Category: Alexander “Greek” Thomson

The birth of the Strathbungo Society

Fifty years ago, Strathbungo was under threat of demolition as part of Glasgow’s then fascination with urban motorways. At the same time the idea of conservation was gaining ground, with the Civic Amenities Act of 1967 enabling new “Conservation Areas” to protect the historic environment. The tide was begining to turn.

In Strathbungo, the area was in chronic decline but the local community was buoyed by several developments. Several buildings had been listed, including 1-10 Moray Place in 1966, and many of the other sandstone terraces in 1970. Lord Esher published his 1971 report “Conservation in Glasgow”, recommending this “gem” of a neighbourhood should be protected . There was increasing recognition of Alexander Thomson’s work, with 1-10 Moray Place being described as “with little question the finest of all nineteenth-century terraces” (Henry-Russell Hitchcock).

A group of local residents set about doing something to save Strathbungo, and proposed an “Amenity Society for Moray Park and Regent’s Park”.

Their press release and proposal are reproduced below. They placed adverts were placed in the papers, and leafleted the residents of Strathbungo from Nithsdale Road to Titwood Road, inviting to a meeting on 6th December 1971 at Camphill Queen’s Park Church (now the Baptist Church).

The first meeting

Approximately eighty people turned up, and the meeting was chaired by Bob Angus of 16 Moray Place. Mrs Jarvis, representing the Scottish Civic Trust, explained the nature of Amenity Societies and Conservation Areas, and then introduced Peter Bradford’s BAFTA nominated film “A Future for the Past” . Sadly I cannot locate a copy.

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Frederick Selby, Architect

Frederick Selby was an architect who lived at 48 Queen Square in the 1970s, and contributed an entry into a Strathbungo Society competition for a monument to Alexander “Greek” Thomson in 1975.

So who was he? Well, not Fred Selby, for starters.

He was a tutor at Glasgow School of Art, and they provide us with a biography of the man.

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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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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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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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