FOR ONE little girl, the sports day at Singer’s sewing machine factory in Clydebank in early summer 1950 was a special occasion.

Miss Francis Black was crowned ‘Singer queen’ at the event, according to newspaper articles of the time, and received her prize from Hollywood royalty, Dorothy Lamour, who was appearing at the Glasgow Empire that week.

The glamorous star, whose films included the ‘Road to..’ series of comedies alongside Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, had already caused quite a stir on arrival in the city.

Glasgow Times: Dorothy Lamour meets the crowds at Singer's sports day in 1950Dorothy Lamour meets the crowds at Singer's sports day in 1950 (Image: Newsquest)

Crush barriers had to be put in place at Central Station to hold back the 2000-strong crowd that had gathered to welcome her off the London train.

The welcome from the Clydebank crowds was equally warm. The Singer Sports was a huge event, a regular fixture on the Scottish athletics calendar after the Second World War. As a massive employer, the firm celebrated its staff’s sporting talents, with a football team, a cricket team, a bowls club and an athletics club all on offer.

The first Singer assembly factory, near Queen Street station in Glasgow, opened in 1867. Huge demand for sewing machines meant bigger premises were required, so production moved to Bridgeton, firstly, and then Kilbowie.

Glasgow Times: The famous Singer factory at ClydebankThe famous Singer factory at Clydebank (Image: Newsquest)

During the Second World War, the factory also made munitions, aircraft parts and equipment for the war effort. It suffered extensive damage during the Blitz in March, 1941. The closure of Singer’s Clydebank factory was announced in October, 1979.

Other big factories, like Babcock & Wilcox in Renfrew, also held their own sports gala days.

In Times Past recently, we ran a feature about the Glasgow Police Sports, a huge event which started in the late 1800s, and by the end of the Second World War, had grown in size and reputation.

 Glasgow Times: Glasgow Police Sports 1934Glasgow Police Sports 1934 (Image: Newsquest)

It attracted top names in athletics from around Scotland and beyond, such as famous miler Graham Everett, American hurdler Harrison Dillard and Scottish sprinter Les Piggot.

Reader Colin Wotherspoon got in touch after that article ran, to explain his father, Jim, who ran for Victoria Park, had taken part in the Glasgow Police Sports and the Singer Sports.

“I have a photo of crossing the finish line at the 1948 police sports at Hampden, where he won the 100 and 220 yards,” explains Colin.

“This event was actually the British Police Sports as there were no Glasgow Police Sports that year. It was 1948, the year of the London Olympics so because of that and the fact that Hampden was hosting the British event was probably why the Glasgow event did not take place.”

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“About five years ago, I found a newspaper cutting with the results, so I added them to the photo and showed them to my dad.”

Colin laughs: “His reaction was, ‘what an idiot - I shouldn’t be putting put my hands up before crossing the line….’”

Jim Wotherspoon grew up in Clydebank, explains his son, apart from a short spell when the family stayed with relatives in Girvan after the Clydebank Blitz during the Second World War.

Colin adds: “After university, he worked at ICI/Nobels Explosives in Stevenson. We lived in Ardrossan and then in Fairlie. My grandfather worked at Singer’s.

“Sadly, neither myself nor my brother, Iain, inherited any running skills.”

The photo of Jim crossing the line at Hampden may also be of interest to football historians, Colin points out.

“It shows the remnants of the original South Stand press box which was destroyed by fire in 1945.”

Do you remember any of the big factory or police sports events in Glasgow or Clydebank? Share your stories and memories by emailing or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.