Stan's new plaque
Stan Laurel’s commemorative plaque unveiled in Rutherglen
BILL CROUCH reports
On Wednesday 27th July 2022 the Call of the Cuckoos were finally able to celebrate the installation of Stan’s plaque. An email earlier that day from HES confirmed the installation had taken place and that “the HES works team had been brilliant.”
The bronze plaque, to celebrate Stan Laurel’s (Stan Jefferson) short stay in Scotland was unveiled at 57 Buchanan Drive, in the historic town of Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, on the south bank of the River Clyde three miles from Glasgow.
The Jefferson family had rented the rather substantial, grey sandstone, double fronted, detached house with garden, at number 57, from owner Andrew Pearson* when they moved from North Shields to Scotland in the summer of 1905 when Stan was 15 years old. The property was rented in the name of Margaret Jefferson.
The rather grand house was originally called Craigielea and Buchanan Drive is probably one of the best residential streets in the town.
The impressive bronze plaque, which measures 40cm x 23cm, has elegant Celtic knot work side panels and was designed by architect Bruce Chandler, the drawing by John Crae. The Foundry have to be commended for the quality of their detailed casting, with fine polished raised faces adding contrast between the various elements. The result is most handsome.
We believe this will be a very welcome addition in celebrating a pivotal element of Stan’s short chapter of time in Scotland.
Many thanks go to Neil Gregory, Deputy Head of Engagement in the Heritage Directorate of Historic Environment Scotland, which has full control in these matters and to Dr Alex Hale, Senior Archaeology Researcher for driving this project forward.
The story began in August 2016 when Stan Laurel was one of twelve recipients of Historic Environment Scotland’s plaque scheme. To be nominated for a plaque, the sole criteria HES insists upon is that the person nominated has been deceased for at least twenty years, and that the building where the bronze plate is to be erected has a close connection to that person.
The prolonged delay in installation was because of the need to persuade Historic Environment Scotland that the plaque should be sited in Rutherglen and not in the south side of Glasgow, which was the original plan. We were able to achieve this through our previous diligent research and shared documented hard evidence. We were happy to set the record straight.
Then came COVID-19.
Lockdowns and restrictions had a devastating effect on logistics, all progress was halted, and it is only recently with the easing of restrictions that the commemorative plaque scheme is again up and running.
If you are thinking of visiting, please be respectful as this is a private residence.
* Andrew Pearson was an H.M. inspector of mines. He was tasked with leading a search and recovery team down a flooded coal pit during the Ayrshire Bankhead mine disaster of 1898. Coal mining, together with shipbuilding and chemical works were the prominent industries in the Rutherglen area at this time.