ONE of the last Clydebank residents to remember the Clydebank Blitz has passed away at the age of 91.

Agnes (Nancy) Clunas was also one of the founder members of the Clydebank Life Story Group formed in 1998. The group’s 1999 publication, Untold Stories: Remembering Clydebank in War Time captured events on March 13 and 14, 1941 when enemy bombing killed more than 1,000 men, women, and children in and around Clydebank.

Born on July 27, 1931 at 398 Dumbarton Road, one of Nancy’s earliest memories was seeing the launch of the Queen Mary on the Clyde from the front room window in the family’s fifth-floor flat.

From ages five to eight she attended Socialist Sunday School held in the Clydebank Co-op Hall. The aims of the Socialist Sunday School Movement as stated in its 1923 manual, were to teach children to think for themselves and to feel themselves to be part of a great community of workers, principles Nancy adhered to all her life.

Nancy attended Boquhanran Primary School (itself destroyed in the Clydebank Blitz); the Thorn School, Johnstone, as an evacuee; and Dumbarton Academy.

On leaving school she passed the civil service entrance exams working for the Department of Health and Social Security as a higher executive officer until her retirement.

Active as a trade unionist, in the late 1970s she was elected as the first woman Secretary of the Scotland (West) DHSS branch of the Society of Civil and Public Servants.

In another Clydebank Life Story Group anthology, Working Days, 2006, she described this experience as feeling less like being a trailblazer and more like hacking her way through a jungle.

Proud to call herself a feminist, Nancy was one of a group of women who staged a sit-in at Glasgow’s Milk Bar opened in 1958 in protest at their men-only policy in the seating area at morning coffee time.

In December 1981 she was interviewed by the feminist magazine Spare Rib and pictured on its cover.

Clydebank Post:

She was a member of the Older Feminists Network attending their meetings in London and contributing pieces about the sit-in and her lockdown experiences to their newsletter.

She gave evidence to an Oxford University post-graduate researcher whose thesis was entitled “Let us dare to be militant not mellow: Ageing and Activism in the Older Feminist Network since 1982”.

Nancy was a passionate and active campaigner against nuclear arms and served on the Scottish Executive of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament frequently speaking up on this issue at local Labour Party meetings.

She attended the Labour Party conference on behalf of the constituency on a number of occasions and also served as its Women’s officer highlighting in the local newspaper the plight of single mothers.

Nancy was an enthusiastic supporter of Clydebank’s heritage. She delighted in the opening of the Titan Crane as a tourist attraction taking many of her visitors to see it followed by refreshments at the Beardmore Hotel.

She was a member of the Forth Clyde Canal Society even before she was able to admire the ducks and swans swimming about on it (not to mention the annual kiltie walkers on the towpath) from the kitchen window of her sheltered flat in Nairn Place.

Nancy was a regular at the Tron, Citizens’ and West End theatres in London as well as the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Above all, she was a terrific reader. She was a founding member of what became the Strathclyde University Learning in Later Life Book Club. Her taste in authors was wide-ranging: as much Bernardine Evaristo and James Kelman, as Charlotte Bronte and Robert Burns. If she felt the need of cheering up, she reread Three Men in a Boat or listened to Kenneth Williams warbling Ma Crepe Suzette in cod French.

She had attended an autobiography writing class at Clydebank College in the 1990s run by Liam Stewart which led to the setting up of Clydebank Life Story Group.

In the Introduction to Untold Stories, he wrote: “It was at the suggestion of Nancy Clunas that this introduction is pre-fixed by the quotation from T.S. Eliot [Time present and time past…]. For Nancy who comes from a Humanist and C.N.D. background, remembering the war means remembering all wars…Her conviction that the past must be seen as saying something about the present is deep and unshakeable.”

Nancy is survived by nephew Craig, niece Elizabeth, and great-nephew William.