Bygone Bungo

A Strathbungo History, & More

Category: Architecture

Odd ones out – the white houses of Carswell Gardens

Wandering around Strathbungo, I often wondered why the houses on the south side of Carswell Gardens were different from all the others – a different design, and painted white rather than built in sandstone. Investigating further, with the help of documents from a couple of residents, I have found the answer:

They aren’t actually part of Strathbungo at all.

Before I cause any political upset down that end of the Bungo, I had better explain.

Continue reading

Nithsdale Mission Hall

The Queen’s Park United Presbyterians

One of Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s great masterpieces was the Queen’s Park United Presbyterian Church on Langside Road, built in 1868 (though sadly destroyed by incendiary bombing in 1943).

Queen's Park UP Church

Queen’s Park UP Church

The Queen’s Park U.P. congregation subsequently arranged the construction of another beautiful church, Camphill Church on Balvicar Drive, completed in 1876; although this church subsequently passed to the Church of Scotland, and then to its current occupants, the Baptists.

The U.P. Mission Hall

Not satisfied with two churches, they then constructed the much smaller Nithdale Mission Hall in 1887-8. It was designed by architect Alexander Skirving (c.1849-1919) who worked under Alexander Thomson in the 1860s. Skirving was also known for Langside Hill Free Church (the “Church on the Hill”) and the adjacent Battlefield monument, and Skirving Street in Shawlands is named in his honour.

Alexander Skirving

Alexander Skirving

Sited in the southside immediately to the east of a deep railway cutting, the small polychromatic red and white brick rectangular plan building is fronted by an impressive ashlar classical facade onto Nithsdale Drive to the north. The frontage is substantial with gated piers, original railings and steps leading up to the classical frontage with four simple square tuscan style pilasters flanking the two windows and central doorway. Above a frieze runs the width of this central portion with simple circular motiffs. The triangular tympanum crowns this with a small acanthus at its peak. Behind rise two massive piers to each side and then a further pair before the blond sandstone gives way to the simple red and white brick of the other facades. The towers were reduced in height from those shown on Skirving’s original drawings. The drawings are available in the Mitchell Library, and are reproduced below – click to see the full set.

Skirving's drawings for Mission Hall Nithsdale Road

Skirving’s drawings for Mission Hall Nithsdale Road – click to view the full set of drawings

Strathbungo, OS 1898

Strathbungo, OS 1898, U.P. Church upper right on Nithsdale Drive

The United Presbyterians merged with the Free Church of Scotland in 1900 to form the United Free Church. In his history of Strathbungo Parish Church, Rev John Munro describes the rival Nithsdale United Free Church’s “more or less languishing existence” coming to an end in 1910. His church’s only involvement was taking over the former’s local Penny Savings Bank that year. He hints some smaller religious groups used the hall subsequently, and it was apparently used by the Plymouth Brethren in the 1960s.

Final years

The building was Grade B listed and came to be owned by Glasgow City Council in its Common Good Fund. The roof collapsed after a fire on 21st July 2005. The interior was cleared leaving just the four walls retained by means of scaffolding. The building became derelict and was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register.

Fire, 2005 (Hidden Glasgow)

Fire, 2005 (Hidden Glasgow)

The hall was put up for sale in 2014, and plans submitted by the purchaser to convert it to four dwellings. While some work has taken place on site, the building remains roofless in early 2017. Hopefully it will be restored soon to its former glory, rather than lost forever.

Derelict Nithsdale Hall, c.2013 (derelictglasgow.co.uk)

Derelict Nithsdale Hall, c.2013 (derelictglasgow.co.uk)

References

Strathbungo Parish Church

This is the story of the first church to be built in the village, which served the community until the late 20th Century. In the 21st Century it was saved from destruction by conversion into flats, but the grand facade still looks down on Pollokshaws Road. The article is based largely on the account of a former minister, Rev John M Munro, who wrote his history of the church and the village on the occasion of the congregation’s 100th anniversary in 1933. The book is reproduced in its entirety here, for those who wish to study it further. I’m grateful to Morris Scott of St Andrews, who acquired the book by accident in his work as a removals man. He sought me out and donated it.

Cover, Strathbungo & its Kirk, 1833-1933

Cover, Strathbungo & its Kirk, 1833-1933

In the early part of the 19th Century Strathbungo was a poor and somewhat remote village of miners and weavers in the south east of Govan Parish, with a long trek to Govan Parish Church for the Sunday service. There was already a second church in the parish established in the Gorbals, and in 1833 Dr Leishman, the new minister of Govan, established a mission in the village of Strathbungo. They probably met in the school house initially, and efforts were begun to raise money for a church.

The first church

The General Assembly gave permission for the new church in 1838, and with the money raised, land was purchased from Hutcheson’s Hospital immediately to the north of the village. The new church was built 1839-40 to a design by Charles Wilson, for the sum of £1300.

Old Strathbungo Church, 1840 by Charles Wilson

Rev. Alexander Sutherland, was appointed Strathbungo’s first minister in 1848, having previously been the missionary at Strathbungo.

Rev Alex Sutherland, 1848-75

Rev Alex Sutherland, 1848-75

The small bell tower was possibly a later addition, and a new church bell was acquired in 1849-50, inscribed “David Burges, Founder, Glasgow, 1849”. It was preserved after demolition, and kept in the session house of the later church, although its later fate in unknown. Burges was the manager of the Gorbals Brass and Bell Foundry, which existed from 1838 to 1928.

Although not a full member of the congregation, Neale Thomson of Camphill House furnished the first manse around 1852-4. The manse stood amongst trees where Arnold Clark’s now stands in Allison Street, and was known as Boyd’s Cottage. There was an old story of a parishioner who fled to the cottage for comfort one night in the mirk, having seen the dead of the Battle of Langside rise up in procession along the avenue from Camphill House, as she stood at the park gates by the pond. The area of marshy land around the pond and towards the bandstand was thought to be where the dead of the battle were buried, and was known as the Devil’s Kirkyard.

Later Thomson provided a cottage on Langside Avenue for the use of the minister at his own cost, but died soon after. He had forgotten to include it in his will, and the minister had to move again, to 220 Langside Road, on the corner of Allison Street.

The early schools in Strathbungo are described elsewhere, but in 1840 the Govan sessional school opened in Nithsdale Street, where March St is now, and the school remained there probably until 1873, when responsibility for schooling passed from the church to the new School Boards.

Robert Burns’ last surviving daughter worshipped at the church.

After 20 years or so in post, Rev Sutherland was ageing and lacking the vigour of his youth, but declined to step aside, so much of the congregation joined those of Crosshill to set up a new church in 1868 in a temporary structure opposite the park, and by 1873 had erected a new church at 40 Queens Drive. Rev Sutherland died in November 1875 at the age of 81.

Rev Alexander Clark from Ayrshire, the University of Glasgow, and India, returned as assistant, and was appointed as minister in December 1875, and took over in January 1876, only to accept a post in Wick in February; which must have been one of the shortest terms ever.

Rev Robert McMillan, also of Ayrshire, and the University of Glasgow, took over in July 1876. There were only 60 left in the congregation at that time. However from September to December 1876, growth led to the addition of a gallery to increase seating by 300. During construction, the congregation were loaned the use of the temporary church that had been erected behind Bute Terrace (now the junction of Niddrie Road and Torrisdale Street) by the Queens Park Free Church congregation while their own new church was built at Queens Drive at Albert Drive – the latter opened in 1875 and is now Queens Park Church of Scotland. The temporary church, built of brick, probably with a corrugated iron roof, was known as the “iron church”. A harmonium was introduced in the temporary church – the first musical accompaniment ever used by the congregation. The site of the iron church was approximately where Langside Synagogue sits now. Although the buildings are similar in size and form, the synagogue is a 20th century building.

Rev Robert McMillan, 1876-1916

Rev Robert McMillan, 1876-1916

The formation of Strathbungo Parish

The congregation set about establishing themselves as a parish in their own right around 1875, but first needed to sort out the boundaries, a recurring theme of Strathbungo history. Regents Park (modern Strathbungo) had been allocated to Queens Park Church in March 1875, but even then the residential area was universally known as Strathbungo, and residents attended Strathbungo Church, so it was given back to Strathbungo. Strathbungo Parish Church came into being on 13 January 1879. The new parish extended from Eglinton Toll to old Haggs Road (now Titwood Road) and Crossmyloof. The parish was estimated to have a population of 2500.

Plans were soon made for a better church, but the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in October 1878 put paid to that for several years, as the bank held their funds.

Old Strathbungo, c 1884, showing the old church on the left, in its final years.

Old Strathbungo, c 1884, showing the old church on the left, in its final years.

The second church

By 1883, finances were improving again, and plans were again made to replace the church, apparently with J Ritchie winning a design competition, but with the design by Mr John McKissack (of McKissak & Rowan) being accepted. McKissack was a member of the congregation. Services were to be held in the Drill Hall on Coplaw St (which had just been constructed) during the disruption. The new church would hold 1000 or more people, and cost some £6000.

John McKissack

John McKissack

Extra ground purchased from Hutchesons’ Hospital allowed for a larger church and a hall besides. The hall was completed in October 1887, and the foundation or memorial stone of the new church was laid in the same month by Sir John Neil Cuthbertson. The stone was laid in the northern angle of the great tower 20 feet from the ground, and a time capsule placed beneath it, containing local newspapers, a brief church history, and, to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee that year, a set of silver jubilee coins. The 1879 iron railings from the old church were retained but moved back when the road was widened. The bell and three windows of the old church were preserved, and much of the stone reused in the new building. The church opened on 7th October 1888. The building’s Category B listing describes it thus: “Combines Romanesque and Scots Gothic elements. Snecked and stugged ashlar, polished dressings, slate roofs. Lofty gabled front to street with massive stepped buttresses, sculptured doorway, square tower to left also with stepped buttresses, walls almost blank to belfry stage, open crown spire springing from domed finials and surmounted by little lantern. Church Hall to rear (E) incorporates work by Wilson.” McKissack also designed the romanesque Queens Park Baptist Church at 178 Queens Drive in the same year.

A small hall was added in the NE corner of the site in 1898 at a cost of £500.

Strathbungo Parish Church c 1930

Strathbungo Parish Church c 1930

Church Interior

Church Interior

Some 300 of the congregation, men and women, answered the call of duty in the Great War of 1914-18, and 49 of them gave their lives and are listed on the church’s memorial plaque and roll of honour (which I believe still exists, having been moved to Queens Park Church).

Roll of Honour, The Great War

Roll of Honour, The Great War

Rev McMillan retired in November 1916 at the age of 70, and Rev Charles Guthrie Cooper was chosen as his successor in April 1917. He left for Hawick in 1926, but during his time increased the congregation above 1000 for the first time, and on to 1500.

Rev C Guthrie Cooper, 1917-1926

Rev C Guthrie Cooper, 1917-1926

Rev John M Munro, from Oban, took over in November 1926, and compiled this history of the church and congregation on its 100 year anniversary in 1933.

Rev John M Munro

Rev John M Munro

Kirk Session & Board

Kirk Session & Board c 1933

Kirk Centenary

Kirk Centenary Social

The latter years, dereliction and resurrection

I have few details of the church after John Munro’s account. Hugh Martin was the minister in the 1960s. The church closed to worship in May 1979, and was sold on, but gradually became derelict. After a compulsory purchase order by Glasgow City Council, the body of the church was demolished, but the tower and facade retained, along with an arch from the church hall. The Southside Housing Association constructed new flats behind the facade in 2006, providing 28 new homes, including 11 for residents with sensory deprivation.

And presumably that treasure chest is still there…

Strathbungo Parish Church, converted to flats, at night

Strathbungo Parish Church, converted to flats, at night

NLS Overlay Map

Ordnance Survey 1:500 Town Plan of Glasgow mosaic, 1892-94 showing Strathbungo developing into the area we are currently familiar with.

http://geo.nls.uk/maps/towns/glasgow1894/openlayers.html

The Railings of Strathbungo

This was a piece of research originally undertaken in 2007 (& subsequently updated) to determine the patterns of the original Victorian cast iron railings in Strathbungo, based on old photographs. While I had intended to focus on the railings on the front steps of houses, with a view to restoring my own, the focus became more on the railings at the street edge, which are mostly no more. Even if you’re not interested in the railings, there are plenty of rare historical photographs.

Regent Park Square

Built c.1865 Daniel McNicol

Regent Park Square in 1906

Regent Park Square in 1906

A photograph from 1906 appears in Old Queen’s Park. It clearly shows the design of the railings on the steps, and a different, and much plainer, design on the street boundary. It also shows very ornate double lamp standards which stood in the roadway, and which unsurprisingly are long gone. In the distance one can see four stone gate pillars, the inner posts again in the roadway, and again long gone. Contrary to popular belief, there were no gates, only the posts, and I have been unable to find any evidence to support the existence of gates at the end of the squares. Double lamp standards were placed atop the inner pillars, matching those seen in the foreground. These were reportedly no more by 1933.

Continue reading

Neale Thomson, Camphill House & the Crossmyloof Bakery

Neale Thomson

Neale Thomson

The Thomson family were successful in the cotton industry. Robert Thomson (1771-1831) was a partner with his father (also Robert, 1742-1820) in Robert Thomson & Sons, whose Adelphi Cotton Works in Hutchesontown was said to have been the first in Glasgow to manufacture cotton goods. He purchased land at Camphill in 1778, and had Camphill House built shortly thereafter. The architect is thought to be David Hamilton (1768-1843), who built the similar Aitkenhead House (in Kings Park) in 1806.

Neale Thomson was born at Camphill in 1807. The family business fell into his hands when his father Robert died in 1831, followed shortly thereafter by Neale’s brothers, two in 1833 and the third in 1843.

He became known for the care of his workforce, introducing shorter hours before the law on this was passed. He also encouraged workers to open savings accounts, including matching their contributions with his own, and established a bakery in Crossmyloof for his workers, where good quality bread could be bought far more cheaply than was normally the case. This proved such a success that shops soon opened, with large crowds gathering to meet the delivery vans, and the experiment in philanthropy grew into a flourishing business.

In 1855 he commissioned Alexander Greek Thomson to build terraced housing for his workforce in Baker Street. There were apparently two terraces originally, but by 1964 only one remained, and this appears to have been demolished in the 1970s. In this photo c 1971 the cottages with their overhanging eaves are on the right, and Langside Halls is visible at the end of the road. There are further photos on The Virtual Mitchell website from 1964.

Baker Street, Crossmyloof

Baker Street, Crossmyloof

Hugh MacDonald was given a tour of the bakery and described it in detail in his Rambles Round Glasgow, calling it possibly the largest bakery in the Queen’s Dominion.

In 1852 Thomson acquired Langside House, a large elegant mansion on the highest point in Langside, bulit by Robert Adam in 1777. He was responsible for the development of the villas around Mansionhouse Road. Thomson acquired the land of Pathhead Farm adjacent to Camphill in 1854, and in 1857 sold it to the city for the construction of what became known as Queen’s Park He did so at a lower price than he had paid, despite the land’s increasing value, for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He died at Camphill, after a long illness, on 26 June 1857.

His biography appears in MacLehose’s biography of 100 Great Glaswegian men, including an account of his competitors’ efforts to undermine his business. They repeatedly accused him of selling underweight bread, which he defending vigorously in letters to both the Glasgow Herald and Courier.

Camphill House by Duncan Brown

Camphill House by Duncan Brown

Camphill House and its grounds were added to Glasgow Corporation’s Queen’s Park in 1894. The building was converted into a museum in 1895-1896 and contained displays of costume and relics relating to the Battle of Langside, which was fought nearby in 1568. The museum closed in the 1980s and the building was converted into flats.

Langside House

Langside House


Langside House survived until the 1980s, but has now been replaced by the modern housing of Langside Gardens.

The bakery continued in operation until 1880, and some of the buildings still survive. The Glad Cafe now sits on part of the site, and organised their Doors Open Day around the history of Neale Thomson in 2016. They sell a “Crossmyloaf” in his honour.

More information on Crossmyloof and Langside can be found in the Council’s Langside Heritage Trail leaflet.

Listed Buildings in Strathbungo

What’s listed in Strathbungo?

Most, but not all, of the Victorian era sandstone buildings of Strathbungo are listed.

Scottish buildings are listed as:

Category A
Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic; or fine, little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (About 8% of total listed buildings.)

Category B
Buildings of regional or more than local importance; or major examples of some particular period, style or building type, which may have been altered. (About 50% of total listed buildings.)

Category C
Buildings of local importance; lesser examples of any period, style or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple, traditional buildings that group well with other listed buildings. (About 42% of total listed buildings.)

The following map shows all listed structures in the Strathbungo area, along with the Conservation Area boundaries. Click on the coloured dots for information on any given structure. Note not all are buildings; there is the footbridge and even lampposts.

Historic Environment Scotland Listing Map

More info on listing can be found at Historic Environment Scotland.

Strathbungo’s Footbridge

The Darnley Road/Moray Place footbridge at Regents Park Square was built by Hanna, Donald and Wilson in 1877. The manufacturer (who worked from the Abbey Engineering Works, Paisley) were evidently proud of the foot bridge, using it in one of their advertisements. They also built ships, and the recently restored Albert Bridge in Glasgow.

The footbridge is an elliptically arched, cast-iron girder bridge with lattice railings which originally had steps down to the platforms of the station, which opened the same year. The steps down to the platform have been removed and the deck replaced with steel durbar plates.

Curiously, for the first 50 years of its life it never actually reached the other side!

OS Maps show that originally it only provided access from Strathbungo to the platforms of Strathbungo Station; there was no Darnley Road when the station opened, just green fields. Even the OS Map of 1936 shows no extension to Darnley Road at that time.

The bridge was C listed in 1995 after one Moray Place resident asked that it be taken down for security reasons and other residents took a different view! None the less its ownership has been recently disputed as no one wanted to be responsible for its likely future maintenance costs. In 2015 Network Rail accepted that it was responsible for the bridge, and according to Network Rail (communication, Dec 2016), it is slated for renovation in 2018-19.

Strathbungo Station, engine under steam

Strathbungo Station a year after closure. The Strathbungo footbridge is visible in the distance. Clan 72006 “Clan Mackenzie” heads parcels train on 13th June 1963.

Now where do you think the photographer was standing? Photo courtesy John Robin.

References

Strathbungo’s Other Footbridge

Older residents may recall there was another footbridge over the railway at one time, at the end of Marywood Square. It was erected between 1895 and 1910 (it first appears on the 1910 OS Map). The gate and foundation are still visible on the embankment. It was latterly the property of Strathclyde Regional Council, but was closed due to metal fatigue in the summer of 1993, and was taken down on Sunday 8th May 1994. (Strathbungo News, 1994)

The only known photographs of it are the one above, courtesy John Robin, and this one.

Railings after fence and concrete repair and painting, circa 1990

Railings after fence and concrete repair and painting, circa 1990. Courtesy John Devitt.

Below, all that remains are the gate to the footbridge, and a short length of spiked railings, in the undergrowth at the end of Marywood Square. Even this may disappear soon, if Network Rail replace the fencing.

Remains of Strathbungo Footbridge, November 2016

Remains of Strathbungo Footbridge, November 2016

 

© 2017 Bygone Bungo

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑