Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Alex Salmond supports Crichton Campaign

SNP Press Release

Salmond in Plea to Keep Glasgow Uni in Dumfries
westminster - 2007-01-24

SNP Leader Alex Salmond MP today (Wednesday) called for the University of Glasgow to re-consider their plans to withdraw from the Crichton Campus and urges the Scottish Funding Council to increase support for the University of Glasgow’s presence in Dumfries.

The University of Glasgow has confirmed it is considering quitting the Crichton campus in Dumfries.

Mr. Salmond said:

“The University of Glasgow’s presence in the Crichton Campus is crucial for the development of Dumfries and Galloway and for South West Scotland as a whole. It is renowned for its high quality of research and teaching, producing some of Scotland’s most talented individuals.

“There is a strong need for investment in Universities in order to boost the Scottish economy and harvest talented Scots to compete at an international level for generations to come.

“The loss of such a high standard of academic talent and research will have a disastrous effect on the progress that has already been made in improving the local economy and social development of South West Scotland.

“The Funding council should look at the overall ambit of social and economic factors and I urge them to re-consider the direction to which they are going.”

Galloway Levellers Update Jan 2007

I wrote up a first draft of this for a meeting I was due to have with Professor Cowan on Wednesday 18th Jan. The meeting was cancelled at very short notice. Listening to BBC Dumfries news the next morning I realised why - Glasgow University had announced they were quitting the Crichton Campus.

I have added a section on the end bringing the story almost up to date. What is difficult to show here are the maps and graphs I have been working on - comparing population density/ growth in upland parishes like Dalry, Kells, Minnigaff and Carsphairn with some lowland parishes - Borgue, Buittle, Urr, Kelton from 1690 to 1801 (and on to population peak in 1851).

Since its peak at 44 000 in 1851, Stewartry population has declined back towards 1755 level (21 000 in 1755, 23 000 today). The Stewartry Community Plan 2006-2008 has a wodge of demographic evidence which paints a pretty bleak picture of the slow death of a once vibrant rural community.

I have since met with Ted and - what is so galling, so frustrating, is that he totally recognises the importance of 'the Crichton project' as a way to breath some life back into D and G - and the potential for the more academic / Glasgow University research projects - like my Galloway Levellers work - to attack the historical roots of the problem.

Up the Levellers!

The Levellers and a thousand years of history?

I have just finished alphabetically organising by farm/ croft name the 350 tacks I extracted last year from the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds (1723-1700). This has given about 250 farms and crofts. I have given a parish and map reference for each. I have not yet mapped the data, but I have done a count of tacks per parish to give a rough idea of distribution.

There are (or were pre-1974 local government reform) 28 parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Slightly to my surprise, I have found that there is an overlap between parishes with high (20 or more) tacks and parishes where there was Leveller activity.
However, these parishes (Borgue, Kirkcudbright, Rerrick, Kelton, Crossmichael, Buittle, Urr and Kirkpatrick Durham) form a band running south-west to north -east of lower lying and more fertile farmland. [See maps 1 and 2].

Today they form a ‘dairy-prairie zone’ traversed by the A 75 Gretna- Stranraer Euro-route. In winter, the nitrogen-enriched improved grasslands of this zone stand out in vivid green contrast to the washed out yellows and browns of the rough grazing zones on either side of this corridor. Above and beyond the rough grazing zone can be seen the sombre dark green of Sitka spruce forests.

Post-Leveller population growth

In the past (up until around 1860 when rail transport boosted dairy farming), this dairy-farming zone was an arable one. This is revealed by the evidence of the 17th century tacks. Tacks from parishes like Minnigaff, Kells, Carsphairn and Dalry in the upland/ rough pasture zone reveal a focus on sheep and cattle farming. Tacks from parishes in the lowland zone reveal a focus on the cultivation of oats and ‘beir’ (bere). Before post-war mechanisation, arable farming was more labour intensive than pastoral farming. [Note - from Third Statistical Account, some farms in Stewartry still used horse power in 1950ies, although first tractor was used in 1912.] Parish size and population density reflects this difference.

When taken forwards to 1851, when the population of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright peaked at 43 121, the pattern is similar. There was little population growth in the upland parishes, gradual growth in lowland parishes without towns and very rapid growth in lowland parishes (Kirkcudbright, Kelton - Castle Douglas, Urr - Dalbeattie and Girthon - Gatehouse of Fleet) which contained towns. Significantly, although the upland parish of Kells contained the ‘Royal Burgh’ of New Galloway ( founded in1633 ) the burgh’s population never grew beyond the 436 recorded in 1841 when Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet and Dalbeattie all had populations of over 1000.

Bar of Spottes: tracing the Levellers backwards in time

Although most of the 17th century ferm-touns are represented by only one or two tacks, I found five for Bar of Spottes between 1668 and 1696. Although there is no direct link with the Levellers, the Bar of Spottes is in the parish of Urr which has very strong links with the Levellers through John Hepburn who was the parish minister from 1688 to 1723.
Hepburn is best known for his actions in 1706 and 1715. In November1706, supported by an armed retinue, he burnt a copy of the Articles of Union at the Mercat Cross in Dumfries. In October 1715, he raised an armed troop of 300 followers and marched them to Dumfries to help defend the town against the Jacobites.

One who knew Hepburn well was Colonel William Maxwell of Cardoness. Maxwell was the son of a Covenant supporting minister from Minnigaff. After embracing Argyll on the scaffold in 1685 fled to Holland where he joined William of Orange’s army in Holland in 1688. He fought for William at the battles of Killiecrankie and the Boyne and organised the defence of Glasgow in 1715. In 1725 Maxwell was the Presiding Magistrate when several Levellers were sued for damages by Sir Basil Hamilton at Kirkcudbright. Hamilton was a leading local Jacobite in 1715. In 1724 Hamilton protested vigorously to the Marquis of Annandale that the Provost of Kirkcudbright and other local officials were ‘Leveller sympathisers’. Maxwell certainly responded sympathetically to a Complaint addressed to him by the Levellers (even George I is on record as having been concerned by their plight).

Significantly, given his local knowledge and political background, William Maxwell was of the opinion (noted by Wodrow) that the hardcore of the Levellers were ‘Hebronites’ - followers of John Hepburn. [Note: Hepburn himself had died in 1723].

Like John Macmillan, minister of Balmaghie parish and later (after 1726) minister to the ‘suffering remnant’ of militant Cameronian Covenanters, Hepburn held his parish in defiance of the Church of Scotland establishment. He was only able to do so because he had strong popular support from landowners like George MacCairtney of Blaiket. MacCairtney’s Barony of Blaiket (now a dairy farm - Blaiket Mains) had been forfeit in 1680 for his alleged support of the ‘rebels’ at Bothwell Bridge, but he regained possession after 1688. [ Details can be found in Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds]. The MacCairtney/ Hepburn connection gives a very strong backwards link from the Levellers to the ’Killing Times.

Fergus and the Kingdom of Galloway

In 1456, 108 properties scattered over 6000 square kilometres - from Morroch in the Rhinns of Galloway in the west to Preston on the Nith estuary in the east and from Little Arrow in the Machars of Wigtownshire in the south to Castlemaddy in the Glenkens to the north - were forfeit to the Scottish Crown by James, the 9th Earl of Douglas as Lord of Galloway. The lands were forfeit because the Douglas earldom posed a substantial threat to the Stewart king, James II. Ironically, James II great- great grandfather Robert II had allowed Archibald Douglas to re-unite the Lordship of Galloway in 1371. Archibald Douglas was given power in Galloway as a loyal supporter of the Bruce/ Stewart dynasty. For over 200 years before 1371, the rulers of Galloway had been a threat to the unity of Scotland.

From 1120 to 1234, Fergus of Galloway and his descendants effectively held Galloway independently of the Scottish Crown. In 1234, Fergus great-great grandson Alan of Galloway died and his ‘kingdom’ was divided between his three daughters and their husbands. One of these daughters married a John Balliol. Their son, John, became king of Scots from 1292 to 1296. In 1332 ,after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329, John’s son Edward Balliol claimed the throne with the support of Edward III of England. This led to a ‘second’ War of Scottish independence. By 1347, however, the only parts of Scotland Edward Balliol held were in Galloway - his family home of Buittle castle on the river Urr and Hestan Isle at its mouth. In 1356, Edward Balliol renounced his claim to the Scottish throne, gifting it to Edward III. Edward Balliol died in 1365. In 1369 David II (Robert the Bruce’s son) endowed Archibald Douglas (son of Bruce’s loyal ally James Douglas) with ‘all of our existing lands in Galloway between the river Cree and the river Nith’ - i.e. the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. In 1372, Archibald bought western Galloway - i.e. Wigtownshire - from Thomas Fleming, thus re-uniting the divided ‘kingdom’ of Galloway as a Lordship.

After the break-up of this lordship in 1456, no single landowner ever held similar power over the region. Although this is pure speculation, I wonder if the fragmentation of landownership (still visible in the form of the many small tower houses which dot the region) was a factor in the post-Reformation history of Galloway? In particular, the key role played by the region in the 17th century. From support for the National Covenant of 1638 through to support for William of Orange in 1688 (and strong opposition to the Jacobites right up to 1746), Galloway was a heartland of anti- Stuart Calvinist Presbyterianism. Whilst the great landowners found in other regions of Scotland could be ‘leant on’ by the Stuart state, the many small landowners (‘bonnet lairds’) of Galloway were more difficult to control.

The Wealth of the Land.

To return to the medieval era of Fergus of Galloway and the Balliols; Blaiket and Spottes were neighbouring estates at this time. Spottes was amongst the estates forfeit in 1456. Along with Dunrod, Senwick, Kelton and Threave in the Stewartry it was a ‘grange’ estate, geared up to producing an arable surplus for the lords (earlier kings) of Galloway.
This is significant. The ability of the rulers of Galloway to exercise their physical power ultimately relied on their ability to feed and maintain their soldiers (and sailors - Alan of Galloway had a fleet of 150 ships). Their ‘spiritual power’ - abbeys and religious houses at Dundrennan, Whithorn, Glenluce, Soulseat, Tongland, New Abbey and Lincluden - was no less dependent on the wealth of the land.

But what form did this ‘wealth of the land’ take? Critically, was the medieval agricultural economy of Galloway mainly pastoral or mainly arable? Significantly, out of the 108 forfeited landholdings of 1456, only ten are located within the upland/ pastoral zone. All the rest are located within the lowland/ arable zone. This suggests that arable rather than pastoral farming was the dominant form. But when and how did this pattern of land use emerge?

Northumbrian Settlements

One possibility is that the pattern of arable land use was introduced after 1160 by Uchtred, Fergus’ son, and developed by his son Roland. Both Uchtred and Roland promoted the settlement of eastern Galloway by Norman landholders from Cumbria and Scotland. In western Galloway, this process was resisted by Gilbert, Fergus’ other son.
Alternatively, there is Daphne Brooke’s suggestion [PSAS:1991- online at

that the wealth and power of medieval Galloway rested on Northumbrian foundations. In particular, Brooke proposed that the various grange lands of medieval Galloway - including those of the Spottes estate - were first exploited for their arable agricultural potential by Northumbrian settlers in the late 7th and early 8th centuries.

Brooke’s theory was based on a combination of Northumbrian/ Anglian place name and artefact evidence. One of the strongest pieces of place name evidence comes from Urr’s neighbouring parish - Buittle - which takes its name from the Old English botl. [In 1282, the Statues of Balliol College, Oxford, were sealed at Buittle castle by Devorgilla Balliol.]

Regarding the parish of Urr, Brooke suggested that the chapel at Blaiket - blaec-heath -which is mentioned in a charter of 1164 /1173, was one of several ‘daughter- chapels‘ of a main church at Edingham. Although no similar charter evidence has survived for them, two possible chapel sites were recorded by the Ordnance Survey in 1847 on the Spottes estate (which extended from Bar of Spottes through Mid Spottes to Spottes Hall on the Urr and included King’s Grange - see map 3). Although no archaeological investigation of these sites has been carried out, in 1993 there was a rescue- archaeology dig at Chapelton on the Spottes estate and close to one of the possible chapel sites. This found evidence that the land may have been part of a Northumbrian farming settlement associated with a chapel. [Transactions DGNHAS: 2004]

The evidence takes the form of a Northumbrian ‘styca’ or coin dated to AD 840. In the 1990s, similar stycas were found at Whithorn in Wigtownshire and another at Hoddom in Dumfriesshire. Earlier, other stycas were found at Luce Bay in Wigtownshire and at Talnotrie in the Stewartry. The Talnontrie finds were part of a ‘hoard’ dated to AD 875.

Unfortunately, although Dr. Richard Oram - one of the few historians with expert knowledge of medieval Galloway - argued [Transactions DGNHAS: 2002] that Daphne Brooke’s PSAS article ‘revolutionised historical interpretations of the nature and extent of the historically obscure period of Anglian hegemony in Galloway from the later 7th until the 10th centuries‘, the implications of her ‘revolution’ have yet to work their way through into national historical narratives. This in turn means that my claim that the Galloway Levellers of 1724 were attempting to defend 1000 years of ‘cultural heritage’ is likely to prove controversial.

The Galloway Levellers and the Scottish Enlightenment

Setting aside my claim that the pattern of arable farming the Galloway Levellers sought to defend can be traced back to the era of ‘Anglian hegemony’ in Dumfries and Galloway, what can be said about their influence on subsequent developments?

Key figures here are Robert Maxwell of Arkland (Kirkpatrick Durham) and Sir John Clerk of Pennicuik. Maxwell farmed Prestongrange near Edinburgh and set up the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in 1723. Clerk was an important member of this Society. Clerk was also kept informed on the Levellers Uprising by his brother (who was a Customs Officer in Kirkcudbright) and his brother -in -law (who was the Earl of Galloway).

The 400 Members of the Society of Improvers included virtually every ‘progressive’ landowner in Scotland. Duncan Forbes of Culloden was one, Archibald Grant of Monymusk was another, as was Patrick Heron (junior) of Kirroughtrie. Heron had been one of the Stewart-Deputes appointed by the Marquis of Annandale to raise an anti-Jacobite militia in 1715. His father had been a cattle trade business partner of Sir David Dunbar. In April 1724, Heron had been one of the 50 Stewartry ‘heritors and landowners’ who confronted the Levellers at the Steps of Tarff. It was Heron who advised Basil Hamilton that the firearms and military discipline of the Levellers ruled out direct conflict. [Heron himself may well have helped drill and arm some of the Levellers in 1715]. It was this confrontation which led the Jacobite Basil Hamilton and the anti-Jacobite Thomas Gordon of Earlston to ride to Edinburgh together to request that troops be sent to quell the revolt.

Later, Archibald Grant of Monymusk had a copy made of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland’s ‘denunciation’ of the Levellers’ actions in case he needed it. Even the Jacobite William Mackintosh of Borlum (captured at Preston in 1715 along with Basil Hamilton, Viscount Kenmure and the Earl of Nithsdale) in his 1729 ‘Ways and Means for Inclosing’ reported that the events in Galloway had turned peasants throughout Scotland against enclosure. [T. C. Smout: History of the Scottish People: 1560 to 1820].

For the recent BBC radio series and book ‘The Lowland Clearances’ [Aitchison and Cassell: 2003] Professor Chris Whately (who has made specialist study of rural unrest) was asked about the wider impact of the Galloway Levellers. He replied ‘One of the reasons why there were fewer of these disturbances in Scotland was partly because the Galloway levelling activities had been so frightening for the authorities that they took care to ensure that that sort of thing shouldn’t happen again. A lot of the activities of landowners in the second half of the eighteenth century are designed to preclude, to pre-empt this sort of activity. That is why people were rehoused and not just thrown off the land. An alternative was created to pacify the people.’

What form did this ‘rehousing ‘ take? The forms can still be seen in the Stewartry and across Scotland. The old ferm-touns were replaced with solid stone built farm steadings, farm houses and cottages. New villages and towns were also planned and built, of which there are over 80 in Dumfries and Galloway alone. [ See Lorna Philip: Planned Villages in Dumfriesshire and Galloway: Transactions DGNHSAS: 2006 ]. To further ‘pacify the people’, new industries were created, with cotton mills built at Gatehouse and Castle Douglas. Even tiny hamlets like Auchencairn briefly possessed a cotton mill. Philip links these agricultural and industrial developments with ‘The Enlightenment’.

Locally, Sir James Murray began the ‘enlightened’ industrial development of Gatehouse of Fleet and the agricultural development of the surrounding Cally estate in 1760. Significantly, the Levellers had threatened to demolish dykes erected by his father Alexander. [Note- the Murray family can be connected back to the Plantation of Ulster in 1610 - see for details ]

But were the ‘enlightened ‘ landowners who transformed Galloway in the later 18th century still worried by the actions of the Levellers? From evidence I have found in the archives of the Hornel Library at the National Trust for Scotland’s Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, I believe they were. This evidence is in the form of handwritten research notes made by John Nicholson circa 1820/1830. The research notes formed the factual background to a three-act play Nicholson wrote about the Levellers in 1838. From the notes, it is clear that vivid tales of the Levellers Uprising had been passed down from parents and grandparents for 100 years.

Of most interest, Nicholson’s notes include an account by John Martin [1710-1801] of his participation as an active (and armed - after he picked up a gun an older Leveller dropped) teenage Leveller in the Uprising of 1724. Martin’s father was a cottar at Halmyre and then Lochdougan farms in the parish of Kelton. Martin subsequently became a clock and watch maker in Kirkcudbright.

From peasant cottar’s son to artisan clockmaker via the Galloway Levellers, John Martin’s story illustrates the revolutionary change which occurred in his life time. The world his father knew was one in which time was still measured by the annual, agricultural rhythms of the deep past. The world John grew into was one increasingly driven by the ‘artificial’ time of industrial labour, driven by the movements of machines whose mechanical and mathematical logic was to shape the future.

At the time of John’s death in 1801, the new town of Gatehouse of Fleet with its water powered cotton mills, brick built workers houses and surrounded by enclosed and improved farmlands could still represent a future of ‘progress through enlightenment’. However, in Manchester the first steam powered and gas lit cotton mills were already in operation, and were already connected to Liverpool via a network of canals.

By 1844, when John Nicholson published Mackenzie’s History of Galloway, the region’s brief industrial revolution was over. Although Galloway’s population had more than doubled in size since 1755 - from 37 671 to 80 215 in 1841 - and was to peak at 86 510 in 1851, its wealth still flowed from agriculture and the land rather than industry and factories.

Even today, it still does. Outside of Dumfries (pop. 33 000) and the ferry port of Stranraer (pop. 10 000) farming and forestry + ancillary processing industries are the mainstay of the regional economy. Tourism is the other key sector. It in turn depends upon the quality of the region’s ‘natural’ (I.e. that of post-Leveller Enlightened Improvement) landscape and the ‘cultural heritage ‘ of its small towns and ‘sleepy’ villages like Gatehouse of Fleet where over 30% of the population are 65 + .

Taken with population and other statistics contained in Stewartry of Kirkcudbright Community Plan 2006- 2008, a somewhat bleak picture emerges of a rural area slowly dying as its most dynamic young people drift away to seek education and employment and are replaced by older people seeking a quiet life in a land where only the cries of whaups [ curlews] and peewees [lapwings] can be heard.

TO S. R. CROCKETT (On receiving a Dedication)- Poem by Robert L. Stevenson

BLOWS the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are flying,
Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now,
Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying,
My heart remembers how!

Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places,
Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent vanished races,
And winds, austere and pure:

Be it granted me to behold you again in dying,
Hills of home! and to hear again the call;
Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying,
And hear no more at all.

Alistair Livingston 30 January 2007

Polticians pile on pressure

How long before Sir Muir starts to crack?

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/31 16:48:41 GMT

University defends campus stance

The University of Glasgow has rejected political claims questioning its commitment to the Crichton campus.

Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown has sought a detailed breakdown of a reported £800,000-a-year deficit at the south west Scotland site.
He said he feared the decision had already been taken to quit Dumfries.
A statement from the university insisted it was "hard to understand" how it could be argued that it received sufficient funds to remain in the town.
Mr Brown said he was concerned that there was more to the situation than met the eye.
"I think it brings into question Glasgow University's fundamental commitment to the Crichton campus," he said.
"I have real concerns about how the university reached the figure of an £800,000 annual deficit.

"The real picture would seem to be that the Crichton is running at a small deficit, but not to the level which has led to the threats of having to pull out of Dumfries."
The Scottish Funding Council has previously insisted it provided the university with enough funding to run the Crichton.
Pay concerns
The institution has also been criticised by South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan for awarding its principal Muir Russell a pay rise above the rate of inflation.
"Glasgow University have really shot themselves in the foot by awarding the principal such a lavish pay rise at the same time as they are complaining about operating deficits," he said.
However, the university insisted its commitment to the campus could not be questioned.

"The University of Glasgow has put a lot into Crichton, in terms of resources, good people and management effort," said a statement.
"But it has always been seen as something additional to the university's core business in Glasgow."
The statement said that SFC funding for 88 additional placements in the Crichton was well below a viable level.

Additional funding
The university added that it had expected funding to build as numbers grew and had continued to make the case for extra funding.
"Against this background, it is hard to understand the argument that we actually receive sufficient resources to fund the cost of Crichton," said the statement.
"We are quite prepared to maintain what we provide at Crichton now, but only if it is funded at a level that enables it to break even."
The institution also defended its pay award to its principal saying it reflected the responsibilities of running a "large and complex organisation".

Tell us the Truth, Sir Muir!

Elaine Murray appears to be getting close to the truth - here is her quote from today (Wednesday 31st Jan) Standard

I have been told that the issue of Glasgow University pulling out of Dumfries has arisen after Dumfries and Galloway College was given additional capital funding to enable it to provide facilities for higher education students at the universities on the campus.

The college indicated that it would be asking the universities to pay their share of running the facilities, and at that point Glasgow University said it it could not sanction increasing the shortfall

The facilities mentioned would include a canteen for students. But a 'canteen' is where factory workers eat - people like this group above. One of the workers is a young -1978- me.

Which is where the problem lies. Refectory is the 'Proper University' word Sir Muir would prefer. And the possibility that students and lecturers from his ancient, world heritage class university would be mixing indiscriminately with the 'students' and 'lecturers' (pupils and teachers as he no doubt sees them) from a primitive technical college... he must be having nightmares... what if they began to indulge in social intercourse? The horror, the horror...

Which is ridiculous. I have a TEC (Technician Education Council) Certificate in Mechnanical and Production Engineering from Waltham Forest Technical College (east end of London. I am very proud of it, and of the many years I spent working in a factory as trainee engineer.

I also have a degree - BA Hons Religious Studies with Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London. This institution has a position somewhat higher on the UK and World Ranking of Universities than Glasgow's.

I have only just started at Glasgow University's Crichton Campus, but my current research on the Galloway Levellers has already been praised by eminent Scottish historians Professors Chris Whately, Tom Devine and Chris Smout.

But as this quote by Sir Muir from 2004 shows, any mention of 'levelling' makes him apprehensive. Clearly he is determined to maintain the physical boundaries between colleges and universities. Between common people who eat in canteens and those of the elite who dine in refectories.


University of Glasgow principal Sir Muir Russell openly expressed his concerns about the move. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, published today, the former Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Executive said alarm bells were ringing within university courts.

"One of the apprehensions we had was the idea that there might be some kind of levelling down of support for the early years of university degrees," he said.
"That’s why we’ve always drawn attention to this one specific proposal which looked as if it might be designed to reduce funding support."

Other university sources say the funding plans would be catastrophic for Scotland’s historic universities - and would change entirely the experience of university for students. "You would be turning university courses into a sausage factory," said one.
Another insider added: "This would push us into the worst aspect of mass higher education. You’d get enormous cohorts of students and it would mean that students don’t get concentrated attention.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Background news story on Crichton

Pic is of Sir Muir leaving Holyrood Inquiry after being accused (strongly denied!) of misleading Parliament over cost of new Parliament building.

University vision in the balance
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

A dream which took 170 years to realise is at risk of unravelling in less than a decade. Elizabeth Crichton first attempted to create a university in Dumfries with an inheritance from her late husband in 1829. However, the powers of the day decided that unfilled places at other institutions across the country made a south-west campus unnecessary. When she conceded defeat, the lands at the Crichton could hardly have found a more different use.

An "Institution for Lunatics" was opened on its grounds in 1839. It was more than a century and a half later when changing attitudes saw the NHS declare the lands surplus to requirements.

First students

That presented an opportunity to finally realise the Crichton vision and the first University of Glasgow students moved on site in 1999.

The University of Paisley and Bell College now share the campus - with Dumfries and Galloway College set to relocate there by 2008. The "super campus" has been hailed as having a key role in the education, employment and economic future of Dumfries and Galloway. That is why the University of Glasgow's announcement that it might quit the town has provoked such a strong response.

Politicians across parties have signed up to a statement calling for its retention in Dumfries.

It is considered a "vital lynchpin" in the region's development.

The university has said it needs an extra £800,000-a-year just to break even in Dumfries.

Spending priorities

The Scottish Funding Council, however, has said the situation has more to do with the university's spending priorities. It has left protesters against the move in something of a quandary over where to lobby. Student association members have taken their plight to both the SFC and the university. Their biggest fear now is that they might lose their campus amid a flurry of finger-pointing. Everyone connected with the Crichton has been keen to stress that it would be business as usual even if Glasgow did depart.

Dumfries and Galloway College said its £37m plans to move to site remain unaffected.

Both Paisley University and Bell College have reaffirmed their commitment to the campus.

Even the Crichton Foundation - set up to turn the site into a major learning centre - has been upbeat about the future.

Vital part

Despite these statements, however, there is recognition that losing Glasgow would remove a vital piece from the educational jigsaw. Hundreds of people have already put their name to a petition circulating Dumfries fighting for the retention of the campus. Their message would appear to be quite clear regardless of where they might lay the blame for the current crisis. Doonhamers have waited a long time to fulfil their campus dream and they will not see it undermined without putting up a fight.

Save our Campus - more headlines

Save our Campus - more headlines

Save our Campus Campaign hits headlines

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Congratulations over Sir Muir's pay rise

I am sure that everyone involved will join me in congratulating Sir Muir Russell on his more than deserved latest pay rise.

This of course will be entirely self-financing once the University have extricated themselves from the squalid quagmire that is the deep south-west.

So let us raise a toast of 1787 Chateau Lafite to Sir Muir. Long may he prosper! Long may he reign over us!

Hip hip hoorray!

Anger over Glasgow University chief’s pay rise
By Paul Hutcheon

£27,000 increase comes alongside redundancies and education cuts
THE PRINCIPAL of Glasgow University has been awarded a 15% pay rise in the same year he oversaw drastic Education Cuts and hundreds of redundancies.
Sir Muir Russell, the former permanent secretary of the Scottish Executive, has accepted a wage hike equivalent to five times the rate of inflation.
One Labour MSP described the improved financial package as "shocking" and called on the higher education institution to explain its decision.

The pay rise is controversial as it comes against a backdrop of university cuts. It was revealed earlier this month that Glasgow may pull out of Crichton Campus in Dumfries due to funding problems. Officials are considering options ranging from reducing its activities in the south of Scotland, to full-scale withdrawal.
This follows last year's row over the university's cost-cutting exercise to hit a £10 million efficiency drive.
Several departments tightened their belts by making substantial savings, while around 230 staff accepted voluntary redundancy. At the time, Russell explained the cuts by saying they were necessary for the university's long-term health.
He said: "These budgets involve savings because the university cannot continue to run an operating deficit as we have for the past 10 years and rely on borrowing and disposal of assets to fund our operations."
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) suggested Russell makea contribution to the cuts by taking a £40,000 wage cut. However, not only did the principal ignore this idea, but he instead accepted an inflation-busting salary increase.
The university's latest accounts show the level of Russell's remuneration package jumped from £184,000 in 2004/05 to £211,000 in the last financial year - a 15% rise.

His "salary and benefits" increased during the same period by 11% from £170,000 to £189,000, while his pension contributions rose from £14,000 to £22,000.

It is not the first time Russell has benefited from a generous deal from the taxpayer. The 58-year-old former civil servant, who led the Scottish Executive during the calamity of the Holyrood project, will pocket a one-off payment of £215,000 when he turns 60. He can also expect an annual pension of £65,000waitingforhimat65,on account of his years spent in the civil service.

Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray blasted Russell for his pay rise. She said: "People will be horrified by this, particularly in Dumfries. He is urging everyone else to make cuts while agreeing a big pay rise for himself. It is shocking."
Dr Bill Stewart, the vice-president of the Universities and Colleges Union at Glasgow University, said: "As a group, the senior officials award themselves pay rises that are always higher than the rate of inflation. It's an issue we've campaigned on for a number of years, and it's particularly relevant at times like these."

A spokesperson for Glasgow University defended the pay rise: "The salary of the university's principal is performance- related and reflects the responsibilities of running a large and complex organisation. The increase reflects the considerable success which the university has enjoyed in the past year. We are out of deficit for the first time in 12 years, having a £2m surplus to invest in our areas of excellence, and climbed 20 places in the world league tables to 81, one of only two Scottish universities in the top 100."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Snow on the Rhinns of Kells

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Director Speaks...

Director's plea for campus future

The director of Glasgow University's Crichton campus in Dumfries is urging people to support calls for the retention of the facility.
Professor Ted Cowan said he spoke for all his staff in calling for the university's presence in the town to be saved in the face of a funding crisis.
He has compiled a detailed defence stressing its educational and economic importance to Dumfries and Galloway.
The university has said it could quit the campus due to heavy annual losses.
It has appealed for extra funding as the Crichton operation is reported to be losing £800,000 a year.
Unless the Scottish Funding Council comes up with more cash, the university has said it could start a phased withdrawal from Dumfries.
Prof Cowan has written to a range of groups across Dumfries and Galloway urging them to protest to the university principal and the funding council.

Economic contribution
He said the university had 49 staff, contributing £2.5m to the local economy.
He added that it had helped to stem rural depopulation by retaining young people who previously would have moved away.
Paisley University and Bell College share the Crichton campus with Glasgow, but Prof Cowan said they were complementary establishments.
He argued they would not be able to match the range and excellence of the University of Glasgow's core courses, nor the exceptional academic qualifications of its staff.
The SFC is due to meet with Glasgow University later this week to discuss the funding situation.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/24 09:55:25 GMT


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Industrial Heritage

Open cast mining near Dalmellington

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cross Party Press Release




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; Monday 22nd January 2007

In an unusual show of unity politicians from across the spectrum have united to issue a clear message of support for the Crichton Campus of Glasgow University, which may have to close if the Scottish Funding Council do not agree to a request by Glasgow University for additional funding..

The annual deficit of the University at the Crichton - presently £800,000 a year - will prove too great for Glasgow University and notice of closure will, according to the University, have to be given. Existing students would be allowed to finish their courses, but no new students would be admitted. A meeting of the Council being held this Friday (26th) may refuse a request from Glasgow University for increased resources to match the student numbers now being taught at the Crichton.

In the run up to the meeting the politicians - Labour MSP Elaine Murray , SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan , Tory MSPs Alex Fergusson , Derek Brownlee and Murray Tosh, Tory MP David Mundell Green MSP Chris Ballance and Solidarity MSP Rosemary Byrne as well as SNP Dumfries Candidate Michael Russell - have offered the Campus their support in a message which says:

“We regard the presence of Glasgow University at the Crichton as a vital lynch pin in the development of higher education in the this area and in the plans for economic regeneration of both the site and the region. It is also a hugely important asset for the town of Dumfries and for the whole of Dumfries and Galloway and it is more than fulfilling its aim of drawing into higher education many people who would otherwise be disadvantaged.

Its collaborations with other institutions on the site, with local and regional businesses, with the local Council and with the community and its’ strong and positive plans for the future are far too important to be put at risk by a short sighted refusal by the national body responsible for University finance to assist with necessary growth. We therefore call on Glasgow University and the SFHEFC to pledge long term support for the University’s operations at the Crichton and by so doing to lift any threat of closure.”

The message has been sent to Glasgow University Principal Sir Muir Russell and to the Chief Executive of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council as well as to Professor Ted Cowan, Director of the University at the Crichton.


Michael Russell 01369 820319 / 07990 572087 or from any of the signatories

Cross -Party Support for Crichton Campus

This from BBC News Monday 22 nd January

Cross-party fight for university A cross-party plea has been made to the University of Glasgow to remain on its Dumfries campus at the Crichton.
The institution confirmed recently it was considering leaving the site in light of £800,000-a-year losses.
Now SNP, Labour, Conservative, Green and Solidarity politicians have signed a message calling for the retention of the university's presence in the town.
They said the university was a "vital lynchpin" in both higher education and economic development for the region.
The University of Glasgow has said it has been forced to reconsider its position due to a funding shortfall.

Who signed the funding call
Conservatives - MP David Mundell; MSPs Alex Fergusson, Derek Brownlee and Murray Tosh
Labour - MSP Elaine Murray
SNP - MSP Alasdair Morgan and candidate Michael Russell
Green - MSP Chris Ballance
Solidarity - MSP Rosemary Byrne

That prompted a call to the Scottish Funding Council to recognise the extra costs of running a remote campus.
The SFC insisted it remained committed to the site before it meets to consider a funding plea from the university later this week.
Now politicians across the south of Scotland have called for a resolution to the situation.
"We regard the presence of Glasgow University at the Crichton as a vital lynchpin in the development of higher education in this area and in the plans for economic regeneration of both the site and the region," said their statement.
Important asset
It added that it was a "hugely important asset" in drawing into higher education people who might otherwise miss out.
The statement also recognised the important collaborations between the University of Glasgow and other institutions and businesses.
It concluded: "We therefore call on Glasgow University and the SFC to pledge long term support for the university's operations at the Crichton and by so doing to lift any threat of closure."
The message has been sent to both the university and the SFC.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/22 11:57:57 GMT


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Save our Campus Campaign - Parts 1, 2 , 3 and 4.

Part 1.
Just sent ( see below) e-mail to eminent Scottish historian Prof T.C. Smout + copies to Profs. Chris Whately, Tom Devine, Ian Whyte and Graeme Morton who have all expressed interest in / support for my Galloway Levellers research.

Part 2.
Will follow up with most recent Update of Galloway Levellers research project sent to above plus as many local politicians (Councillors, MSPs, MPs) + Chair and Chief Exec. of Scottish Funding Council + members of Crichton Foundation + Chief Exec of D and G Council and Director of Education and Community services as I can manage.

Part 3.
Inform via Press Release local and national media ( press, radio, tv ) that I have done above.

Part 4.
Seek support of fellow post-grads etc for Campaign e.g. this from from Ruari McNeill:

One suggestion I have is that a letter be sent to the Scotsman, Herald, all local papers and the Guardian signed by all the post graduates students along the lines that we have all benefited from the establishment of the Glasgow University Crichton Campus and that the experience has greatly enriched our lives. We have also seen the benefit that it has brought to other students and to the region and thus can speak with some authority on the subject. Perhaps the letter should also go to the Observer and Sunday Times Scottish Edition ns.

From participation in Castle Douglas anti-Tesco Campaign (2004/5)I have useful practical media experience and contacts which can be used.

E-mail sent to Prof.Smout...

Dear Professor Smout,

I am a local historian based in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway. When I learnt that Professor Ted Cowan had been appointed as Director of Glasgow University’s Crichton (Dumfries) Campus, I contacted him to discuss ways in which I could place my work upon a more academic footing. Professor Cowan suggested I should focus my research on the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724. With the additional support and encouragement of Professors Chris Whatley, Tom Devine and Ian Whyte, this I have done.

I discovered that, apart from research carried out by J. Leopold ( encouraged by yourself) which was published in the Scottish Labour History Journal in 1980, an article by A. S. Morton in the Transaction of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society in 1936 remains the most detailed study of the Levellers. I have since found that the bulk of Morton’s article was based on research notes made circa 1820/1830 by local (Kirkcudbright) publisher and historian John Nicholson. I found Nicholson’s notes in the Hornel Library of the National Trust for Scotland’s Broughton House in Kirkcudbright. Nicholson’s research notes include a unique account by John Martin (1710-1801) of his active participation in the Levellers’ Uprising.

In researching the background to the Levellers Uprising, I have found another very useful source in the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds (1623-1700).These deeds were found in the 1930s in Kirkcudbright Tolbooth . They were then transcribed and published. Amongst the 6000 entries included in these Deeds, I found 350 tacks covering 250 farms and crofts which provide an invaluable insight into the patterns of local farming. Other entries cast light on the background of key participants in the events of 1724. Through cross-referencing with other local sources, I have begun to build up a very detailed picture of the Levellers, of heir supporters and sympathisers and of their opponents.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to briefly summarise my findings. The best I can do is add as an attachment an article I wrote originally for the Auchencairn History Society Newsletter which has just been published by the Galloway Gazette newspaper. Tom Devine was sufficiently intrigued by this to discuss it with me and suggest some sources on the Irish Cattle Trade aspect to follow up.

Unfortunately , it now appears that I will be unable to develop my research along formal, academic lines. With Professor Cowan’s encouragement, I have begun an M.Litt. Scottish Cultural Heritage course at the Crichton (Dumfries) Campus of Glasgow University. The intention being that this would facilitate the development of my Galloway Levellers research from amateur and local status to academic and national status.

However, due to problems with Scottish Funding Council, it appears that Glasgow University may have to pull out of Dumfries. In which case, the development of my research will not be possible.

Alistair Livingston
6 Merrick Road
Castle Douglas

01556 504429

Friday, January 19, 2007

University to quit Dumfries

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Future of Crichton Campus in doubt

From Herald 18 Jan 2007 -similar from Scotsman below

University may pull out of campus because of funding row

One of Scotland's leading universities could pull out of a satellite campus set up to help regenerate the south of the country after a row over funding.
Glasgow University last night warned that its involvement in the Crichton Campus in Dumfries was under threat because it was running at a loss of £800,000 a year.
Officials said talks had taken place with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to increase the number of funded places at the campus - set up seven years ago with Paisley University, Bell College and Dumfries and Galloway College - but that the organisation "does not share this view".

It was unclear whether the move would lead to redundancies. A spokeswoman for the university said: "At present, our costs at Crichton significantly outstrip the income we generate, making Crichton the only part of the university that has an underlying deficit.
"Options for the university range from the reduction of our presence, with the possible transfer of some courses and facilities, to an eventual measured and phased withdrawal from the site."

In a letter to campus staff, Sir Muir Russell, university Principal, said: "Glasgow embarked on the Crichton project in the expectation that funded student places to support this new activity would follow from the Scottish Funding Council. While we have consistently maintained that we need further funded places to maintain our provision at Crichton on a break-even basis, the SFC does not share this view. Therefore, regretfully, the university is having to reconsider its level of activity at Crichton."

Last night, a spokeswoman for the SFC denied a lack of commitment to the site.
She said: "We remain committed to developing the Crichton campus which has a vital role to play in helping to sustain and grow the regional economy, particularly in developing skill levels for all post-school age groups, particularly adults already in work."
Dr Elaine Murray, MSP for Dumfries, said: "It would be an irony of the highest proportion if Glasgow pulled out at the same time as Dumfries and Galloway College move up to the Crichton site in order to enhance interactions between further education and higher education by providing a tertiary education centre which is unique in Scotland."

From Scotsman 18 Jan 2007

Supercampus doubts after university threat to quit
THE future of an education "supercampus" was thrown into doubt last night when a university threatened to pull out of the project because of rising losses.
Glasgow University said it was losing £800,000 a year from its involvement in the Crichton campus in Dumfries.

The site was opened in 2000 and also houses students from the University of Paisley and Bell College. Dumfries and Galloway College is also due to relocate there next year.
In a letter to staff last night, Sir Muir Russell, the principal of Glasgow University, said the Scottish Funding Council's refusal to pay for more of its students to attend the campus had forced the institution to "regretfully" consider pulling out.
He said: "In the absence of increased support [from the funding council], our options would range from the re-education of our presence, with the possible transfer of some courses and facilities, to an eventual withdrawal from the site."

The university has 230 students at Crichton, but only 88 of those are funded from the public purse via the funding council. Sir Muir said the situation was "unsustainable".
He added: "Our costs at Crichton significantly outstrip the income that we generate from activity at the campus, despite the university's investment and the hard work and commitment of all engaged on the project."

It is understood that any withdrawal would take around three years and the university last night stressed that current students would be able to finish their courses at the site.
About 30 university staff are based at the site. Officials said it was too early to say what would happen to them.

A spokeswoman for the funding council insisted it remained committed to developing the Crichton campus, pointing to the £28 million it was spending on the relocation of Dumfries and Galloway College.
She added: "Our priority now is to work with all the partners and stakeholders involved."