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Thomas Gilchrist J.P.
(as originally reported in the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
On Sunday morning after a lingering illness Thomas Gilchrist, Builder, Dean of Guild of the Burgh of Coatbridge, died at his residence in Colt Terrace. Mr. Gilchrist was a native of the quiet county town of Lanark and came to Coatbridge when a young man to push his way into the world as a journeyman mason.
He continued to work at his trade in various spheres and with varying success until was able to start in business. During all the time he has resided in Coatbridge Mr. Gilchrist has taken a lively and active interest in public affairs. He was elected a member of the first town council of Coatbridge when the town was made into a Burgh and he has ever since retained a seat at the council board. He was elected Senior Baillie under Provost Alexander at the first election of Magistrates and sat on the bench at the first Burgh Court held in Coatbridge.
Subsequently he was elected to the post of Dean of Guild which he has held ever since, and the duties of that office he has discharged with credit to himself as a professional builder and the utmost satisfaction of the community. He undertook a great deal of the responsibility and hard work attendant on the paving and causewaying of the streets of the newly made burgh and the successful carrying out of the extensive drainage schemes which will ultimately prove a boon to the rapidly increasing population of the Iron Burgh. Although only a working man with an education that could by no means be considered great, the Dean had a fair share of good common sense, combined with a discriminating knowledge of human character and he took much interest in all educational matters.
Thus it was that some years ago he was elected a member of the School Board of the parish of Old Monkland. He foresaw that, in a district like Coatbridge the centre of the Iron industry in the West of Scotland technical education would be of the utmost advantage to the rising generation. He, along with Mr. Thomas M King, the chairman of the School Board, threw himself, heart and soul into the movement for the erection of a technical College in the town, which after much labour and exertion has been carried out to the most successful ends.
The development of the East End Park, and the decision to erect Municipal buildings worthy of the town, are also matters in which the Late Dean took a leading part. Indeed, during the whole period of his public life Dean of Guild Gilchrist's services were ever at the disposal of the community, and he was considered by many of his supporters to be the Backbone of the council.
Some years ago his name was placed on the list of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace and there can be little doubt that no gentleman in the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire more credibly won the honour. Although for many years in business, he still clung closely to the ranks from which he had sprung, and he laboured anxiously and earnestly for the amelioration of the working classes.
By way of encouraging them to habits of thrift he took the deepest interest in the Co-operative movement and had in this sphere of influence again the honour of being elected the first Chairman of the Coatbridge Co-operative Society -an association which was to make its mark in the district.
The Dean was an honourable and highly honoured Freemason in the highest sense of the term: while for outdoor recreation and health promoting exercise he was a keen and enthusiastic curler. Mr. Gilchrist was possessed of rare business talent of a thoroughly practical kind, and his ability and skill were ever at the service of the ratepayers. Added to this he had a large amount of Scottish pawkiness and native sagacity together with strict integrity and unswerving honesty an honesty, indeed that needed no disguise or ornament.
patent for all who had the pleasure
of transacting business with him. In
politics the Dean was a unionist.
but he contented himself with
discussing political subjects
quietly. He was a member of the Free
Church and belonged to the
congregation (the Free Middle) over
which the Rev Mr. Ogilvy presides.
Monday, at the Burgh Police Court,
Baillie Bird made feeling allusion
to the loss and the Town Council and
the community had sustained through
the death of the Dean of Guild and
paid a warm tribute to his memory
Mr. Andrew P.F. also referring to
the sad affair in feeling terms.
remains of the late dean of Guild
Gilchrist were interred on Wednesday
in Gartsherrie Churchyard. The
funeral was perhaps the largest and
most influentially attended that has
ever been witnessed in Coatbridge.
There was as befitted the character
of the deceased, an absence of
"Pomp and circumstance" in the
obsequies, there being simply a
hearse followed by the mourners and
public on foot, the distance from
Colt Terrace to the graveyard being
Then followed the Provost, Magistrates, Town Councillors, Town Clerk, Fiscal and other officials, the Chairman and members of the Old Monkland School Board, most of the clergymen, medical gentlemen, teachers of the parish, leading employers, and a very large and representative body of the general public.
The progress of the cortege was witnessed by hundreds of people along the route. Out of respect to the deceased all the schools in the parish had been closed for the afternoon. On the coffin being lowered into the grave prayer was offered up by the Rev. P Cameron Black, Old Monkland.
The funeral arrangements were by Messrs. M'Ara & Son, Sunnyside.
We wish to thank the staffs at Airdrie Library local studies dept, North Lanarkshire Archives and Summerlee Heritage Museum for assisting in our research.