Monday 30 December 2013

Mearns Street School, Greenock

This was once Mearns Street School, opened in January 1877.  Many of the children who attended this school would have had parents who worked in Greenock's shipyards and mills.

It has some wonderful architectural details.

I wonder if the school bell was rung from here.

It was still a primary school up until the 1970s.  It was later used as a centre for people with special needs.

Wonder what the local authority intend to do with it?  Hopefully it won't be demolished like so many of Greenock's wonderful old buildings.

The Greenockian

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Christmas Greetings from Greenock

Since its Christmas Eve, I thought I'd show you this lovely stained glass window in Westburn Church, Greenock.

It depicts the Nativity in wonderful, colourful detail.  From the choir of angels to the three wise men and shepherds, it is just beautiful.

Designed by famed Scottish artist, Douglas Strachan, the window was placed in the church in memory of a churchgoer.  The panel reads -
To the glory of God and in memory of John Haddow born 1845: died 1904
Erected by his brother and sister - Peter and Janet Haddow: Greenock 1916

John, Peter and Janet Haddow were the children of Greenock merchant Andrew Charmichael Haddow and his wife Sarah Reid Maxton who were married in the church in 1844.  They also lived at Little Galla in Lanarkshire.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

The Greenockian

Sunday 22 December 2013

Wonderful Westburn

This is the spire of Westburn Church in Greenock, Scotland. 

The church was built in 1840 and the spire added in 1855.

Westburn Church is still used as a place of worship.  Denomination - Presbyterian, Church of Scotland.

Joining with InSPIREd Sunday.

The Greenockian

Saturday 21 December 2013

Greenock - Keep the Pavement Dry!

This is what remains of a drinking fountain which once stood on the western end of Greenock Esplanade.  It is now in the garden of sheltered accommodation near the Old West Kirk - at least it hasn't disappeared altogether.

The wording reads - "Keep the Pavement Dry" - a bit ironic in Greenock which get a lot of rain!  I think that the bird is a heron and this is also found on many other fountains of this type.

Fountains like this with the "Keep the Pavement Dry" motto can be found not just in many British towns and cities, but all over the world - as far away as Sydney in Australia.  Many originated in W MacFarlane & Co's Saracen Foundry in Glasgow.  The company made ornamental ironwork. and published a catalogue from which decorative ironwork items could be ordered. 

The Greenockian

Saturday 14 December 2013

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Greenock and the George Washington Connection

Walter Washington Buchanan, a Greenock doctor is the connection.  He was born at Hanover (Morristown), New Jersey on 4 June 1777.  He was baptised on 6 July 1777 and George Washington, America's first president, was his godfather!  This is Buchanan's grave in Greenock Cemetery.

The inscription reads:- 
Walter Washington Buchanan born 4th June 1777 at Hanover, Jersey USA, died 11th September 1861, his son James Campbell, merchant, born 3rd Mar 1803 at New York died 10th Oct 1868.
Walter Buchanan went on to have a very interesting life.  As a child he recalls playing with the grandchildren of Martha Washington - George Washington Custis and his sister Eleanor at the Osgood/Franklin House on Cherry Street. 

Walter's family originated in Scotland and he was sent back to attend Glasgow University, graduating MD in 1798.  He returned to New York and applied to the US Navy for a position and was appointed to the ship "Ganges".  Several of his letters to the War Department remain - he had quite a flamboyant signature!   It was a short-lived career as he was discharged the following year under the Peace Establishment Act. 

He returned to Scotland and married a Greenock lass - Annabella Brownlie on 27 February 1802.  On their return to New York, they had two children, a son James Campbell and a daughter Eliza.  Dr Buchanan's career blossomed and he was elected Professor of Midwifery at Columbia College in 1808.  He was also Secretary of New York County Medical Society and was connected with the New York Almshouse (Bellevue?).

When the Anglo-American war broke out in 1812, Buchanan was re-appointed as a Navy Surgeon and worked at Sackett's Harbour on Lake Ontario.  There is an interesting letter from him in "The Naval War of 1812" Vol II edited by William S Dudley in which he objects strongly to a proposed pay cut!  He was visited at Sackett's Harbour by the writer Washington Irving with whom he seems to have been friends since they were younger.

He retired from the Navy in 1827 and was residing at Greene Street, near Broadway in New York.  In 1830 his daughter, Eliza married a wealth cloth merchant Alexander Rodger in Greenock.  By 1837 Walter and his family were residing at Mount Pleasant in Greenock.  Sometime in 1843/44 he bought the beautiful house of Bagatelle in Greenock (now a care home).  He was involved in local affairs and continued to practice as a doctor in the town.  Annabella died in 1852 and was buried in the Old West churchyard (remains later transfered to Greenock Cemetery).  Walter died of apoplexy in 1861.  In his will he left some knives, forks and spoons which "were so long in the use of President Washington" to his son, James who died in 1868.  James founded the Buchanan Night Asylum in the town which gave shelter and food to homeless people.

Walter Washington Buchanan seems to have been a very interesting man.  His daughter's family are buried nearby and also have a story to tell!

The Greenockian

Monday 9 December 2013

Neglected Past

In a pedestrian underpass leading to a car park under a busy traffic roundabout imaginatively named the "Bullring" in Greenock is an amazing mural.

It is made up of tiles depicting paddle steamers and turbine steam ships from the time when the River Clyde was as busy as the roads above the underpass are now.

The underpass is not in a main pedestrian area, so only those using the car park really get to see them.  Many of the tiles are becoming chipped and cracked.

Wouldn't it be great if they could be moved to a place where they could be better appreciated by locals and the many cruise ship visitors who come to our town.
Joining with Monday Mural.
The Greenockian