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.
So who was Bert Niven?
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.
During the latest renovation and painting this week, another gem was uncovered. On the other side of the building, in Nithsdale Street, an even older shop sign was revealed.
This was William Bennie & Son, Butchers. A check in the BygoneBungo database and Post Office Directories shows Bennie to have been in the premises from when it was built up to at least 1903.
The numbering in this entry is confusing. 8 Titwood Place is now 72 Nithsdale Road (the shop), and his house at 19 Titwood Place is now 50 Nithsdale Road. 19 Nithsdale Road was more usually known then as 19 Matilda Terrace. One is likely an error.
The shop was owned and used by Alexander B Robertson & Company as some sort of machine shop in 1925, and the Nivens from 1929.
The building itself, and the New Anand next door with its notable rotunda, was an integral part of the tenement, and built in 1876-77 by Robert Turnbull to a design by Alexander “Greek” Thomson. It was initially known as Titwood Place.
If anyone has any further information on the premises, let us know.
(This post has been edited, first published December 2016)