CONDORRAT has at last honoured its working-class heroes – after a majestic memorial wall was unveiled at a simple but moving ceremony.
Divided into three parts, this lovingly crafted piece of stonework honoured a trio of men whose sacrifices will always be remembered in this former mining community.
They are the radical weavers, the early trade unionists whose leader John Baird was born in Condorrat. He was executed in Stirling in 1820 for his role in a workers uprising.
The wall also honours local soldiers who gave their lives for their country, and the five Condorrat miners who died in the Auchegeich disaster of 1949.
Condorrat Tenants and Residents Association has been the driving force behind this ambitious project which has taken several years of community-based fundraising to achieve. Local businessman Gerard Egan of Masonry Solutions was instrumental in cutting the cost of the wall by undertaking the work and providing the labour.
In a separate development, the garden surrounding the memorial received an £80,000 grant via a North Lanarkshire Council regeneration project.
Locals and guests gathered in the area adjacent to Cumbernauld Library for this landmark event on Saturday.
They included Margaret Muir who was just 18 months old when she lost her father John at Auchengeich.
“This was really emotional for me. It was happy and sad at the same time,” said Margaret (53) who lives in Baird Crescent.
Local councillor Danny Carrigan said: “This is a great day for Condorrat and I say a big thank you both to the Condorrat Tenants and Residents Association and the council.
Councillor Gerry McElroy added: “This is an inspired lasting tribute.’’
Gregg McClymont MP said that Condorrat had found itself caught up in the tumultuous events of history - and that the pride of locals was unmistakeable. “It shows the sacrifices people have made here but also how far we have come,” he said.
MSP Jamie Hepburn said: “It is right and proper that the Condorrat radicals of 1820, the men who died in the Auchengeich disaster and those who have fallen in battle are commemorated with this memorial wall. It is a fitting tribute to their memory.”
The man who actually unveiled the wall was Provost Tom Curley who said that it was ‘‘an honour and a privilege’’ to do so.
The 1820 Society, which commemorates the weavers, also sent representatives to the event including 84-year-old Cathie Brown who travelled all the way from Paisley to attend. The retired bus conductress said: “I believe trade unions are very important and I think what’s been done here is wonderful.”
Cumbernauld Community Forum chairman Billy Lees was among those who laid a wreath at the memorial. He said: “We were delighted to do that. It is great to see what the CTRA and the council have achieved.”
Councillor William Homer, who worked closely with the residents association in their quest to bring the wall to Condorrat, said: “It just shows what a community can do when they put their minds to it.’’
Residents Association chairman Kate McLean said: “We have waited 52 years for this memorial and obviously it was a very emotional day. If it hadn’t been for the local labourers and the materials they contributed we would have had to have fundraised for a lot longer.”
Her colleague John Burke added:“This day went beyond our wildest dreams.”