Saturday, 27 July 2013

Pollok.Priesthill. Nitshill.South Nitshill.Darnley.Then and Now.

Let me say at the outset this post is a labour of love. I grew up in the Nitshill area of Glasgow and had an adventurous and happy childhood and young adulthood there during the early days of the great estate known as Pollok. Recently I went a cycle ride through the area and couldn't believe the changes in the various districts from what I remember them looking like last. It was a completely different world to the one I had left behind over 20 years ago.
Intrigued I had a roam around the internet to see what I could find history wise about the Pollok area, Nitshill pre 1950's, and the various housing estates mentioned in the title. There are some fine gems of information scattered around which got the memory juices flowing so I thought I would do this post primarily as a record of what I can recall personally before it fades away from me or I kick the bucket. You might disagree or it might be familiar to you but here goes.
To paraphrase a famous recent film.
 'Much has been lost or forgotten because no-one is left now who remembers it.'
I am sure there are many still around who remember these days as I'm under 60 myself but I'll stick down my impressions of the area anyway as it struck me that children growing up today in this area might want to know what it was like when they grow up themselves. All the photographs in this post are mine. I lived in the area then worked in it for many years. There is hardly a close in the district I haven't been in, during the day and often at night with just a work torch and an optimistic attitude for company and support.
Some of these areas could be intimidating to say the least as close lighting was not always an option due to gang activity and many resembled caves inside with various individuals and assorted cave bears lurking within. More appropriate graffiti might read 'Here be Dragons' above each close yet young local paper boys and girls used to deliver here as well back in the day.

Early years.
This is South Nitshill taken between1960 to 1964 showing Woodfoot Road. We came into the world together, this scheme and I around the year of our lord 1957. Both fresh out the shell and still soft to the touch. Bricks and skin new-born, fresh and innocent. This small estate built on a hill (a 134 foot drumlin) with fantastic panoramas over the city was one of the last housing schemes to be built as part of the massive Greater Pollok district. Pollok is the oldest and most diverse of the four big housing schemes to be built on the outskirts of Glasgow in preparation for the recommended slum clearances of the crumbling and overcrowded inner districts. There would eventually be one at each corner of Glasgow on former farm lands. The others being Drumchapel, Castlemilk, and Easterhouse , huge dormitory new towns in their own right, composed of mainly three and four story tenement clusters split into districts by natural features like woods, streams, swamps or low hills where a break in the closely packed lines of tenements had to occur. Unforeseen by the city fathers who envisaged a clean and healthy utopia rising from the countryside each separate area soon developed its own unique gang with it's own rules and ambitions.
Thank God for those natural features otherwise it might have been a sea of identical tenements without any spaces to play in. This is the green hillside separating high South Nitshill from the lower area known as 'the valley'  St Bernard's Catholic Church was built in 1963 to serve the scheme and stands open for residents to this day as does the Sky Dragon Takeaway beside it. This takeaway used to be a doctors surgery in the early days of the scheme. Both are well known local landmarks that have survived much upheaval and demolition around them. This is a recent photo July 2013. As you can see South Nitshill is and was a green and leafy place, full of trees and beautiful surrounding countryside. The Barrhead Braes just visible in the distance here.
I remember it being a great area to grow up in for me personally but after ten to fifteen years, when I was a teenager myself it turned rougher and had increasing problems with vandalism and gangs. In this Pollok mirrored the other giant estates built around that time. Few jobs or firms hiring people locally were created, once dominant heavy industry was shirking Scotland wide, very few facilities at the start, fewer shops and a real lack of a community central hub and meeting place that an actual town with history and tradition would grow up with and take for granted all played a part. In the 1970's and 80's unemployment was high and gang culture took over. Many of the houses also suffered from dampness, severe condensation and even flooding near the brock burn.

This is the same block of houses seen on the extreme left of the third photograph. Spray paint cans were the new novelty toy in those days. Many a rattle and hiss was heard in all the schemes. Very popular and desirable accessories despite only a handful of people actually owning a car.
The rear of the same houses taken at the same time. This is next to the Sky Dragon takeaway for anyone who knows the area where the small wood separates Whitacres Road from the Valley.
How it looks today. This used to be the main road where the buses came up to the shops and roundabout. Now a dead end cul de sac separating the newly built bought houses from the original lower scheme of the valley. This estate still stands and has been renovated as it was mainly low rise two story tenements and cottage flats. Still Game Episode one series one (Jack's old house) was filmed here at the last house in the scheme and around the area.
Where Woodfoot Quadrant used to stand a new street of fairly posh houses has risen from the ashes of the old scheme. Children growing up here today will have no clue as to what it used to look like.
This is the same area around 2001 just before it was pulled down.
Woodfoot Road near the shops. The middle of the scheme where the roundabout and buses were.

Same thing had happened earlier in neighbouring Priesthill. This district of flat roofed tenements built in the early 1950's is reputed to have received its name after an unlucky priest was hanged here during the reformation. By the 1970's and 80's it was classified as the worst scheme in Western Europe... for unemployment, crime, poverty, deprivation and general bad behaviour. This is one of the better streets. It was a scary place at night yet I had some of my best times here. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. Pollok then held a kind of romantic decadence for me, decent citizens, monsters and angels living side by side with all kinds of vices, virtues and sins going on. It was certainly never dull. Children today cant buy that kind of adventure.  A farm and green fields had originally stood on this spot before Pollok grew up on lands formally owned by the Maxwell family and the Breton Knights since the 1100's. The name Pollok predates  that as the knights took it as their title when they settled here. The name was ancient even then.
2013. The same area. Close to Shilton Drive in Priesthill. Now an open landscaped meadow devoid of tenements which have been cleared. The rest of Priesthill has been given a makeover with nice new semi detached houses similar to the new builds in South Nitshill. The iconic square water tower has been pulled down as well leaving a parkland setting of walking and bike trails. The Victoria coal mine, once the deepest pit in Scotland, used to stand not far from here.
 Inside this great link  it gives you information on Nitshill as a small coal mining village in the 1800's, details of the infamous disaster underground, life in Pollok and many other fascinating accounts of times past. Well worth a look for anyone remotely interested in how we used to live. Fascinating stuff. Once inside see 'Local history' and 'Gallery'.

Anyway, in between these often wild estates Pollok is leafy and rural and always has been. A forest within a city as this photo shows.
 A view over central Pollok which is mainly trees. The wild urban forest. This is looking towards Crookston wood and Castle from Priesthill where Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley viewed the fields and lands of Pollok during their time here. If they were around today they would still find familiar landmarks everywhere.
Holding between 25 to 40 thousand citizen's each, every one of these vast schemes can feel intimidating and claustrophobic places for the outsider to find themselves in. They cover large chunks of the landscape but Castlemilk and Pollok benefitted the most I would say having more open and exciting features around them. Castlemilk is built on a rising slope with woods and gentle ridges separating the various districts. It feels fairly leafy as does Drumchapel to a lesser extent also built on a hillside. Easterhouse probably fares the worst for views being completely flat though it does have green fields, lochs and open grasslands all around it.
A recent view facing the other way taken across the moss roof of 'The Wedge.' Modern Priesthill is the cycle track on the left leading up to the now demolished concrete watertower. South Nitshill is the new build housing development on the ridge behind. Fifteen years ago three and four story tenements would have dominated this view, including this one below.
South Nitshill before the end. The back of Woodfoot Quadrant.
Corkerhill, one of the last districts in Pollok to lose its flat roofed tenements. The other being Craigbank next to if not within Nitshill.( I always thought of it as being a part of Nitshill but it was also a separate estate in its own right. Gowanbank primary school which I attended is in this area and is being demolished as I type in July 2013.
This area remained fairly decent and pleasant for a long time but eventually it too succumbed like a cancer spreading through each of the branches of the tree.
 One by one they fell under the bulldozer and the wreaking ball. Pollok being the oldest was the first but the same thing has taken place in all the main tenement council housing estates in Glasgow.
This post could also be called 'The Disappearing city' as huge areas of Glasgow lie empty now either awaiting redevelopment or landscaping.
This is Craigbank today. Only the lampposts give a clue where Newfield Square, Drumbeg Drive, Prestwick Street and Glenlora tenements once stood. Pollok is gradually returning to the open meadows of old and Nitshill is slowly reclaiming it's village status. In each of the big four estates mentioned the population has roughly halved in size. Around the late 1800's to the 1930's Glasgow was the 4th largest city in Europe after London, Paris and Berlin. Over one million residents attracted to the shipyards, the engineering works and the manufacturing industries. Now it's population stands at under 600,000 within the city boundary.
Ironically, over a million people now inhabit the surrounding region of the Greater Glasgow Conurbation. This is Southpark near Darnley, a new estate of bought houses eating into former green belt protected margins beside the Dams to Darnley Country Park. On the other side of these trees Newton Mearns grows ever larger, expanding to gobble up more green fields and land.
Few it seems want to live in houses built on brownfield sites, i.e. reclaimed land like those shown above but less and less pristine wilderness remains.
In the photograph above this is the start of Renfrewshire. An area of woods, farms, rugged drumlins, reservoirs, lochs and meadows that is totally unique in character. Pollok  and Nitshill used to look like this before 40,000 people moved in. They too were once scenic jewels in rural Renfrewshire before they became part of Glasgow's ever expanding outskirts. There is nothing else like this landscape anywhere in Scotland and if we cover it in houses it should be a monument to our everlasting shame. Some National Parks I've been in have far less interesting characteristics than this area. It should be an informal nature reserve. Protected from development forever. The whole lot from here to Stewarton and from Malletsheugh to Johnstone. Explore it at its best while you can.
Although I grew up in this environment I always escaped into the surrounding countryside at every opportunity and I was lucky in having a truly amazing landscape on my doorstep. Not Peter Pan, not Winnie the Pooh, not Famous Five, not Swallows and Amazons, not Oor Willie, not Rupert the Bear. I enjoyed those stories as a young child but I envied none of them as I had all that they had and more. Far more.
Beyond this long high wall, a modern equivalent of the one to keep out King Kong; beyond this last row of tenements on Parkhouse Road, South Nitshill  below stood a great frontier. Even when I couldn't see it, obscured by buildings, litter and graffiti I knew it was there. Always waiting, 200 paces away from my doorstep.
A golden realm.... and it was all mine for the taking. Each and every weekend and school holidays.
Fate had placed me down here on this spot and I would not have wished to be anywhere else in the world growing up. It was perfect for me and my kind.
In part two I'll show you why :0)

Update. Thank you to everyone who commented on South Nitshill and Pollok. This post has proved to be one of the most popular in eight years of writing the blog so I really appreciate the interest. Over 35,000 visits! For the last two years I've been writing a book which is part autobiography, part novel, part travel guide, and part unusual love story. As I obviously grew up here it starts in South Nitshill then switches to Arrochar, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and many other scenic parts of Scotland. It is written as a tongue in cheek comedy about a Glasgow hillwalking club, their relationships, love affairs, falling outs, and adventures on weekends away. Think Oor Wullie, The Broons, Para Handy, meets a youthful Still Game then imagine they all take up rock climbing, kayaking, island hopping, and caving which is what I did in reality. It's on e book kindle and the first few chapters are free to read on your computer. If you like what you see it's only 0:98pence to buy the whole thing, 500 plus pages - Cheaper than a scratch card but more chance of a laugh, though hopefully it wont get tossed in the bin afterwards if it's not to your taste. I've tried to make it as funny and entertaining as possible throughout and it's an adventurous romp across the wildest parts of Scotland and Europe on budget trips and holidays over three decades. Every chapter is illustrated by photographs like the one above (56 in total) to give readers an idea of the landscapes and situations I'm describing. If nothing else clicking on this link gives you a free extra chapter on Nitshill and Pollok. Cheers everyone.

Update no 2. I have just completed my new guide book which is A Walking and Cycling Guide to the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde and describes over 80 routes in Lanark, Glasgow, Paisley, Inverclyde, Dunbartonshire, the holiday islands of Bute, Arran and Great Cumbrae and travels down as far as Girvan and the Ailsa Craig. It is fully illustrated with 146 colour photographs which should entertain armchair readers who may have lived in Glasgow or along the Clyde at some point or walking and cycling beginners through to experienced veterans. I have deliberately picked a wide range of lesser known routes to suit all tastes from a few hours flat walking in semi urban but green places to day long adventures in remote  areas.
At £1:99 to download from Amazon's kindle bookstore it may be a good Christmas present for someone who wants to explore the area or who just likes a photographic over view of the length of the River Clyde from its source in the Lowther Hills to the expansive waters of the Firth, which is the largest enclosed estuary in the British Isles.
Link here to preview what's inside.


andamento said...

Interesting, thank you for sharing. I lived in Castlemilk for a year. It wasn't Castlemilk proper in that we were on the very edge and the street was owned or sublet by Strathclyde University, but if we wandered further in we saw scenes much like the ones you posted. I have to say I did find it daunting, some of it was in a right state, personally I think it's a good thing much of it has been cleared. Our flat was the mouldiest place I've ever lived. It seemed foolish though not to be building on the cleared land and to be gobbling up virgin countryside instead. I remember the views walking to the bus stop were fabulous, but the bus did take a long time to get anywhere!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anne,
Glad you enjoyed it. Sounds like Drakemire, Spittal or Holmbyre you were in during your spell in Castlemilk. I've been on that bus many times :) It certainly gets into every part of the estate. Would not like to have been a bus driver going from one giant vandalised scheme to the other and having to wait at a dark lonely terminus with a bag full of money like a goat tied to a pole in the open awaiting its fate. Pure jungle in the city. Now that's brave.

Alistair said...

I remember Nitshill in the 70s Bob. Was it you that panned my auntie's window in then? ;) It was a row of modern sort of light coloured multis, about 3 storeys high with verandas and across the road there was nothing but fields in front of them. I suppose those fields have gone now. Looking forward to part two.
Have you heard of 'psychogeography'? You might be good at it.

Russell said...

My pal and I had a summer job in Nitshill in 1972 backfilling trenches in which new pipes had been laid. I think it was around Newfield Square. Have I got the name right? I was absolutely hopeless at it and hated it. A year later I started teaching in a secondary school. Soon realised that labouring wasn't the worst job in the world!

The Glebe Blog said...

A good post for posterity Bob. I didn't get my first look at Glasgow until I was 14 in 1957 when my dad lived in a top room in a Paisley Road West tenement.(him and mum were separated)Not a good impression when I was asked by a group of 8yo's for some pennies 'tae gamble'.
However some of our council schemes over in Fife were pretty rough too. On the one where I was raised the 'Polis' were aye liftin somebidy.
I also remember visiting my auntie in Glenrothes when they were rehousing folk from the demolition of the Gorbals. She used to say, "A canny understaund thae folk, it's like listenin tae a machine gun"
I still have the same problem !

Anonymous said...

I remember southie in the 70's I stayed on Whittakers road as a kid.have lots of great memories of making tree swings,bogeys and dens.anyone on here at primary in mid 70's to 80?

Anonymous said...

Whitacres road

The Glebe Blog said...

Correction Bob, it was a Tommy Gun she likened the Glasgow accent to.

Carol said...

You're the same age as me! Didn't know that ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Alistair.
No it wasn't me. Not guilty. Never met the woman.
Just looked up Psychogeography. Never heard of it before but it's exactly what I've been doing my entire life. I like a good urban ramble me into super dodgy areas. Does that make me an inner city philosopher/genius then? :))

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Russell,
That's hard work. I had a job for a while when I was young using picks, shovels and mattocks on canals and laying pipes. Grim backbreaking stuff.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Jim.
I know a few rough places in Fife too. Parts of Leven and Methil spring to mind.
I wanted to have a night time exploration through the more 'colourful' parts of Glenrothes a couple of years ago just to see the place after a hill in winter but Alex wouldn't leave his car there.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anon.
You may like 'Urban Glasgow' South Nitshill, which has dozens of folk from that area sending in photos and comments from the 70's and 1980's who lived there. It's worth a look at that site.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol. I'll be a gentlemen and say I'm older.

Gary m said...

My family stayed at wiltonburn path when I was born in 1970, moved to 'the bundy' soon after, then househillwood rd. Ive stayed in the stix (E.K.) for last 18yrs but still a pollok boy at heart. Loved the pictures. Dont recognise the place now, even though my family still stay there, and I pass through regularly. I work on the southpark estate (landscape maintainance)
and remember fishing at the bridge behind the ashoka when it was a derelict farm.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Gary,
There's a good story on the early Bundy on the Pollok Kist Link under 'Local history' - looking back.
I never knew all the Bundy Clocks for the buses running on time were manufactured by the modern computer giant IBM.
I used to go to school right beside the original Bundy scheme where Silverburn shopping centre sits now. Tough gang.

ClarkyBhoy said...

Great thread gled sum people still rememba the auld schemes rough places but full a good people! A agree way yer comment aboot the hooses looking menacin but the surroundin countryside being like a haven! God bless the historic levern valley a place steeped in history a true area tae be proud ae! A mean who ever forgets their first jaunt up tae the dams way the feelin that this cannae be that close tae were youve just came fae( looked mere like beirut at its wurst)! Am still fairly young(27) so a witnessed first hand the sistimatic destruction of every scheme! a grew up in nitshill pinmore street awe ma dayz went tae st bernards n bellarmine but a cannae help but think the socalled great new pollok centre(silverburn) hid a bit tae dae way it although a whid conceed alot of the demolition was necessary! But see when they decanted everybody oot a southie ma auntie stiyed in woodfoot funnily enough in wan ae yer pics it took them aboot ten year tae demolish it so it sat there like a soufside hamlet! Anyhoo great piece keep it up gled tae see somebodies git the same.sentiments aboot the auld place as me!BRAVO!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers ClarkyBhoy,
I knew Pinmore Street and Seamill Street well when all the four story tenements were still standing and the connecting row of shops were still intact. Memorable area. Being from up the other hill that was one of the gangs I used to avoid in my teens :)

Anonymous said...

How many storey's up were the houses in Pinmore street. I lived at 100, but can't remember if it was 1 or 2 storey, or more.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anon,
Cant remember exactly where no 100 Pinmore street was but it was all
2 story cottage type rows of houses up until you reached the shops halfway up the hill at Pinmore Path then it was lines of three story tenements in a fan shape running at right angles off Pinmore Street down to Darvel/Galston Street. These were later refurbished and converted into two story tenements and still exist today. Seamill Path and one row on Nitshill Road are the only large tenements left today up there.

Anonymous said...

Great trip back in time I lived on Whittakers road in the 70's as a kid,had a blast of a best pal was David Irvine.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anon,
I used to play in the woods between that road and the valley shops all the time. Great place to grow up.

Anonymous said...

In pinmore st we had 8 houses to close and three closes in a path...went from 56 - 112. on the other side of the street they had 6 houses in a close.

I stayed there for 30 yrs - two I was decanted to southie while they renavated them..

Moved out 13 yrs ago as I was happy growing up there, but was too scared for the weans. we used to use anything to amuse ourselves, even driving the neighbours mental by bouncing a a plank of wood put under the railings a the side of the buildings.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anon,
I remember those railings. I used to work up there a lot 35 years ago but it's amazing how you forget things like how many levels high the tenements were.
I was starting to doubt some of them were four stories tall but you've just confirmed that they were with 8 in a close. Cheers.
Urban Glasgow.( Nitshill) is a great local site with loads of old photos, maps and memories of the area, then and now.

molbiol94 said...

I lived in the "bundy " scheme and had a great time. I remember however I saw a sword fight outside my front window when I was about nine. It scared the sh*t out of me! also another time a taxi driver and a local Ned had a knife fight outside my window. I had a fight every couple of months and even started to enjoy them. You had to stand up for yourself.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Molbiol94,
I used to go to school beside the original Bundy,like everyone else in Pollok as both schools were right next to it, and it definitely had a reputation as the area with the toughest gang at that time.(1950s to late 1970s)
I only learned recently that most of the folk in that area came from the 1930s and early 1940s Gorbals district where they were pulling down the old overcrowded streets of tenements there and some from Govan. It would be an interesting history to document if anyone can fit together all the facts from anyone left to remember it. Amazing when you look at old maps how many districts and streets have just disappeared into history without leaving a record of what they were like.
Good photo of the old Bundy scheme
on 'Urban Glasgow. Nitshill and surroundings, Part Two (page 18 I think)There's some great photos of old Pollok on that site.

katiem said...

Born in govan, 1964, moved to 20 woodfoot quad prob about 4 years later, went to st. Bernards in dove st. Used to get sent to the chippie beside the church on ma bike, put the grub in ma basket. Had to leave Glasgow in 75 and have missed it ever since, love the old photos, keep up the good work. Anyone remember a wee sweetshop between the railbridge and nitshill, used to buy rosebuds and penny violets from a wee woman there on the way back from school, happy days

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Katiem.
I might do another photographic post on the area soon considering the number of comments on here and the interest in the area from folk who lived there. Local shops will be in it as well. There are still two Newsagent type shops between the railway station and the main row of shops at Peat Road. One in the small precinct under the multi storey block next to where the Levern Water hotel used to be and one directly across the road next to Dove Street and the Cavendish pub(now the Hazelwood.)

george said...

Used to live on Peat rd near the garage / st roberts, moved to 62 Pinmore street, drunk in the Oak in my latter days prior to moving to Paisley and eventually england. Have some fond memories of Nitshill ran about with the nitsie, never a dull weekend in Nitshill when all the pubs were closing, have lost touch with a lot of mates. GG

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers George,
Another post on the area next week covering some parts missed out, which may well be the final one.

alexharvey said...

I lived at 44raensgraig dr preasthill now in texas usa for 34years my name is alxharvey

Anonymous said...


blueskyscotland said...

Hi Alex,
Glad you could drop in. I hope it brought back some memories of the area. Another Pollok post very soon.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anon,
Same here. Gowanbank in Househillwood/Craigbank in my case and I hated it :0)

Paula Ferguson said...

Grew up in woodfoot road my dad helped run the youth club in nitshill primary in the 80s, so many great memories of the place will always be a southie girl

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Paula,
It's a pity they couldn't get the Corselet Road back to how it used to look for a modern generation. It was a beautiful country lane in the 1960s and the Barrhead Dams were one of the seven wonders of the central belt.

Paula Ferguson said...

We always went up the dams in the summer with our dog it really was lovely but once they built Park House estate it was too hard to get there

Robi Wilson said...

Does anybody have any pics of old nitshill? darvel street galston street old grey tenements? pinmore street (old 'red buildings') and there is very little online of bellarmine secondary school and st bernards primary both knocked down now.

Tony Smith said...

I moved to southie in 82. At the time it was a great place to live and explore, but, sadly was overrun by sectarianism and religious bigotry, shortly after that, heroin moved in. I escaped in 88 to priesthill and soon discovered a much more brutal and terrifying scheme. Fought my in and fought my way out. Great times though.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Robi,
That's all mine used up but 'Urban Glasgow. Nitshill and surrounding area' has a good variety online from the areas you mention.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Tony,
I worked in both estates around that time and it was certainly an education, even for a local boy.
Most people were fine with me though as I was just there to help them. I've worked in every part of Glasgow over the years and the majority of people in any area are decent folk, given a chance.

marie fisher said...

Hi everyone
Love all the stories about southie,
I grew up in whitacres rd 60s and 70s my brothers and I had a great time there, playing in the woods and the fields getting some tumshies from the field aww the good auld days.

gilly said...

I lived at 27 shilton drive, gr8 memories! The feild was at my back window, went to st roberts primary, best mate gery white,

Anonymous said...

Hi my family lived in woodfoot road for 20 years. It was a great place to grow up in the 80s no one locked their doors and as kids we were always happy. Best memories must be the games out the back in the summer and in then winter slidding down the big hill to the Nia roo dodging the cars at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Bob like your blog we grew up in prestwick st in Craigbank can you remember the old irony a steel pipe crossing the levern burn it's gone now that burns even clean and full of brown trout . Who would a thought that as it used to be a different colour everyday from the coats mill in neilston I also read on a site rangers played levern vics at holm park wich was situated at new field square it must a been there before they got the tenements up .

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Marie, Gilly and the two Anon's for visiting.
Yes, I crossed over that pipe a few times, usually on my way to see the doctor at the row of shops on Barrhead road- Crookston Road. Amazingly, considering he looked after a huge area he never seemed that busy. Maybe people were healthier then as we spent most of our time outdoors. Survival of the fittest!
There are three other Posts on Pollok- Nitshill on the 21/23/and 26. 1.2014 on this blog in case anyone missed them.
I think I've said all I can on the area now but I've enjoyed all the comments and sharing the memories around. I'd forgotten some of the stuff mentioned in this section so thanks again.

gilly said...

Does any1 remember wat happend to st roberts anex? I think it caught fire,

Ann-Marie McDONALD said...

grew up in the Bundy, worked as a milkboy when i was 12 until i was 15 for Frank Dollard ( Kennedys )start at 4.30 in the morning until about 8.00am then went to school Bellarmine that was in 1965 to 1968 , great days then , took my two daughters years later to see where i grew up but they had tore down the scheme and put a shopping centre in its place , palled about with Willie Ferguson Bonzo McKenna and a few guys from the Bundy lots of good times were had in the good old days.

stewart boyd said...

Stewart (Campbell) Boyd

Hi I grew up in priesthill, southnitshill and pollok. I lived at Shilton drive 1975/76. I remember the water tower had a great spiders web. I was thrown in a fire there when I was About 5, 2 older boys burning black poly bags which badly scarred my arm. Me my twin and junior McAlister were playing on the spiders web. I don't know why they did it maybe because I was a halfcast. I don't know what happened to the McAlisters. Grew up mainly in the valley at southie. Such great memories. Playing football, painting tennis courts on the road, hide and seek and kick the can. Having record sessions and playing postmans knock. My family were in pollok and priesthill now at the age of 42 I'm in Pollok now. I really enjoyed the blog and will follow up and read other blogs. I have such happy memories it was hard being a halfcast kid in these areas but I do not regret or look badly on where I grew up. It made me the man I am today.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anne-Marie,
The great thing about Pollok is that it has great scenery all around it. Took a friend onto the upper roof area of Crookston Castle recently for the view and he was impressed by how green and wooded it was. Like living in a forest. The area still has great walks.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Stewart,
one of my childhood school friends came from India originally and he used to get picked on occasionally for being different, although his friends stood up for him. Same with a young guy from Canada who was white but spoke funny until he learned to adjust his accent. It could be rough at times in the schemes as you get the budgie pecked by the sparrows syndrome everywhere in life. It's funny how people always want to stand out and be different and individual yet anyone who actually is gets abuse.
As you say, if you don't let it get you down it can make you stronger.
I'll be writing a post on Drumchapel soon but,as with Pollok, I want to do it justice and get it right as a lot of people have happy memories of growing up there. After Pollok, Drumchapel is the only other scheme of the big four I feel I can write about as I had friends and relatives there from the 1960s onwards.
There is always a danger of offending someone though as I never actually lived in Drumchapel at any point although I've probably clocked up hundreds of hours spent in that scheme over the years.

Hector said...

Fantastic blog Bob, grew up in Priesthill then Nitshill all through 70's till the 90's. Ellison Avenue then Househillw ood. It made you tough, but that's in the past, I'm glad it's a different place now to be honest, I've moved on as I didn't want to raise my kids in Glasgow to be honest.
Stewart, sorry to hear about the fire, I have a vague memory, I may have been there as the fire drew a big crowd . . . did they set fire to a 'den' that you where in? I remember a woman screaming, not a nice memory as I must have been about 4yrs at the time. Anyway, glad your ok and you can talk about the experience.
PS- Your right that spider's web was the business!

JT Urbanoski said...

I truly enjoyed reading your blog. I lived on Pinmore Street from 1964-68, until my parents decided to immigrate to Canada. I remember most of it very fondly. In the summer, I remember the tents in the grass area the separated the huge buildings. We would ride our bicycles along the sidewalks that outlined the tent area. Singing and screaming " dialling 999.." peddling as fast as our little legs would carry us. There were always children around, so as a youngster myself at the time, it was a great place. I don't remember much in the way of gangs, however I was quite young and I believe things got much worse in the 70's. Not too say that we didn't have our issues. Wearing Catholic school uniforms made us a target at times. I however was a lil tomboy and was always taken care of by the older children on our walks home. I remember the grassy areas behind the tenements. My sister and I would venture to a near by farmhouse for eggs, sometimes cream. There was a brick, I think, bridge that we had to go was usually filled with puddles and with my sister's constant threats to hurry or she would leave me behind for the gypsies, it always gave me the perfect excuse to splash my way through.

This morning I plugged Pinmore Street into Google maps. I was surprised to see that there was nothing that I remembered of the area. It was after a virtual walk on Pinmore Street that I found you post. It was a pleasure to walk down memory lane reading the different comments etc. I just wanted to say "Thanks" it was a good read, actually some pictures that I could recall. Wish you all the best!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi JT,
Yes, that was a good time to grow up there. We are a fortunate generation I think to have experienced the freedom of playing outdoors in simpler times before the internet age, although children of any era might say the same.
I have other posts on here covering Nitshill and Pollok so feel free to look. Google Blueskyscotland. Nitshill. Pollok to find them. Jan 2014 I posted another three on the Pollok district.
Urban Glasgow is also a good site made by folk that lived in the area. Google- Urban Glasgow. Nitshill. Pinmore Street and you will find it along with old photos.
Thanks for dropping in.

JT Urbanoski said...

Great thanks for the information. I will definitely check out the other posts. Thanks for taking the time both to write about our tenements and for giving people the opportunity to share and add to the work. It is always nice to read something that you were apart of, if even for a short while. It was great to travel back for a wee while. I was fascinated that you mentioned the Gorbals, like many others my Dad grew up around there. As you said it was a different time. As I sit here in BC Canada the world seems a bit smaller today. It is welcoming to realize that the shared experiences of yesteryear are able to unite people miles away.

I have one last question. Does anyone remember the coal storage areas on the landings? From what I remember they were more like storage rooms and I would think that is what they were changed into in the 70's. I don't recall if there were on a separate landing or if a ōflat enterance shared the landing. I only recall hiding in there as a young child (so they may have only been the size of a broom cupboard) when we would go upstairs to an older lady that would mind us from time to time.

Again thanks for sharing! I truly enjoyed reading the blog and the comments! Have a wonderful day!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi JT and a big thank you to everyone that's commented as I've enjoyed reading the feedback and learned some new details myself in the process. This post is by far the most popular on the blog with almost 9000 visits to date.(Feb 2016)
Cheers everyone and give yourselves a big pat on the back.
The "Pollok Kist Museum" site is also worth a visit with loads of photos of greater Pollok and memories of folk growing up in Nitshill and Pollok in the old days. There is also a link at the end of this post to my book "Autohighography" as the first short chapter, which is free to read in the link, describes growing up in a Nitshill tenement scheme in the mid 1950s to 1970s that might ring a bell.
My own close had a cellar for each house that was walk in size inside and on the ground floor flats it formed a back entrance to the close that you could bridge up with hands and feet until you stood on the roof above. Usually you would be chased off by adult neighbours as it was right beside the bedrooms and intrusive as you could see inside.
Some closes in my back had higher cellar roofs that would have been around 8 or 10 feet of bridging to get up on the roof and involved an awkward mantelshelf move to pull yourself over the edge with just flat smooth concrete and no holds on top plus a 10 foot fall backwards onto a hard surface if it went wrong. A lot of effort if you got chased off after only a few minutes of glory standing up there where few made it. The upstairs flats had cellars on a sub level or right beside their house doors usually. End closes and some right angle tenements had larger families in them and oddly shaped closes with dark right angle bends and dead end doors instead of straight across from each other as in the normal three apartment tenements.
We also used to play at just walking on the white painted strips next to the walls or trying to get to the top landing without stepping on the actual floor of the close when it rained and we were bored. Older kids with a lot of balls used to climb up the outside verandas occasionally to the 3rd or 4th floors if they had a willing mate that lived on the top level or if someone was locked out but had left a window open and gave them a chance to show off their gymnastic talent.
Best wishes and over and out.

Peter Mathieson said...

Do you remember PED M

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Peter, Doesn't ring a bell sorry. Around 14/15 I started hanging around Paisley, Barrhead, Shawlands and Glasgow City Centre or up in the Barrhead Dams so I wasn't around Nitshill much during my free time teenage years, partly because I didn't want to get sucked into gang life as its hard to get out of that once you start and I always had a desire to explore new areas instead. Peer pressure to join and a lot of stabbings happened around that time in all the big estates so it was starting to turn fairly unhealthy staying in the one spot :o)

John McDonnell, Amsterdam said...

Firstly, let me say a big THANKS! to you, Alex, for this, and to all those who contributed to the UrbanGlasgow (South) Nitshill pages - for bringing a tsunami of fond memories flooding back to me, of my childhood spent in “Southie” (Whitacres Rd – a few closes from the corner of Whitriggs in the #6 Southie pic on the UrbanGlasgow pages) and later Old Nitshill (Cleeves Quadrant).

I’m sure I’ll wake up tonight in a tent up the Dams, up a tree in (our part of) The Woods above the Valley, digging up tumchies in the fields across from Parkhouse Rd, or kicking lumps out my wife reliving the countless fitba kick-arounds that was an integral part of a Southie boy’s life. - Back in those days when it was even safe for wee lassies to run around outside playing (tig), or kids of all ages to roam the scheme playing “Ring the bell – Squoosh!” in the twilight.

My family – the Mc Donnells - moved to Whitacres Rd along with our cousins - the Reilly’s - when I was about 5 (‘59/60) and the scheme wasn’t even finished: I’ve clear recollections of risking our necks jumping off empty 2nd story windows onto piles of sand & bricks that would later become Whitriggs Rd.

Contrary to later reputation, Southie back then was an amazing place to grow up. For kids from old, run-down tenement blocks like us (in our case – “The Pawn Close” in Govan) the fresh air, surrounding fields & countryside, farms, coos, bird’s nests, streams, hills, burns & dams – was a total revelation – something many of us had only ever seen in books. For many a Da in a ground floor house, even a wee (5 meter square?) patch of garden was something to take care of and be proud of.

Those where the days before the Nitshill & St Bernards primary schoold were built and double-decker buses used to leave (from either the top, or bottom of the hill?) bringing kids of all ages, sizes, shapes to the far reaches of exotic Pollok.

For reasons I’m not sure even I can explain, I haven’t really thought about any of this for decades, but, reading the names of families, all the anecdotes and mentions of local landmarks … the Piggery, the Hurlet, The Bundy, Cowglen, Rouken Glen, Darnley Fire Station etc. etc .etc. … has unleashed a veritable torrent of previously buried memories I didn’t even know I still had.


John McDonnell, Amsterdam said...

cont'd ...

To be 100% honest, because of its later reputation for drugs & deprivation, I used to be a little bit embarrassed to mention my links to Southie – and would tend to be more comfortable trumpeting my (genuine) pride of originating in Govan, or the later migration of family members to more “upscale” destinations in enclaves of so-called civilized parts off the Paisley Rd West & beyond.

(BTW I moved first to London when I was 17 and have lived in Amsterdam since 1980).

However, I now realise there was plenty about the old Southie to be proud of, not the least of which was the many, many, very decent (mainly) working class families who lived there. In retrospect, if I think of some of the people who I know who were brought up in Southie and what they've achieved since - from graduates of Glasgow School of Art to one time head of the legal department at Strathclyde region - there are probably just as many reasons to be proud, if only we knew what happened next.

Also, irrespective of which side of the cultural/religious/football divide you happened to fall - and let’s not pretend it was never an issue (unfortunately Rantic never really took off as one would have hoped!:) ), there was still a fantastic community spirit and, as a kid, an unrivalled sense of freedom and access to outdoor adventure that very few places in any major city could even hope to offer.

When I looked at an old map and see all those “W” street names, it reminds me of the time in the late 60’s when, as a young teenager, I used to help a friend of mine Philip McCluskey * with his paper-round – which was effectively a cover for finding out exactly where all the nice looking young burds lived and hoping they’d come to the door when we collected the money on a Friday night.

(* BTW Phil was once “famous” for getting run over by a bus outside Craigbank School and surviving intact!)

In passing , you might want to add the names Quigley, Harkness, McIlduff, McArthur & Lee, to your list of family names around Whitacre/Whitrigg Rd end, Thomson & Ward to the gas houses at the top of the stairs to the valley shops and Garrity & McVeigh to the Woodfoot Quadrant end.

Which brings me all the way back to the reason I ended up stumbling across all these recollections of Southie in the first place. I was looking at the list of “famous” Southie characters and thought that there was one you might consider noting ( a relation of mine - he married my cousin who he met at as best man at my sisters wedding)

At the risk of a raising what is always a very touchy subject – fitba – (and believe me the last thing I want to do is raise any hackles!), I wonder if you were aware that the leader of the accordion band which headed the parade of the Celtic team with the European Cup on 26th May 1967 was actually (at that time and for many years) a resident of Southie – the now deceased Jimmy Brennan?. I have a fantastic picture of him warming up the band prior to the arrival of the team. he also appears in a BBC Alba video, but here is obviously not the right place for anything which could be wrongly construed.

Anyway, and finally, let me just thank you – once again – for pulling all this together – and for pictures and recollections which made me both laugh and (almost) cry.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi John,
Bob of Blueskyscotland here. Thanks for the comments and glad you liked this post. I'm the guy that put it up along with all the others on this blog about Pollok where I grew up. My mate Alex, my co-blogger, grew up in sunny Govan but I think you might be referring to Alex Glass who takes most of the photos and contributes to Urban Glasgow. That is another excellent site with many contributors who add material but they are not connected in any way with this one and its just me for the past few years that posts on here.
As you say South Nitshill was a fantastic place to grow up in as a child in the early days and I've been all over every other district of Glasgow and can't think of a more varied landscape of deciduous woods, flooded quarries,streams, grasslands, reservoirs, hilltops, and deep gorges anywhere else. Even now it's still a special place,landscape wise,although they are biting chunks out of it year on year for new housing estates. I think our generation was really lucky growing up as we had complete freedom to wander around and explore by ourselves up the Barrhead Dams and elsewhere whereas today's children seem to live indoors much more as the outside world is now perceived to be unsafe for them on their own.
Thanks for dropping in.
Best wishes, Bob.

John McDonnell, Amsterdam said...

Oops! Sorry. I put 2 Alex's together and got Bob. :) -I'd wrongly assumed - due to the local/historical content - that "your" Alex must be the same Alex (Glass) who put together all that Urban Glasgow South/Nitshill content - which now seems to be dormant (perhaps moved to another format e.g. Facebook?).

Anyway, having also lived in Old Nitsie (Cleeves Quadrant) for some years and walked to school through Priesthill/Pollok etc. - I'm very familiar with all those local landmarks - both rural & urban - you covered in your blog - so I thoroughly enjoyed taking a walk down memory lane (or maybe it was Househillmuir Rd).

Next time we're back in Glasgow I must remember to take my kids for a historical hike through the surrounding area. In the meantime - thanks again for all your hard work in putting this stuff together. Cheers!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi John, I thought that's what it might be. I posted three other Pollok posts on Jan 2014 if you are interested. Just Google Blueskyscotland. The Bundy. and you should find them all together in that month. Also one on the Dams to Darnley right beside the first South Nitshill post.

Fay Kennedy said...

Thanks so much for that amazing effort. I grew up in Priesthill 1949 to 1962. Been a long way from it for over fifty years down in the antipodes of west australia. It was a great place to go wandering and it's marked my outlook all of my life so very grateful even with the hardship which there was no shortage of in my particular case anyway. When am feeling a bit down I have a browse through the Glasgow sites and yours is exceptional. I was one of the first pupils at Gowanbank when it opened. We were so thrilled us kids to have such a modern school and I loved school at any time. It got its name from the headmaster from Househillwood Primary who had just retired(a lovely man) Mr. MacGowan. Just a wee anecdote thought might interest you. Well done and all success to your future projects. All the best Fay Kennedy (Priesthill Road was my abode and now gone that damp tenement that we called home)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Fay,
It was probably just because it was all so unfamiliar,a lonely bus ride away,and everyone else seemed to already know each other there that Gowanbank never felt like home to me and it was a great relief to leave it and attend my own primary school closer to where I lived and knew the pupils. I still like that area (Pollok)to this day and had another recent bike ride through it that I haven't posted yet but for me the attraction was always exploring the surrounding countryside with like minded friends from the scheme but the Pollok countryside posts are never as popular as the urban estate ones I've noticed.
Best wishes over in Oz where my sister lives. It's even wetter here each year than the long warm summers I remember as a child but maybe that's just selective memory kicking in :o)

Peter Mathieson said...

Hi I lived in south nitshill between 1961 and 1980,it was a great place to live, I recently took a walk through scheme and was sad to see how it had changed yes the houses were really nice but it seemed a very cold place,it was a really nice day but there wasn't a single person about no children out playing so as far as I'm concerned change isn't always better. Peter Mathieson

blueskyscotland said...

I agree with you there Peter but I think that's just modern times as children today live indoors more, on Smart phones, computers, and other gadgets. It's only in the poorer estates or cul de sacs free from traffic that you see them playing outdoors in cities these days. A big increase in cars, a sex obsessed society, and an increase in paedophiles and estates where everyone lives separate modern lives means it's hard to go back to carefree times again. The fact that there wasn't a single trail running through the S. N. woods made by children was a real eyeopener and shows they never explore much now away from their front door. Also, you've probably noticed, children and even parents immediately move away from any strangers now outside due to a general climate of fear. Makes me feel like a really bad person when kids run off the street indoors as soon as I'm in sight, much like old western films when the gunslinger enters the one horse town but that's modern life for you.

Anonymous said...

My name is Tom Cecil, wae a name like that I used to get a lot o stick back then!
I was born in Priesthill, went to St. Roberts Primary then Bellarmine Senior Secondary.
Our maths teacher was Mr. Bonner (a nice but tough guy he could handle the neds) whom was also chess master of Scotland I believe. Another teacher at that school was the legendary Bob Crampsie (from football commentator and Brain of Britain fame).
We were Catholics of course n I remember big fights with the Prodies from that other school (I can't remember its name). The cops used to come with their landrovers n chase us away.
We eventually moved to Househillwood (where the triangle of trees was- a library was built there, back in about 1964 or so) - I think that area was called the Hurlet- Peat Rd. We (the whole family) escaped to new town Livingston (W. Lothian) around 1976. Most of the inhabitants moved to the new towns after that.
I remember as a child playing in Pollok park- a beautiful place- wonder if it's still there!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Tom, Bob here( The guy that put up this post) Thanks for commenting. Other Secondary School you mention would have been Craigbank, a short distance from Bellarmine but it's now changed it's name and religion to become St Paul's secondary while still occupying the exact same site on Damshot Road across from where the Bundy scheme once stood. (That's now gone- replaced by the Silverburn shopping centre.)
There was a library halfway down Peat Road at Hartstone Place I used to go into back in the 197os and on-wards. Don't think it's still open as a modern one exists inside Pollok Civic Realm not far away.
The Hurlet was slightly further up at the Junction of Barrhead Road and Nishill Road.
Pollok Park is still thriving and won Best Park in Britain in 2007 then European Park of the Year in 2008.
If you are interested or curious to look it up and bring back some memories Google Maps and Google Street view (Pollok. Glasgow) show detailed street layouts and actual images taken around that area and in the park itself.
Best wishes, Bob.

David Spalding said...

Hi Tom, I came across your site when I was refreshing my memory of visiting my aunt when I was a kid in the 1960s . We lived in the Parkhouse area of Glasgow and my recollection is that my family would get on a 50 bus from around the Central Station area (under a bridge if my memory serves me correctly) and get off at the terminus (?) at Potterhill Road. I seem to remember my aunt had a house above the row of shops at the junction of Potterhill Road and Lyoncross Road. Access to the house was a flight of stairs at tho side of the shops leading up to a veranda off which the houses sat. I was about 10 or 11 at the time and my memory may be faulty in regard to some of the details. I would love to know if you or any of your correspondent's could confirm any of the details I've given, and, if correct, even post a photo of the shops and houses at the time if any still exist. Like many of those who've found their way to your site, I've reached that age where I find myself reminiscing more often about my life when young but memory can sometimes be unreliable so anything which can confirm my own recollections would be terrific. Much appreciate any help offered. Regards, David Spalding

george said...

each time I visit Nitshill I see vast improvements to the area, which is great, but I am now 61 years old and have lived in England for over 30 years and I still have fond memories of the Nitshill of the 60,s and 70,s.

I actually miss the area somewhat a I had some great friends around Nitshill and when we catch up all the good times come back.

John Bigham said...

Hi,my name is John Bigham,I drove a coach for Dodds of Troon,in the late 60:-/early 70s I took the South Nitshill Celtic supporters club to all the matches,picking up at the Royal Oak pub,the convener was a Willie McGowan.any info.

george said...

Hi John

I remember the bus well and a lot of my old mates were (are) Celtic fans, The Oak was always jumping when the bus arrived and it was always full when it left.

Alas the Royal Oak has gone now, but I believe there is still a Celtic supporters set up around the area.


claire said...

Just came across this blog and currently sitting at home in houses where whitehaugh was, my next door neighbour is practically st Bernard's chapel. Yup very different these days but some tell tale memorable parts unchanged. Rope swing off the tree behind Sky a Dragon is still there , admittedly not the original but there at least😂 Someone mentioned the changes here and recently looking like a cold place with no children playing outside but on the contrary the estate is extremely well known for having masses of local children out and about playing, more so in half decent weather but it is normally jumping with kids. Many people living here previously lived in old southie and have definetley kept its spirit alive somewhat. Not unusual to see a group of kids havin a big football sidey on the grass.

Anonymous said...

Craigbank was NEVER part of was ALWAYS just Craigbank,a scheme in it's own right.Nitshill was actually a village LONG before Craigbank was built

e.hunter said...

grew up in 114 pinmore street - nitshill - right at the top looking onto railway line and the farmers field and south nitshill - had good times growing up there - plenty of friends to play with -- when older i would walk from my friends house past bundy - priesty and as a girl no one bothered me - those's days girls were safer - was a good place that they let run down and ruined it --- i went to levern then crookston - but went to the craigbank youth club - we went ski-ing ect - was great we club -- - somehappy days -- did go back to live in craibank and pollok area for few years - big changes - hated it - and never felt as safe - as i did growing up -- but that seams to be the times we live in now - mores the pity

Catherine McManamon said...

Hi Bob, my heart aches reading your blog. Was born in Govan in 1964, Garmouth st, but must have moved to South Nitshill when I was 3 or 4 as I remember starting school in St. Bernards. We lived at 20 Woodfoot Quad, across the road from the Sunday school. Days spent with our bogeys on the devil's elbow, playing in the ruins of what I think was an old fire station, cycling to the chippie beside the church, picking blackberries in the woods. When I was 11, we moved to the west of Ireland and except for visits home to see family, I left Glasgow behind. Saddest day of my life. Glasgow will always be home to me.

PS have just downloaded your book! Looking forward to a good read, and revisiting the dear green space.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Catherine,
Hope you like the book. My earliest memories are of the fire station still working, Darnley Mill farm at the bottom of the hill and the start of Corselet Road still having cows in the fields, two small pit bings on the hill above the Niaroo Pub and the large long pipe stacks of the Murray Pipe works being still on the open hillside.Both pipes and pit bings disappeared before I was in secondary school and the fire station closed down soon after. Great excitement as a teenager when the open fields Between South Nitshill and Arden became the Darnley housing scheme rising before our ayes.
My sister left for Australia in the late 1960s in her early 20s yet she still calls coming back to Glasgow 'coming home' every time 40 years later. Guess you never forget where you grow up, even though she was always out dancing in town then and didn't spend much time exploring the surrounding Nitshill area. She spent her early years in Kinning Park but I was only a toddler when we left there so don't remember it much. I found out later we lived in the same street as Alex Harvey.
Being a few years old now the links in this post might not work to other sites but if you type in Pollok kisk or Urban Glasgow or Hidden Glasgow into your search engine you might get more info on Pollok and Nitshill memories.
I've also written other posts on Pollok.......typing in Blueskyscotland Arden or Blueskyscotland Darnley or Blueskyscotland Nitshill. Gowanbank should get them up.
Best wishes Bob.

Catherine Monaghan said...

Thanks Bob, will have a look. Went back a good few years ago, and saw the old scheme before it was pulled down. Very sad to see the state of it. When we left in 75 it was just beginning to get a bit rough, but I enjoyed the few years I lived there. Will definitely dig a bit deeper into your archives. It's a wonderful site, so many great places you have visited!