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Tale of the diamond maker

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THE colourful life of a Helensburgh man who is believed to be the first man to make diamonds artificially was described to members and guests at the Helensburgh Heritage Trust meeting in Helensburgh Lawn Tennis Club on Wednesday January 26 2011.

Guest speaker David Harvie FSAScot from Dumbarton revealed the many facets of the life of James Ballantyne Hannay, with illustrations of where he lived and worked.

Hannay was a businessman and inventor who held over 80 patents, including an industrial lighting device, anti-fouling paint for ships, and a means of extracting gold and other precious metals from ores.

Heritage-Harvie-title-26.01.11-wHe was born in Glasgow on January 1 1855, and his family later moved to Westburn, 50 Campbell Street, which at that time was accessed from Stafford Street. They also owned the nearby Woodburn.

By the age of 17 this remarkable former Larchfield Academy pupil was elected a Fellow of the Chemistry Society of London.

It was in 1880 that he claimed to have made the diamonds, possibly in a ravine at the foot of the Westburn garden or at his laboratory in Glasgow, and since then his claim has been verified on several occasions.

Some three years later he bought Cove Castle which was his home until his death at a Glasgow mental hospital on March 17 1931. He is buried at the Barbour Cemetery at Cove.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 February 2011 19:26 )  

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First Winter Open Meeting 2016-17

William-Leiper-1The first Open Meeting of the winter season will be on Wednesday September 28 at 7.30pm prompt at Helensburgh Civic Centre, East Clyde Street, when Ewan Kennedy will speak on 'The Leiper Legacy'.

Winter Talks 2016-17

  • Wednesday September 28 2016 — Ewan Kennedy: The Leiper Legacy
  • Wednesday October 26 — AGM; then The Rev David Clark: Helensburgh Boys Brigade Centenary
  • Wednesday November 30 — Ian MacEachern: The Luss Slate Quarries

  • Wednesday January 25 2017 — Bill Anderson: The Anderson (Local Collection) Trust
  • Wednesday February 22 — Dan Atkinson: The Samphire Project — marine archaeology in Argyll
  • Wednesday March 29 — Professor John Hume: West Dunbartonshire Churches and their history

Meetings in Helensburgh Civic Centre, East Clyde Street, at 7.30pm prompt.

Charity Number

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation
SC024603