Volunteer Diaries: Gillian Molloy

Once a month we will be sharing some stories from our volunteers. We hope that you find them interesting. This month, Gillian Molloy shares with us some gems she has found in the archives during her volunteer work.

On retirement from the Civil Service I joined the Friends of Dundee City Archives. I decided to offer my services as a volunteer. Having always had an interest in history, I was delighted to have the opportunity to study old minute books, registers and estate papers. I was given the task of discovering the history of some of Dundee’s oldest street names. I set about looking through the old town council minutes and other sources to see what information I could find. Here are just three interesting stories I have found in the Archives.

City Churches
The City Church, St Mary’s, around the time of the stove controversy.

On 4 October 1832 the Town Council referred the following discussions about the icy conditions in St Mary’s Church:

“… the sitters in the churches to get stoves for supplying them with heated air during the winter months. Stoves it was said, would be a dangerous innovation. They had never been thought of by the oldest residenters. They were inconsistent with true Presbyterian principles: and though the cold was frequently intense, and the atmosphere greatly in want of purification; still it was necessary to resist the stoves, if it were for nothing else but the sake of example.”

It turned out that the old people were right. On 3 January, 1841 the boiler caused a fire which burnt down the Church.

In 1822, two butchers were sentenced to be flogged. They were to be strapped to the back of a cart and dragged through the town whilst the punishment took place. The public hangman, who was to carry out the sentence, asked the magistrates if the men were to be severely punished. He was told that the magistrates had no wishes in the matter and that he should just do his duty. So the butchers wore broad-brimmed hats. Exactly how broad we don’t know, but it is said that the lashes fell more on the hats than on the men’s bare backs. Their backs were described as “only slightly tinged with red, and not much the worse”.


T.3.2 - Omnibusses 1900 crop
Early 20th Century Dundee Omnibus tram cars

The Town Clerk submitted a letter to the Council, dated 10th November, 1922 from Mr Robert McLaren, 5 Walrond Street. Mr McLaren’s request concerned the trams. He asked to hold five minute concerts throughout the city from a decorated tramcar. He also wanted to place collection boxes on some cars from 18th to 23rd December. His aim was raise money for a Christmas treat for the city’s poorest children. The Committee approved.

Find out how you can join the Friends of Dundee City Archives. If you interested in volunteering at Dundee City Archives, please email us on archives@dundeecity.gov.uk.

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