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|
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|
|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
|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|
|Looking north up Hyndland Street from Dumbarton Road|
|Over 130 years ago, my ancestors arrived in Partick from Alness and Kilmonivaig,|
John McPhee, Kate Henderson and their children.
|The Heid o' the Goat, now Keith Street|
|Another view of Keith Street. Note the Criterion Ices shop|
|Society of Friends Burial Ground, Keith Street, Partick|
|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|
|Looking east from junction of Crawford Street onto Dumbarton|
Road, this junction no longer exists.
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|
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
|Looking west towards Partick Cross|
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!"