Alan Ross McWhirter (12 August 1925 – 27 November 1975) was, with his twin brother, Norris, the co-founder in 1955 of Guinness Book of Records (known since 2000 as Guinness World Records) and a contributor to TV programme Record Breakers. He was murdered by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1975.
Alan Ross McWhirter
12 August 1925
|Died||27 November 1975 (aged 50)|
|Cause of death||Assassination|
Trinity College, Oxford
|Occupation||Writer, political activist, television presenter|
|The Guinness Book of Records, Record Breakers|
|Family||William McWhirter, father; Margaret Williamson, mother|
McWhirter was the youngest son of William McWhirter, editor of the Sunday Pictorial, and Margaret "Bunty" Williamson. He was born at "Giffnock" (after Giffnock Church in Glasgow, where the McWhirters were married), 10 Branscombe Gardens, Winchmore Hill, London, N21. In 1929, as William was working on the founding of the Northcliffe Newspapers Group chain of provincial newspapers, the family moved to "Aberfoyle", in Broad Walk, Winchmore Hill. Like his two brothers, Ross McWhirter was educated at Chesterton School, Seaford, Marlborough College and Trinity College, Oxford. Between 1943 and 1946, Ross served as a sub-lieutenant with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on board a minesweeper in the Mediterranean.
Ross and Norris both became sports journalists in 1950. In 1951, they published Get to Your Marks, and earlier that year they had founded an agency to provide facts and figures to Fleet Street, setting out, in Norris McWhirter's words "to supply facts and figures to newspapers, yearbooks, encyclopaedias and advertisers".
While building up their business, they both worked as sports journalists. One of the athletes they knew and covered was runner Christopher Chataway, an employee at Guinness who recommended them to Hugh Beaver. After an interview in 1954 in which the Guinness directors enjoyed testing the twins' knowledge of records and unusual facts, the brothers agreed to start work on the book that would become The Guinness Book of Records. In August 1955, the first slim green volume – 198 pages long – was at the bookstalls, and in four more months it was the UK's number one non-fiction best-seller. Both brothers were regulars on the BBC show Record Breakers. They were noted for their encyclopedic memories, enabling them to provide detailed answers to questions from the audience about entries in The Guinness Book of Records. Norris continued to appear on the programme after Ross's death.
In 1958, long after the legend of William Webb Ellis as the originator of rugby had become engrained in rugby culture, Ross managed to rediscover his grave in le cimetière du vieux château at Menton in Alpes Maritimes (it has since been renovated by the French Rugby Federation).
In the early 1960s, he was a Conservative Party activist and sought, unsuccessfully, the seat of Edmonton in the 1964 general election. Following his killing, his brother and others founded the National Association for Freedom (later The Freedom Association).
McWhirter advocated various restrictions on the freedom of the Irish community in Britain, such as making it compulsory for all of them to register with the local police and to provide signed photographs of themselves when renting flats or booking into hotels and hostels. In addition, McWhirter offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for several recent high-profile bombings in England that were publicly claimed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In doing so, McWhirter recognised that he could then be a target himself. This was described as a bounty by McWhirter, and considered a bounty by the IRA Army Council, a view that led directly to the events that followed, although the idea was not originally his, but that of John Gouriet.
On 27 November 1975 at 6.45 p.m., McWhirter was shot and killed by two IRA volunteers, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty, both of whom were members of what became known as the Balcombe Street Gang, the group for whose capture McWhirter had offered the reward. He was shot at close range in the head and chest outside his home in Village Road, Bush Hill Park. The weapon used was a .357 Magnum revolver. He was taken to Chase Farm Hospital, but died soon after being admitted. His killers were captured and charged with his and nine other murders. They were sentenced to life imprisonment but freed in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Sports and general encyclopædia
Events from the year 1975 in the United Kingdom.1992 North American IRA arrests
Four Irish men were arrested in the United States on 11 November 1992, on charges of sending detonators to Northern Ireland for the use of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. They were later acquitted.Balcombe Street siege
The Balcombe Street siege was an incident involving members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of London lasting from 6 to 12 December 1975. The siege ended with the surrender of the four IRA members and the release of their two hostages. The events were televised and watched by millions.Bush Hill Park
Bush Hill Park is a locality within the London Borough of Enfield. Situated 0.5 miles (0.8 km) south east of Enfield Town and immediately to the west of the branch railway line from Edmonton Green to Enfield Town which forms a boundary between the historic parishes of Enfield and Edmonton. Much of the district is a planned suburban estate designated a conservation area in 1986. For political purposes the locality falls within the Edmonton parliamentary constituency.Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records, known from its inception from 1955 until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous United States editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world. The brainchild of Sir Hugh Beaver, the book was co-founded by brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter in Fleet Street, London in August 1954.
The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. As of the 2019 edition, it is now in its 64th year of publication, published in 100 countries and 23 languages. The international franchise has extended beyond print to include television series and museums. The popularity of the franchise has resulted in Guinness World Records becoming the primary international authority on the cataloguing and verification of a huge number of world records; the organisation employs official record adjudicators authorised to verify the authenticity of the setting and breaking of records.Hugh Doherty (Irish republican)
Hugh Doherty is an Irish republican and former volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He is known for his role in the Balcombe Street Siege of December 1975, at the resolution of which he was sentenced to eleven terms of life imprisonment for murder, with a judicial recommendation he serve at least 30 years.Doherty and fellow members of his active service unit had targeted civilians, soldiers, policemen and politicians as part of the IRA's campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland. During this time they are believed to have killed sixteen people in England including Ross McWhirter, who had offered a £50,000 reward for their arrest, and Gordon Hamilton-Fairley.
The Balcombe Street gang, who were named after the London street on which they were arrested after a five-day siege, were allegedly responsible for 16 murders. During a 14-month campaign across the south-east of England they carried out 50 bombings and shootings.Doherty's bombing campaign was brought to an end after a five-day siege that was broadcast live on television and watched by millions.Doherty served 23 years in British prisons before being transferred to Portlaoise prison in Ireland.
In 1987 Jeremy Corbyn handed a petition to then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher demanding better visiting conditions for Doherty and his fellow IRA prisoner Nat Vella and "the immediate transfer of Irish political prisoners to prisons near their homes".Doherty made an appearance at the 1998 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis at which the party accepted the Belfast Agreement, under the terms of which Doherty was later released from prison.He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and now works as an artist in Ireland. He is the brother of Sinn Féin MP and MLA Pat Doherty.Ian Milne
Ian Milne (born 8 April 1954) is an Irish republican politician from Northern Ireland.Jean Goujon (cyclist)
Jean Goujon (21 April 1914 – 28 April 1991) was a French cyclist. He won the gold medal in team pursuit at the 1936 Summer Olympics. In 1937 he turned professional and rode the 1937 Tour de France. He retired in 1949.Kieran Nugent
Kieran Nugent (1958 – 4 May 2000) was an Irish volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army and best known for being the first IRA 'blanket man' in the H-Blocks. When sentenced to three years, Nugent refused to wear a prison uniform and said the prison guards would have to "...nail it to my back".List of chronologies of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions
The chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions is divided into five parts:
Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1970–79)
Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1980–89)
Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1990–99)
Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (2000–09)
Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (2010–present)List of people from the London Borough of Enfield
The following list includes notable people associated with the London Borough of Enfield.
Andy Abraham (b. 1964) – singer
Abz Love (b. Richard Breen, 1979) – musician
Adele (b. 1988) – singer/songwriter
Kacey Barnfield (b. 1988) – actress
Joseph Bazalgette (1819–1891) – civil engineer who rescued London's sewerage system
Sir Anthony Berry (1925–1984) – politician
James Blake (b. 1988) – musician
Bernard Bresslaw (1934–1993) – actor
David Burrowes (b. 1969) – politician
Chas & Dave
Roy Chipolina (b. 1983) - footballer
Dodie Clark (b. 1995) - musician
Charles Cowden Clarke (1787–1877) – author
Sharon D. Clarke (b. 1966) – actress and singer
Jim Crace (b. 1946) – writer
John Dalton (b. 1943) – musician, bassist with the Kinks
Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) – politician, prime minister and novelist
Isaac D'Israeli (1766–1848) – writer
Michael Duberry (b. 1975) – footballer
James Eatock (b. 1977) – animator, designer, writer and publisher
Rick Edwards (b. 1979) – radio and television presenter
Tim Eggar (b. 1951) – politician
Caroline Flack (b. 1979) – television presenter
Bruce Forsyth (1928–2017) – TV personality
John French (1907–1966) – photographer
Mike Gatting (b. 1957) – cricketer
Alison Goldfrapp (b. 1966)
Chris Hughes (b. 1947) – quiz contestant
Hugh Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Putney – politician
Russell Kane – comedian
Boris Karloff – actor
John Keats – poet
Joe Keyes – rugby league player
Kataxenna Kova (b. 1985) – model
Charles Lamb – poet and essayist
Iain MacLeod – politician
Gregory Motton – playwright
Dave Murray – musician, guitarist for Iron Maiden
Walter Pater – writer
Trevor Peacock – actor
William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708–1778) - Prime Minister and statesman
Michael Portillo – politician
Kathryn Prescott (b. 1991) – actress
Megan Prescott (b. 1991) – actress
Michelle Ryan (b. 1984) – EastEnders actress
Scorcher (b. 1986) – rapper, actor, producer
William Smith (1813–1893) – lexicographer
Rachel Stevens (b. 1978) – singer/songwriter, band member of S Club 7
Norman Tebbit, Lord Tebbit
Professor Philip Tew
Andrew Turnbull, Baron Turnbull
Chris Walker-Hebborn – swimmer, gold medallist in 100m backstroke at the 2014 European Championships and Commonwealth Games
Jessie Wallace (b. 1971) – EastEnders actress
Neil 'Roberto' Williams – radio and television presenter
Amy Winehouse (1983–2011) – singer/songwriter
Professor Frederic Wood JonesMartin Hurson
Edward Martin Hurson (13 September 1956 – 13 July 1981) was an Irish Republican Hunger Striker and a Volunteer in the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).McWhirter
McWhirter and Macwhirter, MacWhirter (also spelled McWherter and Macwherter, MacWherter) are Anglicisations of the Scottish Gaelic Mac an Chruiteir, meaning "son of the harpist or fiddler". Mawhorter and McWhorter are less common forms of this Scottish name, and are found in North America. The name is derived from the Gaelic cruitear, meaning "harpist", "fiddler". The Scottish name is generally found in Ayrshire. The surnames can be represented in modern Scottish Gaelic as Mac a' Chruiteir.Murder of Stephen Tibble
PC Stephen Andrew Tibble, QPM, (1953 – 26 February 1975) was a police officer in London's Metropolitan Police Service. During a chase through central London, Tibble was fatally shot by Liam Quinn, a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.News Shopper
The News Shopper titles are local newspapers published in South East London and North West Kent by Newsquest. The newsroom is in Orpington.
There are five local editions: Bexley Borough, Bexley & North Kent, Bromley, Dartford & Gravesend and Lewisham & Greenwich.Norris McWhirter
Norris Dewar McWhirter (12 August 1925 – 19 April 2004) was a British writer, political activist, co-founder of The Freedom Association, and a television presenter. He and his twin brother, Ross, were known internationally for the founding of The Guinness Book of Records, which they wrote and annually updated together between 1955 and 1975. After Ross's assassination by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Norris carried on alone as editor.Provisional IRA's Balcombe Street Gang
The Provisional IRA's Balcombe Street Gang was a Provisional IRA Active Service Unit (also known as the Balcombe Street Four or the Balcombe Street Unit) who carried out a bombing campaign in England in the mid 1970s. All of their attacks happened in southern England with the majority taking place in London but also in surrounding areas like Surrey & Kent. Between October 1974 and December 1975 they carried out approximately 40 bomb and gun attacks in and around London, sometimes attacking the same targets twice. The unit would sometimes carry out two or more attacks in one day; on the 27 January 1975 they placed seven time bombs in London. On 25 November 1974, they carried out three bomb attacks in the centre of London injuring 20 people. They were eventually caught during the Balcombe Street Siege in December 1975 thus ending their 15-month bombing campaign in England. They have been described as "the most violent, ruthless and highly-trained unit ever sent to Britain by the Provisional IRA".Record Breakers
Record Breakers is a British children's TV show, themed around world records and produced by the BBC. It was broadcast on BBC1 from 15 December 1972 to 21 December 2001. It was originally presented by Roy Castle with Guinness World Records founders twin brothers Norris McWhirter and Ross McWhirter. The programme was a spin-off series from Blue Peter which had featured record breaking attempts overseen by the McWhirter twins. Producers of the series over the years were, Alan Russell (its creator), Michael Forte, Eric Rowan, Greg Childs, Annette Williams and Jeremy Daldry.
The closing theme was "Dedication", performed by Roy Castle, who broke nine world records on the show himself.As well as interviews with people who held British or World records, early editions of the programme would include a feature in which the studio audience would test the McWhirter brothers on their (almost infallible) knowledge of records, and the climax of each show would usually be a world record attempt in the studio. Ross was murdered by a Provisional IRA gunman in 1975, but his brother continued to appear on the show in the "Norris On The Spot" feature.Republican News
Republican News was a longstanding newspaper/magazine published by Sinn Féin. Following the split in physical force Irish republicanism in the late 1960s between the Officials (Official Sinn Féin — also known as Sinn Féin Gardiner Place — and the Official IRA) and the Provisionals (Provisional Sinn Féin — also known as Sinn Féin Kevin Street and now most commonly simply as Sinn Féin — and the Provisional IRA) Republican News was eclipsed by An Phoblacht, a new magazine launched by Provisional Sinn Féin in 1970. "An Phoblacht" came first and then in early 1970, Joe Graham and Proinsias Mac Airt put together "The Republican News" and it functioned independently for quite a while. Graham worked on only three issues of it before starting "The Vindicator". The magazines merged under the name An Phoblacht/Republican News in 1979.
|Chiefs of Staff|