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The Reflections of Terry Welsh – a rich and colourful local history

By on August 29, 2014
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A memoir that delves into the rich and colourful history of the west of Glasgow has been published on Kindle with a foreword by journalist and broadcaster Graham Spiers, writes Martin Greig.

Reflections: Lambhill, Possil and Elsewhere by the late historian and author Terry Welsh is a rich, funny and moving portrayal of Glasgow life, mainly in the 1940s and 50s. Welsh grew up in the mining community of Lambhill and he committed the oral history of the time to print.

His writings on the Cadder Pit disaster, that claimed 11 lives on August 3, 1913, provide a vital historical record, as do his recording of the immigrant and native families who formed the communities around the west of the city centre in particular.

Real-life characters and landmarks bring the book to life. There is the Blind Asylum, on Saracen Street, the crowded Italian cafes and the packed chip shops. The city’s booming dancing scene is vividly recalled, along with trips to the ‘pictures’ and Glasgow’s rich sporting heritage.

There is also a section on the High Possil meteorite, which fell on the morning of Thursday, April 5, 1804 in a quarry near High Possil. One of only three ever to have been found in Scotland, Welsh was involved in the laying of a commemorative stone located at the Possil Marsh walkway to mark its 200th anniversary in 2004.

The book was original published around 10 years ago and had fallen out of print but has now reached a new audience on Kindle.

Spiers, a multi-award winning journalist and broadcaster, knew the author personally and was moved to revisit the places mentioned in the book following Welsh’s death in 2006.

He writes: “This book teems with memories of a Glasgow community’s love, fun, hardship and, in the case of the infamous Cadder mining disaster, terrible tragedy.

“There are vulnerable women and proud, hard-drinking men in these pages; local villains; yelling, excited children leaping into the Forth and Clyde canal in drowsy high summer; some dubious women, some deadbeats; inspiring schoolteachers and much more.

“When I first read this book I instinctively jumped on my bike from central Glasgow and cycled out to Lambhill – as it is today – to try to discover the specific terrain as set out by Terry … I’m not sure why I did this. I guess a part of me wanted to go back into the pages of this vivid book, to go back in time almost.

“Terry was an acute and exquisite observer of time, place, people and habit. This story is, for me, a beautiful testimony to a time and place in Glasgow that deserves never to be forgotten.”

As a 16-year-old surface worker at Balmore coal mine and resident of the Lambhill mining village of Lochfauld Raws – known locally as ‘The Shangie’ – Welsh was no stranger to the harshness of life but was never slow to reflect on the communal spirit that permeated industrial Glasgow society.

Life was hard but moments of epiphany were to be found. He wrote: “Lambhill was a big adventure playground, with open country bordered by the canal and lush farmland . . . it was a wonderful sight to watch the majestic Gypsy Queen pleasure boat glittering white in the sunlight, sailing west from Mavis Valley mining village, moving beyond the mountain of pit bing – a reminder of the hard sweat and toil of generations of miners.”

Welsh, who passed away in 2006, aged 74, was a very well-known face in Glasgow’s West End. He attended circuit training and football in the Western Baths into his seventies. In his memory, the Baths now host a football tournament every year.

 * All proceeds from the ebook will go to MacMillan Cancer Support. Buy Reflections: Lambhill, Possil and Elsewhere by Terry Welsh here

* Martin Greig is a director of BackPage Press, a Glasgow company that publishes world-class sports books.

Funeral procession from Mavis Valley to Cadder cemetery for the victims of the Cadder Pit Disaster.

Funeral procession from Mavis Valley to Cadder cemetery for the victims of the Cadder Pit Disaster.

A tram passes the Blind Asylum in Saracen Street.

A tram passes the Blind Asylum in Saracen Street.

The Meteorite working party (author on far right) unveil the commemorative stone.

The Meteorite working party (author on far right) unveil the commemorative stone.

A young Terry (left) and his friend at the Shangie.

A young Terry (left) and his friend at the Shangie.

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