Old Photograph Union Street West Calder Scotland

Old photograph of the Robert Gillon Grocers Shop on Union Street in West Calder in West Lothian, Scotland.

Notable people from West Calder include;

James Douglas was born on 21 March 1675 in West Calder. He was one of the seven sons of William Douglas, and his wife, Joan, daughter of James Mason of Park, Blantyre. In 1694 James Douglas graduated MA from the University of Edinburgh and then took his medical doctorate at Reims before going to London, England, in 1700. He worked as an obstetrician, and gaining a great reputation as a physician, was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1706. One of the most respected anatomists in the country, Douglas was also a well known man midwife. He was asked to investigate the case of Mary Toft, an English woman from Godalming, Surrey, who in 1726 became the subject of considerable controversy when she tricked doctors into believing that she had given birth to rabbits. Despite his early scepticism, Douglas thought that a woman giving birth to rabbits was as likely as a rabbit giving birth to a human child, Douglas went to see Toft, and subsequently exposed her as a fraud. Douglas died in London on 2 April 1742, leaving a widow and two children.

Robert McKeen, born 12 July 1884, died 5 August 1974, was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was born in 1884 in Edinburgh and received his education in West Calder. In Scotland, he was active in the labour movement, and worked as a grocer's assistant in a co-operative store. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1909, and worked in coal mines on the West Coast before moving to Wellington, and a grocery store. He was a union official. He married Jessie Russell, the daughter of Robert Russell. He died in Otaki on 5 August 1974 and is buried at the Kelvin Grove Cemetery in Palmerston North.

John Kane, born August 19, 1860, died August 10, 1934, was an American painter celebrated for his skill in Na├»ve art. He was born John Cain to Irish parents in West Calder. His father died when he was age 10, leaving behind a widow and 7 children. His father was employed as a grave digger in West Calder, it is said that he dug a grave on Friday and filled it on Monday. The young Kane quit school to work in the shale mines. He actually worked at Youngs Parrafin works and was so struck with the malleability of the hot parrafin moulds that he made a mask of his own face for his mother Biddy. Naturally he burned his face, but not too seriously. After his mother remarried, he emigrated to the United States at age 19, following his stepfather and older brother Patrick, who had preceded him to America and were working in Braddock, Pennsylvania, just east of Pittsburgh. In both 1925 and 1926 he submitted paintings to the Carnegie Internationals sponsored by the Carnegie Museum of Art, but the works were rejected. The next year, however, Kane found a champion in painter juror Andrew Dasburg, who persuaded the jury to accept Kane’s Scene in the Scottish Highlands. The story of the untrained, now 67 year old. painter's success was trumpeted by the newspapers. The publicity around the show came to the notice of Kane's wife, who was living in West Virginia, and with whom he'd lost contact for over ten years. They reconciled and remained together during the last years of his life. John Kane died of tuberculosis on August 10, 1934 and is interred at Pittsburgh's Roman Catholic Calvary Cemetery.

All photographs are copyright of Sandy Stevenson, Tour Scotland, and may not be used without permission.

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