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William Lindsay was born in Newhills parish, son of a shoemaker, and followed that trade for a period. Lindsay then established himself as a newsagent and bookseller in the Gallowgate in the 1840s. He was a member of many radical political groups throughout his life.

In 1837 he became a member of an Owenite socialist committee which was formed after a lecture in Concert Court, Broad Street, held by the Owenite Robert Buchanan. A committee was formed with the purpose of keeping the subject of socialism before the attention of the people of Aberdeen. Buchanan started a democratic paper in Glasgow and Lindsay was appointed as the Aberdeen correspondent. In 1841 Lindsay and colleagues invited Robert Owen to Aberdeen and he came in spring 1842 and lectured in the hall of the Royal Hotel.

Lindsay also joined the Aberdeen chartists, was a founder member of the Aberdeen Liberal Association in 1877, founder member of the Northern Co-Operative Company and was a member of the Aberdeen Workmen’s Peace Association from 1875.

Lindsay was involved in other social issues, and in the 1840s, along-with fellow delegates from the different trades and sympathetic professional men and merchants, formed a Committee of Sympathy which provided food to poor families on Sundays.

Related entries: Committee of Sympathy.

References: Some Notes Personal and Public by William Lindsay (W & W Lindsay, Aberdeen, 1898) and Aberdeen 1800 – 2000 A New History (W Hamish Fraser & Clive Lee (eds.), Tuckwell Press, 2000).

Sources: unknown.

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The Press, ‘Scotland’s Socialist Community Printers’, was established as a non-profit making company in 1973 and ran until 1983. The Press produced the community newspaper ‘Aberdeen People’s Press’, was a commercial printing service for socialist and community groups and also published relevant works.

The newspaper ran to some 60 issues from 1973 until summer 1976, with a circulation of between 800 and 1700. Although billed as a local newspaper: its viewpoints, news and analysis were radical. There were in depth reports on criticising the effects of the oil & gas industry, military bases in the north-east, abortion providers in the north-east, health and safety in the oil & gas industry and councillor’s business interests etc. After the newspaper finished another similar publication called ‘Big Print’ was issued and it ran to some 21 issues between 1978 and 1980. The Big Print termed itself ‘A local libertarian socialist newspaper’ and was more stridently political than its predecessor.

Although the newspaper was no longer published, the Press started to commission and publish books with more in–depth analysis. These are still excellent publications: ‘Oil Over Troubled Waters: a report and critique of oil developments in north-east Scotland’, ‘Aberdeen in the General Strike’, ‘Fascism in Aberdeen: street politics in the 1930s’ and ‘James Leatham (1865 – 1945)’.

The Press were initially housed at the Aberdeen Arts & Community Workshop, then at a house in Rubislaw Den South. In 1976 though the Press moved into 163 – 167 King Street, with the Press in the basement and shops on the ground level: a wholefood shop (Ambrosia Wholefoods/Cairnleith Croft) and a bookshop (Boomtown Books).

References: see below. Also, Scottish Community Newspapers (Brian Murphy and Alan Marshall, Aberdeen People’s Press, 1978).

Sources: papers held at University of Aberdeen Library as well as a near complete set of the published newspapers. Also representative works from their own library including hundreds of publications from across the UK and a number from overseas. The publications date from the 1960s through to the 1980s and represent a variety of socialist, anarchist, ecologist, anti-capitalist and feminist groups.

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Leatham was born in Aberdeen in 1865. He was a socialist advocating nationalization and municipal ownership, to be achieved through political representation and popular enlightenment. Already a militant trade unionist (by trade he was a compositor), from 1888 until 1893, Leatham was principal standard bearer of the emerging socialist left in Aberdeen, leading the local branch of the Scottish Land and Labour League/Socialist League and latterly the Aberdeen Socialist Society.

From 1889 – 1892 he ran his own printing and publishing co-operative (the 1st socialist press in Aberdeen), selling progressive and socialist literature, including his own very popular propagandist pamphlets. In the winter of 1891–1892, supported by the Aberdeen Socialist Society, he produced The Workers’ Herald, the first, though short-lived (there were 6 issues), avowedly socialist weekly paper in Scotland. The first issue sold 3000 copies in spite of newspaper boycott and police harassment of sellers. It existed for only 6 weeks though. The prospectus stated that the new newspaper will be dedicated to Socialism, and that it is in favour of shorter working hours, nationalization of industry, town and city councils as landlords, municipal public transport, male suffrage, home rule, disestablishment and disendowment of state churches, abolition of standing armies, abolition of the monarchy and abolition of the House of Lords. It stood against all other local papers which ‘…are owned by capitalists, written by men with capitalist sympathies, supported by capitalist advertisers…’

He published influential works such as – ‘The Most Important Thing In The World’ (1903 lecture about the establishment of a Co-operative Commonwealth where there is local administration and nationalisation); ‘An Eight Hours Day, with Ten Hours Pay’; ‘The Class War’ and ‘What is the good of the Empire’. He published and distributed other publications such as works by John Bruce Glasier, Scottish socialist politician, Robert Cunningham-Graham, socialist and nationalist politician, DJ Nicoll, editor of Commonweal (Journal of the Socialist League) and Rev. Alexander Webster, Unitarian minister and Christian Socialist. He also wrote articles for many other national newspapers and journals such as Commonweal, Justice (journal of the Social Democratic Federation) and Progress: a monthly magazine of advanced thought (G.W.Foote’s secularist journal).

In April 1893 Leatham left Aberdeen for Manchester, working on Robert Blatchford’s ‘Clarion’, returning north to edit the Peterhead Sentinel from 1897. After another brief spell in the north of England he returned to Scotland, settling in Turriff in Aberdeenshire. His own journal called Gateway was published from 1912 to his death in 1945, and from 1916 published at his own Deveron Press based in Turriff.

Related entries: Scottish Land and Labour League/Socialist League (Aberdeen branch) and Aberdeen Socialist Society.

References: see below. Also, autobiography (unfinished) ’60 years of World-Mending’ which was serialised in Leatham’s own journal ‘Gateway’ from 1940 – 1945 and James Leatham 1865-1945 (Bob Duncan, Aberdeen People’s Press, 1978).

Sources: papers held at University of Aberdeen Library as well as copies of his publications and Socialist Songs: Socialist League, Committee of the Aberdeen Branch (Aberdeen, 1889). Copies of The Workers’ Herald are held in Aberdeen Public Library.

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