The Glasgow reciprocating drill (Gyro).

The Glasgow is an uncommon type of reciprocating drill that uses a spring-loaded pull chain for the turning motion. The chain is pulled by an elegant rosewood handle and when allowed to recoil, the chain is picked up on a rosewood spindle. This one is labeled The Glasgow with a British patent date and is made of sheet metal with a lid on the breastplate for bit storage. The manufacturer is McG.S. ltd and sold under the name Gyro which is also stamped on the drill


Shortly after posting this blog, I was contacted by Gordon Mcgregor, the grandson of the inventor of the “Gyro” Alexander Mcgregor.  Here is the information provided by Gordon.

A wee bit of background – my grandfather died in 1929 I think it was, long before I was born. He was also Alexander, hence my middle name. My grandmother was Louisa Smith (‘McG S’ stands for McGregor Smith – my grandmother’s maiden name) from Stroma in the Pentland Firth. They lived in Osborne Street where I think my Dad was born, and later lived in Jail Square, now called Jocelyn Square. I have no idea where his workshop was, but I suppose it must have been somewhere in the East End. I’m afraid I don’t have any photographs of either of them, but one of my sisters, still in Scotland may, though we have no idea who is who in those old pictures.

I have never tried to look up the patent(PAT 12691-07), but I presume the ‘07’ is the year it was filed, He also had a patent on a record turntable which was driven by a strange looking figure-of eight mechanism, for which I have the drawing somewhere, and apparently he did build one, but I only know of its existence from my Dad’s stories of long ago.

Anyhow, the photos with this email show the three drills, the heavy one with the chain, the lighter one which used to have a blind cord – I’ll replace the light string with some decent cord – and the prototype, which was handmade in white metal and has a brass spindle.The Glsgow drill 001


I did see a photo of a chunkier Gyro for sale, with a cylindrical body, rather than the flat steel he used for yours and mine. I think that was a better idea, or he might have put a handle on to make it more attractive and user-friendly. Again according to my Dad, it came out about the same time as the ‘eggbeater’ style of drill, which had money backing it, so although he did sell some (no idea how many), old Alex McGregor’s idea just couldn’t get off the ground.

That’s about all I can think of, I hope the photos are of some pleasure to you, and I hope your ‘Glasgow’ still flourishes after more than 100 years.

A footnote from Gordon:

I called my sister last night, and she provided a couple of further bits of information, which may be of interest. The ‘Glasgow’ may not refer to the name of the drill, as my Grandad was trading as ‘The Glasgow Tool and Bit Company’ so it may be more accurate to call the drill the ‘Gyro’.

Rose Ann also reminded me that Grandad had worked on, or created, the model ships which are (or were) on display at Kelvingrove Museum. So next time you are in there, see if you can get a look at them. She added off-the-cuff that he had worked on the Milngavie Monorail – I had never heard of it – but I looked it up and it was a prototype monorail built in the 1920s between Bearsden and Milngavie, by a George Bennie. I think Grandad just worked on the construction, but again, I don’t know.

I would like to thank Gordon and his family for supplying this information, enabling the story of this piece of working history being recorded for posterity.  Alex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s