Stained Glass Memories Part 2

7 September 2023

This is the second part of a four-part blog.

The first instalment for this can be found here.

‘Stained Glass Memories’ in Glenmavis

New Monkland Parish Church, in Glenmavis, Airdrie – memorial window installed 1924.

The Church of New Monkland in Airdrie has been standing in the position since 1776. 

A church in the plain Scottish style, its outward appearance belies the fact that it is filled throughout with magnificent stained-glass windows from some of the top stained-glass artists of Glasgow from the 20th century.

The Mitchell and Rankin families of Airdrie had strong links with the New Monkland Parish Church, and many family members are buried in the church graveyard.

Inside the church, at the bottom left hand side, towards the altar, is a stained glass window dedicated in the memory of James Mitchell of Bannockburn House, and his two sons, David Cumming Mitchell and James Thomson Rankin Mitchell.  This memorial window was commissioned by James’ wife, Mrs Anne Mitchell, and daughter Miss Annie Elizabeth Rankin Mitchell (Miss Mitchell), who endured the tragic loss of these three family members within the five years between 1918-1923. 
James Thomson Rankin Mitchell was the younger Mitchell son, and lived at Bannockburn House.  James was a lawyer and writer to the signet and was commissioned into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in October 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War.  James rose from second lieutenant to being a young Lieutenant Colonel in just three years.  He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded both the Distinguished Service Order, which he received at Buckingham Palace, and the Croix de Guerre.

James was wounded in the battle of Arras in France in March 1918 and he died of his injuries a few days later in London, on 1 April 2018.  He was 30 years old.  James was well liked by his men, and recognised as a ‘fine fellow’.

James is commemorated at Bannockburn House by a laburnum tree in the grounds which was planted by the volunteers.  More information can be found here https://www.bannockburnhouse.scot/our-history/our-families/

David Cumming Mitchell was the elder Mitchell son, who worked as a stockbroker in Glasgow.  He served in the great war with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Salonika, but was invalided out from the front line after contracting malaria, and completed his war service in Ireland.  He died suddenly in January 1921 at Villars Palace Hotel in the Swiss Alps while on a winter sports holiday, at just 37 years old.  David’s death was probably caused by a combination of exercise at high altitude and the residual effects of his war-time malaria; it came as a great shock to his family and friends.

James Mitchell, the owner of Bannockburn House, was a former banker turned businessman and investor, with particular interests in the mining industry.  James died suddenly in December 1923.  At the time he was the chairman of James Nimmo and Co. Ltd, Coalmasters, who were the owners of the Redding Pit near Falkirk, where, nine weeks earlier, 66 miners were trapped underground when water flooded the mine.  After 9 days the rescue mission had managed to save 26 men, but tragically the remaining 40 lost their lives.

Redding Pit Disaster

The Redding Pit disaster had a devastating effect on the small local mining community, with some families losing multiple relatives.

James, who had never fully recovered from the loss of his two sons, was deeply affected by the tragedy.  At the annual business meeting of the Nimmo Company shareholders, after making an emotional reference to the pit disaster, James collapsed and died.  He was 68 years old. 

James’ widow Anne and his daughter Annie commissioned the memorial window from the Ballantyne studio in Edinburgh.  It contains the inscription ‘Fear not for I am with thee’ and is accompanied by a brass plaque describing the commemoration.

New Monkland Parish Church was known locally as ‘the Auld Grey Kirk on the Hill’, and with the dedication of the Mitchell memorial window at a service on 15 May 1924, the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser described the church as ‘becoming a wee cathedral in this way’.

Next week’s instalment come from Airdrie
Post by Dr Helen Young
Dr Helen Young is a member of the History Team.
Catherine Bradley.<br />

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