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.

Smith & Wesson Revolver

The modified snub-nosed Smith & Wesson M&P from the cover of From Russia with Love, now in the Royal Armouries museum. Credit: Royal Armouries

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. Even Daniel Craig still used the Walther PPK.

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.


BBC - Archive - James Bond - Time Out | The Guns of James Bond [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 23]. Available from:
May I suggest that Mr. Bond be armed with a revolver? [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 23]. Available from:
HeraldScotland [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 23]. Glasgow gun fanatic who inspired a Bond character … but was caught up in serial murder probe. Available from:


  1. Hi,
    great story. We were alerted to this information by a neighbour. We are the current residents of no. 11 RPS and the filming took place in the formal lounge in the top floor of the house. We did wonder why the two public rooms had heavy duty, old, security locks on them when we bought the property, and the footage in the archive has confirmed why!

    Great source of information on the area, many thanks.

  2. I was born in 17 Regent Park Square and Geoff lodged with us in my parents’ house there. Geoff taught me about guns and to shoot. My father and Geoff became avid Fleming readers when the Bond books came out and this prompted the correspondence between Boothroyd and Fleming. The pistol on the cover of From Russia With Love is a service Smith and Wesson .38 revolver and was converted by Geoff and my father in my father’s workshop in the basement of our house, 17 Regent Park Square. I was given the task of polishing the wood butt grips and my initials are written in pencil on the inside. My father ran a small business building tape recorders and he built the recording studio in Wishaw where Lulu recorded her first record.

    • Richard has provided some more details.
      “I was born in June 1948. My father Harold Skaife bought the house in 1947 and established an engineering business, Glasgow Cine Services, initially in 123 Renfield Street, then at 567 Pollokshaws Road. Geoff Boothroyd lodged in our house in the early 50s until his marriage when he moved to 11 Regent Park Square. His correspondence with Ian Fleming was written from 17 Regent Park Square as that was where he was living at the time. I remember Geoff well; I went shooting with him both full bore rifle shooting at Dechmont Ranges, and game shooting at Lochwinnoch. He was an accomplished technical photographer and taught me much about photography.

      His company were specialists in cinematography and sound engineering and my father build the first tape recorders built in Scotland. He built a recording studio for Scottish filmmaker Enrico Cocozza, and I remember as a child going there and being given ice cream from Enrico, as they were one of the Italian ice cream families. My father was the sound engineer on Enrico Cocozza’s “Chick’s Day” (1950). The film is available in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive Apparently Enrico’s studio was where Lulu recorded her first record.

      My father sold 17 Regent Park Square in 1964.”

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