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Beatrice Clugston

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My grateful thanks to historian William Black, who provided all the following information and kindly allowed me to use it on this site.

Beatrice Clugston’s portrait from‘The Bailie’

Beatrice Clugston was born in Calton, probably at 22 Monteith Row, on 19th September 1827. She was the eldest daughter of John Clugston and Mary MacKenzie and, subsequently had five siblings. Her father was an accountant and, at the time of her birth was the Treasurer of the Calton Provident Bank, whose office was in 1 Stevenson St. Previously he had fulfilled a similar role for the Calton Bread Society at 2 Tobago St., suggesting that philanthropy was an accepted part of the family.  1               

By 1844 the bank had become the Calton & Bridgeton Provident Bank and her father remained associated with it at this time.




   1                                       Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

                                                   Glasgow Post Office Directories 1820 – 1827

                 Morrison A A        The Story of Free St Davids Kirkintilloch       Glasgow 1926

1843 – 1926          

   2                                              Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

                                                   Glasgow Post Office Directories 1850 – 54

                                                   Glasgow Herald    5th June 1888

21st March 1955

   3                                              Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

                                                   The Glasgow Story               University of Glasgow

                                                   Glasgow Herald    5th June 1888         

   4                                              Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

                                                   The Glasgow Story

                 Watson, Thomas   Kirkintilloch, Town and Parish                           Kirkintilloch 1910

   5                                              Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

                                                   Glasgow Herald    5th December 1869

5th June 1888

                 Semple, David       Chapel of St Mirin and Sounding Aisle

                                                   Paisley in Proceedings of the Glasgow

                                                   Archaeological Society April 1873

   6            Watson, Thomas   Kirkintilloch, Town & Parish             McLeod 1910

                                                   Glasgow herald     5th June 1888

21st March 1995                                    

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

   7            Morrison A A        The Story of Free St Davids Kirkintilloch       Glasgow 1926

1843 – 1926          

Glasgow Herald    5th June 1888

Apparently Beatrice became ill around the age of 9 and her health did not improve until she was eighteen. By 1850 her father had become the owner of a bleaching concern in Larkhall and the family moved to Avonbank. However he died on 27th March 1855 and the family moved back to Glasgow. By this time Beatrice had grown into a young woman, described as short, dumpy, bossy and very religious.  2

Although it is understood that her family was living at this time in “reduced circumstances”, Beatrice remained committed to charity work and around 1860 took up a role of visitor to the North Prison in Glasgow at Duke St. This led her on to visiting impoverished patients at the Royal Infirmary, where she became concerned at the manner in which often they were discharged with little or no hope of aftercare or suitable convalescence. On 1st December 1834 the Methodist congregation in the Isle of Man had founded a society to provide warm clothing for poor invalids in thanksgiving for the island being spared from the ravages of the cholera outbreaks two years previous. This had been named the Dorcas Society, their actions being reminiscent of  the Old Testament story of Tabatha or Dorcas, who had made garments for the widows of Joppa. There appears to have been no connection between this society and Beatrice, who in 1863 established one of the same name based in the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow. Initially the Society concentrated on providing warm clothing for impoverished patients being discharged from the hospital but gradually, expanded into other activities. These included recruiting other like minded women, who visited the patients to provide “spiritual comfort” and other social services. Later they were able to provide an invalid chair for each ward within the hospital and also to raise funds, used to pay the travelling expenses  of relatives of  “deserving patients” who resided at a distance. 3

Not content with this Beatrice decided that provision must be made for impoverished patients, particularly those with incurable conditions and, in 1865 she opened the Glasgow Convalescent Home at Bothwell. Later in the century it had provision for 75 patients, 30 from the Royal Infirmary, 10 from the Western and 35 from the general population. Its finances were provided through subscriptions from wealthy patrons, the cost per patient being around 0.67p per week. All those who provided a lump sum of at least £10 or an annual subscription in excess of one guinea had the right to nominate one person for entry into the home. The subscribers included not only individuals but societies and public works but would not take paupers, only those in poor circumstances who would be unable to afford entry to other homes.  4

Although not involved directly Beatrice assisted in raising funds for several other charitiy projects in Glasgow, including £700 for the Magdalene Insititution at its new premises in Maryhill. Others included the Samaritan Society of the Western Infirmary and the Sick Children’s Hospital. However her main aim continued to be the care of impoverished patients, paying personally for a Bible woman to visit them and obtaining further funds from various bible classes throughout the city. Her next project commenced at a meeting on 4th February 1869 in the Mechanics’ Institution in Calton, attended by councillors James Salmon and James Thomson at which she proposed the building of a convalescent home on the Clyde coast. This resulted in the opening of the West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Home at Dunoon on 14th August 1869.  This cost £11,000, and had room for 150 patients as well as splendid baths. By now Beatrice had given up direct involvement with the Dorcas Society, concentrating on obtaining funds for the various projects she was determined to pursue. By now it had been decided to transfer the Glasgow Convalescent Home from Bothwell, a site on the south side of Lenzie being selected for the new premises. It is probable that this move was influenced by the distance between Bothwell and Glasgow, while the Lenzie site was within waling distance of the local station on the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line. To finance this Beatrice held the first of her famous bazaars, this one taking place in the City Halls between 1st and 4th November 1871. She was no shrinking violet but is has never been explained fully how Beatrice managed to obtain the aristocratic patronage that she attracted to her projects. Not only did she obtain support from the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh but also from the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and, probably through them, her most illustrious patron. Their son, the Marquis of Lonre was married to Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, a lady known to have a social conscience, who remained a steady supporter of both Beatrice and her institutions throughout her life. As with today, the presence of royalty always drew in other would-be benefactors and this bazaar raised £6750 towards the home, which was opened in 1873.  5

Not content to rest on her laurels, Beatrice then set out to achieve her next objective, the establishment of a residential home for those with incurable diseases and again she turned her eyes towards the Kirkintilloch area. To the north of the town lay Broomhill House, close to the River Kelvin and near the foothills of the Camspie Fells. It was an early 19th century villa built by John Lang on an estate of 80 acres, purchased later by John Bartholemew, a member of the Edinburgh map publishing dynasty. He had extended both wings but, following his death, his brother Robert had decided to sell the property. Before the estate could be purchased further funds had to be raised and Beatrice set about organising another bazaar. This one took place in the Kibble Palace and after all the moneys had been received, produced the staggering total of £24,000. The estate was purchased early in 1875 and on 6th October Lord Shaftesbury inaugurated it, with the formal opening following on 30th August 1876, this time by Lord Provost Sir James Bain of Glasgow. When opened it had 49 adult beds, plus 12 for children, the patients suffering from such illnesses as tuberculosis, cancer and chronic rheumatism. In addition about £100 per month was set aside for support of incurables who remained at home.  6    

Throughout this Beatrice had shown on interest in her own security and by early 1876, when the family was living at 365 bath St., their finances became perilous. A subscription was raised which realised £3,000., permitting Beatrice and her mother to move to Northwood in Moncrieff Ave., Lenzie, an annuity also being provided to ensure her continued solvency. Apparently this move away from Glasgow pleased her mother, removing Beatrice from frequent contact with those whom she saw as her mission in life to save. She said “Beatrice was constantly bringing in the halt, the lame, and the blind to be fed and clothed with the consequence that her cupboards were bare and her carpets lasted no time.” By this time her health was failing once more, although Beatrice continued to champion her causes without pause. Early in June 1888 she went to Ardrossan for a short holiday, residing at 3 Arran Place. Around 2200 on Sunday 3rd December she retired to bed and was discovered by a maid the following morning, having died during the night, apparently from heart failure. She was buried in the Auld Aisle Cemetery at Kirkintilloch, a rather flamboyant bronze memorial being placed over her grave at a latter date, only to be stolen in 2011 for its scrap value.  7

The three homes with which she was associated continued to survive well into the 20th century, only the changing attitude to care in the community and the obsolescence of the buildings leading to their eventual demise. However the Dorcas Society continues to operate at the Royal Infirmary, perpetuating the spirit, if not the name, of a very inspiring little woman.