John Storrie MBE 1876-1960
A Trade Unionist, Councillor and Deputy Chairman of the Corporation of Glasgow, Baillie John Storrie is said to have had a reputation of being one of the most honest and conscientious men in the public life of the City of Glasgow.
John the eldest son of Irish immigrants; John Storrie & Mary Fitzsimmons, was born on the 12th April 1876 in Water Row, Govan.
John’s father’s trade was Hammerman (Smith), a trade which John saw fit to follow from an early age and we find John employed as Steam Hammer Boy aged 15, perhaps as apprentice to his father. 5 year later and now a fully fledged Hammerman John joined the trade union movement by becoming a member of the ” United Kingdom Society of Amalgamated Smiths and Strikers” and within twelve months he was elected branch auditor and check secretary and by 1903, branch secretary, a position he held until 1918. During this period of 15 years, he missed only one meeting (owing to a business engagement in London), in itself a record sufficient to indicate his strong sense of duty.
In 1902 he was sent as district delegate of his branch to the Clyde District Committee of “Smiths and Strikers” and two years later was elected district president. As a Trade Union Congress delegate, he represented his area from 1916 to 1919 and was a member of the Trades and Labour Council and Labour Representation Committee from 1904-1914, when he resigned. It is ample proof of the trust put in him by his colleagues that he had been elected and attended all conferences for alterations of society rules from 1906-1919, and was in 1908 elected to examine the books and general office accounts. In 1919, he received from the Executive Council what is termed ‘The V.C. of the Society’, the highest honour that can be paid to a member or official. He was the youngest member of his union to hold it.
Baillie Storrie conducted all negotiations for working by the society and he visited the Western Front in March 1918, and travelled down the line from Poperinghe to Cambrai. He was at Gecincourt 48 hours before the great German advance of 1918.
In 1919 he was nominated by his branch to Divisional Labour Party as a candidate for the Glasgow Parish Council, and was elected to the Fairfield Ward. His work for the poor was a tale of self-sacrifice to duty and many notable achievements stand to his credit as a consequence of genuine love for the poor and his untiring work on their behalf.
In 1920 the “United Kingdom Society of Amalgamated Smiths and Strikers” merged with the “Amalgamated Society of Engineers” and other smaller unions to form the “Amalgamated Engineering Union” (AEU) under this new banner Baillie Storrie continued to play a pivotal role and in July 1920, he was appointed AEU Organising District Delegate of No.6 Division, covering the south-west of Scotland, with headquarters in Paisley. In 1928 he was opposed for the first time in his trade union career, but was elected on a first vote by more than 1000 majority over two opponents. Indeed Baillie Storrie served the AEU in this role well and standing testament to this was the Special Resolution of Executive Council, awarded to John in 1943 for Faithful Service as Divisional Organiser extending over a period of 23 years.
He was also Chairman of the joint Steel Trades Committee, which is confined to all skilled trades employed in steel works in the West of Scotland. He conducted all negotiations with employers on the three-shift-day agreement, which was recognised as the best agreement covering any steel works in Great Britain. He always opposed a sliding scale agreement. Baillie Storrie was also a member of H.M. Dockyard Advisory Committee of Amalgamated Engineering Union which conducts all negotiations on working conditions. Between 1920 and 1935, he obtained for workers over £40,000 under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and over £1800 for compensation for loss of work.(Amazing sums in those days).
(There is a story of him attending a medical tribunal in the Paisley Town Hall to defend a man claiming compensation. They won the case but, once outside, they realised the assumed disabled man had left his crutches in the room!)
Among other posts held by him were member of West of Scotland Medical Research Committee and Chairman of the Board of Control of Govan Parish Council. In 1929 he was made a Justice of the Peace and in November 1920 was elected to Glasgow Town Council, being one of the two Labour gains in that election and owing to his knowledge of industrial conditions, he was quickly elected in open council to the Conditions of Service Committeee.
In 1931, he resigned from the Independent Labour Party on the question of secular education and birth control.
Baillie Storrie was deeply imbued with a sense of duty and reserved one evening every week to interview people wishing his advice and assistance, although he was accessible at any time. Baillie Storrie considered his best achievment in the Town Council that of carrying a 5/- (25p) advance to all engineering members in open council by a majority of one vote, although the Moderate Party was in power.
Baillie Storrie opened the New Houses Govan Mental Hospital, Hawkhead on 2nd November 1925 as well as the Crookston Cottage Homes on 8th September 1938. Among many others he also opened Our Lady of Lourdes School.
In 1948 Baillie Storrie was awarded an M.B.E. for services to the Trade Union Movement in the West of Scotland.
In his private life Baillie Storrie was a member of the congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cardonald, and was a member of the S.V.D.P.Conference of that parish. He was a Past Chief Ranger of “The Star of Erin Branch” of the Irish Foresters.
Baillie John Storrie was living at 1324 Paisley Road West, Glasgow when he died in 1960 aged 84, a quiet unassuming man of unfailing courtesy, Baillie Storrie recognised no social distinctions in the matter of politeness. His motto was:
“BE COURTEOUS TO ALL.
IF YOU MAKE A PROMISE, FULFIL IT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY”