Provost James Swinburne

History was made in May 1980 when a Blantyre Councillor became Hamilton’s Provost.

Councillor James Swinburne was the Labour man representing High Blantyre who broke with tradition in being made Provost. On Monday 12th May 1980 at the very first meeting of the newly reorganised Hamilton District Council, Councillor Swinburne was unanimously voted into the Provost’s chair. Before he chaired that first meeting, he swore an oath to make Hamilton District as best as it could be.

James had been a Councillor since 1968 when he was co-opted on to the former Eighth District Council. He successfully fought a by-election in 1972 for a seat on Lanark County Council and joined Hamilton District Council in 1975 following local government reorganisation.

James worked with a construction firm in Motherwell and had one son and a daughter. His son was a well known lawyer, and his daughter worked for Glasgow District Council.

He has been a member of Blantyre Labour Party for 17 years and was actively involved in trade union work from 1972. There were no hurdles in 1980 to this position as labour held a majority with 17 of the 20 council seats.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Kerry Tremble Kevan Jimmy was such a lovely man & a great friend of my dad’s after meeting in council & being Blantyre & District councillors together.
Catherine McLachlan Carole B Buchan is this Margaret’s dad? Xx
Carole B Buchan Yip it is Catherine.x
Lyne Carroll Rae He was a lovely man, came into our office many a time and was such a nice person x
Janet Saunders Remember him X
Billy Smith Gentleman and very funny guy. Such a shame that blantyre sports centre no longer has the plaque up stating that he opened it in 1982…lovely man, lovely family.
Kerry Tremble Kevan Billy Smith can’t believe that, do you know what happened to it? My dad’s name was on it too as Chairman of Leisure & Recreation at the time Cllr Murray Tremble.
John Mcclenaghan My wife’s amazing uncle she misses him so much 😁


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  1. Thanks. I have amended this now. The reporter in the Hamilton Advertiser must have got this wrong. It’s also amended on Facebook. Apologies.

  2. Only one son Jim and daughter Margaret

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