (amongst other things).  By 1805, he is listed in the local trade directory  living at Nicholson Street in Greenock.  By 1815 he is listed as being in business with this brother,

and also among the list of magistrates of Greenock.

Quintin Leitch was a friend of the great Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson and was with him in 1815 at the laying of the foundation stone of Corsewall Lighthouse near Stranraer.  Stevenson also named part of the Bell Rock "Leitch's Ledge" after a visit there by him in 1818.

Bell Rock Lighthouse.  Image from Wkipedia.
He was heavily involved in local affairs and saw many changes and improvements to the harbours of Greenock, including the construction of the new Custom House, being present at the laying of the foundation stone in 1817.  From Views and Reminiscences of Old Greenock (1891) -
"the handsome Greenock Customhouse fronting the Old Steamboat Quay, the foundation stone of which was laid on the 2nd of May, 1817. It is interesting to note that “the ceremony was performed with Masonic honours by Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, Bart, [father of the present lord of the Manor], Provincial Grand Master of Renfrew and Dumbartonshires, in presence of Quintin Leitch and Robert Ewing, Esqrs., the Magistrates of the Burgh, and a large concourse of the inhabitants.” (Published by James McKelvie & Sons)

Customhouse Quay, Greenock
After many years of service to the town, Quintin Leitch died on 21 September 1827 aged 55.  His brothers and their children continued as merchants and public officials of the town for many years to come.

It is fitting that his memorial can still be seen today in the Wellpark Mid Kirk Church in Greenock.