Story of the Memorial to David Livingstone – 2 Getting Under Way

Continuing the story of how Shuttle Row became the Museum. This account was written in the 1940’s remembering back on the 1910s and 20s efforts to save the building. Shuttle Row is picture in 1929 after being saved.

“Option over the ground having been secured, the next step was to form a temporary committee. We co-opted Mr. J MacGregor Hart, CA, who as Secretary and Treasurer, has carried ever since so much of the burden of the enterprise, to be our Honorary Treasurer. Much spade work was needed in order to assure ourselves – at the time a quite uninfluential little group – that public support could be counted on. We were soon satisfied. It is curious that the only discouraging interview I had was the first. I made a beginning by calling on a highly respected Church official, then a tired old man. He listened to my story, without remark and then, “Too late, Too late”, he said. “The buildings are too far gone to be made decent. This should have been done in 1913 (the Livingstone Centenary year)”

“But next door in Dr. Donald Fraser’s room, I received a very different reception. It was the first time I had met one for whom my admiration and affection grew to the end of his all too brief life. He listened with quick enthusiasm and assured me of his fullest support, a promise which was richly fulfilled. The project was of special interest to him, because he himself had been associated with Mr. R.W. Henry and others in Glasgow, in raising this same matter in 1913. The movement, however had not gone far. The buildings were then part of the bankrupt estate of Monteith & Co and their law agent had held out for a price and for this and other reasons, the matter was dropped. Perhaps this failure lay heavily somewhat on Dr Fraser’s mind. Certainly our plea fell on very willing ears. Among the stalwart helpers enlisted very early in our campaign, were the brothers John and Fred Moir, so honourably known in African trade from a few years after Livingstone’s day.

Much investigation of a personal sort was carried out by the members of the temporary committee, and our reception was such as to give us, in a few weeks, confidence to take the critical step. An inaugural meeting was called for the afternoon of January the 22nd, 1926, in the Religious Institution Rooms, Glasgow.

The Very Rev. Dr. John White, then Moderator of the Church of Scotland, who became, after the death of Dr Donald Fraser, one of our Vice Presidents, presided over a large and representative gathering. It fell to me to describe the scheme and Dr. Fraser warmly supported it. There was some objection from local (Blantyre) ministers on the ground that the plan was over ambitious and that the Lodge grounds had no direct connection with Livingstone. But the objection was later withdrawn, and the following motion was passed by a large majority: –

‘This meeting approves of the Scheme for the purchase of Livingstone’s early home, and after consideration, if found advisable, of the Lodge and grounds, for conversion into a Scots National Memorial.’ Twelve thousand pounds was the sum to be aimed at.

Thereafter, an Emergency Executive Committee was appointed consisting of the Rev. J.I Macnair Chairperson, The Very Rev. Dr Donald Fraser, Mr. W.M McLachlan, Messrs Councillor John George, the Rev. A.E.Warr, and the Rev. Dr.J Fairley Daly, with Mr. R. Wodrow Anderson as Honorary Secretary and Mr. J MacGregor Hart, CA, as Honorary Treasurer.”

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