Thursday, 13 November 2014

Walking Through Partick, Past and Present

Walking Through Past and Present Partick


Last year I took myself on a tour of Maryhill in Glasgow, guided by old photographs. As I moved home away from Maryhill when I was 12 years old I thought it was time to come up to date and do the same thing around Patrick where I stay now. As before my plan was to search out some old photographs and see what changes have occurred since they were taken. What was immediately obvious was that the past century has been less cruel to Partick than it has been to Maryhill, with many old buildings and street layouts surviving. The gap sites that are scattered throughout Maryhill don't seem to exist in Partick, at least not for very long before a block of studio flats or student accommodation is thrown up. 

Meadowside Granary, Glasgow, with Partick laid out behind it

Whilst there are more and more flats being built in Partick now, all traces of industry are vanishing. A major employment in Partick for centuries were its mills, initially using the power of the lower River Kelvin. Grain mills were such an integral part of Partick life that millstones feature in the Partick coat of arms. There were so many mills down here, supplying flour to Glasgow, that Europe's largest brick-built complex of buildings, Meadowside granary, was constructed to supply the grain. Meadowside granary has now been demolished, replaced by the Glasgow Harbour flats. 

Old Mill of Partick, on Old Dumbarton Road
Also, within the last few months, the last mill in Partick, the huge Rank Hovis one on Dunaskin Street which produced flour for their Duke street factory, has been demolished. I think there is now only one mill building standing, and that is one of the oldest, the Old Mill of Partick, sometimes called Bishop's Mill, now converted into flats. This handsome building (on what is now the Yorkhill side of the River Kelvin) is recognisable for its wheat-sheaf sculpture atop the chimney stack. In the old photo you can see the channel or lade taking the water away from the mill's water wheel.

The shipyards and riverside industries on the Clyde are also long gone, even the scrap yard on Beith Street has closed. Prior to it being a scrap yard, this was the site of a train station and Partick Foundry, producing metal castings until it closed in the 1960s. Where Benalder Street crosses the River Kelvin here there used to stand an entrance down to Partick Central Station. This last remaining building of the old train station mysteriously vanished one night in 2007, before the owner of the land at that time, Tesco, had yet got planning permission to develop the site, but were clearing the ground. Tesco have now abandoned there plans to open a store here and a huge block of flats is emerging from the ground on this site.

The last active mill in Partick, the Rank Hovis mill on Dunaskin Street,
ground down to dust within the past few weeks

Even the Western Infirmary and Yorkhill Hospitals are in the process of shutting up shop and moving to new premises. In 1878 Glasgow University sold the land to the hospital authority where the Western Infirmary was built, but a clause in that deal stated that if the hospital ever moved out, the university would be able to reacquire the 14 acre site. This they have now done, to expand the University campus. Yorkhill Hospital's site I'm guessing didn't have such a clause, so I suspect a tsunami of new flats can be expected to rise over the hill there soon (although the Health Board are apparently thinking of keeping the site going as Western Infirmary out-patient clinics and day surgery wards). The danger is that Partick is becoming a big middle class/student housing scheme, with all signs of its long past and industrial history being erased. A walk down Dumbarton Road on a Friday night shows that there is still plenty of life in Partick yet, but gentrification is creeping down the road.

St Simon's Church, Partick
The oldest Catholic church in Partick is also the third oldest Catholic church in Glasgow. It lies just north of the Old Mill, across the River Kelvin on Patrick Bridge Street. It was opened in 1858 as St Peter's. The first priest was Irishman Daniel Gallagher, who apparently taught Latin to the the young David Livingstone, allowing him to get away from the mills of Blantyre and gain entry to medical school. The church closed when the new, larger St Peter's opened on Hyndland Street in 1903 but 20 years later it re-opened as a church due to the rising population in the area and became St Simon's (the original name of the apostle Peter). I had always known it as "the Polish church" and this was due to soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces based in Yorkhill barracks during the Second World War using it for worship. After the war it continued to have mass in Polish for those who ended up staying here, and with the more recent influx of Poles to the city it has had a new lease of life in this role. I guess it shows that it you stick at something long enough the world will catch up with you.

Plaques at St Simon's church marking its Polish connections
Just around the corner on Dumbarton Road is found the entrance to Kelvin Hall subway station, called Partick Cross station until 1977. Merkland Street subway station became Partick station at this time too. Regarding the overground train stations, I've already mentioned Partick Central station (which became Kelvin Hall station in 1959) just south of Partick Cross. There was also Partick West near Meadowside granary and Partickhill station.

Old Glasgow subway map with Merkland St and Partick Cross staions

At the time of the redevelopment of the subway system in the late 1970s, Partickhill station was closed down and moved about 100 yards south to become Partick station and share a site with the subway on Merkland Street. Partickhill station was on the north side of Dumbarton Road and above the old Woolworths here. A metal door still covers over the stairway that led up to it from Dumbarton Road, and it you are waiting for a train from Partick, look northwards 100 yards and you can see the remains of Partickhill station's platforms.

Entrance to the station formerly known as Partick Cross,
now Kelvin Hall station
When I was young the F&F Bingo used to stand diagonally across the road from this subway station. Before then it had been the F&F Ballroom, which also accommodated roller skating. In the 1980s I wasn't down here for the bingo, but started many a Saturday trawl around the local record shops at West End Records a couple of doors down from the F&F. Then it was a walk up to Realistic Records on Dowanhill Street (or later Music Mania at the bottom of Byres Road), Echo and Woolworths on Byres Road (also later the upstairs record shop in John Smith's bookshop that became Monorail) and Lost In Music upstairs in De Courceys Arcade. By then you were halfway to Firhill and a few pounds poorer. I can still list off albums I remember buying in each shop, but I'll save you from that.

The F&F on Dumbarton Road, now Carlton Bingo
Recently all the other low shops either side of the old F&F building have been cleared, and replaced by a block of modern flats, but throughout the building work you could see them building around the bingo hall and it is still going strong, just less obvious. Is that grey cladding meant to echo the old shape of the building which the flats have swallowed up?

Dumbarton Road, looking west from Dowanhill Street
In the old photo above you can see the low shops on the left which have now been cleared, and on the right hand side, one block on, is a block of three storey tenements which are long gone, with Mansfield Park now here. The post box is still in the same position though, which is nice.

Looking north up Hyndland Street from Dumbarton Road
Above, these photographs are looking up Hyndland Street from Dumbarton Road, with the Quarter Gill pub on the left. You can see the three storey tenement building in the old photo, which was cleared to create Mansfield Park, where the Farmer's Market sets up its stalls every fortnight. At the bottom corner of this block you can see the shop is run by William McColl. The tower of Dowanhill Church, now Cottiers bar/restaurant/ theatre, can be seen at the top of the street and St Peter's church halfway up on the right. The offices of the Glasgow Gaelic Centre are on the other side of Mansfield Park. Partick has always had a large community of Gaels. This dates from the days of drovers coming down to Partick from the Western Highlands with their animals, on the route into Glasgow. Later there was an influx of people from the Highlands and Islands coming to find work in the city.

Over 130 years ago, my ancestors arrived in Partick from Alness and Kilmonivaig,
John McPhee, Kate Henderson and their children.
My great-granny McPhee was born in a flat on Dumbarton Road just west of Partick Cross in 1888. Her mother had come to Glasgow from her home in Alness, Rosshire as a domestic servant, working in a flat just off Mansfield Park here. Her husband was living in Partick, at this time working as a hotel servant. He had come from Kilmonivaig, near Fort William.

The Heid o' the Goat, now Keith Street
In the days when my family arrived in Partick there would still have been traces of old Partick cottages hereabouts. The centre of pre-industrial Partick was 'the Goat', an old Scots name for a small burn, which ran down where Keith Street is now. The "heid o' the Goat" was the north end of this burn. These photos are at the top of Keth Street where it meets Dumbarton Road at the bottom of Hyndland Street (it always annoyed me that when a pub opened calling itself "The Goat" it was about half a mile away from the Goat). These cottages weren't demolished until the 1930s, and where Comet used to have a shop now stands a shiny new block of student flats.



Another view of Keith Street. Note the Criterion Ices shop 

Society of Friends Burial Ground, Keith Street, Partick
At the bottom end of Keith Street lies what is surely Glasgow's smallest graveyard. A plaque shows that this is the Society of Friends (Quakers) Burial Ground. Although it is still neat and maintained, no gravestones still mark the plots. John Purdon, who gifted the land, is remembered in nearby Purdon Street (where The Smiddy pub is) and his wife was apparently the first person to be buried here.

Society of Friends Burial Ground, Keith Street, Partick

There is evidence of a bishop's residence in the village of Partick dating back to the 12th century and old pictures record the ruins of "Partick Castle" down by the River Kelvin. For centuries the main importance of Partick was as a ford to cross the River Kelvin when travellers moved between Dumbarton and Glasgow.

Balshagray Farm, Partick. Not much farming goes on now in Partick
and Balshagray Avenue is a dual carriageway into the Clyde Tunnel.
You can see the tenements of Partick in the background of this picture, marching towards the farm

With industrial expansion in the 19th century a village of 1,235 people in 1820 had grown to over 10,000 people by 1860. By 1911 over 66,000 people lived in Partick. To cope with the changes Partick became a Police Burgh in 1852. The original Burgh Hall and police station can be seen at the back of Morrison's car park, on Anderson Street. Everyone knew this building as "Partick Marine" as the police force had a marine division, although they were only responsible for the quay and warehouses and didn't take to sea.

Partick Marine. Former Police station and courtroom.You can
see the barred windows of the cells on the left and a rooftop exercise yard here

In 1872 the Burgh Halls moved to larger premises opposite the West of Scotland Cricket pitch, where Partick Burgh Halls still stand. As Glasgow continued to expand, Partick was eventually absorbed into the city and in 1912 Partick was a burgh no more.

Partick Burgh Halls on the left, opposite the West of Scotland Cricket Club pitch

Partick Burgh Halls is a grand old building, designed by Scottish architect William Leiper, who also designed Dowanhill Church/ Cottiers and the Templeton Carpet Factory at Glasgow Green. In the picture above you can see the Burgh Halls peeking out between the modern flats on the far side of the cricket pitch. Cricket has a surprisingly long history in Glasgow. The West of Scotland Cricket Club which still plays here was formed in 1862, before that the Clutha Cricket Club played on the northern part of this land. On the right hand side of the picture above the houses on Peel Street run down towards Dumbarton Road. You can see that the street here is a mixture of old tenements and modern flats. This was because this row was badly damaged by German bombers during the nights of the Clydebank Blitz. On March 13th 1941 a land mine dropped from a plane struck this block, killing 50 people here. Another landed on Lauderdale Gardens and a third on Dudley Drive in Hyndland, killing 36 people.

Before houses stood on Peel Street, a map from 1861 shows that a curling pond and bowling green were to this side of the cricket ground. Between 1883 and 1885 Partick Thistle played at Muir Park to the south east of the cricket ground (see here). And whilst were still on a sporting theme, I'm sure that everyone knows by now that the world's first international football match was played upon the grass of the West of Scotland Cricket Club? Scotland and England played out a 0-0 draw here on St Andrew's Day, 1872. A crowd of 4,000 paid a shilling each to attend.

Looking north up Merkland Street, now the
site of Partick train and subway stations

The other side of Dumabrton Road from Partick Burgh Halls, Merkland Street is now home to a large Morrisons, Partick train station and underground stations and the bus "interchange". However in the old picture above you can see none of that. Even the Merkland Street subway station is hard to make out in the old picture, the entrance was in a close on the left hand side just under the railway bridge (which is no longer there). The flats coming down the right hand side of Merkland Street in the old photo have been cleared after one block. You can see the painting of the netball player, done for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on the remaining gable end.

Looking east along Dumbarton Road from Peel Street
Continuing westwards along Dumbarton Road the photos above again show that material changes have been minimal. I think that all you can learn from these two pictures is that the air is now clearer to allow you to see the University tower at the end of the street. 

Bridge over Dumbarton Road to Partickhill Station
Going onwards another 100 yards and looking back west towards town you can see that the rail bridge shows the way to Partickhill train station, which was up the stairs on the left hand side of the road, above the old Woolworths shop. Elsewhere in the picture trams have been replaced by traffic jams and fish shops by Credit Unions. 

DM Hoey and the Rosevale Bar on Dumbarton Road
On the block across the road from the train station as we continue to move west there used to stand DM Hoey's at one end and the Rosevale Bar at the other end, only the pub has survived. In the 1960s there were six braches of Hoey's in Glasgow (Dumbarton Road, New City Road, Maryhill Road, Ibrox, West Nile Street and Argyll Street) for all your men's casual clothing needs. In the 1980s I used to get my school tie at the branch in Knightswood shopping centre, and the first time I bought my dad a Christmas present it was a box of three cotton hankies from the Partick branch. The company was founded in 1898. I thought that there was still one going on Victoria Road, but I can't find it on Street View so maybe Hoey's is no more. The nearest thing to it now is Man's World which still inexplicably manages to keep trading on Byres Road. So where a fishmonger has been replaced by a Credit Union across the road, a clothes shop has been replaced by a bookies. Other than shifting the entrance, The Rosevale hasn't changed.

Looking east from junction of Crawford Street onto Dumbarton
Road, this junction no longer exists. 
These photos above are a further 100 yards west from The Rosevale and the tenement block on the right hand side was demolished to re-arrange the junction at the bottom of Crow Road and has been replaced with modern low houses. The Ettrick pub which the couple are walking past as they cross Crawford Street has gone from here, and for a while there was an Ettrick Bar on Dumbarton Road at the bottom of Gardner Street, but it has now been re-branded as Heisenberg's. If you are trying to track down an old Glasgow pub can I point you in the direction of oldglasgowpubs.co.uk.

After coming this far along Dumbarton Road I walked up Crow Road to Broomhill Cross, then up Clarence Drive and down Hyndland Road to head back to Partick via Byres Road.

Looking north up Byres Road from the junction at Dowanside Road

Grosvenor cinema on Byres Road 1980
Looking north up Byres Road again the changes over time are fairly minimal. Hillhead subway station is still up on the right, just past the old Grosvenor Cinema. Atop the tenement on the left, (above what is now Nardini's cafe) is the sign "Victoria Cross". Previously the road  north of here was called Victoria Street and Dowanside Road continued straight over at this point towards the university, before the junction was reconfigured to take it across at Highburgh Road.

The cinema here opened in 1921 and used to be entered from Byres Road. It has now been refurbished and is entered from Ashton Lane. The first time I went to the pictures without my parents was here, and I remember standing outside on Byres Road waiting for them after I'd seen a Disney double bill of Dumbo and A Spaceman In  King Arthur's Court. I've just checked and this means that me and my brother were 7 and 9 years old! The old cinema foyer here is now the Masala Twist Indian restaurant, and the stairs to their toilet used to take you to the cinema balcony.

The next pictures below are again looking north up Byres Road, from the end of Havelock Street this time. Other than the trams and the old cart in the foreground, little has changed.

Looking north up Byres Road from Havelock Street
Since we are the end of Havelock Street now, let's wander down to Dowanhill Primary School, which is now Notre Dame Primary School. After years of poor maintenance by the council they proposed closing Dowanhill Primary and flattening it to build a new school to house pupils from Notre Dame Primary, St Peter's Primary and Anderson Street Nursery. Local parents were savvy enough to contact Historic Scotland and get the old building listed. This forced the council to refurbish it, and build a fancy extension. This has created a school which has since won design awards which the council are happy to crow about on their website (without mention that this wisnae their plan).

Dowanhill Primary School and Dowanhill Church in the background,
now Notre Dame Primary and Cottiers Bar in the background
Pupils from Dowanhill Primary School were moved to the newly built Hillhead Primary School, which the council built on land at the edge of Kelvingrove Park (eg it was free) whilst closing and/or selling Hillhead, Dowanhill, Kelvinhaugh and Willowbank Primary schools and Willowbank and Dowanhill nurseries. Despite local parents campaigning against this ill-conceived plan (I know, because I was one of them who told them their plans did not have sufficient capacity) they went ahead and Hillhead Primary is now bursting at the seams. This was entirely predictable (and predicted). Still, I hope that they made lots of money for the council budget from the process, who cares about the children's education?

Looking west towards Partick Cross
Anyway, crossing Byres Road again and heading down Church Street (which no longer has a church on it) we arrive back at Dumbarton Road and can look west towards Partick Cross again. The stonework is cleaner now, the tramlines have gone, but otherwise it is all instantly recognisable. In the old picture you can see The Kelvin House draper's shop on the right, a Partick institution. It opened in 1919 on Hyndland Road and soon moved to Dumabrton Road, where it stayed until it closed in 2005 leaving the people of Partick nowhere to buy their net curtains, bed jackets, knitted tea cosies and nighties. I might be thinking of somewhere else, but did it used to have a kind of Hornby train set in a glass case that did a few loops when you put in 10 pence? Maybe I'm imagining it.

Anyway these are my recollections and conjectures of Partick, the area of the city that gave its name to Glasgow's greatest football team. Please let me know if you think there is more that should be added.

Edit :- My mum has reminded me that she used had a summer job in the Grosvernor Cinema
"@grannygrandad I worked in the Grosvenor Cinema summer 1969. I watched the moon landing over and over on Pathe News wow!"

20 comments:

  1. A third of the way down the page. Two pics at the bottom of Dowanhill St looking 'east' along Dumbarton Road ...... these pics are looking west!

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    1. You are quite right, and I've amended it. Cheers.

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  2. Any Picture house ,The Western on Dumbarton Road ,
    thanks ll

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  3. Dear Glasgow Punter, Please would you have a photo of 1171 Dumbarton Rd, Whiteinch, Partick , around 1897. Thank you

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  4. Sorry, I don't have anything beyond what I pulled together for writing this.

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  5. Excellen & thoughtful blog. Well done

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  6. Hi excellent blog i am looking to see if you have any old ohotos of Purden Street in Partick my grandfather grew up there. Having trouble locating any.

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  7. Interesting blog. I was born in 87 Beith St and went to St Peter's Girls then Notre Dame. Left Scotland over 40 years ago so really lovely to see your photos and read the blog. Good work.

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  8. What happened to Clutha CC? And how long was Hamilton Crescent being used for sport before West CC started?

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  9. I have this memory of looking at houses off Dumbarton Road in the 70s. They were very unlike Glasgow houses, being built of a yellowish brick. I think I remember a small square of them. Am I dreaming or does anyone know where I mean? Thanks. I found this look around Partick fascinating.

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  10. Think I remember Birss department store on Dumbarton Road having a coin operated train set.

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  11. Great Blog. I was born in Dowanhill street and spent many a Saturday in the F&F bingo when I was wee with my nana then walked the length of Dumbarton rd for messages. Happy memories

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  12. Looking at the photo of Merkland Street does anyone remember a licensed grocers opposite side from the subway this would be early sixties

    Jean Cameron

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  13. Anyone remember the licensed grocers in Merkland Street think it was opposite side of subway early sixties could not quite see in photo looks like a bar on the corner

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    1. It was called McNivens. Corner of Merkland st and Russel St. Russel St ran through to Vine St which used to be called Orchard St.

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  14. Very evocative blog Punter, well done, but I'm left wondering if you never went to the movies, especially since back in the 50s you could have seen a different movie in a different cinema in the Partick area every night of the week (though not on Sundays naturally). Just off the top of Byres Rd. was the Grosvenor - the only one still existing; The Salon in Vinicomb St (sold the best orange ice lollies in the universe); The Standard, opposite the bottom of Church St.(used to show Superman series for the kids on Saturday mornings; The Western aka the Ranch or the Fleapit next to the F&F ballroom, specialised in cowboys and gangster movies;the Partick cinema in Vine St (went on fire one night after an Al Jolson movie and never re-opened. A notice left on the door warned - "Beware, 20,000 volts !"; The Rosevale (The Rosie) along from the bar of the same name; and finally just up Crow Rd. on the left was The Tivoli. Not bad for a mile walk.

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  15. My great great grandfather owned Cross Park & Lang's restaurants.
    The mansion house in Cross Park was torn down sometime after WWI.
    Land is now a public park.

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  16. My grandmother used to take me shopping in Partick every Saturday,the shops were good and useful,what they have been replaced by are Bookies and cheap that shops. What a shame

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  17. I was born in 9 Walker Street in 1944, and went to Church Str. school I can remember gypsies living in a little cut out in Keith Street and Grants furniture shop in front of Walker Street in Dumbarton Road, I would love to see a photograph of where I was born

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