To mark 130 years since the first edition of the Clydebank and Renfrew Press, we are reproducing our first front page story from August 15, 1891.


A TERRIBLE tragedy took place at Maryhill on Sunday afternoon. A woman was shot on the street in broad daylight, and her assailant immediately afterwards killed himself.

The circumstances of the affair are of a most sensational description, and they have the additional horror imparted to them of having occurred when the streets were thronged with people.

The scene of the tragedy was Gairbraid Street, the principal thoroughfare of Maryhill.

At twenty minutes past two o’clock a rather shabbily dressed man was noticed walking along the pavement accompanied by a fairly well-dressed woman with whom he was having some words.

The disagreement, however, did not appear to be of a serious character and the passers-by did not interfere.

On coming to a point opposite Vernon Street, where the footpath is crossed by a cart track, which on account of the recent heavy rains was in a dirty condition, the woman turned to lift her dress to save it from the mud.

At that moment her companion, who was walking at her left side, drew a revolver, and placing it underneath her shoulder, fired into her back. She gradually sank on the ground.


Canal bridge Kilbowie Road Late 1950s.

Canal bridge Kilbowie Road Late 1950s.

The woman, whose name is Nellie Murray or Gabriel, is said to have met her assailant, David Gray, by appointment in Nelson Street, city, on Saturday afternoon.

Together they went to Maryhill, where they visited the house of Mrs Gabriel’s sister, who is married to a servant employed on a farm in the immediate neighbourhood of the burgh.

There they had tea and remained until evening, when it was proposed that they should stay in the house all night. The sister, however, objected to this and the couple left. They appeared to be on friendly terms.

Later in the evening they called at a public house in Maryhill, where they were served with a refreshment, leaving at nine o’clock.

Read more: Clydebank Post at 130: Paper's first winning joke revealed

They behaved quietly in the shop, and when they went away were quite sober.

Subsequently they went to Lochburn, a sheet of water which in time of frost is frequented by skaters and curlers.

They entered an outhouse, and it is believed slept there all night.

At all events, it is said that they came out together at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning. They wandered about Maryhill until about two o’clock, and were walking citywards when the occurrence took place.

An ambulance waggon was telegraphed for to Glasgow, and pending its arrival the medical men did what they could to relieve the sufferings of their patients.

Sketch of deceased’s career at Clydebank

David Gray, who shot himself after having attempted to murder Mrs Gabriel, is described by a workman at Clydebank, with whom he wrought for some considerable time as follows.

He was a man about 5 feet 6 inches in height, dark moustache and face otherwise shaven, slightly marked as if by small pox, and shoulders a little stooped, rather scantily dressed as a rule, with skipped cap commonly known as “doolichter.”

He had been employed up till last Friday, which was the pay day at Messrs James and Gee, Thomson’s, Limited, Clydebank, having at first been holderon to a squad of rivetters, and since the strike he had been employed working with two apprentices.

How he became acquainted with “Nellie” is a rather strange story as told by himself to his fellow workmen. He had a farm in British Columbia of about 360 acres, which was worked by himself and two sons, and taking a fancy for home he returned to Glasgow, leaving the farm in charge of his sons.

During the passage he became acquainted with a carpenter, David Mackay, and on their arrival in Glasgow, David prevailed on him to remain with him in Glasgow that night - having a considerable sum of money in his possession - and defer his visit to Bishopbriggs, where his brother resided on the estate of Kenmure. This he consented to do.


Looking out from the bow of the QE2 over Clydebank, with the town hall tower to the left and Co-op building to the right

Looking out from the bow of the QE2 over Clydebank, with the town hall tower to the left and Co-op building to the right

As the two were walking along Argyle Street, David said to him, “Gray, there’s a woman surely knows you. See how persistently she keeps looking at you.”

He looked and said, “Oh, no, she is mistaken, for she would be very young when I left this country.”

David then said “I’m sure she knows you. See, the two of them have stopped and are looking back.”

Gray replied, “I’ll be you what you like she does not.”

The bet was taken, and David, accompanied by Gray, approached the woman and asked if she knew him, to which Nellie answered “Yes.”

Gray at once replied, “Not in this country,” and Nellie replied, “Certainly not, it was in America.”

Further explanations followed as to how and where they had met, and finally Nellie introduced both of them to her sister, whom she said was going to be married next day, and that she was going to be her “best-maid.”

They were asked to accompany the women, and next day Gray was induced to take the place of “best-man.”

At the wedding a considerable quantity of drink was consumed and he got “properly on the spree” and did not know what he was doing.

While in this state, it is alleged a marriage was arranged for between Nellie and himself, and when he was one morning about to leave the company Nellie opened a drawer and said - “You can’t go without me now, see, there are the marriage lines;” and as he told it himself, “When I saw them, and my own handwriting, what could I do?”

Kilbowie Road on coronation day, 1953

Kilbowie Road on coronation day, 1953


The pair then went to reside with a sister - said to be Gray’s - at the mining village of Garscadden, near Duntocher.

While living here it appears Nellie, accompanied with another woman, left him suddenly and was away some time, and afterwards wrote him on a sheet of beautifully bordered poetry notepaper, a most affectionate letter, asking him to meet her on the Saturday evening at King William’s statue at the Cross, Glasgow, as they had been at Hamilton Races, and were all right and she had purchased some things for the house.

This he did and they returned home. Shortly after this, however, he removed to a house in the village of Old Kilpatrick, and while here Nellie left him very frequently for short and long periods, at which he expressed himself very much annoyed.

She had, however, the happy knack of turning up on the pay day, and as a rule he would lift about £3 per fortnight. Both of them were, it is said, addicted to drink.

On one occasion he was met by Christopher Gabriel, at Old Kilpatrick, and Nellie left him for over a month. During this time he had shown a photo of his wife, taken in America, to several of the workmen, who as usual “chaffed” him severely and he felt very annoyed.

One Sunday forenoon, he went with Nellie for a walk over the hills, and when a few miles over she halted, and he asked “what for, come on.”

Kilbowie Road entrance, late 1970s. Images courtesy West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Kilbowie Road entrance, late 1970s. Images courtesy West Dunbartonshire Libraries


Nellie after another half-hour halted again; but in reply to his question this time said, “Something seems to tell me I should not go up this hill with you!” and he said, “Oh, very well, there you are!” and he drew from his pocket a revolver and handed it to her.

For some considerable time after this the revolver lay in the safe keeping of a publican at Old Kilpatrick, but evidently found its way back to his possession.

At the Fair Holiday pay the deceased was well dressed and stated that he meant leaving her altogether, as he could not put up with this conduct of hers any longer, and on receiving his pay it appears he was unable to get out of the burgh before he met her in company with another woman.

They then had drink together, and were seen during the evening on the swings on the show ground. Among his fellow workmen he was looked upon with suspicion.


Some of the original report has been cut because journalism ethics have changed considerably since 1891. Details of the man's suicide would not be reported today and have been omitted. If you need to talk to someone, please contact Samaritans or Breathing Space.