Jordanhill south of the railway line
Notes on the area now known as South Jordanhill
Jordanhill today is divided into two distinct parts, North Jordanhill north of the railway line, and South Jordanhill to the south. Until 1928 when the new railway bridge at Westbrae Drive was built, the two parts were not directly connected and existed as two quite separate areas. Historically North Jordanhill was in Renfrewshire whereas South Jordanhill was in Lanarkshire. North Jordanhill was in the Burgh of Renfrew but South Jordanhill was in the Burgh of Govan.
Furthermore the name Jordanhill is generally associated with the Smiths of Jordanhill but South Jordanhill had no connection with the Smiths. South Jordanhill had belonged to the Oswalds of Scotstoun since the mid 1700’s and the land for the majority of houses in the area was feued from James Gordon Oswald in the early 1900’s.
For the story of the Oswalds of Scotstoun go to http://www.wsmclean.com/Oswalds.htm
The boundary between the lands of Jordanhill (the Smiths) and Scotstoun (the Oswalds) was generally the Whiteinch Burn. This burn also was the boundary (or march) between Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire. The Burn is shown on old Ordnance Survey maps rising somewhere around the junction of Crow Road and what is now Woodend Drive. From there it ran slightly west then south along what is now King Edward Road before crossing under the old driveway from Crow Road to Jordanhill Mansion (now Southbrae Drive). It then continued towards the Clyde at Whiteinch by following what is now the Victoria Park Walkway behind the houses in Westland Drive. After the railways were built and large areas of land were feued for housing at the end of the 1800’s, parts of the burn were piped and then subsequently absorbed into the main drainage systems which had to be laid to serve the new developments.
South Jordanhill was known in the late 1800’s as “Victoria Park”. This was clarified in a series of letters to the Editor of the Evening Citizen in July 1898. A writer who signed himself “Perplexed” (what’s new?) asked for a definitive description of the area of Jordanhill. A few days later the Factor of Scotstoun Estates, Talbot Cristie, submitted a short reply accompanying a sketch plan which clearly showed “Jordanhill” to be the area we know today as North Jordanhill, with “Victoria Park” as the area now known as South Jordanhill. To the east was Broomhill; to the south was Whiteinch and to the west was Scotstoun. Some residents considered they lived in Whiteinch ( see the item on the housing scheme below)
I recall in 1975 when boundaries for Jordanhill Community Council were being finalised to include North and South Jordanhill, a number of elderly residents in South Jordanhill contacted me to protest in no uncertain terms at being “lumped in” with Jordanhill.
South Jordanhill has a rich history and it is fully recorded in the 1893 annals of the Regality Club under the chapter entitled “Balshagray”. The land was one held by the Montgomeries (see their involvement with the Smiths as recorded in others parts of this web site at http://www.wsmclean.com/Smiths.htm and http://www.wsmclean.com/St John.htm ). It was subsequently part of the great estate of the See of Glasgow held under the Crown and Balshagrie is first mentioned in the “Rental Book of the Diocese of Glasgow 1509 – 1570”. See the old photograph of Balshagray Cottage (photo No.6) at http://www.wsmclean.com/bygones.htm. Several of the road names were ecclesiatical, see entry under Balshagray Drive at http://www.wsmclean.com/jroads.htm
The 1859 Ordnance Survey map shows South Jordanhill to be made of of arable fields, with only two buildings, High Balshagray Farm and Balshagray Cottage. By the 1895 edition of the map The Great Western Laundry had been built on the site of what is now the Arnold Clark Showroom and several large villas on the west side of Balshagray Avenue south of Abbey Drive had appeared. (see below) Also, isolated on its own on York Avenue (now Eastcote Avenue) was a solitary house which still stands today at numbers 6 and 8 (two small semi-villas painted white). Close examination of the 1895 map finds a “flagstaff” and a rifle range in the middle of the field where St Thomas Aquinas School is now built.
Thirty years ago I was researching in Mitchell Library and in these days if you wanted to look at back numbers of the Glasgow Herald they gave you original newspapers bound into volumes covering three months. Nowadays the old newspapers are available only on microfilm.
By chance, while wading through the tome for May 1924 my eye caught a large plan which was unusual for the time. It was a news item headed “Whiteinch Building Scheme”. See a photoreduced copy of the plan below. The news item accompanying the plan was as follows.
“The ... plan shows the latest housing project to be undertaken by private enterprise in Glasgow. The scheme, which is shown by the shaded areas within the heavy border, is laid out for 250 houses of five apartments each, constructed in terraces and double villas. Prices range from £811 to £928 and arrangements have been made whereby a bond of 80% of each of these amounts may be had from the Corporation. In the event of any of the houses not being sold or let within three months after completion, the Corporation have agreed to take over such houses at the prices mentioned. The scheme is promoted by the Balshagray Building Company, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow”
This scheme is the red sandstone estate shown in the colour photograph above which I took from a hired helicopter while on a business assignment covering central Scotland. My family knew I was intending to fly over the house, so they are in the garden waving as we circled overhead.
The last houses of this development to be built were located at the west end of Mitre Road, Essex Drive and in Westland Drive. The builder was left with about twelve unsold, and as stated in the article above, the Corporation of Glasgow took them over as council houses for rental. This created quite an odd situation where owner-occupiers were living side by side with council tenents whose houses were not only relatively cheap to rent but were maintained, modernised and re-roofed by the public purse. The “right-to-buy” legislation will most likely have removed this anomaly by now.
I obtained a full set of plans for these houses and it is interesting to note that the downstairs rooms were described as the “parlour” and the “sitting room” for what are today known as the dining room and lounge respectively. From the title deeds of my former family home in Mitre Road I discovered that the original price was only £775 when completed in 1929 against the quoted lowest price of £811 given in the news item quoted above. In 1938, just before the war, the house was sold for £650 which must have been a difficult time for everyone.. By 1948 the price had risen to £2,100 but then prices remained pretty stable until 1960 when it sold for £2,500. I paid £4200 in 1967, but by the mid 1990’s the going rate had risen to around £100,000. Today they fetch around £250,000.
This 2-storey detached house is the only listed building in South Jordanhill. It category C on the Statutory List and was designed by E G Wylie in 1924.
Thirty years ago I was told by an old local Glasgow Baillie that the house had been built for Robert Rankine, a prosperous Glasgow butcher who named it Hallhill House. The locals nicknamed it Mutton Hall. It was acquired in 1935 by William E Burton of the Great Western Laundry and the locals then named it Bagwash Hall.
They are listed on the Statutory List as Class B with the note that they were cast by Walter MacFarlane and Co. at their Saracen Foundry.
Before 1860, Balshagray Avenue ran northwards from Dumbarton Road as far as Bishop’s Road (later renamed Mitre Road) then stopped at that point, requiring travellers to turn east along Bishop’s Road to Crow Road. By 1894 the Avenue had been formed to connect with Crow Road at Abbey Drive with several of the large villas and semi-villas built on the west side.
In the webpage http://www.wsmclean.com/bygones.htm photograph No. 7 shows Balshagray Farm with some associated notes. This was High Balshagray Farm which operated many of the fields south of what is now the railway line. As more and more houses were built on the farmlands, the farmhouse was finally demolished in 1928. Until St Thomas Aquinas School was built in the 1950’s, that site was the only field left undeveloped and untended except for a few years during the Second World War when it was cultivated again as part of the War Effort.
There was also a Low Balshagray Farm located just east of what is now the Fossil Grove but most of its lands were taken over for the development of the Victoria Park.
Before the Lawrence housing development on the west side of Westland Drive was built in the 1950’s the land between Westland Drive and the railway (now the walkway) was occupied by allotments. The site now occupied by sheltered housing on Eastcote Avenue at Cluny Villas also had allotments.
The kick-about pitch on Westland Drive at Westbrae Drive was left undeveloped because of the steep gradient of the site between the road and the railway. Over the years it has become partly filled and is now a useful recreational area. However it is earmarked for use in connection with the proposed new station at Westbrae Drive to serve the future Scotstoun Rugby Stadium.
Glasgow City Council had intended to form a continuation of the Victoria Park Walkway through to Crow Road on the former railway track-bed east of Westbrae Drive, between the houses on Westland Drive and the present railway line. However there were problems of access and asquisition of land in the vicinity of the present petrol station on Crow Road so the project was abandoned. This tree covered strip remains an undeveloped area popular with dog walkers and school pupils.
St Thomas Aquinas School The large field on which the original school was built was owned by Johm Lawrence who had proposed to extend his housing development within it. However the Corporation of Glasgow took a compulsory purchase order on the field because it was deemed to be the only suitable site large enough to accommodate a new Roman Catholic Secondary School. When it was built around 1953, it was used for the first few years as a decant school for non-denominational pupils from schools in the Knightswood area. I intend to carry out further research into the history of the school..
9 April 2005, latest revision 7 May.
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