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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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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.

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The Railway Boundary at Moray Place

Introduction

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

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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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

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Strathbungo’s Sharpshooters: Third Lanark

This is the remarkable story of a bunch of army reservists who set up a volunteer rifle corps in Strathbungo, and within a few years had won both Britain’s greatest trophy for marksmanship, The Queen’s Prize at Bisley, and Scotland’s greatest football trophy, the FA Cup, twice. Oh, and the football league. Sharpshooters indeed!

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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.

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Neale Thomson, Camphill House & the Crossmyloof Bakery

Neale Thomson

Neale Thomson

Neale Thomson was one of Glasgow’s great philanthropists, who lived at Camphill House in Queens Park, and founded the famous Crossmyloof bakery.

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H C Niven Motor Engineers

The Salisbury Restaurant & Bar at 72 Nithsdale Road was not always a place for food and drink, and in its previous dining incarnation as Cookie, still retained the original signage, H C Niven & Co, est 1929, Motor Engineers.

Carrick Watson, writing on PreWarCars.com, noted “This was the place to get your Vintage Bentley or Vauxhall 30-98 sorted out. It was run by Bert Niven , a real enthusiast who knew more than most about making proper cars go just that bit faster. Up till recently it was still run as a Garage by his Son, the inside was just as I remember it in the 1950’s, full of interesting items and also photographs on the walls alongside bits and pieces for cars that were long gone. Alloy Conrods for a 30-98 ? – certainly !! Real pits to get under the cars with sleeper covers, (back to my own apprenticeship days…) Gasket sets for cars that were just memories, It is my understanding that his Son when closing the business down offered the complete contents to Glasgow City Council for their New Motor Museum, but this was not taken up, such a pity.

Carrick Watson appears to have acquired the photos that hung on the wall of the garage, and a few are available on the PreWarCars website.

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.

Now Pay Attention, 007

Did you know that Q, James Bond’s favourite quartermaster, was actually a former Strathbungo resident? The story comes courtesy of the Herald, and the sharp eyes of local resident David Cook.

Imagine the curtains twitching back in 1956 when the CID called at 17 Regent Park Square. They wanted to question the licence-holder of a revolver matching the gun used by one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers. Geoffrey Boothroyd, a young technical rep at ICI, told them that his gun was actually down south being illustrated for the cover of Ian Fleming’s next James Bond novel, From Russia with Love.

That old excuse…

Cover of first edition, From Russia With Love.

Cover of first edition, From Russia with Love.

And it was true. Boothroyd, a gun collector, had written to Fleming earlier that year to say that Bond’s .25 Beretta was “really a lady’s gun”. He suggested instead a manly Smith & Wesson .38. Little did he know that it was also the weapon of choice for one Peter Manuel, then on a murderous spree that would claim seven lives, the last three in Burnside.

The detectives eventually got their man and Manuel got justice at the end of a rope. Boothroyd and Fleming continued their friendly correspondence. At the end of From Russia with Love, Rosa Klebb managed to stab Bond with her famous boot, partly because his Beretta got caught in his holster.

In his next novel, Dr No, Fleming included a whole chapter in which Bond was introduced by M to the armourer, Major Boothroyd. He confiscated Bond’s Beretta – “Ladies’ gun, sir” – for a Walther PPK, with the Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight .38 revolver as back up. A new holster was also recommended, and all was based closely on Geoffrey Boothroyd’s advice. Daniel Craig still uses the Walther PPK to this day.

Oddly the character Q never appeared in Fleming’s novels; he only referred to Q Branch, suppliers of gadgets. Major Boothroyd appeared just the once, and it wasn’t clear he was from Q Branch either.

Boothroyd himself became firearms consultant for Dr No, the first Bond movie, and also advised on such matters as how to set an ocean on fire – no doubt his work at ICI came in handy. Peter Dawson played Major Boothroyd in the movie version of the above scene from Dr No.

It was only in the second movie, From Russia with Love, that Major Boothroyd also became known as Q, and was played famously by Desmond Llewellyn, in that movie and for the subsequent 36 years.

Geoffrey Boothroyd

Geoffrey Boothroyd

Geoffrey Boothroyd was quite an eccentric who once told Fleming: “I cherish a dream that one day a large tiger or lion will escape from the zoo or a travelling circus and I can bag it in Argyll Street.” That never happened, but he went on to become one of the world’s leading authorities on shotguns and handguns.

Mr Boothroyd himself, in a 1964 short presented by Sean Connery, explains his reasoning behind his choice of weapons. The film appears to have been shot inside his Strathbungo home; although by this time he had moved from 17 to 11 Regent Park Square, where he lived from 1956 to 1971. A recent resident of No 11 recalls his parents purchasing the house from the Boothroyds, and remembers the house being full of weapons, including a Gatling gun in the living room. Does the current resident recognise it?

I am slowly amassing a history of Strathbungo, including stories of former residents of note such as this. If you have any stories to tell, please get in touch.

References

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