Kirkintilloch historian named in New Year's Honours List

A Kirkintilloch historian and author has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to libraries and heritage in Scotland.

Don Martin’s long and successful career began in the former Strathkelvin District Libraries began back in 1975 when he took up the post of Local Studies Librarian.

The 80-year-old historian has also written a number of books, including a detailed history of the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway, one of Scotland’s first ‘public’ railways.

He has edited over 40 local publications too, including A Story of Kirkintilloch and a Story of Lenzie.

Don credits much of his success to former Chief Librarian for Strathkelvin Alice Mackenzie, who appointed him to his first local position.

Don, who told the Herald he was delighted to receive the MBE, said: “I owe much to Alice who sadly passed away very recently on December 21.”

He added: “I have been particularly lucky to have enjoyed a professional career in local history in the area where I was born and bred.”

As Strathkelvin was a new geographical entity in 1975, a major part of Don’s first job locally, under Alice’s leadership, was to build up a bank of local history materials including books, newspapers, maps and photographs.

He said: “We acquired historic photographs from a wide range of sources, but I took the view that ‘history’ doesn’t just belong in the past, but continues into the present and on into the future, so I believed taking current photos for the collection was just as important as acquiring older images.

"This has been confirmed by the passage of time – many of the photos we took for the Strathkelvin collection are now regarded as historic images, for example Kirkintilloch’s iron foundries – now long-gone.”

Don also has close connections to local history groups.

He said: “Right at the start, I became aware of the value of working with local history groups, which always have in their membership many people with a sound knowledge of their own local history. I eventually ended up on the committee of several of them.”

Don became Secretary of Kirkintilloch & District Society of Antiquaries in 1980, remaining active in that position for more than 40 years, until September last year.

He transferred over to East Dunbartonshire Council Libraries in 1996, remaining there until his retirement in 2009. But he has certainly not slowed down.

He was involved in 2011 in the hugely successful 800th anniversary celebrations of Kirkintilloch’s establishment as a Burgh of Barony in 1211AD.

Don said: “Around the same time a group was established by Jimmy Watson in Bishopbriggs to commemorate the life of Thomas Muir, the ‘Father of Scottish Democracy’, and I became one of Jimmy’s main helpers.

"To date, the highlight of this group’s activities has been a Scotland-wide commemoration of the 250 th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Muir in 2015.”

He remains secretary of the Friends of Thomas Muir and has also been involved in East Dunbartonshire Heritage History Forum and the Scottish Local History Forum where he has continued as Editor of the Forum’s journal, Scottish Local History.

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