St. Rollox was located in the north of the city in the Springburn area. The area was home of the St Rollox Railway Works, and St Rollox Chemical Works, which was reportedly the largest in Europe. (For more information on these companies, see ‘Caledonian Railway No 21‘ and ‘Chemical Workers‘ on The Glasgow Story website).
The group met on Monday nights at 8pm in a school room conducted by one Mr Kemps. In 1800, a large chemical factory was built in St. Rollox by Charles Tennant and his partners. Between 1800 and 1827, there were at least a couple of schools running in the area (Hugh Aitken Dow, History of St. Rollox School, Glasgow, Together with Memorabilia of Same, and a Poetical Sketch of the old School and its Notabilities (Edinburgh: Murray and Gibb, 1876), p. 30). It was only in 1827 that Tennant built the St. Rollox School to provide education for his employee’s children (‘St Rollox School’, GCA, Department of Education, The Glasgow Story <www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSA02010>). It is possible that the society was composed of employees and/or their children.
In the society’s minute book, there are 11 members listed. Interestingly, ‘C J Tennant’, or Charles James Tennant, one of Tennant’s nine children, was included as a member of this society in 1822, but his name at some point was scored out.
The entry free was 1s 6d, which was cheaper than the average (2s 6d), and the money was used ‘to defray the expense of heating and lighting the room’.
Date of Existence
(prior to) 1822-1823?
Source of Information
St Rollox Debating Society, Minute book, 27 September 1822-2 December 1823
Glasgow City Archives