(Died January 12th 2007 aet 95)

An appreciation by Ian Hamilton

My way from Alan Glen’s School took me along George Street past the shop of Guy Aldred and the Strickland Press. John Taylor Caldwell was Guy Aldred’s assistant. Sometimes I stopped and looked curiously in the window at the socialist and anarchist pamphlets displayed there. This was about 1942.

One day a wee shilpit, ill-dressed man saw my interest and spoke to me. I still remember his words.

‘I hope they’re not teaching you daft notions in that fancy school you go to up the hill there,’ he said. That was how I met John Taylor Caldwell.

I don’t remember my reply but from then on I was an occasional visitor to their shop. I spent much of my pocket money on their pamphlets, some of which I read, and some of which I pretended to read to shock my parents. (They weren’t shocked, but youngsters try.) In that shop I first got the sniff of hot metal printing. It has never left me. It was the perfume of ideas.

I got more than that. The three of us had great arguments about God. These were not arguments that anyone won. Their arguments were not like that. They taught me a strange dialectic. They taught me that the other person’s argument was certainly wrong but should be respected. They taught me how to think. That is why I thought of John Taylor Caldwell when I read of his death.

They say that when Guy Aldred died he had nine pence in his pocket, and a whole city mourned his passing. I expect that John Taylor Caldwell died with even less money. That was the way he lived, and it would be the way he died.

I have ‘justified’ the sides of this farewell piece to make them as straight as he was, and as a tribute to his love of hot metal.  I don’t know if it will appear like this in my blog, and I don’t care.  It is a personal thing. If ever a life was justified it was John Taylor Caldwell’s.

Maybe someone who knows his remaining relatives will see this and tell them.



  1. RB Says:

    Nice to find both Guy and Caldy remembered so fondly by one of Scotland’s better rebels.

    I have to admit to having been impressed by your autobiographical “Touch of Treason” - in my humble opinion, Guy would have been proud!


  2. Chloe Shaw Says:

    I just came across your blog after ‘googleing’ John Taylor Caldwell. He was my great uncle (my mother’s father’s brother) and after speaking to my mother about him and my grandfather, I became interested in finding out more. From I have read and heard he touched and influenced many lives and I feel very proud being his great niece. Thank you for your loving tribute and kind words.

  3. Cecilia (Cilla) Siekierska Says:

    Thank you for your kinds words about my Uncle. I never knew that side of him not until really just about 10 – 15 years before his death. My memories are fond as a young child waiting to see her uncle returning from yet another seafaring adventure.
    He was always jolly and fun, even in his older life when writing his last book with his eyesight failing him he kept up that jolly spirit. My mother moved to England so my visit became less and less frequent but I was pleased on my last visit to him I took him and one of my aunts for a Chinese which was a fun experience.
    After reading all the tributes to him I am so proud that such a small person could make such a large impact on everyone’s lives.

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