The father of local history in the Monklands
the respected local historian of Monklands, died on 1st January 2000, in his 85th year.
His death brought sadness and loss
to the many people in Monklands and
far beyond with whom John had shared
his unrivalled knowledge of the
John was brought up in the Langloan area of Coatbridge. His working life was spent with British Steel at Stewarts and Lloyds. He was blessed with two happy marriages - to his first wife Cathie and then, on her death, to Mamie.
Donald McDonald, of Monk lands Historical Society, and Craig Geddes, the North Lanarkshire archivist, have paid generous tribute to Mr White's efforts over many years to share his vast knowledge of the area with others.
Mr Geddes described him as "the father of local history in Monklands" . In particular, they referred to Mr White's rescue of dozens of maps, account books, inventories, and other documents from the Old Drumpellier House and elsewhere. All this material John first housed in his home in Old Monkland. Then, for a time, he was given a room in the Carnegie Library where those interested could inspect the materials under John's expert guidance. Finally, all this rich collection was housed in the History Room at Airdrie Library and in the Mitchell Library, for use by future researchers. In addition, John toured the Monklands area for years with cameras and slides, giving lectures to schools, church groups, social clubs, nursing home residents, and the like.
It was his practice over the years to keep pictorial records of the area and particularly of buildings that were about to be altered or demolished. He wrote several pamphlets - on Janet Hamilton, on the Drumpellier Estate, for example.
His services were constantly in demand from visitors to Monklands, particularly from those whose ancestors had come from the area.
It was obvious that he knew the Monklands intimately, not as one who had studied maps and books, but as one who had lovingly traversed every mile of the area on foot - along Calder's banks, through the glens in Whifflet, and all around the Drumpellier and other estates. He could take parties on conducted tours of Drumpellier and elsewhere and could talk to them of the flowers, the plants, the trees of his beloved Monklands.
Among those adding their tributes was Margaret Anderson university historian well-known locally for her history lectures over the years in Coatbridge and Airdrie, and Westminster MP Mr Tom Clarke.
Mrs Anderson commented: "In 1991 Glasgow University's Adult Education Department - in co-operation with Coatbridge Community Education - began a class in local history regarding the Importance of Monklands in the context of industrial and transport history. To this class came John White, maybe without any official academic historical background but with a .knowledge of his local area and its history which was Wide, personal,. Enthusiastic, intimate, and detailed. His contributions to the class were relevant helpful, and enlightening. It was sad when ill health forced him to curtail his interests.
A later class of Sights and Sites of Lanarkshire would have benefited from his input for the Monklands area. So many people knew him from his talks on local history to clubs and organisations or from his walks. and tours of the important historical sites of the area. His links With the Drumpellier Estate and Gartsherrie Works papers provided the foundation for the work of later scholars. It was with sorrow that notice of his death was received. For many he had been the local historian of the district and for that many will remember him with gratitude."
Mr Clarke said: "John White was unique. Countless people myself included, were often entranced by his deep knowledge of our local history and by the sheer treasures he acquired over the years. It is fortunate that he carefully catalogued all of this so that present and future generations would get the benefit of the tireless life's work of a dedicated man who loved everything he was doing."
Despite his immense work for the community, Mr White did not receive, during his life, the public acclaim from the civic or national authorities that he so richly deserved. Many of his friends believe there is still time to right this omission - for example by a plaque to his honour in Carnegie or Airdrie library, or by naming the History Room at Airdrie, to which he was far and away the greatest contributor.
Langloan Pupils c1925 John White sits next the Teacher
The John White Memorial History Room?