Friday 12 April 2024

Govan. Cessnock. Kinning Park. Solo Subway Trip. A journey into the past... and future.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


For the first time in years I took a trip on Glasgow's Underground. The 'Clockwork Orange'. So named because it travels round in a circle connecting the city centre and inner city districts on both banks of the River Clyde and it's orange. I was curious to see if my over 60s ticket would still work as so many train stations these days are fully automated with ticket machines only... meaning I have go on a train first to get the discount from a human conductor. Hoping there's one available on the train. Not always the case these days. Anyway, human office staff still exist at Partick Underground so far so I jumped one stop under the River Clyde to Govan and also found out my £1:50 ticket meant I could jump on and off at any stop that day an unlimited number of times. Unfortunately it was not like the London Underground, running out in all directions into far flung suburbia so Govan was the only place I fancied going that day.

I've got so many memories of the underground network here when I was a youngster as my sister stayed in Ibrox when she first got married in a tenement flat and I went down to visit her often when I still stayed in Nitshill. Shopping for her, and occasionally me tagging along, was usually done on Paisley Road West around Ibrox and Cessnock. These shops. Although different versions existed in the 1960s.

 Cessnock Shops. So I remember what it was like to stay/live in an inner city district, miles from the countryside, rather than where I grew up on the edge of the green belt, where we moved to as a family when I was around two, into a brand new council estate. Dairy cows, farms, green fields, woods, waterfalls, ruined mansions, and streams entranced me from a  young age. It could all have been very different though as we originally stayed in the inner city district of Kinning Park in an old tenement flat there surrounded by an industrial landscape of warehouses and factories, still there to this day. Very close to Kinning Park subway in fact. The street we lived in is no longer there, replaced by the M8 motorway as another neighbour was offered a house in Nitshill but didn't want to leave Kinning Park and all her friends so she swapped over into my parents flat and we got offered her new Nitshill house instead.

 Thank **** she did as I would pick this location growing up.....above

 over this one ... every single time...completely saved by serendipity yet again. The true goddess of my entire life. Being stuck out in the countryside didn't suit everyone though if they preferred the buzz of city life. This is central Govan but it might as well be Kinning Park, another densely packed inner city tenement district not that far away. I never bothered walking to there this time as the street we lived in no longer exists  but it was very similar to this environment. Many folk my parent's age or older liked or were conditioned to feel comfortable in this type of neighbourhood, growing up with loads of shops below the tenements, cinemas, dance halls, pubs, shipyards. factories, and the like all five minutes walk away. Whereas the new council estates built on the outskirts of Glasgow, often miles from the city centre, had very little of these older district facilities... just long rows of tenements sprawling over hillsides, several schools, church or chapels and a few basic food shops scattered here and there. For many adults used to this setting, above, it was an unfamiliar leap into the unknown but for a child growing up not knowing anything else it was truly fantastic. Heaven. Not many cars, thousands of trees; nature and abundant wildlife five minutes walk away. Children allowed to play outside all day, mostly unsupervised. An entire brave new green world to explore stretching into the far distance in all directions. A popular TV series of that time 1960s- 1970s was Bonanza, a long running USA weekly western about a father and his three adult sons living on a remote ranch, the Pondarosa, who had a long horse ride into their nearest town for supplies so the outlying housing estates got nick-named that as well as the residents there also had a long, sometimes torturous, bus ride back into the city centre shops for several decades until outlying retail shopping centres opened further out into suburbia, cutting journey times. Most folk I'd imagine, including me, shop in these more convenient retail parks now, five minutes from the house, rather than endure the hour long slog to get back into the city centre by bus. ( The Pondarosa nickname for any far flung housing estate or town probably not unique to Glasgow or even the UK given the worldwide popularity of that programme back then with only a few TV channels, (viewed on black and white grainy screens), to choose from.


Cessnock Subway entrance. Another station I knew well decades ago. This area has hardly changed in 60 years... or even older.

 A famous Rangers pub on Copland Road taken from the subway entrance there.


Rangers stadium at Ibrox. On match days you could hear the supporters roar out if their team scored a goal from my sister's flat. Later on they would move ( her husband and three young children) to new town Cumbernauld and then finally to Australia.


The other reason for visiting these districts, apart from nostalgia, was to capture some murals. Mystic one here.



Sir Alex Ferguson mural on Crossloan Road in Govan. Sir Alex learned his impressive man management skills working in the tough pubs and clubs in Govan as a younger resident of the district. Something that helped him later on as he understood people and how they ticked, even before they did themselves.

 Mary Barbour and Isabella Elder mural. The first a prominent organizer and campaigner during the Govan rent strikes and the latter a well known local philanthropist and wife of shipyard owner John Elder who died age 45 at work like a lot of hard grafting Victorian entrepreneurs. She lived on for many years and devoted her time to improving the life of others with local donations and charity work.


The daffodil girl on Govan Road. Used to know someone who lived in this building many years ago.

One of a series of murals on Taransay Street in Govan. Used to know somebody here as well.

The museum of shipbuilding in Govan. Fairfield shipyards.


The birds. Fairfield Shipyard main entrance. At their height all the shipyards employed thousands of workers in each yard along the full length of the River Clyde. 

Mary Barbour Sculpture outside Govan Underground Station.


Elegant period tenement just across the road. Many of the buildings here date to the late 1800s to early 1900s making Govan an interesting place for a visit. At the moment a lot of new architecture is springing up as well which is another reason for a visit.



Brand new modern tenements in Govan. These are similar to others I've noticed around Glasgow and elsewhere. OK but a bit bland for my tastes so I've added my own extra elements as I like a spot of colour in new buildings. Some additional character to make them stand out more.

 What they could look like for not much extra cash. A few pots of paint or coloured plastic strips and discs attached while the scaffolding was still up. A wasted opportunity perhaps? Too late now.


Another new block close by.


More new flats in the area.

My retouched version.

 Even had a go at a Banksy tree in Elder park which had all its limbs recently chopped off. Normally I like Banksy artwork but his recent tree improvement was just a green mess close up and the splashed white paint only improved it in my opinion. Still worth millions though. Done mine in under five minutes which is why it's also crap but street artists need to be quick. Red dots are apples. Not something you normally see in Elder Park on a tree.


Govan Press building built 1890. Note the famous printing heads.



The other reason I thought of Govan for a visit was to see how the new swing bridge was getting along, seen here. Not finished yet. They are also building another new bridge across the River  Clyde between Renfrew and Yoker. Always something happening in a city although I'm still glad I live on the outskirts. I like woods and green countryside on my doorstep. I always have. A ferry has existed between Govan and Patrick at this spot since ancient times so it's only in recent years that link was removed. Being two ancient fishing villages on either bank connections between them has always been strong until that ferry link ended in the 1960s with the collapse of heavy industry and the transportation of thousands of workers across the river no longer required. A traditional link between two working class communities on its way to being restored again in 2024.


Brechins Bar. Govan. Built 1894.


Shipyard cat that died of its many wounds killing rats after an outbreak of vermin in the shipyards.  High up on Brechins Bar building. A touching tribute.


Period Street recreation in shop window. Govan.



Close up detail.


The real thing. Lyceum Cinema. Closed for many years but I remember going here as a youngster to see Carry on Camping. It was not my idea of entertainment, (suggested by two friends,) but getting chased by the Govan Team then several other teenage gangs on the way back home through Pollok gave our trip here some extra spice.

 Traditional Govan Tenements.


Govan Town hall. Built in 1901 and B listed. At one time in its long history Govan was a rival to Glasgow in power and influence, especially religious authority in the medieval era, which is why this is such an impressive structure and why Govan old parish church contains a fine collection of hog back stones, carved grave markers, in a unique Viking style formation. The Clyde was much shallower then with sandbanks, islands, and various narrow channels only suitable for smaller craft so Govan was first on the river and easier to arrive at for visitors.  It only came under the faster growing Glasgow's control by the early 1900s. Before that it was an independent burgh.... when most of these fine period buildings were erected. Both Partick and Govan taking care of their own affairs for hundreds of years until the growing city expanded further down the River Clyde on both banks, swallowing them up eventually in its grasp.


Still my favourite modern flats in Govan. Instantly cheers the place up. Even on a rainy day.



Rosemary said...

I was interested to both see and read about your subway trip. During all the time that I lived in Glasgow I never ever used the subway, but now I don't know way. I hopped on and off the buses, but then when we moved to Milngavie we bought a Mini, so a subway trip never happened.

Carol said...

I never knew you had an underground in Glasgow! I thought there was one in Edinburgh but not sure whether I'm right or not!

Carry on Camping is one of my favourite films of all time - followed by quite a few of the other Carry Ons! I watch them a lot at home on DVD... I think the thing I like most about them is the way the cast have such fun throughout - always cheers me up that.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary, I would use the underground more often if it went out to the various Glasgow suburbs as I can reach them all by slower bus. Patrick to Govan is the only real shortcut for me as that would take much longer by bus or train. One advantage of the subway is that it is very fast. Five minutes to get anywhere on the circle compared to an hour by bus, especially at rush hour times...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol. Only 4 cities in the UK have a subway network. London by the mid 1800s. Glasgow by the late 1800s. Liverpool by the 1970s. Newcastle by the 1980s. Glasgow from 1920 to the 1960s had over one million of a population so they needed to move them around on already crowded streets above ground. The 4th Western European city to reach that total after London, Paris, and Berlin. Edinburgh does not have one but Waverly train station has low level platforms, running under Princes Street, which is probably what you're thinking about. And more recently it has trams.

Anabel Marsh said...

I’ve had a few good wanders around Govan. Isabella Elder is a particular favourite of mine. I use the Subway a lot and have still only once seen one of the new trains.

Carol said...

Ah - so you've had the underground a few years then> ;-)

I think that's what I was thinking about for Edinburgh. Didn't know they had trams now - I'll ask Richard if he knew as he goes to Edinburgh a lot and likes that kind of thing.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel, I did see a different coloured subway train that day. A light green one. What intrigued me more was the metal seats down on the subway platforms. Very thin and sloping at an angle so that you kept slipping off them unless you braced hard with your feet. Not comfortable at all so I was thinking 'is it so that down and outs can't sleep on them?' or gangs of teenagers?' Probably the most uncomfortable seats I've ever sat on. It was stretching it to even call it a seat. Maybe that was the point. Seats you are not meant to sit on... just for show.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, As far as I know the tram lines only have one route. I've been on them. They are good and a novelty. Make some of the roads very wide though as a pedestrian trying to cross them and I'd never cycle on any street where they are running. Too old now anyway for that, luckily.

Anabel Marsh said...

I hate this seats too! And if I sort of lean against them and the floor is wet my feet start sliding away from me.