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Sir Harry Lauder

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Strathaven's Russian Princess

Lauder Ha'

 

Scotland's Minstrel, Sir Harry Lauder, commissioned Messrs. Cullen, Lochhead and Brown, Architects, Hamilton to design and build Lauder Ha' on the lands of Colinhill on the edge of the town. In 1936, Lauder settled at Strathaven. The epitaph "Frae a' the airts the wind can blaw; ye're welcome here at Lauder Ha" inscribed on the fireplace of the Ha' was no idle boast. Throughout  his residence in Strathaven, the former pit boy, and father of  Music Hall, played host to many stars of stage and screen including, among others, Laurel and Hardy, Martha Rae, Danny Kaye, Jimmy Durante, Johnny Rae, Frankie Lane, the Beverly Sisters and Scots comedian, Jimmy Logan.

                    

"The Love story of John Lauder and Mildred Thomson began, though they didn't know it, when they were children. They met when she lived with her parents in Wishaw and John lived with his family in Hamilton.

When Mildred's father retired from farming, the family went to live in Peckham, London, but the two were reunited when the Lauder's moved to Tooting, London. They became engaged in the late summer of 1916.

John's death was broken to Harry Lauder while he was appearing at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The news came in a telegram from his wife which simply stated "John killed."

Harry Lauder was numb with grief. A steady stream of people came to offer their sympathy, but Harry could see only one - the girl who would have married his son.

Mildred never recovered from her grief. For 58 years, she kept a leather-bound scrapbook 
containing newspaper cuttings about John's death.

Along with the scrapbook, there were pictures of her and John, Harry and his wife, and other family items including a book of poems from Lady Lauder.

Mildred lived in London almost all her life and learned of Erskine Hospital through Sir Harry, who had visited it many times and who was full of praise for its work.

The final chapter in a great love story of a Hamilton man and a Wishaw women was written in October 1977, when the names Lauder and Thomson were linked on a plaque on a wall of a hospital ward. 

The ward in Erskine Hospital for Disabled Ex-Servicemen, was named the Lauder-Thomson Ward in memory of Captain John Lauder, only son of Sir Harry Lauder.

For almost three decades from that day, Mildred Thomson cherished the memory of the 22 year old Argyll and Sutherland Highlander to whom she was engaged for only a few months. When she died in London in 1975 at the age of 83, still unmarried, she left the bulk of her sizeable estate to Erskine Hospital "to provide some amenity for the hospital in memory of my late fiancee." Billy Hillan, Hamilton Advertiser. 

Captain Lauder: killed in France on 28 December, 1916 while serving with the 1/8th  Argylls, lies buried at Ovillers Military Cemetery on the Albert to Peronne road (Somme) that stands on the slope of the Ovillers spur, in the old No Man's Land. It is easily the largest cemetery in this area, having 3,436 British and 120 French graves. "Captain Lauder's grave is in Plot 1, Row 'A' (three graves to the right of the first bush)." It's said that Sir Harry composed 'Keep Right on to the End of the Road' following John's untimely death. "The Somme Battlefields" Martin & Mary Middlebrook, . ISBN 0 -14 -012847 -6


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