The Full Wiki

Ross McWhirter: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alan Ross McWhirter
Born 12 August 1925(1925-08-12)
Winchmore Hill, London
Died 27 November 1975 (aged 50)
Enfield, London
Education Marlborough College
Trinity College, Oxford
Occupation Writer, political activist, television presenter
Spouse(s) Rosemary McWhirter[1]
Notable relatives Norris McWhirter
Notable credit(s) Guinness Book of Records, co-founder of the National Association for Freedom, Record Breakers

Alan Ross McWhirter (12 August 1925 – 27 November 1975), known as Ross McWhirter, was, with his identical twin brother, Norris McWhirter, founder of the Guinness Book of Records and a contributor to Record Breakers.[2] He was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[3]


Early life

McWhirter was the son of William McWhirter, editor of the Sunday Pictorial newspaper, and Margaret Williamson ('Bunty'). He was born at 10 Branscombe Gardens, "Giffnock" (after Giffnock Church in Glasgow, where the McWhirters were married) Winchmore Hill, London, N21. His elder brother Kennedy was born in 1923. In 1929, as William was working on the founding of the Northcliffe Newspapers chain of provincial newspapers, the family moved to Aberfoyle, in Broad Walk Winchmore Hill. Like his brothers Ross was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Oxford. Between 1943 and 1946 Ross served with the Royal Navy on board a minesweeper in the Mediterranean.[4]


Ross and Norris both became sports journalists in 1950. In 1951, they published Get to Your Marks, and later in 1951 they 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, encyclopedias and advertisers."

While building up their accounts, they both worked as sports journalists. One of the athletes they knew and covered was runner Christopher Chataway, the employee at Guinness who recommended them to Sir Hugh Beaver. After an interview in 1954 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.[5]


Both brothers were regulars on the BBC show Record Breakers. They were noted for their photographic memory, enabling them to provide detailed answers to any questions from the audience about entries in the Guinness Book of Records. Norris continued on the programme after Ross's death.[6]

Political activity

He was an active Conservative in the early 1960s, and fought, unsuccessfully, the seat of Edmonton in the 1964 general election.

Both brothers held right-wing views on topics such as immigration, Rhodesia, South Africa and Northern Ireland, and opposed British membership of the European Economic Community (EEC). They were vigorous campaigners for their version of the liberty of the individual and co-founded the National Association for Freedom (later The Freedom Association) in 1975. This organisation initiated legal challenges against the trade union movement in the United Kingdom, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the EEC in Brussels.


After McWhirter's friend John Gouriet had failed to persuade the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, to do so, on 4 November 1975, 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). He also advocated stronger restrictions on the Irish community in Britain such as making it compulsory for all Irish people in Great Britain to register with the local police and to provide signed photographs of themselves when renting flats or booking into hotels and hostels.[7][8] In doing so McWhirter recognised that he could then be a target himself.[8]

On 27 November 1975, McWhirter was assassinated by two IRA volunteers, 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 North London and was taken to Chase Farm Hospital, but died soon after being admitted.

Selected bibliography

Sports and general encyclopædia

  • Get To Your Marks (1951, with Norris McWhirter)
  • Guinness Book of Records (1955-1975, with Norris McWhirter)
  • Ross: The Story of a Shared Life (Norris McWhirter) ISBN 0-902782-23-1


External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address