Mr James Crookston. 1893.
Kirkintilloch, its charter, granted by William the Lion, dates as far back as the twelfth century, while the Parish Church was erected in 1644. The centre of a rich agricultural, as well as mining district, it is a thriving town and is particularly interesting to the visitors, from the sudden contrasts it presents of elegant modern buildings placed alongside the thatched cottages hundreds of years old. Famous poets and politicians, its immediate surroundings are teeming with a halo of romance, while its sweet singers have caused its burns and braes to be known and remembered far beyond their limits with pleasure and delight.
One of the landmarks of the town was the Black Bull Inn, a thoroughly representative type of Modernised “Old-Fashioned Hostelry,” owned by Mr James Crookston. Born at the Calder Iron Works, near Coatbridge, where his father was manager of Messrs. Dixon, Ltd, Mr Crookston came to Bishopbriggs when he was ten years of age, and attended school at Old Auchinairn under Mr Waddell. He afterwards completed his education at St Rollok’s, now absorbed by the Chemical Works, the only vestige remaining being the stairs.
His first start in life was as clerk at the colliery of which his father was the manager at Bishopbriggs, where he remained for eight years; and, anxious to learn, he obtained a knowledge of colliery work in all its details. But ambitious and desirous to get on, he accepted an appointment from Messrs. Robert Addie & Sons at Inchinnan, and, while here, was made a mason, being initiated in the Prince of Wales’ Lodge, No. 426, now nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Still keeping the motto Excelsior, he accepted the position of manager of Messrs. Walter MacFarlane & Co’s warehouse in Washington Street and while in their company removed with them to the Saracen Foundry, Possil Park, Glasgow. That he remained with this well-known and highly respected firm for the long period of eleven years. An opening representing itself, he left to be cashier and take charge of the office of the Steel Company of Scotland, where he remained for several years. Receiving a tempting offer to travel for the Blochairn Sand and Fire Clay Company, he thought he would take to the road, and covered for them, with more than usual success, the English, Irish and South Wales ground. He then entered the liquor trade, and had the honour to represent, and sold whisky for the late Mr William Faulds, of Paisley, in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. But after all money speaks, and the offer of a large increase of salary induced him to enter the services of Messrs. James Calder & Co., brewers, Alloa.
In 1889 Mr Crookston joined the staff of Messrs. A. Arrol & Co., the well-known Alloa brewers, where he was presently successfully engaged. In 1891 he became the landlord of the Black Bull Inn, Kirkintilloch, with which his family had been connected for many years. In his absence this is most efficiently managed by his good lady, son and daughter. The Inn, built for the business many years ago, was substantial, convenient, and thoroughly suited to the requirements of the trade.
Bred to the trade and married in the inn, Mrs Crookston’s experience and abilities as a hostess was second to none. Posting in all its branches is extensively carried out, and while the stud is an excellent one, the turn-outs, carriages, brakes, dog-carts were elegant and thoroughly well appointed. Mr Crookston laid a new floor in the large hall, which was popular for balls, weddings, parties and entertainments of all kinds, as well as Masonic and other social meetings. The liquor was of good quality with well ventilated cellars.
Mr Crookston was an enthusiastic volunteer, he was one of their best shots while a member of the 1st L.R.V., and all who know anything of volunteering in the West of Scotland know that there is no smarter regiment. He holds a large number of prizes. On giving up volunteering he took to bowls with a like happy result, gaining prizes on many greens, notably the Whitevale and St. Rollok’s, of which latter he held the championship in the year 1890. He was a cultivated musician and held the honorable position of secretary and treasurer and was in fact the leading spirit in the famous Taggart’s Male Voice Choir, an association which, besides doing much good to its members, assisted materially the various charities for which they performed; and while in the Saracen Co’s employ he orginised a musical association and orchestra connected with the works, both, while he remained in the employ, proving signal successes. Mr Crookston was president of the local quoiting club, a Free Gardener, a member of the Eastern Merchants, and Clydesdale Merchant’s and Tradesmen’s Societies and was treasurer of the Wine, Beer and Spirit Trade Association in 1893. A thoroughly genuine, honest man and jolly good fellow in the best sense, hardworking, industrious and strictly just in all his dealings.