James Miller by Fergus Sutherland: A tribute to Dr. Helen Cargill Thompson

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Wednesday 16th December 2020 | 6pm BST | via Zoom

All at Glasgow City Heritage Trust were saddened to hear of the passing of longtime supporter and enthusiastic lecture attendee Dr. Helen Cargill Thompson. In tribute to Helen, Fergus Sutherland of Icosse Heritage and Media will talk about the career and practice of one of Scotland’s most successful (and least discussed) architects, the incredibly prolific and wonderfully eclectic James Miller (1860-1947). 

Miller stands out for his sheer success.  He ran one of the most productive architectural practices in Britain from the late 1890s up to the Second World War.  His output was enormous with over two hundred projects attributed to his office, predominantly in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, but with significant forays to England too.  From cutting edge modernist housing to the monumental transatlantic banks, almost all of his designs have survived and remain defining elements of our built heritage to this day.

Helen Cargill Thompson (1933-2020) led a fascinating life. Brought up in Burma, she came to Glasgow with her family just before the outbreak of war. After gaining a degree in physiology and pharmacology from St. Andrews, followed by a PhD at Edinburgh University, Helen worked for a decade as a research scientist. However, a change of career beckoned and she retrained as a librarian, later becoming Head of the Reference and Information Division at Strathclyde University. Helen went on to work at the library for over 30 years. An avid art collector, she donated over a thousand artworks to the University. 

Regular attendees at GCHT lectures will remember her fondly, she was usually stationed in the front row, glass of wine in hand, poised to interrupt the speaker and regale the audience with a fascinating anecdote, or ask a profound question. Once the lecture was over Helen would head home on her own through the streets of Glasgow via public transport, despite being well into her eighties. 

Fergus Sutherland remembers her thus: “I first met Helen over 30 years ago and was a fan (and more than a tad in awe) from that moment onwards.  She was a truly unique person and one of the pillars of the voluntary heritage sector in the city that she loved.  She always had a highly informed opinion that she never failed to share and I learned much from her before, during and after the many events that she supported, usually over a glass of wine.  I, like all her many friends and colleagues, will miss her and remember her with great fondness.”

Free, booking required, donations welcome. 


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