The niece of former chief water engineer for Londonderry, George Paxton Findlay, has been in touch with some of her uncle’s poetry.
Hilary McClean, from the Waterside, happened upon a case of her uncle’s writing, contained in a range of items which she inherited, and sent in the poem ‘The Girls in the Mayor’s Parlour’, thinking it a topical read given the recent changes at local government level.
Written by Mr Findlay while he served as a superintendent, or chief water engineer for what was at the time the Londonderry Corporation, the precursor to the City Council, it records the employment of women in the authority for the first time, and some of the humorous and sobering effects it had on the menfolk.
Part of the poem, entitled ‘The Girls in the Mayor’s Parlour’, is reproduced to the right.
Sending in the 22 stanza poem, Hilary explained that she found the work among her late uncle’s effects, and recalls how he was a published poet locally.
“He wrote a poem every week for the old Standard newspaper or Sentinel. I have a case load of them,” she said.
“This one relates to the very first time ladies/girls were allowed into the Mayor’s parlour in the 1940s. I thought it may be of interest with the change over of the councils.
“He was from Kilmarnock in Scotland and while he was with the authority he looked after the water and all that, but his hobby was writing poems and he always sent one in every week to the ‘Standard’.
“They were all basically written about the city and included everything from the Yanks coming over during the war to the Foyle.
“He was a great man. When we were young we used to visit him and it was an amazing experience because he had a telephone. He lived in Marlborough Street in the Cityside and when his house was cleared out after his death some of his effects came to an aunt of mine, Matilda, who was a sister of his wife. All this stuff came to her house and somehow or other this case of poems came to me and my sister Edna and we shared them.
We read them all several times. He kept them all.