The family of an eminent 18th century Rutherglen doctor have made an appeal for more information about their greatgrandfather’s life.
Dr James Burn Russell, born in 1837, was Glasgow’s first full-time medical officer of health and worked tirelessly for the city’s poor.
His crusade to improve living conditions and health provision lasted over a quarter of a century before he died in 1904.
Dr Russell, who has the current Greater Glasgow and Clyde headquarters on the Gartnvavel Royal site named after him, once described Glasgow as a “semi-asphyxiated city”.
He managed to persuade the town council to assist in improving sanitation, pollution control and slum clearance, gaining him a world-wide reputation as a public health pioneer.
His great-granddaughter Jenny Denton, together with her daughter Kate Denham, both from the south of England, made the trip to Rutherglen recently to visit where he lived and worked and find out more about their famous ancestor.
They visited the Auburn Cottage in Muirbank Gardens which was once the home of James Russell, a Glasgow steamboat harbour master from 1823-1840s and of his grandson Dr JB Russell.
Speaking to the Reformer this week, Jenny from Derby said: “The more you look into it the more you find. It’s all so fascinating.
“It was lovely to visit JB Russell House, which of course is named after my great grandfather. My daughter and I also enjoyed seeing the monument to him in the reception.
“We have researched JB Russell as much as we can and have been fascinated to learn about his early pioneering work in the area of social justice and reform.
“While in Glasgow we also visited Rutherglen, to his house, and it was still standing, which is remarkable. It’s this really old house in a new estate. He lived there with his grandparents after his parents died.
“The owner wasn’t in and the person renting a room didn’t know much about it but there was three black and white photographs in the window of people standing outside the house. So we were very interested in those.
“I wouldn’t say it was emotional but it was quite thought provoking. It was great to see he did so much for Glasgow.
“We would love to hear from anyone, perhaps with an interest in the history of health care in the city, who may know more about my great grandfather and the work he carried out in the city.”
Linda de Caestecker, director of public health, said: “Dr Russell was, without doubt, a man ahead of his times and his family are rightly very proud of his achievements.
“While we still have some way to go, I am sure he would be extremely proud of our progress.”
Pioneer Proud of their eminent relative Dr James Burns Russell