Author: Andrew Downie (page 1 of 3)

Strathbungo’s fountain

Recently Douglas Robertson posted a query on the Bungoblog – did anyone else remember the Victorian drinking fountain on the Nithsdale Road roundabout, opposite Salisbury Quadrant?

“I’m sure it was Victorian, as made of metal and was substantially built. I don’t know the dimensions but would estimate (from memory) that it was approx. 10-12 ft high on a circular base of slightly larger dimensions.

It was situated on a roundabout opposite the old red telephone box nr. Sammy Dows and The New Anand Restaurant. I am sure it was still there about 20 years ago when I lived in Pollokshields. Did anyone see it being dismantled? Where did it finally end up? I have searched and searched (google uk) and cant find anything relating to it. I’m sure there must be someone, perhaps a Glasgow Council dept., who could throw some light on this. Again, a photo of it from someone would be an ideal start.”

A couple of residents replied, recalling the time the council came and took it away, or destroyed it, when the new roundabout was constructed, probably in the mid 1970s.

Then the Strathbungo Society’s chair flagged it up to @OssianLore on Twitter, and the following is a summary of what he discovered.

The drinking fountain, with lamp standard, was present on an OS Map of 1893, in the middle of the junction of Nithsdale Road, Street (then Titwood Place) and Drive.

Drinking fountain 1893

It was still there in 1951, on a traffic island.

OS Map 1951, fountain
(D Fn = drinking fountain, TCB = telephone call box, PCB = Police call box)

This is the only known photograph of the fountain, so far. The aerial photo is dated 1958-67. Strathbungo station is already closed, so it must be post 1962.

Aerial view of Strathbungo

Fountain

Fountain site

Many were standard designs, and it may have looked something like this, MacFarlane’s pattern 31 from the Saracen foundry.

A similar design can be seen in Dowanhill Park, and there is an entire blog devoted to the subject if you wish to learn more.

The fountain’s location can be determined by overlaying maps

Maps of fountain overlaid

On street view it looks like this. It appears the circle of stones at the base were re used in the creation of the roundabout.

Streetview of roundabout

(Images reproduced with permission of @OssianLore)

There are a couple of photos of the area in the Virtual Mitchell, but the fountain, if still present, is tantalisingly just out of shot.

Nithsdale Road May 1974

Nithsdale Road May 1974

The Thomson Memorial

What happened next to the fountain is unclear. In 1975 the Strathbungo Society proposed a competition to design a memorial to mark the centenary of Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s death, with a prize of £100. The competition makes no reference to the drinking fountain, and the only known entry to the competition shows it laid out on the original traffic island. The competition rules did state however, that

“For traffic control reasons, there are likely to be some minor changes to the shape of the traffic island, but it is intended that the memorial should be situated at the centre of the present island, not upon the foundations presently visible.”

The winner of the competition is not recorded, but planning permission was granted by December 1975. In the summer of 1976 the cost was estimated at £4,000-£5,000 and the project was mothballed due to a lack of funds. It isn’t clear at what time the island was reconfigured to create the roundabout, nor when the fountain disappeared. It is never mentioned in the Strathbungo Society’s records.

This is the entry proposed by Frederick Selby, an architect on the staff at Glasgow School of Art, who lived at 48 Queen Square. There is a fascinating biography of him on the GSA website, along with their own full set of copies of his entry.

Thomson Memorial proposal
Thomson Memorial proposal

What next?

There have since been a variety of suggestions for a monument on the roundabout, but so far to no avail. What would you suggest? It will be Thomson’s 150th anniversary in 2025. Just saying.

References

James Briggs, Instrument maker

The cello above sold for £13,800 in Bonhams in 1996. It was made in Glasgow in 1924, and it set the record price for an instrument by its creator, James William Briggs. He was a maker of violins and cellos of some repute, and a resident of Strathbungo.

Briggs (1855-1935) was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and moved to Glasgow in 1893. He had premises at 122 Sauchiehall Street, and lived at 12 Queen Square (at that time known as 5 Queen Square) from around 1905 until his death.

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The Picture House, Campbeltown

On a recent trip round the Mull of Kintyre, I visited Campbeltown for the first time. Wandering around in the late evening, I came across the Picture House, Campbeltown’s cinema. It was built in the Glasgow School Art Nouveau style in 1913, and has recently undergone restoration. It is believed to be the oldest purpose built cinema in Scotland still in business.

What caught my eye was the information board outside the library next door. The cinema’s architect was one Albert Victor Gardner, a name I recognised. He built many cinemas in Scotland, especially in and around Glasgow, and continued to do so later in partnership with William Riddell Glen. He returned to refurbish the cinema in 1930.

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72 Nithsdale Road – H C Niven Motor Engineers

The restaurant at 72 Nithsdale Road is, as of July 2018, currently undergoing another makeover, and will open as Niven’s by Cafe Source after refurbishment. It has previously operated as Cookie, The Salisbury Restaurant & Bar, and Kowloons in recent years. However it was not always a place for dining, and during its first such incarnation as Cookie, it still retained the original signage, H C Niven & Co, est 1929, Motor Engineers. The motor engineers tag, and its phone number, are still visible above the door, and it is good to see Cafe Source intend to revise the Niven name.

Cookie, with the original Niven sinage

So who was Bert Niven?

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Where am I?

A collection of then and now photographs of Strathbungo and the surrounding area. See how many you can spot, before dragging the slider to reveal. When done, hit the Reveal button for more info. More to come. Enjoy!

The newsagent, and Gavin Wright the Builder

Where was this newsagent? And who was Gavin Wright?

Drag the little slider from the right to see a more recent view.

Wright Builders 1Wright Builders 2


W H Packham

Where was W H Packham’s Garage?

Drag the little slider from the right to see how it looks now.


The Queen’s Garage

Can you locate the Queen’s Garage?

Drag the little slider from the right to see how it looks now.


Thanks

A word of thanks to Grant of PastGlasgow, who pointed me to the plugin that allowed me to show before and after photos with such ease. He also likes creating then and now photos, including some of the southside.

The birth of Strathbungo – George Washington Wilson, 1877

George Washington Wilson

This photograph of Strathbungo was taken by George Washington Wilson (1823-1893), a pioneering Scottish landscape photographer. After his studies in Edinburgh and London he returned to his native Aberdeen and began work as a painter of portrait miniatures.

George Washington Wilson, self portrait.

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The Consort Hotel

Residents may recall recent clashes between the needs of commercial businesses and residents in the Strathbungo area. It was ever thus. I found this newspaper clipping from the Herald, dated 18th October 1973, relating arguments over the licencing of the Consort Hotel in Moray Place.

The Consort Hotel?

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The Strathbungo Society Newsletter Archive

If you like a little more recent Bungo history, I have compiled an archive of over 20 years of Strathbungo Society newsletters. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the newsletter editors – John Devitt, Laura Moodie (nee Jones), Dee Miller, and especially, Sharon Schweps – the Society has been keeping in touch with residents for all these years, and at the same time documenting the events, issues and changes in the community over that time.

There may still be the odd issue missing, but I’m working on it, and it is pretty complete already.

The archive has it’s own permanent page, also accessible from the top menu, so go have a read…

Lest We Forget

Today is Armistice Day.

The Bygone Bungo website allows us to search through former residents of our own homes. While each entry is often just a name, it is surprising what you can find out with a little on line research.

Looking through former residents at my own address, I came across John Aitken, and his son Corporal William Aitken, S/13487, of the 7th Cameron Highlanders. William died on 25th September 1915 at the Battle of Loos with many of his comrades, probably fighting over Hill 70. He was 25.

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The Ghosts of Strathbungo

Much of the local history recalled on this site relates to the Victorian period when Strathbungo was built.

However, whilst this strange tale of mysterious goings on has clear overtones of a classic Victorian ghost story, the events described actually happened much more recently, in 2003. They remain etched in the memory of those who witnessed them. Although the police became involved, no crime was ever recorded, and nothing like it has been seen in Strathbungo since. If you weren’t there, read on…

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