Alan Imrie was a very welcome guest this week with further news of Scots lives in London or, as he phrased it, thistles among the roses. His talk was motivated by a tea towel of Scottish inventors which prompted him to think of other famous Scots in London associated with the Crown Court Church.
Alan began with the story of James Braidwood created Master of Fire Engines in Edinburgh in 1824. Braidwood was so successful that he was brought to London in 1833 to set up the London Fire Service. Ironically, Braidwood died in a fire in 1861 as he was a man who led from the front.
Alan followed with the story of Lady Frances Balfour, the daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll, who was a liberal speaker and lobbyist on the rights for women. She was responsible for raising the funds for rebuilding the Crown Court Church. Her husband Eustace Balfour, brother to the British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, was Lieutenant Colonel of the London Scottish Regiment.
On mention of the London Scottish Regiment, Alan began to involve the Members with photographs of former soldiers of the Regiment with some appreciation of his gentle style. Names of long-lost actors like Ronald Coleman, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains encouraged the mental acuity of many Members, as did writers like Kenneth Grahame and the better-known Sir Alexander Fleming.
Alan concluded a very enjoyable evening with a foray amongst other famous Scots who went to London including the Flying Scotsman.