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Family of eminent Glasgow doctor appeals for information

Monday, October 3, 2016

The family of an eminent 18th century Glasgow doctor has made an appeal for more information about their great grandfather’s life.

Dr JB Russell (1837-1904) was the city’s first full-time Medical Officer of Health and the current Greater Glasgow and Clyde headquarters on the Gartnvavel Royal site are named after him. He worked tirelessly for the city’s poor and his crusade to improve living conditions and health provision lasted over a quarter of a century.

He once described Glasgow as a “semi-asphyxiated city” and managed to persuade the Town Council to assist in improving sanitation, pollution control and slum clearance, gaining him a world-wide reputation as a public health pioneer.

His great granddaughter Jenny Denton, together with her daughter Kate Denham, both from the south of England made the trip to Glasgow recently to visit where he lived and worked and find out more about their famous ancestor.

Jenny said: “It was lovely to visit JB Russell House, which of course is named after my great grandfather. My daughter and I also enjoyed seeing the monument to him in the reception.

“We have researched JB Russell as much as we can and have been fascinated to learn about his early pioneering work in the area of social justice and reform. While in Glasgow we also visited what was his family home in Rutherglen, which is still standing.

“We would love to hear from anyone, perhaps with an interest in the history of health care in the city, who may know more about my great grandfather and the work he carried out in the city.”

Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health said: “Dr Russell was, without doubt, a man ahead of his times and his family are rightly very proud of his achievements. While we still have some way to go, I am sure he would be proud of the progress we have made in the city in relation to public health.”

If you have any information which you think might be helpful, please email [email protected].

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021