William and Nancy Sharp

Billy Sharp and his Mum.

Happy days.

William's mother had lost a baby a year before William was born, so William must have been a real joy. He was born near Celtic Football Park, where the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games will take place.

Where Billy was born.

Soon his father was promoted. He became a manager in a firm making machines which laundered clothes on the big liners which were built on the River Clyde. William moved with his parents to a lovely stone-built house which stood high above Clydebank. Billy, as his parents called him, was very happy there.

Not such happy days.

When he was seven, however, his father often took the common cold. A friend, who was a doctor, offered him a new injection to cure the common cold. It was a horse serum. It could have killed him immediately, but in fact he died two years later.

How Billy's life changed after his father's death. He and his mother lived on in Clydebank for a year, by which time she bought a newsagent's shop near Rutherglen train station. Everyone who worked in Glasgow and lived in nearby Rutherglen travelled into Glasgow by train, and most would buy a newspaper - and in those days, cigarettes.

Billy's Mum outside the shop.

Also, his mother needed newspaper boys to deliver a daily paper to the houses roundabout. Yes, Billy had to become a newspaper boy. He was now aged ten.

The move to Rutherglen must have been awful for him. He had lost his father, who had given him a good life, and who had been confident and good fun. He had lived in a nice house with a garden. Now he lived in a flat, and had to deliver papers very early in the morning, before going to school. In the evening he had to help his mum when he came home from school.

Despite all this, he did very well at school, and when he went to Rutherglen Academy, he was put in the top class. Of his school friends, one became a sheriff (a Scottish judge), and another an actuary (a highly paid accountant). However, Billy was not allowed to stay on at school after the age of 15 - at that age you could leave to find a job. Although he was so clever, his mum could not afford to send him to university.

He became an electrical engineer, and eventually moved to Kirkintilloch, where he became a draughtsman. He designed and drew electrical machinery for the coal mines, so that they operated smoothly and safely. After a few years, he was asked to be the publicity manager in the firm. He worked in that job until he retired.

Bill in his office.

He had many interests outside work. He loved his wife, Nancy, and above all his children, Andrea and Iain. He was a keen tennis player. He would meet a friend and play at 6 o'clock in the morning - when it was dry. He practised a lot, and so became a very good player, competing in the men's first team, and at least twice becoming the champion of Rutherglen Tennis Club. It was only when he was well over 60 that he stopped playing.

He also loved golf which he continued to play until he took a mini-stroke which made it very difficult to swing the clubs. Although never quite so good at golf as at tennis, he was still a good club player, and encouraged both Andrea and Iain to excel at sport, and paid for their membership of Cawdor Golf Club, where he played.

He was a very kind and caring man, shy, but with perfect manners - a real gentleman. He was an elder in his church, and went to church regularly.

Bill's first car was a Hillman, which he bought before the Second World War. He had a driving licence in 1938.

The following year, World War Two began. Bill was in a reserved occupation, as he was an engineer, and so was not "called up", as many of his friends were. In his spare time he served as a special policeman. At night he would go round Bishopbriggs to make sure the houses were all "blacked out" - heavy black curtains at all the windows, so that enemy pilots could see no lights below.

In 1941, during the war, Bill married Nancy Brown, whom he had met at the tennis club and known for several years.

Wedding Day

Nancy was unable to wear a white wedding dress, as too many clothing coupons were required to buy the material. Clothes and material were "rationed", as were sweets, petrol, and many other things. If you hadn't enough coupons, you could not buy these things.

In the photograph below you see him with Andrea beside a Wolsley, which he bought later.

He was very fond of cars. Cars long ago had more variety in design. His favourite was a Riley. He would be amazed and delighted by his son Iain's collection of beautiful cars.

His next car was a Jowett Javelin, which he bought when Andrea was 10, and Iain not yet 2 - the year of the Queen's coronation.

Last updated 22.1.2008