Sunday, 26 January 2014

Arden.Darnley.Carnwadric.Kennishead. National Savings Bank.

For the last post in the South Glasgow/Greater Pollok area I thought I'd include the rest of the working class estates and adjoining housing schemes. This is the main road through Arden. Although none of these areas are in Pollok they were all within walking distance and as a lot of folk from Pollok, myself included, either had friends or relatives living in them I thought I'd end with them.
Arden from Carnwadric Road.

One of the reasons for knowing people here is that all these districts on the outskirts of Glasgow grew up to accommodate the citizens displaced by the slum clearances from Govan, Kinning Park, The Gorbals, and other south side ancient tenement clusters many of which were crumbling relics of the Victorian era. With large families and marriage between folk who didn't travel much then it was normal to know people in adjoining estates as cousins, aunts, uncles or workmates who all seemed to live closer together in the days without cars, and factories employing hundreds or even thousands of people from the local area still existed and helped cement bonds. This was the real 'Big Society' a community spirit which came about from people having a lot in common and all being, more or less, at the same level. Nowadays, with a fractured and increasingly multi-cultured and economically diverse UK where people are forced to move around frequently to find work or can start relationships online countrywide there is no way on earth you can get that community feeling back despite all the rhetoric from politicians. This is not being racist as the same close knit communities that bonded over generations existed in Indian cities, Irish, Polish, Russian, American and most parts of the world.
Ironically, as the opportunities to travel increase we seem to be getting further away from each other individually, and not just in a physical sense but in a mental one as well. Given the choice we no longer want to live in each other pockets and usually the first thing folk do if they buy their own council house is throw a large fence up to separate themselves from any neighbours.
I had relatives in Arden so I visited it often and knew it fairly well. Compared to the layout of most estates it's a strange scheme as you can drive through it in a very short space of time ( a couple of minutes on the main twisting road) but like legs on a centipede, long rows of four story tenements, like the one above, branch off at right angles all the way along this central thoroughfare with the result that it packs in a large amount of residents in a relatively small area.( Faifley above Clydebank is very similar in design and size) It's also built over a peculiar egg box shaped landscape and every street seems to be either climbing up a slope or sits down in a dip. Some of the ground floor flats ( see photo above) are under street level due to the nature of the terrain.  Compared to the wide flat streets, open spaces and dual carriageways of Pollok, Arden, built in the 1950s by SSHA (Scottish Special Housing Association) always felt slightly claustrophobic and surreal to me for some reason, like parts of Castlemilk and Drumchapel where narrow streets and tightly packed 4 story buildings either side, facing each other, made it feel dark and oppressive even on sunny days. But if you live there you probably get accustomed  to it as my relatives all thought it was normal growing up. Almost every street there also seemed to finish in a dead end. Some of the houses must get great views though, like these ones below, as they have a panorama over large areas of rolling farmland and deciduous mature woods.
Compared to other, high density, tenement districts in the G53 area Arden always seemed to be reasonably maintained by this housing association and was one of the last schemes to start going downhill during the 1980s recession when the closure of heavy industry and mass unemployment hit Scotland and the North of England hard with large groups of young folk everywhere looking forward to a future on the dole as it took a full generation to generate the same number of jobs lost by the closure of large factories, shipyards, and engineering works.
This pub 'Cuillins', privately built in the heart of the scheme in the mid 1960s may well have been the first one of its kind in Glasgow, as housing estates often took decades to get their own pub. The folk in the schemes obviously couldn't be trusted with alcohol, or any other form of entertainment for that matter, close at hand, as none were included in the original blueprints. Fortunately, for the residents, it's shut down now, so they are safe from themselves at last. With cheap supermarket drink house parties are the new pubs which must please the neighbours next door even less.
Arden from Carnwadric. When you think of it many of the big schemes were just rabbit hutches built on top of each other as most had few facilities to begin with. One small row of shops to serve 30,000  people spread over a huge area in Pollok's case at the start yet nearly everyone had large churches and chapels right from the off. The planners must have thought the residents were desperately in need of saving from the very first day. I wonder how busy they were over the life of the scheme? If you were really cynical you could look at it that these districts were really just convenient boxes to keep the population in. A place where you ate and slept when you weren't working or worshiping so no wonder they used to call them 'dormitory suburbs'. The problem with many of the large estates at that time was that they were built by planners and architects from a different background who didn't really understand the collective nature of people. They always started out with grand ideas and visions of a Utopian metropolis where people would behave perfectly yet any ordinary folk from the streets shown the plans would have had real concerns. Building vulnerable or old folks houses directly above  local shops similar to these in Carnwadric, below, became a staple of almost every scheme. It may have seemed a great idea to have the weakest in the community near the shops but it made life hell for most of them as that's where the local kids hung out every night as many had sheltered stairwells safe from the winter rains and it was one of the few places outdoors where they could stay dry and not get moved on. Shops were also a frequent target for burglars meaning alarms ringing below you on a regular basis most of the night. Within a decade a lot of these flats were boarded up and hard to let. They only survived in the best areas.
Carnwadric shops. Carnwadric grew up in the 1930's on land that had belonged to the Royal Stuart line, descendants of Robert the Bruce and the Kings and Queens of Scotland, then the Maxwell family who owned most of the Greater Pollok District. Carnwadric shops above. King George V Playing fields and Kennishead flats behind in the Photo below. These flats were built next to Carnwadric in the mid 1960s around the same time as the National Savings and Investments bank was built in nearby Pollok.


It was rumoured then that they were built in part to house the flood of workers needed to staff this massive bank and it kept the current Queen busy as she opened it and also this Park/ Playing fields.
 The Kennishead flats from Nitshill. At the time the papers carried stories that experienced bank workers from the south of England seconded to work here dug their heels in and refused to move due to Glasgow's reputation as 'No mean City' A legacy of a popular book written about the Gorbal's Razor gangs of the 1930s. A very enjoyable read but it cast a long shadow just like Colin and Justin's TV programme in 2007 about Arden 'On the estate' which although it might have been well intentioned picked two half empty streets in the scheme scheduled for demolition and gave the impression that's what the whole district was like. To anyone who knew it however Arden was actually one of the better estates with many nice streets, even then at its worst. Even today if you look on the internet you will see articles  like 'How rough is Glasgow?' and inquiries or comments from folk living in Manchester, Birmingham or London telling people how bad it is here. I can tell you now I've always felt safer in the worst parts of Glasgow than any of those three cities just mentioned and I'd hate to live there so maybe like midges a violent reputation can be a positive asset in keeping people away.
A night view of the Darnley, Arden and Kennishead.
The National Savings and Investments bank. At its peak, according to reports roughly 10,000 workers were employed here but dwindled to half that number over the years as it was subdivided to other businesses. Now it lies empty and up for sale.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Savings_and_Investments
Another view of it surrounded by trees. Pollok is a very green area. One of its many virtues. The majority of these high flats must have world class views over Glasgow, Paisley and Renfrewshire, all the way to the west coast and the mountains around Cowal and Arran, or in the other direction as far as Tinto and the Southern Uplands. During and shortly after the war the whole district was dotted with POW camps with Italian and German prisoners, many of whom helped to build the scheme before they were released. At Cowglen there was also a large American Army Hospital and injured soldiers from all nationalities were treated here. Unlikely as it seems, as part of the war effort I believe various big name film stars like Clark Gable, Jimmy Cagney and many others visited here and selected movie stars could be found jogging past the Bundy to queue for fish suppers beside Pollok roundabout. I'm not making this up!


 Carnwadric is still a decent scheme of low rise cottage type houses, Like most of Mosspark, Carntyne and Knightswood these older schemes are still desirable places to live with upstairs/ downstairs two level houses and back and front gardens. This design is popular as it's the way most people want to live. Arden is one of the few estates left in the area that still has most of its original tenements standing but that might be because it's still a housing association and, I think, is funded by rents that require a large population base in order to carry out repairs and maintenance. I was up there recently and a lot of renovation work and small new building projects are going on with the result that it looks a well kept area again after a dip in the 1980s to the 2000s.
Unfortunately, with Glasgow, at that time, in the mid 1940s to the 1960s  having to find accommodation for upwards of  roughly half a million displaced people at a guess, and spare suitable  land hard to come by the low level estates mentioned above like Mosspark, took up far too much room. After Pollok was finally completed the next big project for Glasgow Corporation next door to South Nitshill on the south side of the city was this....The Darnley, above.
Billed as high amenity area, with a local library, shops, bowling green and other facilities it seemed like lessons had been learned. Sadly the architects and planners were still out of touch with human nature and built a deck access estate on what used to be green fields. This remaining long wall of multi story houses has been extensively upgraded and the open corridors closed in but it's enough to get a feel of what the old estate looked like. I was a young teenager in the late 1960s early 1970s and watched with interest as long rows of uniform grey buildings appeared at the bottom of my hill. Interest changed to disbelieving excitement as I realized this new estate had an unusual layout which meant that you could walk practically unhindered from one end of it to the other without coming down to street level. Open corridors ran all the way through the two, three, four, and seven story blocks and many of these had high level pedestrian bridges connecting several block together. As a thirteen year old this was the biggest ,most mind-boggling, most complex, adventure playground I'd ever seen and I couldn't wait to explore it. Well.. you would, wouldn't you.
This time the town planners had got it wrong on a spectacular scale! Ya beauty! It wasn't our job to tell them they'd just messed up big time but anyone that lived in a scheme and knew teenage children could have told them the original Darnley was a disaster waiting to happen. Luckily I had a best mate the same age that lived in the Darnley so when we were bored with the fields and woods or anytime it was poring with rain, which was often, we wandered the endless corridors, stairwells and bridges of these 'streets in the sky'. They were right...it was a high amenity area... for playing in.
What they had forgotten was the golden rule of house building that has been in existence from the stone age onwards. Mark your personal boundaries out first- Then build your house inside those lines.
Like most of these deck access estates the Darnley didn't have any boundaries as it was all open plan then with no door entry systems and the tenants couldn't say "this is my private property- your trespassing in my space- go away". All they had was a front door in a communal corridor that anyone could wander up and down in. The entire scheme was like that and almost from the minute it was built it started to go downhill like most of the other notorious deck access estates in the UK and abroad.(South Gate in Runcorn springs to mind.)
http://hughpearman.com/the-naked-and-the-demolished-the-scandalous-tale-of-james-stirlings-lost-utopia/ This estate is actually far more attractive looking than the original Darnley but it failed to save it as the design concept was a failure from the start as soon as you put people into the equation.
 If you read this link and look at the photos inside you'll get some idea of what it was like as I don't have any photos of the original blocks anymore apart from this one. On reflection it takes a bold person to be an architect or town planner and this link highlights that: commissioned to design mass housing for large groups of people within various constraints of budget, size of land available, speed of erection and always at the whim of the people holding the purse strings who can change whatever they submit to suit their own remit at the last minute. As they work in a visual and tactile medium ordinary folk always have a strong opinion on the finished product, but when they get it wrong bad architecture can have a profound psychological effect on the people living there for decades to come. I loved the Darnley- but only as an adventure playground.
After a few years the gangs discovered what a great place this was too. When we explored it all at first the kids wandering about were well behaved and inconspicuous and didn't cause any trouble but soon the numerous stairwells had smashed lighting; corridors and walkways became covered in spray-paint and graffiti and exploring the place at night in winter became a really bad idea as you never knew who you were going to bump into round a dark corner.
Even before the Darnley was built the three established gangs in the area from Priesthill, Arden and South Nitshill used to have occasional battles in the fields during summer if they met one another, team handed. Now that they had the Darnley to fight in undercover ( a purpose built all weather  concrete battleground) things escalated rapidly and it became notorious for gangs rampaging up and down the corridors or charging across the walkways at night. Metal gates in the corridors were erected at intervals to try and stop this but the damage was already done and few wanted to live in an area with teenagers fighting and stamping above their heads as they lay in bed trying to sleep due to the strange construction of the buildings, where if I remember correctly, you went down interior stairs into the living rooms in some of the flats.
Original Park Hill residents in Sheffield would also find this outcome depressingly familiar.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Hill,_Sheffield Good photos of 'Streets in the Sky' architecture here particularly the ones right at the very bottom of the page in this link. .'Brutalism' at its finest. The kids soon showed the architects the human face of 'Brutalism' and like the building themselves, it wasn't pretty. 'Psychogeography' in a very real sense as if the negative and inhuman scale of the urban landscape around them was feeding directly into teenage minds.
Anyone from a council housing estate background could have predicted this would happen. Flat roofs in a country like Scotland were not the brightest idea either and many homes soon suffered from dampness. The Darnley estate was intended to be even larger in size than it ended up and I remember them knocking down a few streets before any residents had a chance to occupy the just completed buildings. Maybe they suddenly realized, with horror, the full magnitude of what they had constructed. Most of these concrete jungles went the same way and the old style Darnley was gradually demolished after only 15 to 20 years as it lay half empty by then and was a favourite for squatters. I wish I'd been into photography in those days as it was something else at the end.

Now it's a totally different estate and apart from this one remaining block which is now residents only restricted entry it's all low level housing with back and front gardens and looks fairly upmarket as a lot of them are bought. It's the way most people want to live- with defined boundaries that plainly state to anyone else: This is mine- you've crossed the fence/line so you are now trespassing on my property. As easy as that yet its taken us decades of mistakes to realize that is the way housing should always be. I see online some of the remaining buildings that are left in other estates UK wide are being done up then marketed towards young professionals or students without children which would be suitable but they were never ideal living areas for families or anyone elderly as they could be pretty isolated places years ago.

To sum up. Council schemes and estates often get a bad press but sometimes the planners need to shoulder some of the blame. From a personal point of view growing up in one, the majority of  folk  around me were just like people anywhere else. Most of them worked hard to raise families, often in   low paid unsatisfying jobs -semi skilled or unskilled mostly then. The majority of people around me  were also honest and  reliable, prepared to graft all their life on the bottom rungs of society with little to show for it at the end. Unless you were extremely talented, determined, lucky, or academically clever it was hard to get out of a scheme once you were in one thanks to the points system and the subtly corrosive way of life there.. The reality of life for most folk at the base of the big pyramid is that they are there to make up the foundation for others to climb on. When I read recent headlines like "most people are better off now than in the last few years." I think   'Good to see Pinocchio's reinvented himself again'. Or another recent cracker. "Together we will built a better Britain! "  For who exactly? 90% per cent of average citizens will always be poor no matter what happens. The gap between rich and poor used to be slowly shirking but now its as wide as the Atlantic Ocean again. Maybe that's the real reason why we have recessions  as it gives the rich an opportunity to gallop ahead while sending the rest of us down a dead end short cut. Call me a cynic but I'm reminded of a line writer Johnny Speight put in the mouth of his character, the elderly working class Alf Garnett. Can't remember the exact wording as it was so long ago but it was pretty close to this.
Stated proudly after an election victory:- "I've served under six different Prime Ministers now, man and boy." He reflects on this fact for a second then it slowly dawns on him... raging now. " And I've been poor under every bloody one of them! "
Ever wondered how the rich get richer during a recession while the rest of us take cuts in our income?
 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2118669/George-Osborne-Im-wealthy-pay-50p-tax-rate.html

Such is the fate of the common man,...or woman. I rest my case. Off on a tangent, some of the reasons why we should treasure nature? It's usually free, it regenerates itself at no extra cost, it's always full of unexpected surprises and if you treat it well and give it respect it will rarely let you down throughout your life. Well, unless you live in an area prone to flooding, tornadoes, mudslides etc...

Just to give people a look at what the run down area of Arden and the other schemes looked like back in the day here's a Scottish Eminem with a tongue in cheek gangster parody. I'm not usually a fan of rap and judging by the comments he got a lot of criticism and stick for this but the lyrics are clever and young folk growing up anywhere always draw on their environment for inspiration. (no pun intended) These are probably the same much photographed couple of streets scheduled for demolition that interior decorators Colin and Justin used. Couldn't find an empty building then without a film crew in it :)


Needless to say it doesn't look anything like this now...It's a good estate again. But don't tell anybody as it keeps unwanted visitors and casual tourists away.
And a more theatrical classic by Alex Harvey. A Glaswegian legend who grew up in the Gorbals and Kinning Park..

Thursday, 23 January 2014

South Nitshill, Nitshill. Priesthill.Pollok. Day and Night Gallery.

All photos go to a larger resolution and full screen when clicked on, in this blog.
 
Part Two of my love letter to Nitshill and Pollok. Mind you, if anyone passes through the area now, without a guide dog, as a casual visitor, they might well be tempted to think... is he on drugs? If not maybe he should be... then sedated and kept safe in a soft walled apartment.
However, to many an adventurous youngster growing up here years ago it had much to offer.( the photo above was taken on a zoom from Priesthill near the demolished water tower looking over at South Nitshill, Renfrewshire and Barrhead beyond. From this modest hill and many others in the district ( Pollok was constructed over an undulating sea of Drumlins) great views are granted and it enjoys some of the best panoramas over the city anywhere in Glasgow.
It's also a gateway to some of the finest lowland scenery in Scotland with a network of streams, rivers woods, gorges, waterfalls, reservoirs and rolling hills providing decades of adventurous weekends to anyone lucky enough to live here.

A misty night time shot over Glasgow from South Nitshill. Probably Cleeves road then Peat Road judging by the ribbon of neon lights.
One of Old Nitshill. Back in the early 1900s this was a small mining village in Renfrewshire which had the declining legacy of coal mines, lime works, a chemical works and a fireclay works on its doorstep as reminders of its industrial revolution heritage. At one time it was a busy powerhouse at the peak of production on the outskirts of the city where green fields filled with cows and horses grazed peacefully in a rural environment yet only a short walk away coal miners laboured far underground, lime and fire clay workers toiled and folk earned a living any way they could. Nitshill and the nearby Hurlet served as the hub of that enterprise with the railway passing through it and half a dozen pubs and a few shops clustered around the main street for entertainment. Even today Pollok has as many, if not more, trees and green spaces within its boundaries than the vast Pollok Country Park can boast.
The main street in Nitshill hasn't changed that much in its layout in 100 years and would still be recognisable to someone from the 1940s. This is the current row of shops, presumably built when Pollok was born around the 1940s and 1950s.
Craigbank shops further up on Nitshill road. This road in the photo leads into Newfield Square where I believe tennis courts( and or a bowling green) and a football pitch used to be before it was grassed over.
Nitshill Tunnel is still there and the road still constricts to squeeze through it. Just beside this cross stands another memorial to the Victoria Pit Disaster, which was the biggest mining accident of its day in the deepest pit in Scotland. Great link here to loads of interesting stuff- not just the pit as Barrhead has a fascinating industrial heritage of its own and exported its products all over the world. I grew up sitting on a reliable Shank's toilet as did half of Glasgow.
http://www.barrheadheritagetrail.co.uk/index.php?id=18
 I remember playing here in this green triangle when young and having no real understanding of the history as I just liked the slope, the bushes, and the cooing pigeons as they shuffled away from me as I edged along the dark passage hole of the second tunnel which, before it was blocked off, led you round to the back section of the sloping railway wall hidden from the road. My first climbing wall. There was also a dirty shelf of rock that formed a platform against the roof of the tunnel which was a magnet for young kids to scramble up much to the horror of their parents who had to wash the ruined clothes covered in pigeon shit afterwards.
This is the view from the railway station exit. Immediately across to the right of this picture an old tenement used to stand, which I think was a pub. The Volunteer Arms and the Railway Inn ring a bell. I was too young at that time to have any real memories of them though as they were the first pubs to shut down. I do vaguely remember the open patch of ground and a few low cottages where the trees on the right are now but only because I fell out of a large tree beside them. Well, it seemed large at that time from a swift decent perspective. I was hunting birds eggs as a pastime then.
During and after the industrial revolution, nearby Neilston and the Levern water that flowed through it saw large scale cotton mills and weaving sheds spring up. Coat's thread mills at Paisley; bleach works at Darnley and Thornliebank along with a printing works on Spiersbridge road, where the owls used to hoot, and an extensive water holding series of ponds to provide a steady supply of clean water to the works downstream, to be released on demand, could all be seen 30 years ago. The frame work and the holding ponds are well worth a visit and can still be easily traced out for anyone interested if they go to Rouken Glen Park and enter by the first main gate where the five a side football and garden centre is. As soon as you enter the gate to the car park keep right then take a narrow path away from the parked cars down through the trees to the Auldhouse burn where the visible remains of wooden sided ponds, massive sluice gates, man made slipways and canals become obvious.

Nitshill Train Station today. Opened in the late 1840s and not much changed either apart from the rolling stock and a definite cut back on facilities. No station master, cosy waiting room or paper stand here yet passenger numbers increase steadily year by year.

Further up Nitshill road in the direction of the Hurlet these two buildings remain unchanged since the 1960s. The first three streets going up Seamill Street:- Maybole, Galson, and the lower half of Darvel street seem older than the top half where the tenements used to be. Maybe 1920s or 1930s style at a guess though they have been modified slightly and upgraded since then. The top section where the three and four story tenements once stood have seen the greatest transformation.
 
This is Pinmore Street looking uphill from near Darvel Street which is now a cul de sac affair. The yellow building on the right used to be a larger tenement (all four story blocks?) and a row of these at right angles ran on this side to the top of the hill.
Same area viewed from South Nitshill. The row of solid cottage type houses at the top of this scheme date from the early 1900s by the look of them; part of the original old Nitshill village, and are still in use to this date. Quality buildings like these always last the longest in any area.
South Nitshill now. A view from the railway station bridge looking at St Bernard's and the takeaway.
Where the van park now exists the local Primary school used to stand and before that it was just  grassy pleasant farmland with a swampy bit at the lowest point. The first foundations of the newly build school kept on sinking downwards and it took perseverance and ingenuity to get a solid base on which to plant the education chamber. The orange half of the scheme were soon herded into here, much to the priest's disgust no doubt as he had to look across at it every day:)
The Catholic kids got an identical new school, a twin of this one, shortly after beside Dove street in  old Nitshill and harmony was restored.
A view of the modern South Nitshill.2014. Back in the 1960s I seem to remember a small church up on the hill. I was persuaded to go to Sunday School there once, where we learned about Jesus suffering and got a cake afterwards. It obviously didn't take. The great advantage of being a Protestant that I've found is that you don't really have a disciplined religion and nobody bothers afterwards if you pack it in. I was only religious for that one morning service as after I got my cake I went back to birds eggs and nature and forgot all about Jesus suffering since climbing trees seemed a lot more fun than being nailed onto one in your prime of life. This church didn't last long and closed down after a few years then disappeared, almost overnight. Burned down perhaps? The old Darnley Fire Station used to stand at the foot of this hill.

Although it's only a couple of hundred feet high the views in all directions at night are stunning.
Glasgow City from South Nitshill.

 Nitshill Road taken from where the church once stood at the top of the steps. Rush hour traffic. Darnley and Arden in the distance.
A twinkling view over the valley to the Brownside /Gleniffer Braes and the lights of Barrhead. Some of the miners used to walk five miles from here, put in a long hard shift at the mine then walk back to Barrhead again at night, six days a week. Needless to say leisure time for the average person then in the 1800s was non existent. God bless the Sabbath. The one day you could rest and sleep.
The Nia Roo Pub and Priesthill.
Nia Roo again. Still open- still going strong in 2014. I remember a flooded quarry behind here and white hills of raw lime 50 years ago. Looking uphill from here then two small black coal bings, sitting beside each other, would have been observed in the early days of the scheme.
View from Parkhouse Road towards the heights of Barrhead and Neilston Pad.
Nitshill road in daytime. Much quieter.
South Nitshill from the old water tower concrete base ( now demolished) in the heart of Priesthill. Used to be a wild place this of an evening but now its been transformed into a genuine wilderness zone with the top of the bare summit getting a fast growing canopy of young trees and grasslands with a few bike/walking trails leading through it. Intrepid effort driving a stolen car up here.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pollok.Priesthill.Nitshill.The Bundy.Gowanbank.Silverburn.Schools, Memories, and Pubs.

We might as well start this Pollok post at the place it all began for me as an individual person. Gowanbank Primary School. Before this I hung around my local scheme with my mates and usually didn't stray far from the enclosed back rectangle of tenements or the short grass play areas at the front of the house.( Well, I was only four years of age and a slow developer so I knew little of the  larger district around me. ) I'd been a couple of places further afield but only with my parents or big sister.
All that changed when I turned five and had to go to school. This was it. Gowanbank in the heart of Pollok near the western termination of Priesthill Road. As the primary schools in upper Nitshill hadn't been built yet (early 1960s) we were transported down to here. These are photos from last year as I happened to be back in Pollok just as the school was demolished. I don't remember it being so child friendly looking  when I was there and it was a real shock to the system to be shoved onto a bus at five years of age then dumped here along with an assortment of wary, bewildered children from the other schemes without a school. The teachers looked just as pleased to see us as we were to see them and I remember discipline being strict. Maybe this had to be the case as class sizes were large. Unlike attending a school in your own scheme I only recognised a handful of my young neighbours in my class, and none of them belonged to my immediate back court so they weren't exactly friends yet and in the main it was kids from the surrounding Househillwood, Priesthill, Central Pollok and Craigbank  that made up the majority of the unlucky inmates. It was only at this point I realised for the first time that all my friends I played with in my back were mainly Catholic and they went somewhere else aged five so I was totally alone for the first time in my life in a strange environment for an entire day. A big shock we all go through at five years of age but how much harder it must be for rich children sent off to boarding school at a young age and only allowed back to visit their parents on school holidays as at least we were able to escape our gloomy prison, nights and weekends and return to our families. I'm no psychologist but that must mess with your head big time for the rest of your life if you don't have a good experience there and perhaps explains why children from that background sometimes have a reserved, detached attitude with little empathy for others. How can you feel loved inside when your parents get rid of you for most of your childhood? Thank God I was born into poverty :0) .Just a thought. Mind you, that sort of long term separation and trial by fire might give you drive and a burning ambition to prove yourself, depending on the person.
Although modernized this is one of the few original (well 1960s) tenements left on Priesthill road which used to have the typical three story flat roofed post war 1950s variety running along it for half  its length. Beyond the lamp post is where the local row of shops once stood, now newly built low level housing. Priesthill is a decent looking scheme now and fairly upmarket in places with newly built back and front garden bungalows and semi detached properties.

 Maybe it was simply because it was outside our own area and we were regarded as unwelcome incomers by some of the local kids but a few five year olds from my scheme in the early days even jumped from the bus while it was moving and did a runner before it reached the school gates. Well, the lucky ones did as one of them ended up with a broken leg as a result of a mistimed departure at too fast a speed on exit. Although painful this meant extra time away from Gowanbank so it wasn't entirely the reckless move it seemed.
 I didn't find it that bad and only escaped from the school grounds once while being chased by a gang from another scheme. I managed to climb up then jump over a high wall into another compound nearby and ended up in what I presumed to be a  boys remand home surrounded by much older children who all sported close shaven haircuts and looked really hard. Looking at an old map however the only building sited that close to the school grounds with a high wall was a priests house so maybe it was a bunch of visiting young recruits for the priesthood I'd bumped into. Anyone else remember another adjoining courtyard near Gowanbank in the early 1960s that would have a bunch of black attired teenage male skinheads exercising in it? I was so young at the time its hard to remember what it actually was but it left a strong impression on me.
Anyway I was soon persuaded by them to climb back over the wall again and take my beating like a five year old. Great advice guys. Thanks! What's for you will not go by you I always say. How true!

St Paul's High School in Pollok. After a couple of years the new primary schools in Nitshill opened and we were spared the chamber of horrors that was Gowanbank and allowed to finish our primary school education in them instead. I remember I actually enjoyed going to school after that for the first time.
This school used to be called Craigbank Secondary and was a Protestant school at that time. It changed to St Paul's to take the place of nearby Bellarmine, which closed down in the late 1990s? I think.
The other large secondary school in Pollok was Crookston Castle which was situated right beside Crookston Castle itself. This school is also long gone but a range of photos can be found on the web by typing in Crookston Castle secondary school then- images. Judging by some of the old photographs of pupils it seems slightly more upmarket than Craigbank or Bellarmine but I didn't know it that well. Due to the declining numbers of families living in the Pollok area which has almost halved its population in 30 years St Paul's is the only large secondary left in the area with Protestants going to Rosshall Academy in Crookston road.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosshall_Academy
Discovered this interesting link here about Sick Building Syndrome in Rosshall.
Silverburn shopping centre now sits where the original Bundy scheme stood. This was a tight triangle of three story tenements and lower cottage type houses. Good link and photo here.
http://www.pollok-kist.co.uk/Pages/lhlookingback.aspx
As I was visiting Silverburn anyway I nipped across to visit the Pollok Kist which is a small room of exhibits like a local museum in the Pollok Civic Realm building nearby. Unfortunately the room was  shut when I visited as it was late on in the day and I had to be content with the other exhibits of old Pollok on displays outside. Bellarmine School stood near here until it was demolished. The Bundy stood within the triangle of Cowglen Road and Barrhead Road. We used to wait for the bus right beside the first row of  tenements in the Bundy and it had some reputation, maybe because it was one of the oldest parts of the scheme and looked as if it had been built by the Romans. I seem to have a memory of all the tenement close windows being bricked up instead of having glass in them but that would have been around the early 1970s when it was half empty and going downhill fast. As a scheme it didn't last long. Built around the late 1940s and demolished in the late 1970s to make way for the Pollok Shopping Centre which opened in 1979. This is now Silverburn and I'm convinced  it's named 'tongue in cheek' after the number of shopping trollies that used to lie abandoned in the grey waters of the nearby Brock Burn as no-one looking at the Brock Burn now ( named after the badgers that used to roam its banks) as it flows and sometimes floods through Pollok  has the word 'silver stream' in mind.

The partly subterranean 'Silver Burn.' On a good day dishwater grey is the best it gets. 'Rancid Trickle' doesn't sound as attractive a name though for a shopping centre.
It was only when I took these photographs I realised the striking appearance between the two different entrances. The car entrance where a percentage of the visitors will presumably be arriving from areas outwith Pollok, like Newton Mearns and Clarkston have a pleasant modern glass and steel entrance as Silverburn's aim on its own web site is to attract more upmarket customers from a larger area. It's actually a shopping centre that doesn't really want to be situated slap bang in the middle of Pollok but cheap free land within the city without a major competitor nearby is hard to come by these days. This entrance above is the original bus and local population entrance facing Pollok. Peeling wallpaper and clock design! What were they thinking? It looks like a doss house or a collection of  empty cardboard boxes sitting beside a skip. As they are at opposite ends of a long shopping mall containing 95 shops and 14 restaurants very few folk from the car entrance side will ever visit this entrance.
Car entrance again. It's ironic how nowadays they cover large areas of land with concrete, steel and glass then do their best to pretend its still countryside. At the current rate of population growth and cyber world introspection mind you, this might be the nearest we get to genuine countryside in the future as there will not be much of the real stuff left to go around and the remainder will then be fenced off for the elite to enjoy. Silverburn is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest retail outlets in the UK with a cinema complex and yet more restaurants planned for the near future which will at least transform the tired Pollok entrance as it's at that side the new development will be situated.
Having said all that the day I was there, just after Christmas, it was mobbed and all the visitors seemed to be doing as much eating as shopping as every restaurant was mobbed. That's where the big money is nowadays for these centres which is why there's so many food outlets with a children's play zone right next to them usually to trap the unwary spender. Total money spent by me? Zero. Not having any kids in tow I had no inclination to visit any of the shops as they held nothing of interest for my tastes. 95 retail units and 14 restaurants yet none of them enticed me in the slightest. Is it just me? Every other shopping mall I've been in like Braehead, The Fort at Easterhouse or Irvine,s Rivergate, both of which I like, I've at least been tempted to go into some shops just out of curiosity(usually book or DVD outlets) if nothing else. Didn't see one shop here that came close to pulling me in. Every penny still a happy prisoner in my wallet :o)
Some views around Pollok now capturing the parts that haven't changed much. Braidcraft Road Shops at the junction with Corkerhill Road. This has always been a nice area to live in.
Corkerhill estate itself This is taken near where the well known pub used to stand called 'The Cart' at the entrance of the estate. Separated from the rest of Pollok by green fields and the large and deep White Cart Water it too had several long rows of flat roofed tenements. These are now gone but the more modern 60s style tenements have been modernised and still remain in this fairly compact and well kept estate. Ironically, this area now has a larger concentration of four story tenements than the rest of Pollok where most of the original tenement building stock has been removed.
Before Pollok got its own pub, The Pollok Inn, thirsty drinkers either had to travel by catching a bus into Shawlands or walk up to Paisley Road West for a pint, or Old Nitshill, either at the Levern Water Hotel, The Cavendish or the Royal Oak. These three well frequented watering holes were all on Nitshill Road very close to each other.
 This photo is taken on the site of the Leven Water Hotel at Nitshill. Cult pub band Dr Feelgood played a gig here back in the day. Nitshill shopping arcade still remains open with a few shops still doing business here.
   This pub was formally the Cavendish, now the Hazelwood. It's the only pub left in Nitshill. The Nia Roo still remains further up Nitshill road, but the Tradewinds and the Cuillin Bar at Arden also join the long list of abandoned pubs in the area. Apart from a falling population( no pun intended) and the availability of cheap drink in supermarkets I think the smoking ban had an unforeseen effect in the death of many pubs as I know from experience it kills and disrupts conversations when smokers leave a group to go outside. It definitely changed the atmosphere of a group night out for me and that's a view from a non smoker.

Brockburn Road. If you lived in North Pollok it was probably easier and quicker to walk up to Paisley Road West at Cardonald where a scattering of pubs awaited you. The Pines, The Argosy and the Quo Vadis were always popular haunts.http://www.oldglasgowpubs.co.uk/quovadis.html
A cracking and bizarre link here to a local character. See drunk dog halfway down the page. You couldn't make it up! A normal day out in Pollok! (Giving alcohol or human chocolate to dogs by the way is a very bad idea as it can seriously damage both health, internal organs and temperament in a short space of time.)
This view above was taken recently and shows the converted flat roofed tenements on the left hand side of Brockburn Road. On the right just out of frame is the Pollok inn which is still open.

Pollok main roundabout. Not much changed here apart from the glass fronted 'Wedge'
Pollok Fire Station on Brockburn Road.
Brockburn Road Housing Office still remains.
And the TSB at Braidcraft road still does business and serves the community.
Not many of the distinctive clusters of post war flat roofed buildings remain in Pollok. 20 years ago  Linthaugh (seen here) and Dormanside, Priesthill, Craigbank, Nitshill and South Nitshill were all areas characterized by their streets of three and four story tenements where many of the residents grew up but to the casual visitor much of Pollok looks affluent now and largely trouble free compared to the bad old days.
This is Lyoncross Road in North Pollok, once a major cluster zone of old style tenements but now its a fairly sedate street of decent looking mixed level houses. A grove of old handsome pine trees in the distance is where the old bus terminus used to be in the heart of the Dormanside.
Some of the old Pollok still exists however. This is the alternative Pollok swimming pool taken during the summer heat wave last year. Don't know what it is with warm weather but the street water mains stop cocks always seem to melt open during long spells of high temperatures in certain districts of Glasgow.
Maybe some things don't change that much then.
As I have enough photos for two more posts this final essay on Pollok will be split into three.
Here endeth the first part as I'm away for my dinner now. Switch to a picture of  Oor Willie's empty bucket..... Part two to follow next week.
For anyone interested two previous posts on Pollok can be found on this blog July and August 2013.
Maybole Street in Nitshill. Not much altered from when they were built.
Galston Street. One side still original houses other side low level new build.
Darvel street. Nothing left of the old houses and even the street doesn't exist anymore as the layout has changed into an S shape development along with Pinmore Path which looks similar to this. It's all low plan now.