This article is in response to a query from the new owner of the ground floor flat at 68 Nithsdale Road. 68 originally referred to the tenement flats above, and the ground floor flat was historically a shop, No. 70.
The Old Shiels Road became Nithsdale Road when Pollokshields was developed, but once on the Strathbungo side of the railway, was named Nithsdale Street. A new road was created from Strathbungo Station (which opened in 1877) to Pollokshaws Road, and is now known as Nithsdale Road. In 1877 when newly laid out it was named Matilda Place, as required by the feu document of 1860. The name most likely derived from Sir John Maxwell’s late wife, Matilda Harriet Bruce, daughter of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, he who misappropriated the Elgin Marbles. Matilda had died in 1857.
The land of Strathbungo was originally bought from Sir John Maxwell by John McIntyre and William Stevenson. McIntyre died in 1872, and the title deeds state that at year’s end 1874 the land on the north side of the new road passed from his estate to his younger brother, Andrew, on condition that a tenement was raised on the site. Andrew McIntyre (1835-1881) was a builder and brickmaker, whose brickworks was in Moss side .
11-17 Moray Place was the second terrace constructed along Moray Place, and said to be a poorer imitation of Greek Thomson’s style for the first, though its architect is unknown. It was completed soon after the first terrace however, within a year of 1-10.
No 13 was taken by William Stevenson, the 35 year old quarrymaster of Baird & Stevenson. It was Stevenson, with John McIntyre the builder, who had purchased the land of Strathbungo from Sir John Maxwell and began the development of the area.
The house remained in the Stevenson family for the next 60 years, and this article largely concerns the dynasty built by William Stevenson and his sons.
Many are aware of the two-tone nature of Glasgow’s buildings – blond sandstone in the 19th century, increasingly replaced by red sandstone in the 20th, allowing buildings to be roughly dated before or after the 1890s. However few are aware that, blond or red, the odds were the stone was supplied by the Stevensons. No one person can claim to have made a greater mark on Victorian Glasgow’s architecture and appearance than William Stevenson; Glasgow University, the City Chambers, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and countless others were built from Baird & Stevenson stone. Yet apart from a brief contemporary obituary in the Barrhead Times, virtually nothing has been written about William Stevenson, and he seems completely forgotten. So here is his story.
This article grew out of an investigation of two early residents of 9 Moray Place, both of whom were file-cutters, and who appeared to be linked in some way. Read on to find out how.
The history of file-making
The file is an ancient tool with a crucial role in the development of industry. It is a piece of hardened steel with many small sharp teeth cut into its surfaces which can cut into, smooth, sharpen and shape any material.
Before the introduction of precision engineering of machine parts, files were important in putting together the mechanisms or working parts in items from watches to heavy engineering machinery. Component parts were roughly shaped by forging or casting, machined to an approximate size, then carefully filed to fit one another perfectly. Thus files were used by engineers and in all the metalworking trades; cutlers, silversmiths, clock and watchmakers, etc. There was also a large market for files for sharpening saw teeth. A type of file called a rasp was used in trades working with softer natural materials like wood, horn, marble and bone. Files were thus essential for the manufacture of most other items in factories, and were often one of the major tool costs in manufacturing. Worn files were often regrinded and re-cut to prolong their life .
In the UK, the centre of file-making was undoubtedly Sheffield. From 1624 the Cutler’s Company included file-making amongst the practices it covered, and exerted strict controls over the business, managing the apprenticeships and appointing Freemen. But when the Company’s control over the trades finally ended in 1814, the unions took its place, and worked hard to insist that any man in the trade must be a member of the union. Intimidation was common. In 1857, a saw grinder, James Lindley, was accused of taking on too many apprentices, and was followed for weeks and then shot and killed. Others were bombed out of their homes.