Today is Armistice Day.
The Bygone Bungo website allows us to search through former residents of our own homes. While each entry is often just a name, it is surprising what you can find out with a little on line research.
Looking through former residents at my own address, I came across John Aitken, and his son Corporal William Aitken, S/13487, of the 7th Cameron Highlanders. William died on 25th September 1915 at the Battle of Loos with many of his comrades, probably fighting over Hill 70. He was 25.
Much of the local history recalled on this site relates to the Victorian period when Strathbungo was built.
However, whilst this strange tale of mysterious goings on has clear overtones of a classic Victorian ghost story, the events described actually happened much more recently, in 2003. They remain etched in the memory of those who witnessed them. Although the police became involved, no crime was ever recorded, and nothing like it has been seen in Strathbungo since. If you weren’t there, read on…
Not quite Strathbungo, but quite a few residents of Strathbungo are current or former pupils of Langside Primary School.
Back in 2006 I set about recording a history of the school for its centenary celebrations, and the resulting book was published and copies distributed to pupils.
It came about after watching an all-time classic episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?”, featuring Jeremy Paxman. He was reduced to tears when he discovered his great grandfather was a Glasgow school janitor, whose family was left destitute when he died. The program made reference to the head teachers’ diaries kept in the Mitchell Library, and the resultant book was based largely on entries from the Langside diaries.
It is reproduced here for posterity, if anyone wishes a read.
Life in a 20th Century School – Click to read (pdf, 1MB)
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.
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
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.
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.
Ordnance Survey 1:500 Town Plan of Glasgow mosaic, 1892-94 showing Strathbungo developing into the area we are currently familiar with.