Category: Conservation

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 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.


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…

The motorway that nearly killed Strathbungo

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…

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47 Nithsdale Street – last chance to see?

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?

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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.

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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

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The Railway Boundary at Moray Place


The line of the boundary between the railway line (Network Rail’s property) and Moray Place has been an issue of debate for some time, most notably when Network Rail began clearing vegetation from the line in 2004-05.

18-25 Moray Place 2004

18-25 Moray Place 2004

Same view, 2005 after vegetation management

Same view, 2005 after vegetation management. The one remaining tree was removed shortly after.

More recently they proposed further vegetation clearance to renew the boundary fence in January 2015. They planned to remove the metal hooped fence and replace it with a 1.8m high weldmesh fence in the same location. However residents suspected the hooped fence was not on Network Rail’s land.


Railings after fence and concrete repair and painting, circa 1990

Negotiations led by the Strathbungo Society centered on two points; firstly the need for a more appropriate fence design, and secondly that it needed to be on their land, further back than the existing fence. Eventually Network Rail conceded, leading to the new fence design erected in February 2017. The following is the historical research that led to their concession regarding the position of the fence. It is recorded here for posterity.

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