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October 4, 2017

Cosgrove on CUs

Scotland’s credit union sector has its origins in the Irish movement where three community activists from Dublin back in the 1950’s saw the value of financial self-help in the face of high unemployment and fragile state benefits. The impact that this was having in Ireland  came to the attention of a Drumchapel resident, Bert Mullen, who founded Scotland’s first credit union in 1970. Bert is still remembered by his credit union colleagues across Scotland with the biannual Bert Mullen Lecture.  Always delivered by a top-notch raconteur, this year is no exception with Stuart Cosgrove in the hot seat.



The first Scottish Credit Union was founded in Drumchapel by Bert Mullen, a painter & decorator, in February 1970. Originally named Western Credit Union it later became Drumchapel Credit Union Ltd.

Bert Mullen was a painter & decorator who lived with his wife Alice and their family, in one of Glasgow’s new housing schemes, Drumchapel, which had been built in the early 1960’s as part of what seemed a courageous vision to remove the blot of urban slums from the centre of the city.

Providing housing was the chief priority of the time but insufficient consideration was afforded to the provision of facilities for this new population and Bert and his friends, the McSevneys, were very conscious that there were no affordable, financial services available to the working-class residents of their community.

Bert soon learned of credit unions and the exceptional impact that it was having on the lives of ordinary people through his Irish relatives. Convinced that it could work for the good of the community in Drumchapel, he contacted the Irish League of Credit Unions, the World Council of Credit Unions and anybody else who would listen to him.


Western Credit Union (later to become Drumchapel Credit Union) was launched in February 1970.  Over the following months and years, Bert’s encouragement and inspiration to others saw the launch of many more Credit Unions all across Scotland.  At the point of his untimely death in 1986 – which as a loss to the whole of the Scottish Credit Union movement – there were 130 Credit Unions operating in Scotland.

Fast-forward to 2017 and Bert’s legacy lives on through the 100 Credit Unions, serving around 330,000 members with collective savings of around £500 million and providing around £283 million of affordable credit.

Every two years, the Scottish League of Credit Unions host an event called the ‘Bert Mullen Lecture’, named after and in honour of Bert Mullen who helped start the first Credit Union in Scotland, in 1970.

The purpose of the event is to connect Credit Unions and like-minded community organisations with an inspiring Guest Speaker who positively changes the lives of others through their words and actions, as Bert did all those years ago.

 Stuart Cosgrove

We’re delighted to announce that writer and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove will deliver this year’s Bert Mullen Lecture and talk about his forthcoming book, ‘Memphis 68’, the second part of his epic trilogy on sixties soul.

In advance of the 50th anniversary of the assignation of Martin Luther King, the lecture promises to be rich in history, social change and soul music (live solo performance before & after the Lecture)

DATE:  Friday 6 October

ARRIVE:  6 pm (Nibbles & refreshments)

START:    7 pm (Lecture will begin)

DURATION:  for around 1 hour

VENUE: Stirling Court Hotel

COST: Free