FoSH exhibition launched with Clydesdale banknote presentation to Arrol family

Friends of Seafield House are staging an exhibition, “Sir William Arrol (1839-1913): A Renfrewshire Connection” in the Heritage Centre at Paisley Central Library for the month of July.

The exhibition was opened on Friday 26th June with the presentation of a commemorative version of Clydesdale Bank’s new £5 polymer banknote, featuring Sir William Arrol and the Forth Bridge. Jamie Martin, Head of Payments at Clydesdale Bank handed over the polymer £5 with a serial number representing Sir William’s birth date, to Ellen Arrol, the oldest family member and a great niece of Sir William. Other family members were delighted to receive a note in a collector’s case.

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Jamie Martin presenting the banknote to Arrol family.
Picture by

Christian Cooksey/ on behalf of the Clydesdale Bank and the Big Partnership.

Ellen Arrol, whose grandfather James, William’s brother, was also an engineer and director of Sir William Arrol and Co, said:

“We’re very proud of our family and their role in building the Forth Bridge. Sir William and my grandfather James weren’t just great engineers; they also helped to shape modern Scotland,connecting the country and creating jobs.”

Like the introduction of the new £5 polymer note, the exhibition aims to celebrate the nomination of the Forth Bridge for UNESCO World Heritage status. It has been arranged to coincide with the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn on the 28th June to 8 July when the winning bids will be announced. Fingers crossed that the Forth Bridge will be on that list!

Exhibition Banner at entrance to Paisley Central LibraryThe exhibition is also a celebration of Sir William’s strong connections with Renfrewshire. He was born in the village of Houston and grew up in Paisley, where the seed of his engineering prowess developed in his early career. He was also one of the founding directors of the Mo-Car Company which was the first manufacturer of UK automobiles and produced Arrol-Johnston cars in Paisley for many years. When he died Sir William’s body was carried from his home at Seafield House in Ayr to Woodside Cemetery in Paisley, where he was buried.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to find out more about Sir William Arrol’s life and the Forth Bridge from the display boards, library artefacts, iPads with links to relevant websites and there will also be screenings of the film “A River is Spanned” by Harry Birrell, courtesy of the Scottish Screen Archive.

The exhibition runs until the 24th July.  See the Heritage Centre webpage for opening times and contact details.

A huge thanks go to the staff of Renfrewshire Libraries for providing the venue and their fantastic help with the exhibition.

Sir William Arrol on new polymer banknote launched by Clydesdale Bank

Image showing a specimen of the front of the £5 note

The new banknote featuring Sir William Arrol  © Clydesdale Bank

Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) welcomes the news that the Clydesdale Bank has today unveiled a commemorative £5 note to mark the nomination of the Forth Rail Bridge for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and Sir William Arrol’s role in the construction of this iconic bridge. As the release from the Clydesdale says:

“[This] will be the first fully polymer banknote to enter circulation in Great Britain. Introduced to commemorate the nomination of the Forth Bridge for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, the new £5 banknote combines images of the bridge’s structure with the use of modern technology to create a striking and complex design … in keeping with the Bank’s award winning World Heritage Series, [the note] also features the image of a prominent and innovative Scot in its design. A portrait of Sir William Arrol, one of Scotland’s most celebrated engineers, appears on the front of the note. His company – Sir William Arrol and Co. – constructed the Forth Bridge and was also responsible for a number of other famous structures including the giant cantilever Titan Crane in Clydebank which also features on the new note.”

The limited production run of the new polymer notes is scheduled to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the bridge in March 2015, with two million notes to be issued through Clydesdale Bank branches.

In its release, Clydesdale Bank included a quote from Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for
Culture and External Affairs, who said in welcoming the launch of the banknote:

“Today we are celebrating two eras of Scotland’s innovation and foresight. The introduction of this innovative new banknote featuring the iconic Forth Bridge as a symbol of Scotland’s engineering heritage and ingenuity is very welcome. We are immensely proud of the Forth Bridge and its nomination for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The launch of this banknote is such a fitting way to mark this nomination and Sir William Arrol’s work and I applaud the Clydesdale Bank for this gesture.”

FoSH Patron, Andrew Arrol, said today:

“This is a fantastic piece of good news and very well deserved. It is entirely appropriate that one of Scotland’s greatest engineering achievements should be commemorated in this way.”

Kirsty Menzies, an Arrol relative & FoSH Committee Member said:

“I am thrilled and proud that Sir William Arrol is featured on the note. With his induction into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame and now being featured on a banknote, Sir William is finally getting the recognition that he has long deserved. The banknote design embodies a great image of the Scottish pioneering spirit and invention.”

For further information on the release from the Clydesdale Bank, please contact Kay McCarthy The BIG Partnership 0141 333 9585/07736 774338 or Roanna Katz, The BIG Partnership, 0141 333 9585 / 07846 786 265

For further information on Friends of Seafield House, please contact Lianne Hackett, FoSH Secretary on or 07796466384