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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
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
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 .
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
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.