Argyll’s Lauder monument is restored by volunteers
He was the highest-paid performer in the world in 1911, and was the first British artist to sell a million records.
Harry Lauder, later to become Sir Harry, was a Scottish entertainer the like of which has never been see before or since. During the First World War, and at the height of his fame, he purchased the 14,000-acre Glenbranter Estate at the head of Loch Eck in Cowal. It was intended as a home for his beloved son John and his bride-to-be, Mildred Thomson.
But, shortly after the deeds were exchanged in 1916 John – a captain in the 8th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – was shot and killed by a sniper in France. Captain Lauder’s griefstricken parents erected a memorial to him at Invernoaden, Glenbranter.
More than a century later, on December 28, 2018, a large turnout of people gathered to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the death of Captain John Lauder and to mark the completion of a three-year project to restore the Lauder Monument – originally unveiled in 1921 by Sir Harry.
The £25,000 restoration project, co-ordinated by conservation charity Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, also involved the creation of a new car park, along with a new path link, upgrading an existing steep path with stone steps and safety railings and installing two story boards and advance signs.
Funding was secured from two landfill trusts and the Friends of our Park visitor giving scheme, and many hundreds of hours of labour were provided by volunteers to ensure the project was completed on time.
Local youngsters contributed to the commemorative event with a series of their original drawings depicting the tragic Lauder story adorning the ornate railings around the monument and poignant letter and poetry readings as well as musical tributes on the bagpipes, including the poignant tune Battle of the Somme.
There was also a wreath-laying by Major Donald MacLaughlan and a rededication of the monument by Rev Dr Robin Mackenzie followed by the unveiling of a new storyboard beside the monument by local MSP Michael Russell and a rendition of Harry Lauder’s famous song Keep right on to the end of the road, which he wrote in memory of his son.
Friends chairman James Fraser said: ‘The tragic story associated with the monument was very appropriately brought to life by a number of very talented local youngsters, and a series of permanent new storyboards will ensure that visitors to the site in the future will have a greater understanding of the story of Captain John Lauder and the strong Lauder family connections with the Cowal area.’
Gathered to celebrate the completion of a three-year restoration project.
Famous entertainer Harry Lauder with his son John.