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.
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?
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The site is now McMillan’s Bar & Grill, although they have repainted it since I took this shot. Must go and take it again! To the left of the photo, where the petrol station and M&S sit now, were two houses that belonged to Gavin and his brother James Wright. Their parents were based at a garage and motor hirer in Tantallon Road (latterly Whitecraigs, the Suzuki dealership that was demolished for flats some ten years ago, some may remember it). They became wealthy house builders, and their projects included Strathbungo’s gardens. Sone of their new houses on Titwood Road are visible in the background. Annie Vennard was Gavin’s mother, and gave her name to one of Strathbungo’s streets.
You can read a fuller version of the Wrights’ story here
W H Packham
Where was W H Packham’s Garage?
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I don’t know much about W H Packham’s business on Torrisdale Street, although they did have a stand at the 1936 Scottish Motor Show at Kelvin Hall, where they displayed their Vulcan 21 ton commercial vehicles.
It is now the Phoenix furniture warehouse.
The Queen’s Garage
Can you locate the Queen’s Garage?
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The original Queen’s Garage survives behind the modern cladding of Arnold Clark’s, at Pollokshaws Road and Calder Street, photographed here in 2015. It sold BMC cars (Austin/Morris) in the 1950s and Vauxhalls in the 60s, and still sells Vauxhalls today. You can’t fill up on the forecourt any more though.
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.
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.
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.
I have long been aware of a story that Strathbungo was threatened by a motorway in the 1960s, and this was a crucial event in the formation of the Strathbungo Society, but I have never understood how this could be. The M77 perhaps? But that was always going to be further west. So what was the story?
There were occasional hints. A neighbour gave me an old article from Scottish Field dated 1977 in which Mike Stanger, then chair of the Society, described how properties were blighted by the planned South Link motorway, with no one able to get a mortgage, not even on 1-10 Moray Place.
A Society booklet of 1984 recounts the same story.
But what was the South Link? And why did it threaten the very existence of Strathbungo? With thanks to Stuart Baird, of the Glasgow Motorway Archive, we now know. Read on…
It is remarkable that the Victorian vision for Strathbungo has survived almost untouched. Barely a single building has been lost, but that may be about to change. The house at 47 Nithsdale Street is disintegrating before our eyes, and may not be with us much longer. Sadly it appears this may be deliberate on the part of the building’s owner. So what is the story of this building?
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.
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
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.
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
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.