According to club records, this group was founded in 1871 by William Sloan, and its ten original members were dominies (Scots for schoolmasters). Meetings took place on Friday nights on North Street (in the Anderston area, to the west of the city centre). (For more information about this area, see Michael Moss’s article, ‘Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s. Neighbourhoods. Anderston‘ on The Glasgow Story website). Over the years, the venue would change, with meetings being held at various restaurants and hotels across the city. From its beginnings, in addition to their weekly meetings, members met on a number of other occasions during the year for Burns suppers, Christmas suppers, concerts, and for various local and regional excursions during the summer.
Whilst being more informal and primarily social in nature, the meetings were nonetheless well-organised: members took it in turns to read aloud their original compositions on a variety of topics, which the other members then ‘criticised’ the piece (in the sense that they expressed their judgement). The chairman resided over the proceedings. Recruitment of new members was confined to friends of current members who came along to the meetings, and (eventually) a vote would be called to decide if they were to be admitted.
A rather interesting tradition has evolved in the meetings. Included in the club’s possessions is ‘The Green Lady’. This is a small, green, early twentieth-century terracotta suffragette bell that bears the inscription, ‘Votes for Women’. According to the Archivist of the club:
‘[t]he bell is placed on the table during Ours Club meetings. If any member thinks that any speaker is being unduly verbose he places the green lady in front of him. The hint it taken.’
(‘The Green Lady’, D. K. Macaskill, [Inventory of the Glasgow Philological and Literary Society. Ours Club. Archive — Minutes and Associated Paper], 12 January 2015 (copy of original in possession of club Archivist, D. K. Macaskill)).
The club produced a magazine in 1909 that included original contributions written by the members (see ‘Additional Notes’ below).
The group continues to meet at the Glasgow Art Club (185 Bath Street).
Date of Existence
Source of Information
1. Minutes and associated papers (includes minutes, club rules, members lists, syllabi, original poems and songs: ‘A Book of Ours’, Burns suppers, Christmas suppers, concerts, photos, 1871-1971 (GCA, TD1896); records from 1971-present are in possession of club Archivist, D. K. Macaskill (Glasgow);
2. ‘A Book of “Ours”‘ (“Ours” Literary and Social Club. A book of “Ours.” Contributions by the members. [Andrew Lyon, Editor] (Glasgow, 1909) (print magazine)
Glasgow City Archives (GCA) (minutes and associated papers)
University of Glasgow Special Collections (UGSC) (print magazine)
Sp Coll Bh11-c.28 (Wylie Collection) (UGSC)
Thomas Gildard was President of the “Ours” Club from 1882-1893, and was also a member of The Literary and Artistic Society.