James Geddes b1931-d2009

Next a mystery about a Blantyre man, James Geddes.

Aged 24, James was a passenger on the “American Forwarder” which departed the UK on 26th October 1955. His niece, Helen Brandon recently contacted me provided this passenger list which is the subject of the mystery.

James, who was born in December 1931, and single at the time of his emigration, listed his place of residence in 1955 as the “Livingstone Memorial, Blantyre, Scotland”! This raises a question, why?

I did make a suggestion to Helen that perhaps he was a security guard? Helen replied, “Your idea about my uncle being a security guard is quite a plausible explanation. However, I find it hard to believe that he would never have mentioned such an interesting job to someone in our family! My uncle died in America in 2009 but he had returned to Scotland frequently over the years and had even had lengthy spells when he lived in Scotland. My sister is still in contact with his daughters who live in America and I have asked her to ask them if they ever heard their father say anything about living at Livingstone Memorial. In the meantime, I am going to keep my fingers crossed that someone will read my query on your website and be able to give us some more information.”

The question has to be then, did anybody actually LIVE at the Livingstone Memorial in the decades AFTER it had been turned into a museum? Wardens, gardeners, maintenance people, security? The lower 2 storey houses at the right come to mind, perhaps offering suitable accommodation for that purpose.

** Update – John McArthur kindly gave me the answer today. The warden did indeed live at Shuttle Row. His house was in the top storey of the two storey building on the right of the main building (and there were meeting rooms on the ground floor.) Although there is nothing to suggest James Geddes was a warden, there is a strong link that this was the house he was referring to. The ‘wardens house’ was not always occupied by a warden. In later years it was rented out to the general public. Accordingly, James Gettes need not have been the warden or in a warden’s family.  I was on the Council of the David Livingstone Centre for many years and we were only too glad of the rental income (and some measure of security) generated from the occupancy of the flat.(The memorial was plagued by repeated break-ins.)


Add a Comment
  1. I’m pretty sure my Mum (Mary Pearson) Married name Mackie, knew Mr Geddes she passed in 2013 born in 1928. And when she went home for the first time in 1975, I’m pretty sure there was still someone living at the memorial, the caretaker who would take your money at the toll gate there. My Mum said it was a cushy job with a house which was great and she envied. The names are familiar to me.

  2. Thank you! What a quick response! It certainly sounds like that may be the answer but I am amazed that no one in my family knew about it. My sister has been in touch with James Geddes’ daughter who confirmed that she knew nothing about this. I wonder if it will be possible to find out anything more?

Leave a Reply