Born April 5, 1934
Died November 24, 2010
Proud Garngad man, Tom Fitzpatrick, who died aged 76, was an intrepid press photographer during Scotland’s golden age of journalism in the 1960s and 70s. Then the country’s leading newspapers sold in excess of 700,000 copies a day and competition for exclusive stories and pictures was at its fiercest. The Scottish Daily Express and the Daily Record, both edited and printed in Glasgow, battled headline to headline and picture to picture for the coveted title of Scotland’s best-selling popular newspaper. Photographers, like Tom, fought for the “scoops” that would propel their title to the top of the circulation league table.
Working for the Express, Tom twice won the title Press Photographer of the Year and also Sports Photographer of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards.
Born at 487 Garngad Road, his house is still standing despite major redevelopment around it.
He was the youngest of three sons and attended St Philomena’s primary school where he excelled academically before going on to St Mungo’s Academy. He was also an altar boy at nearby St Roch’s Church in Garngad.
Aged 15, he started as a lift boy in the Daily Express building in 1949. He moved on to be a copy boy in the darkroom before becoming a photographer with the Daily Express and Evening Citizen.
A Requiem Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Noel Woods, in St Joseph’s Church, Tollcross, Glasgow, when Tom’s son, Robert, gave the eulogy.
He said: ‘Few of the journalists of that era could be accused of soft-heartedness or sentimentality. They made their name by sheer hard work.’
Reporters who worked with Fitzpatrick included big by-line people such as Stuart McCartney, David Scott, William Allsop and Andrew McCallum.
Fellow photographers included Ronnie Burgess, Ray Beltrami, Jack Middleton, Harry Turner and, occasionally, Fleet Street stars like Reg Lancaster, father of singer Rod Stewart’s glamorous wife, Penny, who flew up from London on royal visits.
Another good friend was the New York-based celebrity photographer Harry Benson who originated from Gorbals.
While hard news stories were the lifeblood of the Express, Fitzpatrick’s greatest love was photographing football matches.
An avid Celtic supporter, he always covered the Parkhead club’s matches, including all their European games. He was entrusted with the opposition’s banner by Celtic captain Billy McNeill to take back to manager Jock Stein in the dugout. Fitzpatrick was hugely proud to have been behind the goals in Lisbon, taking photographs, when Celtic won the European Cup in 1967.
After national service with the RAF in Germany between 1952 and 1954, he returned to the Express until the Beaverbrook operation was shut down in 1974 making 1,800 journalists, photographers, engineers and print workers, redundant.
Following this calamity, Fitzpatrick invested a great deal of time, effort and money in the ill-fated Scottish Daily News workers’ co-operative, in the Albion Street printing plant. When that failed, he freelanced before joining the Evening Times’ picture desk where he worked with distinction until his retirement.
He met his wife, Elizabeth, at the dancing and they married in 1957. When Tom died following a short illness, they had been together for nearly 60 years and had had four children; Thomas, Robert, Lisa and Mark and had 16 grandchildren.
Because of snow storms, grid-locked roads and abandoned rail services, many of Tom Fitzpatrick’s colleagues could not attend his funeral so a gathering will be held to raise a glass in his memory at the Press Bar in Albion Street, Glasgow, on Friday, December 10, at 1.30pm. All former colleagues are welcome to attend.