On a recent trip round the Mull of Kintyre, I visited Campbeltown for the first time. Wandering around in the late evening, I came across the Picture House, Campbeltown’s cinema. It was built in the Glasgow School Art Nouveau style in 1913, and has recently undergone restoration. It is believed to be the oldest purpose built cinema in Scotland still in business.
What caught my eye was the information board outside the library next door. The cinema’s architect was one Albert Victor Gardner, a name I recognised. He built many cinemas in Scotland, especially in and around Glasgow, and continued to do so later in partnership with William Riddell Glen . He returned to refurbish the cinema in 1930.
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?
George Washington Wilson
This photograph of Strathbungo was taken by George Washington Wilson (1823-1893), a pioneering Scottish landscape photographer. After his studies in Edinburgh and London he returned to his native Aberdeen and began work as a painter of portrait miniatures.
George Washington Wilson, self portrait.
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…
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?