SCT 50th Anniversary Lecture: Tobacco Merchants and Shipbuilders, Michael Hannon

 with introduction by John Pelan, Scottish Civic Trust

Wednesday 3rd May 2017 | 7pm | 54 Bell Street

The Scottish Civic Trust, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, has operated from the A-listed Tobacco Merchant’s House in Miller Street, Glasgow for 20 years. The building is one of the few surviving city residences of Glasgow’s formidable tobacco merchants, in this case Robert Findlay.

In researching the history of his 1804 Broadwood square piano, originally delivered to Mrs Dorothy Findlay, widow of Robert Findlay the tobacco merchant, at 42 Miller Street,  Michael Hannon discovered uncanny connections between the Findlays and his Denny forebears: it was their entrepreneurial East India partnership that established The Irrawaddy Flotilla, immortalized by Rudyard Kipling in The Road to Mandalay.

The piano was also the starting point in the romantic but tragic saga of Mrs Findlay’s daughter, ‘The Flighty Dorothea’, who ‘ran off’ with her Glassford Street music teacher John Donaldson, described by her family as ‘a cur and a scoundrel’; he went on to become Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh where he established the Donaldson Museum of Historical Musical Instruments in the Reid Hall, the oldest purpose-built museum of its type in the world.

For further details of Michael Hannon’s book on the subject, including sound clips from its accompanying CD, visit his website at  Copies will be on sale after the lecture.


In 2017 the Scottish Civic Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since 1967 the Trust has been at the forefront of celebrating and protecting Scotland’s historic environment, promoting good modern architecture, and engaging with local communities and the general public through a wide range of activities.

We are delighted to be partnering with the Scottish Civic Trust in its semicentennial year on a short series of events with a focus on Glasgow’s heritage, built, cultural and intangible.