In August 2015, Jane Bainbridge (nee Gallacher) contacted me saying, “I loved reading your Nimmo story on Auchentibber. My Dad Robert Gallacher was also born in Auchentibber in 1937. He was one of 11 children (although there was one boy James who died). His parents were Catherine Purse and John Gallacher (later Gallagher.) My uncle Billy, David, Alex (the baby), George all still live in Blantyre, Margaret lives in Hamilton and Uncle John in London. My Auntie May passed away first, then my dad, Aunt Rena, Betty and Uncle Tommy. I would love to know more about how they came to be in Auchentibber.”
I have now researched the Gallacher family and was able to give Jane the following response. John and Catherine Gallacher lived at 3 Brown’s Land, Auchentibber. The Purse family are known to have been in the area living at Dykehead Rows since the late 1880’s. I think Catherine’s father was called John Purse, a miner who lived at Dykehead, near the top of Auchentibber. Before that the Purse family may have originated from the East of Scotland, more out towards Whitburn.
It would appear the John Gallacher was incoming to Auchentibber and the earliest mention I can trace of him (or his parents) being there is in August 1920.
In 1919, it is known that another family of Gallachers lived nearby at Clyde Row, Auchentibber, right next to the school, but the head of this family was Mr. Hugh Gallagher. In 1922, Robert Gallacher also headed up another family of Gallachers also at Clyde Row, and I would be surprised if at least one or more of these families were not related to John Gallacher, perhaps attracting him to the area through the prospect of employment and living beside family.
Martha Gallacher was born on 11th September 1915 to John Gallacher. She started school on 30th August 1920 and it is there that John is recorded as being at Brown’s Land. She left on 18th August 1925 to attend High Blantyre Primary.
Next, strangely, a gap of 13 years took place before further children to John Gallacher arrived. This, and the fact that Jane’s original email did not mention Martha, made me wonder if little Martha was born to another mother, or first wife perhaps, other than Catherine? The school register definitely confirms John Gallacher of Brown’s Land as being Martha’s “parent or guardian.” Frustratingly, with census information not yet shared for the 1920’s, I am unable to check this. If John Gallacher’s date of birth was known, it may be possible to work out if Martha was actually the little sister of John Gallacher who married Catherine.
What is known is that John Gallacher and Catherine Purse had many children.
Catherine Gallacher was born on 6th October 1928. Named after her mother, she enrolled into Auchentibber Primary School on 22nd August 1933 and left on 23rd August 1938 to attend High Blantyre Primary School. At the time the Smith family lived next door to the Gallachers at 5 Brown’s Land.
May Gallacher was born on 4th January 1930. She was enrolled at Auchentibber Primary School on 1st October 1934 and left on 22nd August 1939 to attend High Blantyre Primary School.
John Gallacher was born on 10th May 1931. He first attended Auchentibber Primary School on 30th March 1936. The family is noted as living at 3 Brown’s Place, but I think the entry in the school register meant to say 3 Brown’s Land. John left school on 30th June 1941 moving to the High Blantyre Primary school down the hill into Blantyre itself.
George Gallacher was born 17th June 1932 and started school at Auchentibber Primary School on 24th August 1937. He left on 30th June 1942 to attend High Blantyre Primary at Hunthill Road.
Elizabeth Gallacher born on 23rd November 1933, started Auchentibber school on 31st October 1938. She was the 378th pupil to attend the school. She left on 30th June 1943, exactly a year after George did. She went on to attend High Blantyre Primary School.
Next was Robert Gallacher, Jane’s father. Robert born on 29th January 1937 first attended Auchentibber Primary School on 4th November 1941, aged almost 5 years old. Robert had the privilege that year of being the only boy from Blantyre starting the school that year. Of the 8 pupils enrolled in 1941, one girl Elizabeth Clements, Robert’s neighbor joined the school and the other 6 pupils were all evacuees from Glasgow. Those pupils were Archibald Provan, Isabel, Robert, Alice, Teresa Ann and Jessie Walker, who were all placed in nearby farms of Auchentibber and Blantyre Park. Elizabeth Clements would have been well known to Robert as she lived next door at 1 Brown’s Land. It is recorded that Robert left Auchentibber school to attend High Blantyre but the date unusually, was not recorded in the school register. Jane later told me, “My Dad, Robert was also a bit of a character and moved to Forth after he met and married my Mum. He did his national service at Lanark’s Winston Barracks and met my Mum at Lanark Palais Dancing. He then became a fireman at Lanark, before going on to run a shop with my Mum in Forth. (He did do a wee stint with the police in London, but it wasn’t for him) whilst my Uncle John settled down there. There are so many of us, I don’t know everyone. There was also a child who died, I think it was my Aunt Rena who remembered about him and I think they found his grave a few years ago, although a few of them didn’t even know he existed.”
Margaret Gallacher, born 1st May 1938 started school in Auchentibber on 1st February 1943. With such a small amount of pupils at this small school, it must have been reassuring for her to see her brothers and sister there too at the same time. She left on 30th June 1949 to attend High Blantyre Primary.
Interestingly, I see the name Brenda Bainbridge in Auchentibber born 1st May 1939, enrolled into the Auchentibber school just a year after Robert. Given Jane’s surname, the entry may be entirely co-incidental, as little Brenda left for London in September 1944.
Thomas Gallacher was born on 2nd April 1940. He started school at Auchentibber on 10th April 1935 and left on 29th June 1945 to attend High Blantyre Primary. An exciting time as WW2 had just ended the month before.
William (Billy) Gallacher, another son of John and Catherine was born on 18th July 1944. He attended Auchentibber School on 27th April 1949 and on 6th December 1949, he broke the habit of the Gallacher children attending High Blantyre Primary, by going to Auchenraith Primary School. This may have been due to the Hunthill Road primary school being at full capacity, as was noted in post WW2 years. The family is still noted as living at 3 Brown’s Land. Billy is quite the character in Blantyre whom many people will know of today associated with High Blantyre Old Parish Church and formerly in the world of football with local team, Blantyre Vics. I know Billy enough to chat away when we meet. I’ve found him to be a kind, warm-hearted man, with a sense of humour, I can associate with.
From Jane’s original email it is noted that David and Alex were also born to John and Catherine, but are not noted on the enrolling register for Auchentibber School, assumed that they attended primary schools in Blantyre from the start. I hope this is of some interest to Jane’s family.”
On social media:
Stacey Duncan Catherine is my gran. Her son Stewart duncan is my dad.x.
Elizabeth Weaver There was a David Gallagher at Auchinraith with me – I was born in 1947 so he’d be around the same age. Same family?
Liz Duncan Yes Elizabeth, it’s the same family ️xx
Eleanor Duncan Nailon Thank you for your story my mum catherine known as Rena was the oldest in the family she married William Duncan it is good to look at the family tree.thank you. Xx
Barry Gallacher George Gallacher is my Grandfather. The mans a legend. Proud to carry on the Gallacher name.
David Gallacher My dad is George Gallacher and with a large family himself (8 weans 4 boys and 4 girls). Me I am the youngest of them at the age of 49. A large clan indeed and memories of my aunts and uncle’s, especially the ones that are no longer with us. They all had kids which means I have many, many cousins who still stay in or around Blantyre.
John Duncan I am the oldest grandchild of John catharine Gallacher thanks for sharing this with us
The Blantyre Project I hope i’ve researched this correctly. The Gallachers are such a large family and so well known throughout Blantyre. Good to see more Gallachers commenting here. I really only know Billy, and a more decent man you’ll never meet.
John Duncan All in 34 grandchildren of John catharine Gallacher too many to count grate lol
John Duncan Lol my mistake 35 grandkids leaving myself out
Moira Hunter MY Granmother was Rena,s Aunty Mary Mooney Gallacher Brown !
Catherine Stevenson That was very interesting Really enjoyed read this family tree.
Jim Cochrane Martha Gallacher married Mitchell McClements . She was my wife Martha Anne Cochranes Granny.