Glasgow City Council

Railway worker honoured for heroism

Kennedy memorial LP with daughters

An heroic railway worker who died trying to foil armed robbers was honoured with a memorial plaque on the anniversary of his death at St Rollox, Springburn on Thursday 21 December 2017.

Father of three, James Kennedy (43) was gunned down at the former St Rollox Railway Engineering Works, which was part of British Rail Engineering (Glasgow) Ltd, three days before Christmas as a gang of seven men made off with the works payroll of £9,854.39 on 21 December 1973.

James bravely tackled the men, knowing they were armed. He stood in the gateway to prevent their escape and was severely beaten and then shot as he made a final, valiant bid to stop them.


The robbery was planned at opening time, just after 7 am. James was rushed to the Royal Infirmary where he later died.
Lord Provost Eva Bolander unveiled the plaque and said: "It's a privilege to honour the bravery of James Kennedy almost half a century since he tragically lost his life. It's important his story of heroism is heard and remembered for posterity."


James of Bearsden, left behind his wife Ellen (40), and daughters Shona (8), Elspeth (6) and Leila (4).


He was posthumously decorated with the Glasgow Corporation Bravery Medal in 1974 and HM the Queen presented his widow and children with the George Cross at Buckingham Palace in 1975.


Elspeth said: "I'm extremely proud of my dad. He died a hero. I'm delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate that bravery. I'm proud he did the right thing. His life counts and his courage is inspiring."


She'll be joined at the ceremony by her sisters, including Shona, who travelled from Baltimore in the United States to attend.
Elspeth remembers: "We were at my maternal granddad, William Stuart's house. The police had taken a while to find us because we weren't at home and there weren't mobile phones or anything like that then.


"It was about lunch time. I remember it was two police detectives who came. They weren't in uniform. One of them took us into the front room. The other took mum and granddad into the kitchen. I just remember my mum howling - screaming.


"It was on the news. I remember the detective putting the television off. I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn't found us, and told us, before we saw it on the news."


"My dad went to work that day and never came home. Christmas time always brings back memories of my dad.
"It was really hard financially and emotionally for my mum, who's passed now, with three small children. Her faith as a Jehovah Witness helped her through it."

The gang, including Sydney Draper and Alan Brown, were convicted of the murder of  James Kennedy in 1974.

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