When I lived in Greenock for 2 months, I was living at George Square. One day in the paper (Greenock Telegraph) I saw an old picture of how George Square. The question belonging to this picture was: when was this picture taken. A week later there was an article about this picture:
IT’S amazing how much interest an old photograph can create.
Last week's scene of George Square, Greenock in days gone was no exception.
One reader was thrilled to see where his mother lived for some years, and another expressed pleasure in viewing her current home in the past.
But for Gourock reader Alastair Petrie, the photograph was especially interesting, as it showed businesses premises operated by his grandfather.
Because the particular building in the corner of the square was a commercial garage for many years, I took this to be the occupation of the James Petrie whose name appeared above the door.
However, I was mistaken, and Alastair Petrie popped into the office to explain that James, his grandfather, was a jute merchant and bag manufacturer, much of his trade being associated with the sugar industry.
The building at no 4 George Square was a store, with the main factory in the town's Captain Street.
And the family stayed in the house next to the store. They also owned an imposing villa called Milverton, in Dunoon's West Bay.
A native of Troon, James Petrie died in 1912 at the age of 51, having set up business locally nearly 30 years earlier.
His son, also named James, took over the concern until it was sold around 1925 to fellow Greenock bag maker Thomas Boag.
During the first war James Petrie junior won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) while serving as a sub lieutenant in the RNVR.
After the family business was sold, James went out to Hong Kong where he was managing director of a company called Davie, Boag, which was associated with Thomas Boag's.
(reed further below). In 1933 he founded the Hongkong Naval Volunteer Force, of which he was made commanding officer in 1936. In 1939 it became the Hong Kong RNVR.
At the outbreak of war James served as a commander in the RNVR and was involved in the demolition and “scorched earth” policy carried out in Singapore and Malaysia prior to the arrival of the Japanese.
James escaped capture, and after the war joined his wife and family in Australia where they had been evacuated.
He later returned to Hong Kong, and then came home to Greenock, where he once again spent a period with Thomas Boag's.
The family lived in Brisbane Street, and then moved to Victoria Road, Gourock.
James, who was predeceased by his wife Edith in 1970, died in Erskine Hospital in 1982.
His son Alastair served an engineering apprenticeship with Scotts shipyard, then was an engineer at sea. Alastair left the area in 1960 and lived and worked abroad until retiring back to Gourock in 1995.
Alastair said: “I was delighted to see the photograph of my grandfather's business and house in the Telegraph.”
This pleasure was shared by his daughter Laura, who also lives in Gourock. His other daughter Jane stays in Letchworth, Hertfordshire.
I was really interesting to see this article. Now I know a bit about the history of George Square. In my travelogue there is a picture at the present time. So, if you are interesting to see this picture.........