At the new season’s first meeting of Kirkcudbright History Society, Douglas Swan spoke to a large number of members.
He described the growth of the family firm, Douglas Swan and Son, from the arrival of his great great grandfather James Swan, to work on the new bank building in Castle Street, to the present family firm with outlets throughout the Region and its expertise being used by a variety of National Bodies. The business started in 1864 in an old quarry at the Creekhead which his father moved to the present premises in St Cuthbert’s Street where it has developed to include various buildings including a large saw which has existed over many years. They now have a retail business which includes printing on fabric and ceramics as the various present day generations develop their skills. To supplement their diverse skills, they also use the latest computer aided design technology, diamond cutting and polishing machinery and sandblasting techniques, which allows high quality memorials to be produced at competitive prices
Notwithstanding this the firm is one of the few masons that can still produce raised lead letters.
With the aid of documents and even a child’s death mask he gave an insight into his family’s life and times in the town, including at one point James owning the pub, The George. This didn’t do well and was eventually declared bankrupt.
He described his own life from apprenticeship, being a retained firefighter through to running training sessions for stone masons throughout the country. The firm is apparently still in safe hands with the 5th generation working in it and it is listed as the 17th Oldest Family business in the Scotland. The family has also contributed to the community. Dougie was on the Community Council and served seven years as Provost. his brother and business partner, is at present Deacon Convenor of the Incorporated Trades of Kirkcudbright and has been a Special Constable for many years.
His talk was greatly enjoyed by the members as the facts he gave were enlivened by many memories and anecdotes.
Mike Duguid closed the meeting by reminding members that the next meeting will be on Wednesday November 14th when the speaker will be Graham Finch whose topic will be “Scotland’s Lost Genius. The stained glass windows of Alf Webster and some Galloway connections.