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The Origin And History Of Glasgow Streets (Page 1)
By Hugh Macintosh (1902)  Pages: 0  1  2  3  4  5


It is impossible within the limits of a single volume to give the origin or history of every street - a great many having fancy names, to discover the meaning of which would be somewhat of the nature of a conundrum. An instance occurs in Belmar Terrace, Pollokshields - the original proprietor of which having two daughters, Bella and Marion, took the first syllable from each of these cognomens, and produced a fair-sounding title for his property. Royalty and nobility are likewise utilised to a considerable extent, and although no pretence is made in this work as to an exhaustion of the subject yet it may safely be asserted that it contains more information anent the principal thoroughfares of this city than any previous publication. In regard to personal names connected with trades, from which they accrued, there are at present in the city, one Mason , a builder; Hair, a barber; Baxter, a baker; Clouts, a tailor; Soutar, a bootmaker; and Finnie, a fishmonger.

In compilation I have to thank Mr Renwick, depute town clerk, for valuable information most courteously tendered; as also Messrs. Hedderwick & Sons, who gave me permission to give extracts from some articles which I contributed to their Saturday Weekly Citizen some years ago, likewise C. J. Maclean, Esq., for notes on the Plantation Estate.


The Diocesan Records, the City Protocols, the Regality Publications, "Origines Parochiales," by Innes; "History of Strathbrock," by the Rev. James Primrose; "Glasgow Past and Present," Jamiesonís "History of the Culdees," "The Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry," "Commissariat of Govan," Scott's "History of Langside," " Scottish Pasquils," edited by Maidment; "The Harlot's Progress," by Balzac; "Glasghu Faces," Clellandís " Annals of Glasgow," "Glasgow: its Municipal Organisation and Administration," by Sir James Bell and J. Paten; " Scottish Market Crosses," by J. W. Small; "Cunningham," by Timothy Pont.


The patron saint of Glasgow, was also called Saint Kentigern. His father was Ewan ap Urien, a prince of Strath-Clyde; his mother Thenaw, a daughter of Lot, King of Northumbria. Thenaw was visionary, and dreamed of being a second Virgin Mary; but her paternal parent was too matter of fact, so he sent her to sea in a little boat which was ultimately driven to Culross, where Saint Kentigern was born, and partly educated by Saint Serf, who latterly handed him over to the care of Semanus, Bishop of Orkney, who, after taking the good little boy in charge found him so loving and kindly in disposition that he called him by a pet-name of his own - Mungo, from the Norwegian phrase Mongah (my friend or dear One) and this stuck to him - hence the name Saint Mungo. Kentigern, his first title, means Lord-in-Chief.


The tree denotes the frozen branch with which, by blowing into a flame, Saint Mungo re-kindled the monastery fire at Culross. The bird is the robin he brought back to life after it had been decapitated. The fish and ring are emblematic of a miracle, by which he restored to Langueth, the wife of King Ridderch of Strathclyde, a love token she had lost; and the bell represents that which he brought from Rome. He died about 601, and for than five centuries after that date Glasgow has no authentic records.


Up till 1750 there were only thirteen streets in Glasgow. These were - Bell Street, Bridgegate Street, Candleriggs Street, Canon Street, Drygate Street, Gallowgate Street, High Street, King Street, Princes Street, Rottenrow Street, Saltmarket Street, Stockwell Street, and Trongate Street. At the present time there are approximately two thousand one hundred streets within the bounds of the city, and, in addition, several squares, quadrants, and. parades. The total length of streets maintained by the Statute Labour Department is two hundred and sixteen and one-third miles, the actual cost of maintenance and repair of which for the year 1901 was £73,072 16s. 4d. Sixteen new streets, 3589 yards in length, were taken over as public during the course of the twelve months. The Dean of Guild Court in the same time granted linings to the number of 460, the valuations of which were £1,480,312. In the previous year the linings granted numbered 579, and the value was £2,019,822. The streets were first lighted in 1717 with a few oil lamps which were hung on brackets; but in 1780 the first lamps were placed on the south-side of Trongate Street. They were erected as a reward for the formation of a pavement by the local proprietors between the Cross and Stockwell Street. Gas was first introduced for street lighting on l5th September, 1818. Early in 1893 several of the leading thoroughfares were lighted with electricity; and towards the end of the same year the Welsbach incandescent mantle was utilised with satisfactory results.


The Streets Of Glasgow

ABERCROMBIE STREET, opened in 1802 and named in honour of Sir Ralph, who fell in Egypt in 1801. It had previously been known as South Witch Lone

ADAMS COURT LANE named for John Adam, a contractor, who

built the first footbridge over the river at Jamaica Street in 1768. He afterwards built several tenements in Argyle Street east of Jamaica Street and extending to this lane.

ADELPHI STREET was opened early in last century, and named in honour of the brothers Hutcheson.

AIRD'S LANE named for John Aird who was Provost of the city, the last time in 1721. His old mansion stood here till a few months since, when it was removed for railway extension.

ALBANY STREET (Bridgeton). named for Charlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany, who was the daughter of Prince Charlie. Burns sings of her as the Bonnie Lass of Albany. This lady was born in Paris and baptised at Liege on 29th October, 1753. Her mother, Clementina Walkinshaw, was the youngest daughter of John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield and she died at Fribourg, in Switzerland, so late as 1802.

ALBION STREET, opened in 1808. It had been church lands, and the market for salt was for a time located in it.

ALLANDER STREET, named for the river of that name in Dumbartonshire.

ALLAN'S PEN Pen in common parlance means to coop up or confine. In the present instance, in East-end vernacular it is a big close or passage. Thus a close was generally taken to be a passage about five feet wide, but a pen close was always considered to be wide enough for the passage or a horse and cart. Allanís Pen however, so far as the writer can remember from the remnant of it remaining in his day, through which he has passed many a time, would be about eight feet by eight. It was virtually a subway or tunnel, the side was of stone and arched with brick, extending from the south-east exit of Glasgow Green to Rutherglen Bridge, and was constructed by Alexander Allan of Newhall to give him unbroken access from his demesne to the river. This was done by turfing over the erection. It was an outrage on the public rights, but no action was taken as happened later in the Harveyís Dyke case. But the river coming down in high flood with broken ice during the ensuing winter destroyed the greater part or the structure, on seeing which the proprietor made on]y half-hearted efforts at repair. Meantime his action had incensed the Bridgeton people, who were at that period mostly employed as hand-loom weavers and nearly all strongly imbued with Radical ideas. The result was that every one became Mr. Allan's enemy, and he, while largely interested in the sugar trade of the West Indies, was also a manufacturer in the city and gave out webs to be woven. In this he was boycotted, as the weavers declined to work to him, even at increased rates. This was the first check that his arrogant and over bearing attitude to the public got. But coming events cast their shadows before, and worse was in store him, as a year or two later a panic in the Indian cotton market, simultaneous with a big drop in sugar, led him to do some very foolish things, which ultimately caused him to take flight to Ireland, which was then, as America became later on, the receptacle of the greater number of those who left their country for their countryís good. He never returned, dying there in 1809. 'The mansion of Newhall had been built by him, and as showing the extravagance of the individual, the flues of all the chimneys were lined with copper, under the mistaken idea that this would obviate sweeping. The building stood near the eastern extremity of Newhall Terrace, and was taken down several years ago. After Mr. Allanís flight the lands of Newhall were divided and sold. William Dixon of Govanhill, having bought the minerals, tried to sink a shaft near the southern boundary, but the attempt was vain, and after using up all the ideas of the most skilful mining engineers as well as many thousands of pounds in cash, the project was abandoned. The coal was reached several times, but the shifting mud always closed the shaft. Clydeview Terrace was built almost over the spot where the operations took place, and it was this, no doubt, which caused the subsidence of these building some years ago, creating considerable alarm among the residents. The mansion with a few adjoining acres were acquired by Mr. Hussey, who was an extensive cotton-spinner, and son-in-law to Henry Houldsworth (see Houldsworth Street). Mr. Allan's daughters, the spinsters, resided for many years after their father's decease in a building which had originally been intended as offices for the mansion, while a widowed daughter (Mrs. Martin) resided With her family in a small jointure house within the grounds. The first-mentioned dwelling abutted on the boundary wall of the Green, the windows looking into the Planting, this being the local name for the pathway which runs parallel to the boundary wall of the Green eastwards from John Street to the river. At that time' it was in great part a deep hollow or ravine thickly-studded with saugh trees and the lower part filled with a dense undergrowth, .and towards nightfall it had rather a weird appearance, police in this locality being unknown at this period. The gamins made frequent raids from the Planting into the garden of the Allans, and occasionally defied the ladies, one of whom had rather prominent teeth, which had been operated upon by a clumsy dentist, who had left the metallic fixings quite too apparent, and in the course of her expostulations with the raiders the addition to her molars was spotted at once by the belligerents, who dubbed her "Jenny with the iron teeth," and this title getting exaggerated as time "went on, the youngsters of the East End came to the belief that a veritable ogre existed on the other side of Greenhead wall, the resu1t being that for many years children in their peregrinations through the park, invariably avoided the Planting through fear of Jenny. A year or two since, a correspondent in one of the daily papers, who claimed to be the representative of the Allan family, suggested that a metal tablet should be fixed up to mark the site of Allan's Pen. Rather a strange desire on the part of a descendant to have the memory of an ancestor perpetuated whose most notable action was that of depriving the public of a right of way, and who wound up a somewhat chequered career by ignominious flight. Byron in his "Childe Harold" thus descants on an individual of this sort:

"But one sad lozel soils a name for aye,
However mighty in the olden time,
Nor all that heralds rake from coffined clay
Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime."

ALSTON STREET, now swallowed-allowed up in Central Railway Station, was named for John Alston, grandson of Mr. Miller of Westerton, the maker of Miller Street.

ANDERSTON, the village of, formed on the eastern portion of the estate of Mr. Anderson of Stobcross.

ANNFIELD STREET, after Ann Park, who was the wife of James Tennant, a wealthy tobacconist, who built the mansion of Annfield.

ANN STREET (Bridgeton), after a daughter of John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield, of which estate this formed a part.

ARGYLE STREET was without the West Port, and was at first known as Dumbarton Road, then it changed to Wester Gate, and previous to assuming the patronymic of Archibald, Duke of Argyle, it was called Anderson Walk. In May, 176? the corpse of Argyle, who had met his death in England, lay in state while en route to the ducal burying-place at Kilmun, in the Black Bull Hotel, then known as the Highland Society's House, in this street, which but a short time previously had been named in his honour. The old hotel still standing between Glassford Street and Virginia Street, is now engrossed in the premises of Mann, Byars, & Co.

ARGYLE ARCADE. The tenement fronting Argyle Street which forms the entrance to this popular promenade was built by John Reid, the father of" Senex," about 1780, but the Arcade was formed by John Robertson Reid of Gallowflat, who was of the same family. A practical joke was carried out here by an officer who was quartered with a troop of the Lancers in the Cavalry Barracks, which were at that time (about seventy years ago) situated in Eglinton Street. This officer and gentleman took a bet with some of his compeers that he would ride through the Arcade at mid-day in full military tog, including carbine, sword, and lance, and he did it entering at Buchanan Street and emerging at Argyle Street. The private constable had for the nonce been invited into a tavern by an emissary, which left the course clear, and the horse carrying the warrior pranced through the flagged way, much to the astonishment of the toyshop men and terror of the milliners. The soldier man, however, had to pay sweetly for his little escapade at the Police Court next day. The Argyle family, like another ducal line, are unduly commemorated in our city, which was never in any way indebted to them, and their record does not read well. The first peer of the family, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow, founded the Collegiate Church at Kilmun in the year 1442, and he died eleven years thereafter, and was buried in the church which he had set up. From that time Kilmun became the burial-place of the Argyle family, and among the chiefs whose bones repose here may be mentioned that singularly unhappy nobleman, Archibald, first Marquis of Argyle. He was decapitated by the guillotine or "Maiden" at the Cross of Edinburgh on the 27th May, 1661. His head was stuck on the Tollbooth on the very pinnacle where the head of his heroic adversary the great Marquis of Montrose had been exposed for ten long years The remains of Argyle were more tenderly dealt with, as on the 8th of June, 1664, King Charles the Second granted a warrant to have it taken down and deposited beside his body in the tomb of his ancestors at Kilmun. The son and successor of this peer, Archibald, ninth Earl of Argyle, was fated like his father to die on a scaffold at Edinburgh, but his dust found a resting-place in the neighbouring church of Greyfriars. Archibald, first Duke of Argyle, died under rather peculiar circumstances in England on 28th September, 1703. In extracts from the Argyle papers by James Maidment, advocate, Edinburgh, it is shown that John, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich, was by no means the estimable person represented by Sir Walter Scott in his "Heart of Midlothian." Woodrow does not speak favourably of him, saying his talents were much over-rated. Glover, in "Political Memoirs," at page 9, states that he was in his own person a most shameless prostitute to power and extremely avaricious. He would sell nothing but himself, which he continually did with every circumstance of levity, meanness, and treachery. The late Duke was an eminently self-contained individual. His nature was cold and somewhat unsympathetic, and while in residence at his castle in Inveraray there was not much of that kindly intercourse between peasant and peer that tends to ameliorate and bridge the dividing gulf. He was a voluminous and versatile writer, and in his early day a fair orator, as older citizens can remember, when overflowing audiences were always the result of a lecture announced to be given by his Grace in the City Hall. The subject-matters, however, of several of these oratorical shows was but shadows from the works of Hugh Miller and others. But the lecturer was a Duke (something of a rara avis in Glasgow), and the people rushed.

ARTHUR STREET (Bridgeton), named for William Rae Arthur who was Lord Provost in 1869.

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