1897 Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Plaque

A few times when I visited David Livingstone Centre, I wondered what the small plaque was on Shuttle Row. Not the prominent one at ground level telling for the 1929 opening, nor the one on the North Gable telling the story of the bell. Instead, looking upwards on the South side, just where the building changes from 3 storey to 2 storey, there is a noticeable plaque, which has frustrated me in the past, as i know it contains words, yet is too high for my camera to zoom.

I needed help with this one and turned to Blantyre man and fellow history enthusiast Gordon Cook, who immediately returned the following answer, which is shared here for all, with thanks.

“The plaque you mention is the one that was placed on the gable to mark the birthplace of David Livingstone while at the same time acknowledging Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year. Hugh Mayberry, had recently (this was just before 1897) been made the factor for all of Henry Monteith’s land at Blantyre and Barrowfield in Glasgow. Mayberry was a great Burns fan and also had a high regard for David Livingstone. He found it strange that nobody had erected any sort of signage or memorial in memory of Livingstone at Blantyre, so he initiated the placing of this plaque on the gable of Shuttle Row. Hugh Mayberry was well known in business circles in Glasgow and knew how to raise a subscription, so it wasn’t long before the plaque was paid for and ready to be unveiled. On Monday evening 21st June 1897, at five o’clock about 100 of the older folk of the village were treated to a fine tea in the schoolroom, while around 300 children were also fed and entertained on the grounds of the Lodge, they had races and many prizes were given out. There was a large procession through the town headed by the Blantyre Brass band, and the masonic lodges and other organisations were represented, as well as the schoolchildren waving flags and banners. When they arrived at Shuttle Row there were about 3000 people present, and after the minister prayed and they sang hymns, Mr Ness, the schoolmaster gave a talk on the life of David Livingstone, after which Hugh Mayberry unveiled the plaque amid great cheers.

   Hugh Mayberry was also responsible for the erection of the iron railing round the village graveyard. Although it was built through public subscription, Mayberry used his influence to attract two of the most prominent men of the day to speak at Blantyre, they were Mr John Ure Primrose and Sir Samuel Chisholm, these gentlemen spoke to large gatherings where the money was raised for the railings which gave the small graveyard the dignity it deserved.
   Another area in which Blantyre was indebted to Hugh Mayberry was the building of the railway Station at Low Blantyre, he petitioned the Caledonian Railway authorities on a number of occasions until the General Manager gave in to his demands. This station was not only a boom to the people of Blantyre but it succeeded in attracting more people to the town. The old station where people bought their tickets was an old dilapidated wooden shed, one of the oldest left in Scotland, and the new station, though about six months late in building, was occupied in early May 1900.”
Pictured is the 1897 plaque. I have since found this an excellent way of dating old photos of Shuttle Row. Knowing this was erected in Summer 1897, I can immediately sort and see what Shuttle Row photos were earlier or later than this date. e/g This old photo of Shuttle Row is clearly after 1897.

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