Wayfarer- The Provost who discovered how to cure fish

After last week you may think that I have exhausted Scotland’s involvement in the car industry.

Not a bit of it as most readers will remember the Linwood Car Plant which opened at Linwood just outside Paisley in the 1960’s produced Hillman Imps until 1976 then Chrysler models until 1979 when Peugeot Citroen bought the plant which then closed in 1981.

Sad as I was an admirer of Hillman Imps after a friend of mine gave me a lift in one to watch Scotland play England at Wembley. I cannot remember the score but I was impressed by the car which behaved adequately, and if a little small was comfortable enough. A fact I have discovered is that prior to 1914 there were over 40 car manufacturers in Scotland. Whew! Where did they all come from and why have we allowed the rest of the world to pass us by?

Sad but true 40 car plants means that a lot of Scots were way out there producing cars, hopefully all those clever engineers moved on to better things.

But then Paisley and Renfrewshire has given a lot to the world and before we leave it we must give credit to Walter Gibson a Glasgow businessman and Provost who in a shed at the end of Gourock Pier discovered a method of curing fish which provided his customers with ‘red herring’ or what is now commonly known as Kippers. The change of name to kipper is no doubt due to avoiding confusion with the use ‘red herring’ which was where a strong smelling piece of smoked fish was drawn across the path of a hunted animal destroying its scent from the pursuing dogs. This phrase has also been used to mean confusing someone from discovering the truth.

The first aircraft to fly the Atlantic both ways in 1919 was the R34 airship which was built by Beardmores of Inchinnan just outside Renfrew. A very innovative lot were the Scots applying themselves to a wealth of innovations for the benefit of the world. But and this is a big but, what has happened since then as it seems that the Scots have to go abroad to insure their inventions are noticed. Mind you the family of the mother of the late Us President Ronald Reagan emigrated from Paisley to America, and a host of top actors, singers etc. among whom you will find Fulton MacKay, Kenneth McKeller, Tom Conti and David Tennant were all born in Paisley, It is amazing what comes to light when searching for tales, there seems to be something of interest to tell about everywhere. See you next week.