The burgh of Maryhill was formed in the late 18th century by Robert Graham, who named it after his wife, Mary Hill.
Maryhill owes its existence to the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal in the late 17th century when it developed as a centre of heavy industry, including shipbuilding.
The series of locks on the Forth and Clyde Canal were referred to as the Botany Locks because, it is said, prisoners were given the choice of transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, or work on the canal.
- The world’s first temperance society was set up in Maryhil in 1829 by Lilias Graham daughter of Robert Graham and his wife Mary, in 1829
- Rudolf Hess (Deputy Fuhrer) spent a large part of the war as a prisoner in Maryhill Barracks before being tried at Nuremberg in 1946
- Taggart was filmed in Maryhill, fans of the programme still visit Maryhill police station to take photographs
- Jaconelli’s café at Queens Cross was used as a set in Trainspotting
- High Living, a short lived TV soap in the 1960s, used views of the Wyndford during its opening and closing title sequences
- Chewin’ the Fat and Still Game still use the area for filming; The Clansman (the pub that Jack and Victor frequented) used to be sited on Shuna Street and was featured in the programme
- The site of the flagpole in Ruchill park offers one of the best panoramic views of Glasgow
- Six million pounds of funding was used to transform Ruchill Golf Course
- Nine million pounds of funding has been made available to restore the Maryhill Burgh Halls, a B listed Edwardian Building. The Burgh Halls now form part of new leisure facilities and provide a local hub for the community
The Forth & Clyde Canal Maryhill (circa 1955)
The Forth and Clyde Canal
The Forth & Clyde canal was built to increase trade during the Scottish Enlightenment. It is one of the most enduring industrial works of this time, helping trade and industry in Glasgow to thrive. It shaped the character of Maryhill and was a bustling success until competition from rail and road transport, economic decline and war time restrictions resulted in its closure.
Civil Engineer John Smeaton surveyed for a large canal in 1763. The canal was started in the east and reached Stockingfield Junction before money ran out in 1775. It took 7 years for the canal company to find another source of funds (a parliamentary loan from the proceeds of seized Jacobite estates). In the meantime, Glasgow merchants funded the branch from Stockingfield Junction to Hamilton Hill, completed in 1777. Work on the canal started again in 1785 under engineer Robert Whitworth. His work included the flight of locks at Maryhill and the spectacular Kelvin Aqueduct, The completed canal was finally opened in 1790.
There were so many boats in Maryhill Locks that they were termed the Maryhill Fleet- a name later taken by a local gang.
In the early 19th century, passenger boats started to appear amidst the heavy industrial traffic of the Forth & Clyde canal. Passenger steamers took people on pleasure trips throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Most famous amongst them were the ‘queens’- the Fairy Queen, the May Queen and the Gypsy Queen. These had tea rooms and space for dancing, taking people along the canal from 1893 until the Second World War. Groups of Victorians enjoyed trips in scores to picnic with friends and colleagues.
Rail transport began to prove a threat to the profitability of the canal in the 19th Century. At first, horse-drawn trains helped bring goods to the canal side but eventually, as steam locomotives were introduced (1831) they became competitors instead of allies. In 1842 the Edinburgh & Glasgow train line was opened and was favoured by passengers and freight handlers. The canal companies invested in new boat technology in an effort to speed up travel and compete with the trains, but better roads meant that coach travel was also becoming more practical.
World War I saw the closing of the Firth of Forth to commercial shipping and this had a dramatic impact on the Forth and Clyde Canal. Trade with Germany stopped, and many boats were either laid up or requisitioned by the Admiralty. The canal never quite recovered. Motor cars became more popular after the war, and the increasing road traffic meant that narrow canal bridges were a hindrance to progress.
After falling into decline, having been neglected for many years, the Forth and Clyde was eventually saved by a grant from Millenium Link and was reopened in 2001, managed by British Waterways (Scotland). Now providing a green corridor through Glasgow and beyond, the canal is once more used by leisure craft, locals, visitors and wildlife.
RUCHILL PARISH CHURCH AND CHURCH HALLS
The main church building was built in 1903 -05 as ‘Ruchill Street United Free Church’. The church halls (‘Westbourne Free Church Mission Halls’) were built in 1899.
Neil Campell Duff (church) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh for firm Honeyman & Keppie (halls).
The church is a place of Christian worship and the church halls are used for meetings, community events and now a tea room and creche.
Famous Glasgow architect, artist and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the Church Halls and janitor’s house around a courtyard before the church itself was built. This two storey sandstone building shows many features of his Art Nouveau style. You can see his use of flowing lines in the stonework. He often created buildings that were asymmetrical and very modern for their time. Perhaps this is why he did not get asked to design the church-although the full reason is still unknown.
Four years after the halls were built, work started on the church itself. This church was built in a more traditional ‘Gothic’ style, but still features some Art Nouveau windows. It was constructed using red Locharbriggs stone by architect Neil C. Duff.
In 1973 – 1974 restoration was carried out on the church buildings by architect Robin Haddow with Jack Holmes and Partners. More recently, a tea room has opened up in part of the church halls. This serves food and drink at reasonable prices to both tourists and locals.
Nearby Ruchill Street Bridge was built in 1990, replacing an earlier bridge- the only one on this canal run by a woman. Mrs Wardle was the bridge keeper for more than 20 years from 1925.
ALEXANDER, FERGUSSON & CO LTD
Unknown. Built for Alexander, Fergusson & Co’s Glasgow Lead and Colour Works. Later buildings and alterations were made by Lancelot Hugh Ross (in 1920, 1923-31 and 1940) and Thomas Smith Cordiner in 1949.
Used as offices for the paint works.
This whole area was one of heavy industry until fairly recently. The paint works operated from 1882 – 1988, then demolished. This office building is all that is left of the company and is now unused. It is the last surviving industrial building on this section of the canal. Alexander, Fergusson & Co Ltd made sheet lead and lead pipe as well as paint and varnish.
Bryant and May opened a large match making factory in 1918 just to the west of Alexander Fergusson’s. They made Scottish Bluebell matches until 1981. Traces of a mural painted by school children in the 1990’s on the canalside wall can still be seen.
This factory was known as a good employer who even provided sports facilities for the workers, including a quoits pitch for men and a see-saw and hockey pitch for the women.
Businesses in the immediate area around Alexander, Fergusson & Co Ltd included, the Maryhill Foundry, Ruchill Iron Works,and the MacLellan’s Rubber works. During the Second World War, an attempt was made to bomb this site, which was left unscathed. Unfortunately, eighty civilans were killed during the bombing raid in attempt to destroy the rubber works.
There were serious health risks involved in working here. Alexander, Fergusson & Co was visited in 1894 by a parliamentary committee looking at the dangers of lead to workers. Bryant & May had their own staff dental surgery to try to prevent ‘phosphorus necrosis’ which rotted away the jaw bone. This was a result of the yellow phosphorus fumes common in the match making industry.
Maryhill Barracks (now The Wyndford Housing estate)
Maryhill Barracks was built in 1872 and expanded in 1876. Soldiers of the Highland Light Infantry were heavily involved in World War I and World War II. The Barracks itself was involved in an important event in World War II. In May 1941 Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer, ﬂew to Scotland. He bailed out of his plane (a twin-engined Bf 110 ﬁghter-bomber) near Eaglesham. Hess was arrested and claimed to be on a peace mission for Adolph Hitler. He spent a large part of the war as a prisoner at Maryhill Barracks before being tried at Nuremberg in 1946. The Barracks closed in the early 1960s, but the Territorial Army unit, the 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, continues to be based at the adjacent Walcheren Barracks. 32 (Scottish) Signal Regiment is also based near Kelvinside, with 105 Regiment, Royal Artillery in nearby Partick.
RUCHILL PARK (circa 1904): Looking down on site now occupied by the Mondriaan
Ruchill “Old House” formerly located in the now Ruchill Park (circa 1915)
Ruchill Hospital (circa 1922)
The park was purchased in 1892, for the sum of £35,000, by the city fathers of Glasgow and is named after the old house and estate of Ruchill. The park was used by the working class population which lived in tenements with no gardens, so could not be used for leisure and recreation. The park area covers 53 acres.
Ruchill Park (circa 1906)
Situated at the west end of the park on top of the hill. From here there are panoramic views of Glasgow and its surroundings, over the Campsie Hills to Gleniffer and the Cathkin Braes.
This area is an artificial mound built from 24,000 cartloads of spoil from the site of Ruchill Hospital. It is known locally as “Ben Whitton” after the park’s superintendent James Whitton who was responsible for the creation of the Park.
Local professional and amateur football teams still use the park for training.
Surface Urban Drain System:
The park sites a new surface urban drain system which manages rainwater that will run off the new school built on the former site occupied by the hospital. This water will be treated on site and then form part of an educational ecosystem made up of several ponds within the park.
The park attracts many joggers and is used by Maryhill Harriers and Shettleston Harriers.
The park boasts one of the best rose and flower beds within the city.
The park offers orienteering courses.
There is a number of conservation areas located throughout the park, attracting various insect and animal wildlife. The woodland supports a great variety of birds including, blackbird, long tailed tit, thrushes, and wren.
The park hosts an annual 5k fun run every April
Ruchill Golf Course
Funding (around £6 million) was put in place to transform the derelict nine hole course, which was changed into a facilty of a professional standard.
Top Scots player Colin Montgomerie has been involved in this process. The course was in use from the 1920s until it closed in the late 1990s due to a lack of funding to maintain the course.
The park is regularly patrolled by park rangers.
Maryhill Road Leading to Bilsland Drive (circa 1958)
Images and excerpts of content reproduced with kind permission of Mitchell Virtual, British Waterways (Scotland) and Jim Shead.
External links sources reference: Wikipedia, Glasgow Digital Library, Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde Police, Scottish Parliament,Citizens Advice Scotland, British Waterways (Scotland) & Bellway Homes plc