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Gosta LundholmAssistant Section Manager of the Nitro-Glycerine Section
Date and place of Birth: 16th April 1886, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Date and place of Death: 7 April 1969 Saltcoats District of Glasgow
Nationality; Scottish of Swedish descent
Biography: Gosta grew up in Scotland with his two brothers
Nils Olaf Lundholm
Carl Olaf Lundholm and Mathilda Maria Johanna Nilsson who were married in Stockholm on 27 June 1883.
Carl Olaf was the Manager of a Dynamite factory in Scotland
Schools Universities attended and years of attendance:
See Gosta’s biographical write up under Bibliography below
Place of residence at Gretna: Not known
Gosta married Agnes Barr Auchenloss (1886-1972) in Cape Town South Africa.
Children: Eric Olof Lundholm 1916-2012
Alan Basil Lundholm 1922-2008 -Also became a Chemist.
Job title at Gretna:
Gosta was a Chemist and his wife Agnes was a Doctor, both at HM Factory. Gosta was on the Dornock site.
The Lundholm family returning from South Africa on ship Edinburgh Castle
Trivia/any other information:
Bibliography: These notes taken from the ‘Lundholm Saga’
The second son of Carl Olof Lundholm and Mathilda Nilsson was Gösta, , who was born at Polmont Cottage on the 16th April 1886. He attended the Edinburgh Academy for the years October 1897 to April 1902 with his brothers. He was Dux of IIB class 2nd Term 1899-1900. From May 1902 to September 1905, he was tutored privately in London and Zürich and then attended the Sexey School in Bruton, Somerset, presumably for his Sixth Form in 1905. There is an article in the Sexey’s School Magazine, dated Michaelmas 1906, describing a trip by 3 pupils to Switzerland; one of the pupils being ‘Lundholm’.
From October 1905 to March 1909, Gösta attended the Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum in Zürich to study Chemistry. He learnt German and also took singing lessons. He was always very fond of opera. He purchased opera score in German and also bought complete Goethe and Schiller works, in paper trauchnitz editions.
In March 1910, Gösta obtained a post as Chemist with the British South African Explosive Co. Ltd at Modderfontein in the Transvaal (a factory making explosives for the Rand goldmines). He served in the laboratory, the Acid department and the Explosives Factories ,72>. Four years later, he married Agnes Barr Auchencloss in Cape Town. Agnes was born on the 30th May 1886 to James Currie Auchencloss and Jane Crawford at 17 Greenhill Road, Paisley. She had graduated as a Doctor M.B.Ch.B. from Glasgow University on 24th April 1911 and before her marriage had worked in the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley and in Kilmarnock.. At the time of her marriage, Agnes had been living in Saltcoats, Scotland.
Gösta and Agnes were married on the 28th July 1914 in Cape Town and entered into an Antenuptial Contract, details of which are in the Lundholm File. They lived in Main Street, Modderfontein and there are photographs of the house in the Album . Their eldest son, Eric Olof Lundholm, was born on the 18th August 1915 at Modderfontein and his birth was registered at Germiston, Transvaal, Eric Olof, , in his Memoirs of Modderfontein, recalls this first home as ‘probably a home like that now containing the Dynamite Company Museum’, which we can see in the brochure in the Lundholm File: ‘At one end was the Native Compound and I think a gate into part of Nobel’s factory; at the opposite end of the street was the Store, stocking everything including Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate in ½lb blocks, price sixpence, all that a child remembers! In the middle the road forked, one branch to the village school, one to the Blue Gum Plantation, and, facing the store an entrance to the Manager’s home”.
However, the First World War necessitated Gösta being sent back to Scotland and from June 1916 he worked for the Ministry of Munitions at H.M.Factory at Gretna for the start-up of the new plant and worked in the nitroglycerine department. Agnes and Eric Olof also travelled to Scotland from Cape Town. They voyaged on the “Edinburgh Castle”? through torpedoed waters and Agnes always made up bottles for Eric Olof at night in case of a torpedo hit. Agnes worked as a Doctor at Dornock, Gretna and there is an article on and photographs of the Medical Staff at Dornock, Gretna from the Dornock Souvenir Magazine and articles on the Boom Town at Gretna, by Gordon L Routledge, The Devil’s Porridge by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and articles from the Devil’s Porridge Exhibition and community websites in the Lundholm File, , They tell the story of the amazing construction of the munitions factory, which stretched for 9 miles, and of the ‘miracle towns’ of Eastriggs and Gretna, all built within a year and where 30,000 people from all over the Empire came to work to provide munitions for the British war effort. These two new townships did not officially exist because of the secrecy surrounding the factory and its operation. They were given the codename “Moorside” and had been designed by the foremost architects of the day and had full leisure facilities, such as cinemas, schools, dance halls, churches, etc. Gösta, Agnes and Eric Olof lived at No. 9 The Ridge, East Riggs.
King George V and Queen Mary made a Royal Tour of the Gretna factory in 1917 and Agnes was introduced to them. She uttered the phrase, “It’s good to be in the hands of a kent face” which the King understood and appreciated when the phrase was explained to him.
On 21st December 1917, Gösta was admitted an Associate of the Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland. [ARIC] 34 The Certificate of Service dated 10th September 1919 from the Superintendent of HM Factory, Gretna, details the important work which Gösta undertook at the Nitroglycerine Plant. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s article ‘The Devil’s Porridge’, he talks about Nitro-Glycerine Hill and the miracle workers of enthusiasts upon explosives. Could the ‘G’ of South Africa, mentioned here, be Gösta? It is more than highly likely.
In September 1919, Gösta and his family returned to Modderfontein where he was in charge of one of the explosives factories, and there is a Letter of Recommendation dated 1920 from the General Works Manager of the British South African Explosives Company Ltd., which later became Imperial Chemical Industries. The site for the Modderfontein factory had been surveyed and chosen by Mr Edward Walton Findlay, , who had been Chief Engineer of the Ardeer Works under Carl Olof Lundholm. He wrote a Report on Search for Suitable Sites, etc. in Transvaal recording his surveys and maps of the potential sites in South Africa and his recommendation that Modderfontein be chosen. This Report, a wonderfully detailed and precise account of the area, dated 4.8.94 is in the Original Documents Box and was written on R.M.S. “Doune Castle” during his return to Ardeer from Africa.
Gösta and Agnes had their second son, Alan Basil Auchencloss Lundholm, on 14th December 1921 in Modderfontein and the birth was registered at Germiston, Transvaal, . Gösta was involved with the local defence force, along with other Factory staff. They wore uniforms and carried 0.303 rifles. He was also a keen amateur tennis player and a member of the tennis club in Modderfontein.
In 1926/27, Gösta was sent to study detonator manufacturing at Troisdorf in Germany for six months and during that secondment, Agnes and the two boys sailed home and stayed in Scotland with relatives. There were to be another two voyages back to Britain during this period at Modderfontein, and Eric Olof recalls stopovers in Madeira, Tenerife, Ascension and St Helena (where Agnes and he went ashore and visited the house where Napoleon had been detained). Then, after 19 years of service in the detonator section at Modderfontein, and in charge of one of the explosives factories, Gösta , and his family returned to Scotland and moved to 21 Neilson Street in Falkirk.
Gösta became Superintendent of the Lead Azide manufacture at Westquarter, Nobel’s ICI Detonator Factory, until 1938 when he became Senior Superintendent at the new Detonator Department at Ardeer. Thus, the connection between the Lundholm family and Alfred Nobel continued: from Bengt Lundholm at Vinterviken and through Carl Olof Lundholm to Nils Lundholm and Gösta Lundholm, all of whom worked at Ardeer. Gösta, Agnes and the boys thus moved to “Hunterslea”, 9 North Crescent, Ardrossan. There are photographs and details about Gösta from Ardeer Employee Information in the Lundholm File: “he loved motoring, tennis for which he won several cups, and later in life, sailing. Also DIY long before the term was coined. He had a pleasant singing voice and loved opera. Towards the end of 1967 he took part in a sound radio documentary about the factory in the sandhills…. He was in great demand for factory dinners, recollects his son, Alan. He was teetotaller and could safely transport a carload to and from!” Gösta retired in 1946 after 35 years service and was presented with a Long Service Award from Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. He died of Broncho-pneumonia, aged 82 years, at 510, Crookston Road, Glasgow SW3 on the 7th April 1969 at 2hours 5 minutes p.m. and the funeral was at Craigton Crematorium, Glasgow. Gösta Lundholm’s Obituary is in The Nobel Times, dated April 25th, 1969 of which an original and a copy are in the File. His wife, Agnes, died three years later, in Edinburgh on the 4th July 1972 and was cremated at Mortonhall in Edinburgh.
The Lundholm Saga held by Devils Porridge Museum
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