Saturday, 14 March 2009


The ceilidh was held in a Victorian building in Alexandria. Built to house girls who worked in the Turkey Red Dye Factory in the late 19th century, it was turned into a Masonic Hall in the 1920's and still functions as that. The original building is of red sandstone and has much fine stone carving, many of which are sayings exhorting women to lead a virtuous, hard-working life.

What is of greater interest are the murals. They line the entrance hall and are above the west (very large) fireplace. Here they are.

They were painted by this chap: Harrington Mann. He is a Glasgow born painter who studied art at Glasgow School of Art, and at the Slade School of Art in London. He lived from 1865-1937. I think the date below is 1891. He seems to have done a lot of portrait work later on especially of children. He died in USA.

I cannot find out much about him except that he figures in James McNeill Whistler's letters (another Glasgow artist) and that his (Mann's) mother tried to get Whistler to help her sell some of her son's paintings.

Here is the central part of her letter:

"I have taken in hand to raise 400 guineas by the sale of an album of sketches - & I fear that I won't succeed unless I get a few very important names - Will the Master deign to give me a few [p. 2] strokes from his magic pencil & then I will be safe?

I take the liberty of sending you by same post, a booklet - newly published - the joint production of my son & myself. It takes only one hour to read & tho' the Scotch may puzzle you, even tho' you be a McNeill, I hope it will amuse you, sometime [p. 3] perhaps when travelling."