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By Alastair McNeill

Around 100 people attended the launch of a book in Gartmore last week about the celebrated writer and politician R B Cunninghame Graham who once owned the surrounding estate.

Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) had founded the Scottish Labour Party with Keir Hardie in 1888, and was later instrumental in founding The National Party of Scotland in 1928, a predecessor of the Scottish National Party.

The biography entitled ‘R B Cunninghame Graham and Scotland’ was written by Lachlan Munro, a former pupil of Denny High School who also studied history and politics at Stirling University.

Among those who attended last Friday’s event, hosted by Gartmore Heritage Society in the village hall, was Cunninghame Graham’s great great nephew Jamie Jauncey who lives in Perthshire.

Lachlan said: “The evening was compered by Jamie Jauncey. It was a multi-faceted event with a large display of images of Cunninghame Graham’s life, interspersed with readings by Ailsa Gray of Glassingall by Dunblane, poet Donald Saunders and actor Steve Calveley, both from Gartmore, and Professor Laurence Davies of Kings College, London.

“The event attracted visitors from all over Scotland and was viewed live by Cunninghame Graham fans in Argentina, Chile, and Spain.”

Click here for more news and sport from the Stirling area.

Ancestors on both sides of R B Cunninghame Graham’s family had been MPs for Stirling, and he stood unsuccessfully for the constituency in 1918.

Cunninghame Graham had inherited the 12,000-acre Gartmore Estate in 1883 on the death of his father, but sold it in 1900 to pay death duties.

During last week’s book launch the audience were shown old photographs of Gartmore House from Cunninghame Graham’s photo album which had been taken in the late 19th century.

Lachlan commented: “Of particular interest to the large audience were dozens of ‘lost’ photographs of Gartmore House and grounds, taken in 1898, which I had discovered while carrying out research at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, which has a large archive of material on Cunninghame Graham.

“It was collected by his first biographer, Herbert Faulkner West, who attended that university. He obviously got hold of Graham’s old photo album.

“The photos were taken in 1898, two years before the house was sold. The album is the only hard-copy record in existence of how the house once looked, and there are ongoing discussions between myself and Paul Wilson of The Gartmore Heritage Society about replicating it, and keeping a copy in Gartmore, a copy in The Smith in Stirling, where there is a Cunninghame Graham exhibition room, and a copy in The National Library of Scotland.”

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