Papers of James Reid, 1932-2010, Rector and Scottish trade union official, University Of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

The collection comprises papers relating to James Reid's time as Rector; letters and papers relating to Upper Clyde Shipbuilders; papers concerning James Reid's political and Trade Union activities; correspondence, press-cuttings, and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Reid (known as Jimmy) was born in 1932 in Govan, Glasgow. He left school at 14 to work as a delivery boy before becoming a clerk with a Glasgow stockbrokers firm. By this time he had already developed a strong interest in politics and in the labour movement that was flourishing on Clydeside.

After serving in the RAF in the 1950s (possibly as an engineer) and taking up an engineering apprenticeship with Bristol Polar Engines in Govan, he went on to work as a fitter with the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS). He was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and was elected a councillor in Clydebank.

In 1971 Reid was one of the leaders of the famous "work-in" at the shipyards belonging to the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders consortium, when workers refused to accept the liquidation of the company and the mass redundancies which would follow, and instead continued to work. He fought hard to save the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders from closure. Shortly before the rectorial election in 1971, the government softened its position on "lame duck" industries and announced financial support for the beleaguered yards. Reid achieved national prominence after making several television and radio broadcasts in which he explained his Communist-Christian beliefs and ideals.

Reid was Rector of the University of Glasgow from 1971-1974. Opponents for the rectorship were the Labour MP and University graduate Margaret Herbison and the Conservative MP Teddy Taylor. The poet Roger McGough and the television personality Michael Parkinson were not allowed to contest the election on the grounds that their papers were not in order.

Reid's speech made at his installation as rector has been described as being 40 years ahead of its time. He told the students to reject individualism and greed - and remember their common humanity and to reject the rat race. The New York Times printed it in full, and described it as the greatest since Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

In 1976 Reid renounced communist politics and became a labour supporter. He contested the Dundee East seat for them in the 1979 General Election. He subsequently became a journalist and broadcaster. He died on the 10th August 2010, aged 78.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : Student Representative Council (SRC) office : 1994 : ACCN 0241

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures.

Custodial History

Papers held by the record creator before being handed over to the University. Subsequently passed from the Student Representative Council (SRC) office to Glasgow University Archive Services.


None expected.

Related Material

No related material

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Virginia Russell. Lower level description compiled by members of Glasgow University Archive Service staff.

Geographical Names