Glasgow & West Scotland

Honour for hero rail worker shot dead by armed robbers

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Media captionHonour for rail worker shot dead by robbers

A heroic railway worker who died trying to stop armed robbers stealing the works payroll days before Christmas has been honoured with a memorial plaque.

James Kennedy, 43, was gunned down at the former St Rollox Railway Engineering Works in Glasgow on 21 December 1973.

Despite knowing the gang were armed, the father-of-three tried to prevent their escape and was badly beaten.

And as he made a final bid to foil the robbery he was blasted with a shotgun.

Mr Kennedy, from Bearsden, died from his injuries in the city's Royal Infirmary.

Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image caption James Kennedy's daughters Leila, Shona and Elspeth with Lord Provost Eva Bolander (centre)

The raid was planned for opening time, just after 7am, and the seven-strong gang escaped with more than £9,850.

Now, more than 40 years later, he has been honoured with a memorial plaque at the scene of the former engineering works, which was part of British Rail Engineering (Glasgow) Ltd.

Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bolander, who unveiled the plaque, said: "It's a privilege to honour the bravery of James Kennedy almost half a century since he tragically lost his life.

"It's important his story of heroism is heard and remembered for posterity."

Mr Kennedy was survived by his wife Ellen, who was 40 when she was widowed, and three daughters.

He was posthumously decorated with the Glasgow Corporation Bravery Medal in 1974.

Image copyright Kennedy family
Image caption Ellen Kennedy and her daughters at Buckingham Palace

The following year the Queen presented his widow and children with the George Cross at Buckingham Palace.

His daughter Elspeth, who was six when her father was killed, said: "I'm extremely proud of my dad.

"He died a hero.

"I'm delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate that bravery.

"I'm proud he did the right thing.

"His life counts and his courage is inspiring."

Elspeth was at her grandfather's house on the day her father was killed when two plain clothes detectives came to the door at lunchtime.

She recalled: "One of them took us into the front room.

"The other took mum and granddad into the kitchen.

"I just remember my mum howling - screaming.

"It was on the news.

"I remember the detective putting the television off."

Image caption A newspaper report to mark the first anniversary of Mr Kennedy's murder

Elspeth says the tragedy is never far from her thoughts.

She added: "I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn't found us, and told us, before we saw it on the news.

"My dad went to work that day and never came home.

"Christmas time always brings back memories of my dad.

"It was really hard financially and emotionally for my mum, who's passed now, with three small children.

"Her faith as a Jehovah Witness helped her through it."

Her elder sister Shona was eight and Leila was four when their father was murdered.

The gang were sentenced to life for Mr Kennedy's murder on 10 April, 1974.

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