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Celebrating one of Glasgow’s greats

From left: Robert Radcliffe as William Blackwood (Lipton's biographer), John Love as worker William Love, Reaghan Reilly as Lipton's mother and Graeme Dallas as the man himself.

From left: Robert Radcliffe as William Blackwood (Lipton's biographer), John Love as worker William Love, Reaghan Reilly as Lipton's mother and Graeme Dallas as the man himself.

 

Tram Direct has been awarded funding to add their take on one of Glasgow’s greatest sons to the Commonwealth celebrations.

The southside theatre company’s Live @ the Shed series has been encouraging audiences of all ages back into the nightclub (the former Marlborough ballroom) with lunchtime shows running every weekend.

The latest is Scotland’s Greatest Irishman, charting the life of Gorbals man sir Thomas Lipton — and, thanks to recognition from the Big Lottery Celebration Fund, playwright Ian Morland’s piece will run from May 7-11 as part of the Commonwealth Celebrations programme.

Director Isobel Barrett told The Extra: “We are delighted to be recognised as part of the celebrations — and that, finally, Thomas Lipton is gaining some prominence in Glasgow, and particularly the southside.

“It slots in well with the Commonwealth initiative, because Lipton dealt with many different countries — so there’s a link between their history, and the heritage of Glasgow.”

Thomas Johnstone Lipton was born on May 10, 1850 (or 1848, according to some).

After sailing to America and working odd jobs for five years, he returned to Glasgow to help his parents run a small shop in the Gorbals, before opening up his own Lipton’s Market in Anderston.

A chain of grocery shops followed — as well as the tea business now synonymous with his name, and a reputation for successful advertising stunts — and Lipton was known for pushing prices down so that even the poorest could afford his ham, butter and eggs.

Isobel explained: “That was a great social thing to do, at a time when not everyone could afford to go to the grocers.

“Lipton died in 1931 and was buried in the Southern Necropolis. The place was packed with people turning out to his funeral, held in the Gorbals.”

The director added: “Our aim is to link heritage and theatre and to establish the Shed as an arts venue for the community — and if all goes well then the play may well be repeated in July.”

Scotland’s Greatest Irishman runs Wed (7pm), Thurs (2pm), Fri (7pm) and Sat/Sun (1pm). Tickets are £8-£10 from 637 0778 or manager@tramdirect.com.

 

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