Andrew Carnegie was the fascinating subject of a recent presentation by playwright David Dewar at Largs Probus Club. 

Dewar provided a compelling summary of how Carnegie, born into a poor family from Dunfermline in 1835, became the richest man in the world.

At the age of 12, Carnegie and his family emigrated to the USA, seeking a better life. 

In America, he initially worked in a cotton factory, earning a mere $1.20 for 70 hours of work per week. 

His journey progressed from a messenger at a Telegraph Office to becoming a personal telegrapher for Thomas Scott, a superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railway Company.

Carnegie's efficiency was such that he managed the company during Scott's absences, eventually becoming its superintendent.

Scott introduced Carnegie to investing in railway stocks and related industries. 

By the age of 30, Carnegie had significant stakes in iron works, railroads and oil wells. 

He also built the Carnegie Steel Corporation into the world's largest steel manufacturing company in the world.

However, his approach to labour was contentious, marked by poor worker pay and staunch anti-trade union stances. 

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

This culminated in the violent 1892 Homestead Strike at Carnegie Steel's main plant in Pennsylvania, lasting 143 days.

Carnegie, in his lifetime, donated over $350million of what he called his "excess wealth" to public causes, notably funding over 2,500 public libraries and more than 7,700 church pipe organs, humorously intended to "lessen the pain of the sermon." 

He firmly believed that "a man who dies rich dies disgraced," advocating for the wealthy's moral duty to give away their fortunes.

Carnegie owned Skibo Castle and annually visited Scotland. 

A proponent of pacifism, he established the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to address global challenges and promote peace. 

He passed away in 1919 due to bronchial pneumonia.

Bill Young thanked David for his enlightening talk on a remarkable rags-to-riches figure. 

The next meeting of Largs Probus Club will take place at the Willowbank Hotel on Wednesday, January 24, at 12.30pm for their annual Burns Lunch.