Monday, 7 January 2013

Hugh Miller and the Multi Colored Golf Umbrella

Hugh Miller (1881-1964) was my paternal grandfather and I can hardly believe it Alice's great great grandfather. He was born in Rutherglen in Glasgow in the 1870's and was the son of a stone mason, James Miller (1855-1896). When work got short in Glasgow his father, Alice's great, great, great grandfather moved the whole of his family to Pittsburgh, USA and his youngest sister Grace  (1884-1980) was born a USA citizen.

Grandpa Miller had one claim to fame  as it was he who invented the multi colored golf umbrella. He had the idea around 1900 of a large colored umbrella in alternate colors to keep the constant British rain off the keen golfers. Grandpa was astute businessman and applied for a patent.

The success of this umbrella is still with us today and while the patent was pending Grandpa made a fortune. The first of three. Obviously this could not last as barbers shops had red and white colored umbrella shop signs!

His first golf umbrella was black and yellow and a pagoda shape. I still have one of the originals. Soon other colors and the shape we know today followed. Grandpa promoted the game of golf. His company The Glasgow Golf Company made golf clubs, golf balls, golf bags in fact anything to do with golf for about 50 years.

He never played the game or allowed anyone in his family and especially his son to do so as he felt it might interfere with his business. I was brought up on golf courses. I know every course in Southern England. I never got to play but I did talk to the green keepers about how they kept their beautiful lawns.

The whole of our family fortune, it is small today but the legacy lingers on, was made by Hugh Miller, three times. He lost out twice and had to start from scratch. He was a true entrepreneur.

I didn't ever get to know him but I liked him and I admire him. He was quite a character.

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