Glasgow University’s “Fifth Centenary”

We’ve found a leaflet with three dances composed by Dr A. K. Tulloch for the Students’ Celebrations of Glasgow University Fifth Centenary back in 1951. Yes, I know – dated 9th January 1951, the Commemoration Ball is nine days beyond my research cut-off date of 1950! Still, it was held at the City Chambers, and A. K. Tulloch wrote a jig, strathspey and reel for the occasion.

Jimmy Shand, Accordion demonstrator,
1953 (British Newspaper Archive)

Who was A. K. Tulloch? Sandy (Alexander) Tulloch (1918-2006) was an eye consultant in Dundee. An accordion player, he was a good friend of Jimmy Shand’s. He even named the commemoration reel after him. You can read all about Sandy in the Box and Fiddle Archive, which has a page based on an interview with him in 1988, and an obituary from 2006. (I was all set to share one of the tunes, but it’s still in copyright, so I’ll respect that!)

But although it makes sense that the jig would be called (or dedicated to) Glasgow’s patron Saint, St Mungo – and I’ve already mentioned the reel named for Jimmy Shand – I haven’t personally come across the name of Peter Dewar was, for whom the strathspey is named. He may have had a Glasgow significance, maybe even a University connection, or a person particularly important to the student body.

We’re notifiying the University Library of our find – so really, I could put it aside now – but I was curious, so I went on searching. There’s information about the quincentenary on Archives Hub, but no immediate reference to the ball in the City Chambers. This doesn’t mean to say the archival materials themselves don’t hold anything relevant, but Archives Hub only indexes what documents are there and maybe a rough idea of what they’re about.

There are also a few newspaper announcements in the British Newspaper Archive.

Looking up Dr Tulloch, however, is far more interesting. A couple of years later, In 1953, he wrote to the Dundee Courier in defence of accordions. Bravo, Sandy! Dundee Courier 28 Sept 1953

And a couple of weeks later, he wrote to the paper again – clearly the argument had continued to rage. But Sandy wasn’t going to let it drop! Indeed, we do still play accordions, but they’re perhaps not quite as fashionable as they were in their heyday.

British Newspaper Archive. Same newspaper, Saturday 10th October 1953

Courier and Advertiser obituary, Tues 24 Jan 2006,
via Dundee Local Studies Library. Some of the music he owned is now in Dundee’s Wighton Collection.