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The Captain James Lang

This site had been occupied by Woolworths since 1922.

97–99 High Street, Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, G82 1LF

In 1939, this building was given Art Deco styling of the day, Woolworths having occupied it since 1922. In 1818, John Wood drew a ‘Plan of Dumbarton’, on which this site has a row of six properties, four marked ‘J Lang’. In the 19th century, the name Lang was associated with ship-building, which made Dumbarton famous. The paddle steamer Leven (built 1824) was commanded by a Captain James Lang, born and educated in Dumbarton. Captain Lang’s gravestone is one of the few remaining in the much diminished Dumbarton Cemetery.

A photograph and text about the history of The Captain James Lang.

The text reads: These premises, currently occupied by J D Wetherspoon, were originally mentioned in the 1818 Plan of Dumbarton by John Wood and were shown as a row of properties owned by J Lang. The building was re-modelled by Woolworths in 1939 who had occupied the site since 1922.

James Lang was one of the Langs of Chapelton, he was born in Dumbarton in 1805 and was educated there. James became a law clerk in the town clerk’s office but he later served on the town’s steamers. In 1830, he became the captain of one of the Dumbarton Steamboat Company’s vessels.

He commanded, in succession, the Dumbarton, the Leven, the Prince Albert, the Lochlomond and the Queen. As captain, James Lang used to communicate with his engineer using a worked out system of knocks, banging the heel of his boot against the wooden cover of the steeple engine. It was at Captain Lang’s recommendation that the local Dumbarton firm Denny Bros built a better method of communication into their vessel Lochlomond, in the form of a mechanical indicator.

In 1835, Lang married Agnes MacCallum of Greenock, she was the daughter of Peter MacCallum, founder of P MacCallum & Sons, iron and steel merchants, Greenock. On James’ death in 1850 his son John went on to head the above mentioned Greenock firm of P MacCallum & Sons, and he became prominent in Greenock’s civic life, attaining the positions of Burgh Treasurer and Second Magistrate.

Robert Napier ‘the father of Clyde Shipbuilding’ was born in Dumbarton in 1791. During the 1820s Napier began making ship’s engines and one of the first was for the paddle steamer Leven built in Dumbarton by James Lang.

A photograph of a typical Woolworth & Co Interior showing the famous ‘Pick ‘N Mix’ displays in 1972.

A pick ‘n mix display inspired by Woolworths.

An original solid silver Woolworth & Co Ltd 21 year service award medal 1932-53.

A photograph and text about The Cutty Sark.

The text reads: The most famous clipper ship, The Cutty Sark was built by Scott and Linton and completed by Denny’s of Dumbarton in 1869 and was launched on Monday 22 November of that year. In 1885 she set the fastest ever time for a wind powered voyage from Australia to England via Cape Horn of 72 days.

A photograph and text about the World Drivers Champion Jackie Stewart.

The text reads: Jackie Stewart was born in 1939 in Milton, West Dunbartonshire and attended Hartfield primary school in Dumbarton and moved to Dumbarton Academy at the age of 12. Nicknamed the ‘Flying Scot’, he completed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973 winning three World Drivers Championships.

A map of Dumbarton.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

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