Bygone Bungo

A Strathbungo History, & More

Category: Memoir

History of Langside Primary School

Not quite Strathbungo, but quite a few residents of Strathbungo are current or former pupils of Langside Primary School.

Back in 2006 I set about recording a history of the school for its centenary celebrations, and the resulting book was published and copies distributed to pupils.

It came about after watching an all-time classic episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?”, featuring Jeremy Paxman. He was reduced to tears when he discovered his great grandfather was a Glasgow school janitor, whose family was left destitute when he died. The program made reference to the head teachers’ diaries kept in the Mitchell Library, and the resultant book was based largely on entries from the Langside diaries.

It is reproduced here for posterity, if anyone wishes a read.

Life in a 20th Century School – Click to read (pdf, 1MB)

Now Pay Attention, 007

Did you know that Q, James Bond’s favourite quartermaster, was actually a former Strathbungo resident? The story comes courtesy of the Herald, and the sharp eyes of local resident David Cook.

Imagine the curtains twitching back in 1956 when the CID called at 17 Regent Park Square. They wanted to question the licence-holder of a revolver matching the gun used by one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers. Geoffrey Boothroyd, a young technical rep at ICI, told them that his gun was actually down south being illustrated for the cover of Ian Fleming’s next James Bond novel, From Russia with Love.

That old excuse…

Cover of first edition, From Russia With Love.

Cover of first edition, From Russia with Love.

And it was true. Boothroyd, a gun collector, had written to Fleming earlier that year to say that Bond’s .25 Beretta was “really a lady’s gun”. He suggested instead a manly Smith & Wesson .38. Little did he know that it was also the weapon of choice for one Peter Manuel, then on a murderous spree that would claim seven lives, the last three in Burnside.

The detectives eventually got their man and Manuel got justice at the end of a rope. Boothroyd and Fleming continued their friendly correspondence. At the end of From Russia with Love, Rosa Klebb managed to stab Bond with her famous boot, partly because his Beretta got caught in his holster.

In his next novel, Dr No, Fleming included a whole chapter in which Bond was introduced by M to the armourer, Major Boothroyd. He confiscated Bond’s Beretta – “Ladies’ gun, sir” – for a Walther PPK, with the Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight .38 revolver as back up. A new holster was also recommended, and all was based closely on Geoffrey Boothroyd’s advice. Daniel Craig still uses the Walther PPK to this day.

Oddly the character Q never appeared in Fleming’s novels; he only referred to Q Branch, suppliers of gadgets. Major Boothroyd appeared just the once, and it wasn’t clear he was from Q Branch either.

Boothroyd himself became firearms consultant for Dr No, the first Bond movie, and also advised on such matters as how to set an ocean on fire – no doubt his work at ICI came in handy. Peter Dawson played Major Boothroyd in the movie version of the above scene from Dr No.

It was only in the second movie, From Russia with Love, that Major Boothroyd also became known as Q, and was played famously by Desmond Llewellyn, in that movie and for the subsequent 36 years.

Geoffrey Boothroyd

Geoffrey Boothroyd

Geoffrey Boothroyd was quite an eccentric who once told Fleming: “I cherish a dream that one day a large tiger or lion will escape from the zoo or a travelling circus and I can bag it in Argyll Street.” That never happened, but he went on to become one of the world’s leading authorities on shotguns and handguns.

Mr Boothroyd himself, in a 1964 short presented by Sean Connery, explains his reasoning behind his choice of weapons. The film appears to have been shot inside his Strathbungo home; although by this time he had moved from 17 to 11 Regent Park Square, where he lived from 1956 to 1971. A recent resident of No 11 recalls his parents purchasing the house from the Boothroyds, and remembers the house being full of weapons, including a Gatling gun in the living room. Does the current resident recognise it?

I am slowly amassing a history of Strathbungo, including stories of former residents of note such as this. If you have any stories to tell, please get in touch.

References

A Dawdle

Thanks to Marion Benamir for the following. She now resides in sunny Jerusalem, but grew up at 20 Nithsdale Road in the 1940s. For a creative writing exercise she wrote a piece about life in Glasgow, in the local patter, much to the confusion of her colleagues. She also offered it to us:

A Dawdle Along the Road

A love this part o’ Nithsdale Road, Glesca. Not the posh end wi’ a’ the big hooses and the high falutin’ folk, ye ken. Naw. A love this end, the Strathbungo end. The end wi ’the pubs. One pub on each corner o’ this part of the street frae number 2 tae number 88 on the south side and number 5 tae 85 on the other. It’s a’ closes and shops in between the pubs. The Regency pub is at the corner o’ Polloksaws Road wi’ its busy tramlines. The Titwood Arms is at the other end near the railway station and opposite th Titwood is Sammy Dows…. Ye’re wonderin’ aboot the other corner – right opposite the Regency? A licensed grocer wi no mulk – jist booze. And tae prove it – its whole side wall is covered in a poster of a giant man stridin’ along. Johnny Walker of course!

This evening am no’ stridin’ – am jist dawdling, no so steady on ma feet, along the stone pavement. Av had a few wi’ ma pals at the Regency so am off along the road tae the Titwood fur a few mare. It’s a Friday after a’ and uv got the envelope with ma pay in ma pocket… The wife’ll no’ see much o’ that, wull she?

Am keepin’ tae the sunny side o’ the street. A heard that the lang building on this side was built by a famous man – architect Thomson somethin’. Something tae dae wi the Greeks. Righ’ enough – and am lookin’ up at the tap floor, two flights up, the stones are nice and big and grey – jist like in Bath Street in the West End . Am lookin’ across the road noo – across the cobbles tae the barber’s wi’ his fancy pole – the buldin’ oan the other side looks kinda dark – not like this side – must be the soot frae Dixon’s Blazes where ma pal Jock works. Hard job that – shovelin’ coal intae the furnace a’ day.

Past the shopes- sweeties, chemists, the dairy…. They cun keep their mulk. Och, a need somethin’ tae hang on tae. Tae steady me up. A tree? There’s nae trees in the street – no’ here in Glesca – they’re a’ in the back greens wi’ the middens – so ave got tae hang on tae a lamp post. It’ll no’ be till near eleven till the lamplighter gets here the night… Summer…..!

On ma way again. Watch oot you weans! – al try an’ keep oot of yer way. This pavement’s good for the peever and the skipping, intit? A see ye were at school the day – that wee lassie’s still got oan her uniform – brown jailet and skirt – so she’s a Catholic – not a proddy like me. Whit are they callin’ her? Senga? Senga? Aye, a think that’s Agnes backwards. And that lassie holdin’ the rope – she’s one of they Jews – something aboot her face. Quite a lot o’ Jews round here – must of moved away frae the Gorbals. The Catholics say they Jews killed Christ but whit dae I care – it’s the Catholics that won the elections in the City Chambers am worried aboot.

Coal! Coal! – aye, there’s the coal cart coming up the road rumbling over the cobbles! They Clydesdale horses are still doin’ a grand job! And the coalmen – two flights up with the black stuff on their backs…. Am glad am no working a’ that. A see now cards with numbers stuck on some o’ the big windies up above me–That means they’ve got two bags – hundredweights – to take up the next close. Better them than me…. Oop..

And whit’s that – a nearly fell over these wains – two o’ them – kneeling doon in ma way on the kerb at the stank. Och a remember doin’ that in the Gallowgate – puttin’ chewing gum on a string tryin’ to hook a penny that’s rolled doon into the drain. They must be hopin’ fur two ha’penny gobstoppers from the sweetie shop.

Passin’ the electric shop, another close, and then – whit a fancy front! Two shops jined together! “The Leisure Library” it says on the sign. Mibbe a should go in an’ pit ma feet up. A like tae go tae the pictures and read the papers – but a dinna read fur ma leisure – jist a few drinks and a night at the dogs. Saturday – ma leisure is the terraces at Hampden Park watching Rangers. Ma wife bought me a ticket for the stand fur ma birthday – it’s no fur me that wi’ a’ the toffs…. Next year a want a sail doon the wa’er for ma birthday…. A’ the way doon tae Rothesday and sozzled a’ the way hame.

Mare weans over the road. Bouncing two ball against the wa’. An’ right next tae Sammy Dow’s too! Ah …Who’s that ower ‘ere? Bobby McPhee an’Archie Duncan– Ach …. Al gie the Titwood a miss and al jist dodder over an jine ‘em fur a pint. Hey, watch oot – ya motor car! They’ll need tae dae away wi they cobbles…… they’re no easy fur me crossin’ the road in this state…. But “wait fur me pals… al no’ be a minute…..!”

Other snippets she mentioned:

A neighbour in Jerusalem, Ephraim, turned out to have arrived in Scotland on the kindertransport and lived in Darnley Road.

She also recalled one night in the late 1950’s a man clad only in his birthday suit ran out of the Fotheringhay and caused a lot of interest in Nithsdale Road…

Before that there was a very posh fruit shop – Kate Young’s. The folks from the Pollokshields end of Nithsdale Road used to send their chauffeurs to Kate Young’s to pick up their orders. And there was an occasional pony and cart..

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