I also remember a primary school outing in the early 1960's to visit it and getting shown the large safety pins which the firemen always carried to pin the tongue onto the cheek of unconscious victims of smoke inhalation during fires to stop them choking to death while they worked on the flames.
Maybe this was real standard practice in those days or they recognised us and were just trying to scare us away from their soft fruit garden but it certainly worked for me as an impressionable child. I decided then and there never to get involved in any fires or fall unconscious. Ever! It was a finger sized safety pin and looked massive to a six year old waved two inches away from his eyeballs. Thank you fire service. The station closed down shortly after our visit. Another relic of the past.
At the other end of South Nitshill where Willowford Road joins Nitshill Road (See photograph above) a marshy pond lay in a hollow between the current steps and this sign. Just a round dank pool of fetid water and a circle of a few stunted trees. In those early days this 'Grassy hill' was not the smooth landscaped slope you see today. It was much wilder, uneven and rugged with a shallow canyon on the left halfway up the steps, some erratic boulders and visible lava flows. We found dozens of fossils here in this small canyon which we took into school to show our teachers. For a while they were on display. That primary school is gone now. They are building yet more houses for sale here where our old school once stood. Ironically although people are paying up to 300,000 pounds for a house in this district it sounds like it's gone right back to when the first tenants moved in during the initial building of Pollok. No local schools, no local shops, very few facilities in reach without a car in those early days. History does repeat itself it seems, spiralling down into tomorrow. By the way, I'd like all my fossils back now, please Sir!
If memory serves Murray Pipeworks used to store large pipes here out in the open along the bottom of this hill in the early days until local children clambering over them caused a rethink and they were then placed behind a purpose built compound on the other side of the road.( Cant find out if this was the start of Sir David Murray's metal empire, Murray international metals. As in Rangers former owner. It would have been his dad's business then surely if it was as he was born in 1951) Sir David Murray is listed as a director of Murray Pipeworks Ltd, Edinburgh Branch today. Maybe it was a buyout or a takeover then? Or a different company altogether? Anyway, a brickworks, a chemical works, several low lime hills of discarded waste, a small flooded quarry between the Nia Roo pub and the Darnley hospital (now a nursing home) completed the picture. I also seem to remember two waste coal heaps sitting on this grassy hill between Woodfoot Road and The Nia Roo pub which we used to slide down on bread boards then come in black and happy covered in coal dust. I was really young then though. They were removed pretty quick too before I got to know them better. Maybe after the Aberfan tragedy in 1966 or even before that although they were nothing like as large or as high. Nitshill used to have extensive coal mines. (See link on last post for the Victoria Pit.) The abandoned remains of the Darnley Lime and fireclay works lay up the Corselet Road on the left not far past the World Buffet restaurant.
This was a great area for exploration with several trenches of deep mud and liquid tar to jump over. Lost a few eager troops there too sadly. Short legged types mostly. Poor at jumping the distance required. It was a tricky place to grow up in the old days before everything dangerous was made safe for inquisitive children. Kids today have it lucky. No stinging lime dusted eyes for them or grey asbestos tattered boards the only material around to make a den hut with. Happy days.
Parking is still a problem though. I parked at Rouken Glen Park's main public car park and cycled down on quiet, pedestrian free pavements and industrial estate back streets. Easy enough.
A book that made a big impression on me in my youth was Andre Norton's science fiction/fantasy classic 'Witch World'. It evolved into a series which became the Harry Potter saga of its day. In it the main figure in the book is a hunted individual who escapes into another world by using the 'Siege Perilous' the ancient stone portal of Arthurian legend which reputedly reads a person's soul then delivers them into a world they would find best suited to their talents and desires.
I was already surrounded by legends of the past and could climb the same tree that Mary, Queen of the Scots, once touched. I did not think of this book as a fantasy.
The main character finds himself propelled into a world of rival, warlike, small kingdoms, each of whom hate the other. Check.
I had Priesthill, Lower Nitshill, Darnley, Carnwadric, Pollok central, Dormanside and Arden to contend with. All of these areas had to be passed through with caution and held many dangers for the unwary traveller. Yet it was a beautiful rural land with woods, fields, meadows and lakes.
The fantasy world, in the book, also had traces of previous civilisations within it, many centuries old.
I'd been placed unknowingly, by lucky chance, on my very own 'Siege Perilous' at birth and I'd dropped straight into 'The Shire'. My Shire. Sorting hat perhaps. Similar thing?
I cannot think of anywhere else in the world I would have enjoyed more as a child. It still has so much to offer locals living near it today.
Wonderland. Arcadia.100 acre wood. Sin City,The Magic Kingdom. It's all here.
The things I have seen. Some beyond belief.
I have walked this earth with devils and angels beside me. Sunlight and Obsidian unleashed in all their radiant glory. My soul has been dipped in both honey and quick lime. I've discovered dead, lifeless bodies of humans and animals in gardens and rooms over the years, felt sad, then played with vibrant insects that gave birth to fairies. A life less ordinary indeed. Cant wish for more than that.
A link to my comedy novel Autohighography Bob Law. £1:14 pence Digital on Kindle or £9:39 paperback. 500 plus pages and photographs. First three chapters free to read by clicking here. First chapter on Nitshill, Pollok and Glasgow.