THE STREETS & PEOPLE OF OLD SPRINGBURN

 The following pages were notes made by an unknown resident of Springburn about the year 1898, and with the aid of my wife’s sister Marion, we have interpreted his rather poor writing and his personal shorthand, but other than that this is his story, just as he wrote it. I gave this history of “Old Springburn” to the Springburn museum many years ago, and the Curator of that time was Mr. Mark O’ Neil. Mr. O’Neil thanked me for giving the Museum the oldest existing history of the Town and its streets.

 OLD SPRINGBURN        19-2-1898

 Recent reports in our local newspapers of a somewhat misleading character, have prompted me to deal with the above subject, and being a resident in Springburn for upwards of 33 years, the following facts are quite within my own observation.Starting from COLSTON TOLL, (Now within the Burgh of Glasgow) levies were taken here for main and branch roads, and the Toll, along with a long row of houses stood at the corner of COLSTON ROAD and SPRINGBURN ROAD. Approaching Springburn, the only property from COLSTON to the foot of BALGRAY HILL was the building built by DAVE Mc LEAN,( now a pawn shop).There was no EASTFIELD STREET, but a farm road leading West to POSSILPARK old mansions is worthy of noting I remember only the existence of Sheriff Allison’s house in POSSILPARK. George Stewart’s Inn, a one storied thatched house, stood at the foot of BALGRAY HILL, where Mr. Pemmes spinning shop now stands. McLaugh’s old house is now the site of AGNES PLACE, and the property adjoining is much the same as today. Near KNOX’S OPENING, UNION STREET, was RANKIN’S property with sunken flats. Next stood a lodge with three large stone pillars at the entrance gate, with another gate of the same kind at the top of AVENUE ROAD, (NORTHCROFT ROAD). In this  property was a grocer’s shop, with an adjoining close, where the only Post Office stood. The letter carrier for Springburn was only one man, and for the country district a young woman was employed. The only house   up Avenue Road was WELLFIELD COTTAGE occupied by Mr Rankine. Returning to Springburn Road we have a neat stone wall and Lodge at the entrance gate approaching Wellfield House at 528 Springburn Road. This was a very nice avenue, pleasantly adorned with trees to Wellfield House, owned by the late Mr. James Reid of Wellfield, and tenanted by the late Mr. James Reid of Hyde Park. From the Wellfield gate to the gushet at Vulcan Street was all vacant ground except for a lodge at Blenhiem Street south corner. This Lodge was said to have been erected by a gentleman who intended to build a large mansion further East, on the lands of Flemington, but the building of the Lodge appears to have exhausted his energies. North of this Lodge the road was protected by a high brick wall, part of which fell and injured the late Mr. David Young, then a prominent local man. Hyde park work buildings were then in existence, but of much less extent and consequence. From the corner of Vulcan Street to the corner of Flemington Street was a high stone wall. An old farm steading stood on the North side corner of Flemington street, occupied by William Forester, (Contractor). Hyde park Place was just finished at that time, and from this point to Sighthill Toll Bar was all vacant ground. Sighthill Station was occupied mostly by the Scottish Central Railway, now amalgamated with the Caledonian Railway. Petershill Road was a narrow country Road leading to Germiston and Balornock. Opposite the Caledonian offices the road was very narrow, and the road at the Railway bridge was also very narrow. Fountainwell Road was in existence. It was considered that the site of St. Rollox U.P. Church, or near it, there stood a building which was called “Lodge Mulloon”. The association of this building re-calls the anecdote of a Campsie Parish Minister making his weary way homeward, and being involved in some dispute, threw off his black coat saying, “Divinity lie you there---here’s John Lapsley”, and thereupon exercised his pugilistic ability on some ruffians who had attacked him. Sighthill cemetery has been largely extended to the older buildings in Coburg Place, and the high level road which at one time was the only road between Glasgow and Stirling. Between Coburg Place and Keppochhill road stood a lodge entrance, leading to Gourlay Estate. The writer remembers when there was no Keppochhill Road, just a stone magazine where the present fire station stands, and only a pathway existed, which is now Keppochhill road. From the lodge gate to the corner of Cowlairs road, stood a high stone wall bounding a mansion house, which stood at the south side of Cowlairs road, now Masonic road. A little way down Cowlairs road there was a Police Station, and an old two storied building with parapet wall and high balaster railings in front. Nearer Cowlairs Station stood a large Mill, four stories high, with small windows, and tenanted by Mr. Findlay, occupant at one time of Wellfield House. The writer well remembers the great fire which reduced this building to ashes, and can describe the bursting of flames through the windows, and it was he in fact, who raised the fire cry. The fire brigade was not in existence in Springburn at this time, and Cowlairs station was then only a local station. There was a long row of one storied houses that stood at a little North of this station, but these no longer exist. Returning to the North side of Cowlairs road there stood and still stands, an old mansion house occupied by David Younger, a foreman blacksmith in Hyde Park works.A farm steading stood here, quite close to the old Mansion House, and the barn with its outside stair was occupied as a schoolroom by Mr.Watson, a much respected schoolmaster. Three tenements were in existence at that time at the corner of Shepherd street, and the only building from this point to the top of Cowlairs road, was the old file works in Robb street, which are now dwelling houses. At the top of Cowlairs road was a two storied property and Licensed premises ----stables and byres-----occupied by Mr. William Forester, (Contractor) On the west side of Springburn road stood a two storie property, partly sunk below street level, with iron railings in front. From this point to the corner of Hill street, Springburn road was narrow, with a stone wall from the railway bridge to Hill street, and there were rows of trees growing on a high bank along the edge of the road. An old two storied house stood at the south corner of Hill street, known as “Segrieve’s Land” and on the other side of Hill street, opposite St. Clair Terrace, was a one storied cottage, and for the remaining part of Hill street there was only a two storied property belonging to Mr. T. Muir, and the late stationmaster Robb’s cottage. On the north side of Hill street stands Mr. Kemp’s property, with the established Church adjoining. Next was vacant ground and then a small R.C. Chapel near the foot of the street. From the corner of Hill street to Centre street there was the buildings which are still in existence, with the exception of the “Bank” property. There were three shops at the corner of Centre street, while the other frontages were occupied by a coal ree and R.C. School-rooms, with dwelling houses above. No buildings were added to Centre street till1897, except for one three storie tenement, and a new R.C. School. Centre street, on the right hand side was mostly weavers shops and dwelling houses, and formed the most populous district of Springburn thirty years ago. In the property to the rear of “Gilmour’s” spirit shop, (Now recently demolished) was a school-room, (Former Weaver’s shop), managed by a committee of gentlemen including the Rev. J.A. Johnstone and George Mc Alister, (Grocer) . The school was conducted by Mr. Govan,  (Now headmaster of Albert school). Below this school-room there were stables, occupied by Moses Cumming, who also lived there. On the death of Mr. Watson Mr. Govan’s school was transferred to the barns in Shepherd street, and the Centre street premises were closed as a school. The writer well remembers the little flock of scholars marching down on that first morning with Mr. Govan. Continuing North along Springburn road from Centre street were old properties, much sunk below the level of the road  with iron railings in front, belonging to James Kay, (Spirit Merchant) The under flats of these properties were all occupied as weavers shops. Old Andrew Simpson was a prominent man among the weavers.The property at Springvale Place (known then as deadland) at one time fronted Springburn road, and was occupied as a Post- office were erected by N.B. Railway. The level of Springburn Road here has been much altered, being raised in 1795-1796, when the loop road was formed from the foot of Balgray Hill to Bishopbriggs.Before this date the Balgray Hill was known as “Inchbelly Turnpike Road”, the King’s highway to Stirling, and is said to have been made by the Romans. The three high terraces at Blocks were erected by N.B. Railway Co. about 30 years ago. The gushet corner property at Balgray Hill was erected by the late Mr. Smith, and the clock was put there by public subscription.

 Old Springburn 19-2-1898

 Some of the old worthies of that era

 OLD JOHN MC LEAN----THOMAS CARMICIAL
DAVIE YOUNG----JAMES BREEZE
JAMIE OF WELLFIELD----BAKER BAIRD
CORK BROWN----WALKER FARMER AND SON
WILLIAM McLAUGH----JAMIE PORTER (Timekeeper at Cowlairs and was short a finger)
JAMES KAY (Quiet man Publican)----JOHN LIDDLE
ALEX MITCHELL (Publican)----Mrs. WATERSON
WILLIAM RANKINE (Spirit Merchant)
AND OLD CARRUTH (Weaver)


DIRECTORS OF SUBSCRIPTION SCHOOL

 REV. J.A.JOHNSTONE----GEORGE Mc ALISTER
THOMAS Mc MICHEAL----DAVID YOUNG
AND JOHN DEWAR