Thursday, 16 June 2016

Newport Glasgow

I wonder if the eagle-eyed among you noticed the coat of arms within Port Glasgow's coat of arms? It is on one of the ship's sails.  It is actually the coat of arms for the city of Glasgow and is a reference to the very beginning of the town of Port Glasgow's history.

Lamp post from outside Glasgow Cathedral

During Glasgow's great tobacco trading days, laden ships could not get up the River Clyde all the way to the city.  Goods had to be off-loaded at Greenock or Newark Bay (near where the castle stands) and then put onto smaller boats, lighters, to be transported up-river to Glasgow.  Fed up with this, in 1668, the Glasgow merchants got together and bought some land (18 acres) from the then Laird of Newark, Sir George Maxwell and created their own port originally called Newport Glasgow.  This was eventually shortened to Port Glasgow.  

Newark Castle, Port Glasgow
The port was run by Glasgow magistrates and merchants, so in effect was a little bit of Glasgow further down the Clyde.  Eventually the river was dredged so that bigger ships could get all the way to Glasgow. 

Glasgow's Coat of Arms is full of symbolism connected with the city's patron saint, Kentigern (also known as Mungo) and four of his miracles.  There's a little rhyme about it -

"There's the tree that never grew,
There's the bird that never flew,
There's the bell that never rang,
There's the fish that never swam.
Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word."

The tree that never grew - when Mungo was a boy he was once left in charge of the refectory fire.  Unfortunately he fell asleep and the fire went out.  When he woke up, Mungo broke off some frozen branches from a tree (originally a hazel), prayed over them and they burst into flames, thus relighting the fire. 
The bird that never flew - is a robin which was a favourite of Mungo's tutor, Saint Serf.  Some jealous boys killed it and Mungo brought it back to life. 
The bell that never rang - Mungo is supposed to have brought a bell, a present from the Pope back to Glasgow from Rome.  
The fish that never swam - a salmon with a ring in its mouth.  This comes from a legend of a Queen who gave a ring, which had been a gift from her husband, to her favourite knight.  Her husband, the jealous king, took it from the knight and threw it into the River Clyde.  The King demanded in front of the court that his wife produce the ring.  She of course could not.  But St Mungo asked one of his monks to bring him a fish from the river and there, in its mouth, was the ring!  Thus the Queen was saved from dishonour. 

Glasgow's motto now is - "Let Glasgow Flourish" which is the shorter form of the original motto "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word" which is supposed to have been said by St Mungo.

So, two coats of arms for the price of one!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Port Glasgow's coat of arms

Here's a great picture of Port Glasgow's coat of arms from the present Town Hall building.

The Latin inscription reads - 
Ter et Quarter anno Revisens Aequor Atlanticum Impune
which means - 
  Three and four times a year revisiting the Atlantic with impunity.

This is a reference to Port Glasgow's trans-Atlantic timber trade with North America. A lot of timber was needed for the shipyards in the town. The town lamp post can be seen outside the Library and it also shows the town's coat of arms.

Port Glasgow's coat of arms can also be seen in the decorated pediment above the Library.

Crossing the Atlantic with impunity - a proud boast for a very proud town.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Keeping in touch

If you enjoy reading posts about places and people in and around Greenock then you might want to receive future posts by The Greenockian by email.  Just look in the right hand column of this blog to the note that says "Follow by Email".  Enter your email address, hit the submit button, and all future posts will be sent to you automatically!  Simple!

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the local area or are looking for information regarding local family history research.  You'll see my email address in the right column too.

I'm always happy to help ... if I can!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

St Elizabeth in stained glass

Here's another beautiful stained glass window from the church of St John the Evangelist, an Episcopal church in Greenock.

The window depicts Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.

The colours are just beautiful.

The church itself was built by Paley & Austin of Lancaster in Gothic Revival style and was completed in 1878.  It is situated at the corner of Union Street and Jamaica Street in Greenock.  You can see more beautiful stained glass from a previous post.

Joining InSPIRED Sunday - come and have a look at some more churches from around the world.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Port Glasgow Hoard

In the summer of 1699 a hoard of old coins and Viking silver was found somewhere in Port Glasgow.

The antiquarian Robert Wodrow wrote to William Nicolson in July 1699 from Glasgow -
"I have lately received accompt from Neuport Glasgow, about 18 miles from this, there have been descovred there by the falling doun of some earth a great deal  of old coins and other things that have (been) hid there."
Some of the hoard was acquired by antiquarian James Sutherland, botanist and antiquarian, who was a keen collector of early coins.  The coins were described as Saxon, the latest dated from the reign of the English King Edgar (943-975).   However no proper records were kept, so it is impossible to say what else may have been found.  From written descriptions of the coins, a deposit date of around the 970s has been given to the Port Glasgow hoard.

Sutherland's collection was purchased by the Faculty of Advocates in 1705 and in 1873 the collection was acquired by the National Museum.  It was impossible to tell which coins were from the Port Glasgow hoard, but a photograph of the arm rings, still in the National Museum in Edinburgh, can be seen here.  One is plain silver of a type known as Viking ringmoney - so called because as well as showing the wealth of the owner, it could easily be cut up and used to purchase items  The other is a more decorative arm ring made of three twisted strands of silver.

Dumbarton Rock
We'll never know who left the hoard there and why.  The River Clyde saw a fair bit of Viking activity.  In 870 the Vikings laid seige to Dumbarton Rock for four months before successfully taking the stronghold .  400 years later the Battle of Largs (1263) took place between the Vikings and the army of King Alexander III.  Perhaps it wasn't even a Viking who left it there, but someone who traded up and down the west coast of Britain.  The then king of Strathclyde Mael Coluim was known to have attended Edgar's court in the 970s, so perhaps it was one of his retinue who, for whatever reason, hid the riches.

No location apart from the name of the town given as to where the hoard was found, but extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow for 6 May 1699 show that some work was being done to the busy harbour at Port Glasgow could this be how it was unearthed?