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2 August 2016

Commemorative Plaque due to be mounted on Stan Laurel’s Glasgow home

One half of comedy double act Laurel and Hardy to be immortalised in stone

Laurel and Hardy, one seated, in a room, looking at photos arranged in front of a large mirror

Glasgow’s favourite ‘Son of the Desert’ is to be commemorated with a plaque, which will be mounted on the Glasgow tenement building where he spent many of his formative years.

Although born in Cumbria, Stan Laurel (real name Arthur Stanley Jefferson)  of ‘Laurel and Hardy’ fame, moved to Glasgow when he was a boy, and it would be in the city’s famous Britannia Panopticon, the world’s oldest, still-used music hall, that he would make his stage debut, aged 16.

Other recipients of the Commemorative Plaque Scheme include luminaries and pioneers in the fields of engineering, architecture, literature, science, politics, and the advancement of women’s rights.

Martin Fairley, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “The idea of the scheme is to allow the public to tell us which historic figures deserve to be celebrated and commemorated. By installing a plaque on a building closely associated with that person we hope to emphasise the social and human element of local architecture. After all, a building can have a great influence on the character of the person who lived or worked there.

This latest batch of nominations provides some fine examples of that, as well as some prominent figures, from Stan Laurel, to Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born, famous biographer James Boswell, and medical pioneer Dr Flora Murray, to name just a few.”

Stan Laurel’s plaque is set to be mounted on the wall of the tenement block on 17 Craigmillar Road in Glasgow’s South Side where he spent part of his formative years. His father, also Arthur Jefferson, was a theatre manager and the family had moved north of the border when he was offered a job at the city’s Metropole Theatre (now demolished).

The young Stan Laurel was fascinated by the theatre and made his first tentative steps into show business when he was 16, making his first professional performance on the stage of the Britannia Music Hall, which remains something of a mecca for Laurel and Hardy fans to this day. Although his career was to take him all over the world, Laurel always retained a strong affinity with Glasgow. Such was his popularity with Glaswegians that when Laurel and Hardy arrived on tour in Glasgow, huge crowds gathered in the streets to see the pair.

In total there are 12 recipients of plaques in this round, which includes the author Neil Munro, famous for his comic creation ‘Para Handy’, caption of the Vital Spark; Sarah Siddons Mair, early 20th century campaigner for women’s education and suffrage; railway engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, who was responsible for creating many of Scotland’s railway networks; and politician Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, who was the first ever socialist member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and a founder of the Scottish Labour Party, as well as the National Party in Scotland.

The Historic Environment Scotland Commemorative Plaque Scheme celebrates significant historic figures by awarding plaques to be erected on the buildings where they lived or worked. Anybody can nominate a person to be recognised, by completing a simple application form that goes will be available later this year.

List of recipients 

Sarah Siddons Mair 1846 - 1941
Was a Scottish campaigner for women's education and women's suffrage, active in the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women and the Ladies' Edinburgh Debating Society, which she founded before she was 20.Sarah Mair was an important member of the Edinburgh Ladies' Educational Association in 1867. She was present at the meeting when the Association was founded, but was not considered a founder member, presumably because she was unmarried and rather young. She and Mary Crudelius were willing to proceed one step at a time towards their goal of equal access to university education for both sexes, with Mair believing a practical approach would lead to the right results. However, ultimately they wanted more than a separate system for women, however good the teaching.

Susan Ferrier 1782 - 1854
Was a Scottish novelist. Ferrier's own tastes in literature appear in her correspondence. She was an admirer of Jane Austen and of Scott. Ferrier wrote three novels. Marriage was written in 1810 but much revised and came out anonymously only in 1818, when the Edinburgh publisher William Blackwood paid £150 for it. Its success was remarkable, and it appeared in French in 1825. In 1824 Blackwood was prepared to pay £1000 for the second novel, The Inheritance. The third novel, Destiny, was dedicated to Scott.

Dorothy Emily Stevenson 1891 - 1973
Was a Scottish author of more than 40 light romantic novels. Her father was the lighthouse engineer David Alan Stevenson, first cousin to the author Robert Louis Stevenson.
D.E. Stevenson was born in 1892 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was educated at home by governesses. She started to write at eight, but because her parents and governesses disapproved she had to do this in secret. She later wanted to go to university but her father refused, concerned about having an educated woman in the family.
2009 saw a renewed interest in Stevenson's books with the reissue of two of her most popular novels, Mrs. Tim of the Regiment (from Bloomsbury) and Miss Buncle's Book (from Persephone Books). The sequel, Miss Buncle Married, was reissued by Persephone in 2011.

James Boswell 1740 - 1795
Was a Scottish lawyer, biographer and diarist, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson, which the modern Johnsonian critic Harold Bloom has claimed is the greatest biography written in the English language.

Allan Ramsay 1686 - 1758
Was a Scottish poet (or makar), playwright, publisher, librarian and wig-maker.
Ramsay's first efforts in verse-making were inspired by the meetings of the Easy Club (founded in 1712), of which he was an original member; and in 1715 he became the Club Laureate. By 1718 he had made some reputation as a writer of occasional verse, which he published in broadsheets, and then (or a year earlier) he turned bookseller in the premises where he had hitherto plied his craft of wig-making. In 1716 he had published a rough transcript of Christ's Kirk on the Green from the Bannatyne Manuscript, with some additions of his own. In 1718 he republished the piece with more supplementary verses. In the following year he printed a collection of Scots Songs. The success of these ventures prompted him to collect his poems in 1722. The volume was issued by subscription, and brought in the sum of four hundred guineas. Four years later he removed to another shop, in the neighbouring Luckenbooths, where he opened a circulating library and extended his business as a bookseller. Ramsay is considered to have created the first circulating library in Britain when he rented books from his shop in 1725.

Neil Munro 1863 - 1930
Was a Scottish journalist, newspaper editor, author and literary critic. He was basically a serious writer but is now mainly known for his humorous short stories, originally written under the pen name Hugh Foulis. The best known were about the fictional Clyde puffer the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy, but they also included stories about the waiter and kirk beadle Erchie MacPherson, and the travelling drapery salesman Jimmy Swan. They were originally published in the Glasgow Evening News, but collections were published as books. A key figure in literary circles, Munro was a friend of the writers J. M. Barrie, John Buchan, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham and Joseph Conrad, and the artists Edward A. Hornel, George Houston, Pittendrigh MacGillivray and Robert Macaulay Stevenson. He was an early promoter of the works of both Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.

Max Born 1882 - 1970
Was a German physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s. Born won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "fundamental research in Quantum Mechanics, especially in the statistical interpretation of the wave function"  In October 1936, he became the Tait Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where, working with German-born assistants E. Walter Kellermann and Klaus Fuchs, he continued his research into physics. Max Born became a naturalised British subject on 31 August 1939, one day before World War II broke out in Europe. He remained at Edinburgh until 1952. He retired to Bad Pyrmont, in West Germany, where he later died in a hospital in Göttingen on 5 January 1970.

Dr Flora Murray 1869 - 1923
Was a medical pioneer and a member of the Women's Social and Political Union suffragettes. Murray trained at the London School of Medicine for Women and finished her course at Durham. She then worked in Scotland before returning to London. In 1912 she founded the Women's Hospital for Children at 688 Harrow Road with Louisa Garrett Anderson. It provided both health care for working-class children of the area, and gave women doctors their only opportunity to gain clinical experience in paediatrics in London; the hospital's motto was" Deeds not Words".

Sir Nigel Gresley 1876 - 1941
Was one of Britain's most famous steam locomotive engineers, who rose to become Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). He was the designer of some of the most famous steam locomotives in Britain, including the LNER Class A1 and LNER Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific engines. An A1 pacific, Flying Scotsman, was the first steam locomotive officially recorded over 100 mph in passenger service, and an A4, number 4468 Mallard, still holds the record for being the fastest steam locomotive in the world (126 mph).

Stan Laurel 1890 - 1965
Was an English comic actor, writer and film director, most famous for his role in the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.[1] With his comedy partner Oliver Hardy he appeared in 107 short films, feature films and cameo roles. He moved with his parents to Glasgow, Scotland, where he completed his education at Rutherglen Academy. His father managed Glasgow's Metropole Theatre, where Laurel began work. His boyhood hero was Dan Leno, one of the greatest British music hall comedians. At the age of 16, with a natural affinity for the theatre, Laurel gave his first professional performance on stage at the Panopticon in Glasgow where he polished his skills at pantomime and music hall sketches.

John James Burnet 1857 - 1938
Was a Scottish Edwardian architect who was noted for a number of prominent buildings in Glasgow, Scotland and London, England. He was the son of the architect John Burnet, and later went into partnership with his father, joining an architectural firm which would become an influential force in British Modern architecture in the 20th century.

Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham 1852-1936
Scottish politician, writer, journalist & adventurer. He was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP); the first ever socialist member of Parliament of the United Kingdom; a founder , and the first president, of the Scottish Labour Party; a founder of the National Party of Scotland in 1928; and the first president of the Scottish National Party in 1934

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