Now he’s gone, we can call Brian ‘Mr Biggar’ at last

Brian Lambie...a man who made his dreams come true
Brian Lambie...a man who made his dreams come true

THE man who was called ‘Mr Biggar’ but loathed that richly-deserved title, Brian Lambie, has died. He was 84 years old.

If any man left his mark on his home town it was that rare human being, a dreamer who made his dreams come true, it was Brian Lambie.

Much of the prosperity and international fame that small town enjoys today can be credited to the man who gave early warning of what was to come as a young lad at Biggar High School.

A classmate from 70 years ago, the late Meryl Shiels, once told the Gazette: “Brian appeared, even then, to be totally fascinated by the past, Biggar’s in particular.”

In his early working days, he was very much a product of Biggar’s strong, traditional independent family retail trade.

Keeping one eye firmly fixed on town affairs through its council, he ran the family ironmongers and seedman’s business for many years while quietly, in the back shop, building up an impressive archive of Biggar artefacts.

His obvious devotion to his town was rewarded in the late Sixties when he was made one of the Burgh’s very last Provosts.

By the early Seventies, his amateur collection was outgrowing the shop and so Brian declared that Biggar must have its own museum.

It must be remembered that, at this time, the very idea of a town as small as Biggar having its own museum was, at best, regarded as a bit eccentric and, at worst, sheer lunacy; Brian had, 20 years before almost anyone else, started a local heritage industry.

As to what happened after he got this ‘mad’ idea, as success stories go, there aren’t much better in Clydesdale.

That initial Gladstone Court Museum at the rear of his shop grew into a mini-museum ‘empire’ in Biggar which, at its height, included FOUR other sites, Moat Park, the Gasworks Museum, the Covenanter House and Brownsbank Cottage.

Even when he ‘retired’ as the head of the Biggar Museum Trust he’d founded, Brian just couldn’t quell that addiction to the town’s past, founding the Albion Motor Museum.

As the modern marketing saying goes, ‘build it and they will come’ and visitors and tourist DID come to Biggar in their droves, transforming the rather sleepy rural backwater the town was in the Seventies into the major Scottish tourism magnet it is today.

Every one of the many successful businesses and shops in the town today has Brian Lambie to thank at least to some degree.

His dream was the catalyst for beginning many local events, including the massively-attended Biggar Classic Rally - formerly the Blackwood-Murray.

It is hard to think of any of these existing had Brian Lambie - and to be fair, the late Councillors Esme Hamilton and Tom McAlpine - not lived and worked in Biggar.

As one Lanarkian ruefully remarked this week: “The one and only thing wrong with Brian Lambie was that he was born 13 miles too far down the A73.”

Brian’s wife Lena pre-deceased him several years ago and he is survived by children Helen, Susan, Biff (Elizabeth) and Anna.

There was a very large turnout for his funeral at Biggar’s Old Kirk last Wednesday.