Alex Bowie once shared these two photos with me, which were simply marked, ‘George Cullen’. Determined to know more, I’ve now been able to add accurate detail.
Whilst the Cullen Surname was present in Blantyre in the last 19th Century, it wasn’t until the turn of the 20th Century that we see George Cullen in any local census or valuation record.
George Cullen was the janitor at High Blantyre School on Hunthill Road, where these photos most likely were taken.
Born in Glasgow in 1863, George was the son of William Cullen, a coal miner and Catherine Campbell.
He was married to Emma Baker though I can’t find record of them marrying in Scotland nor any record of George being in Scotland prior to 1901. This marriage was not to last when George became a widower.
He marrying second wife Jeannie Torrance Smillie in Kilmadock, Stirling in on 27th December 1901. Jeanie was 8 years his junior. At the time George was just 39 years old, living in Hamilton and working in the Lanarkshire coal mines as a coal miner.
It is thought the family moved to Blantyre around 1906. In January 1906, Mr John Sim was the janitor of High Blantyre School and was petitioning the School Board for an increase in salary. Schools were overcrowded at this time. Janitors were busy and often worked long hours being responsible for the upkeep and condition of the schools. They often sought wage rises.
In October 1910, Mr George Cowie was janitor of the High Blantyre School and was also seeking wage rise. It seems this did not come about and that shortly after around late 1910 or early 1911, the position was filled by George Cullen, a change in career no less!
A son, George junior their only son was born in Blantyre in 1907 and the family appear in the census of 1911. That year, George was renting a former house named ‘Oak Place’ at the top of 19 Hunthill Road on the same side as the school. He is noted in the census as being the janitor of High Blantyre School.
In October 1914, George Cullen rejoined the colours to fight in WW1. The Blantyre School Board appointed William McAnulty as a temporary janitor, a position only held for a few months until George came back. It is known George was back in Blantyre by April 1915, recommencing his work as janitor, his time in war, short lived.
In 1915, his rent was £13 / year renting from Elizabeth Harkness. In his block were three other tenants, masons and miners.
As some point after WW1, he was promoted to the School Board Officer.
Ill health affected George in 1925. In Summer that year, a position had become available at High Blantyre School.
George died on 23rd February 1926 at his home at Oak Place from Leukaemia and pneumonia. He was 63. His son, George Junior was present to sign the death certificate.
George is pictured both in and out of uniform at the High Blantyre School on Hunthill Road, around 1915.