Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (2023)

The Venice of Glasgow

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (1)If Dear Green Place has a Venice, it must be Maryhill. Such a sign will surprise the throngs of Milngavie commuters who rush the three miles of Maryhill Road into Glasgow city center every day, leaving locals to breathe nothing but the smog from their cars. These charred souls may never have set foot on solid ground between Canniesburn Toll and St George's Cross, the start and end of Maryhill Road. But they are losers.

Anyone who knows anything about Maryhill will probably know that I feel that Maryhill's location at the start of Scotland's central canal system, where the Forth and Clyde join the route to Port Dundas in Glasgow, makes Maryhill part of the Venice of Scotland. He also counted on his Maryhill Fleet, as the collection of ships at Maryhill Dock was affectionately known, to match the naval might of the former Venetian doges. (Ironically, as Maryhill and its industry declined, the term Maryhill Fleet was adopted by one of the gangs that briefly flourished in the area.)

glass industry

However, a case needs at least two pieces of evidence, and Maryhill has at least one. Like Venice, it was also the center of the glass industry. In fact, Murano Street, which overlooks a canal as important as any in Venice, is named after the Italian city's largest glass factory.

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (2)In addition, Maryhill was home to one of the most unusual and interesting collections of stained glass in Scotland (below). And then, like Venice with its St. Mark's Basilica, Maryhill had a cathedral. After the riots of 1843 the Free Kirkers met for a time in a canal sawmill at Kelvin Dock with planks for pews and the place was called Maryhill Cathedral. I'm closing my case.

Kelvin aqueduct

Until the rise of the Forth and Clyde Canal, there was very little beyond the estates of a few leading Glasgow families and some light industry, such as papermaking along the River Kelvin. But the Kelvin was soon replaced by the Canal, whose triumph was symbolized by the mighty Kelvin Aqueduct, built between 1787 and 1790, which carried the Canal proudly across the river on four heavy masonry arches. Kelvin's water-powered mills were also replaced as industrial plants by the noise of steam engines.
migrated to the shores of the new waterway.

The Kelvin Aqueduct was a wonder of the world, the most powerful ever built since Roman times, and tourists flocked to see it, including royalty from Europe. It was the engineering key to the Forth and Clyde Canal, itself the lifeblood of the first phase of the Scottish Industrial Revolution. The engineer responsible for the construction was Robert Whitworth, and the construction cost was 8,500, which almost bankrupted the company that built the canal.

Conceived as an ancient monument, if this building were placed anywhere in the country, it would be visited by thousands; I doubt more than a handful of curious people come to see it today. However, this could change with the recent reopening of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the aqueduct could once again become a major tourist attraction.


Maryhill was a wild place in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, and the part of the town made up of inns and inns was known as 'The Botany' ('Butney' in local parlance) and is now in the greasy spoon of the local so called. 'Butney's bite'. This area is so named probably because it produced many souls destined for transport to Botany Bay.

John Unlop's founding of the world's first temperance society at Maryhill in 1824 seems to have done little to curb excessive drinking (it was a fairly lenient organization, promising no liquor but allowing beer and wine). Work to build the canal, then the railway and later the aqueduct to Glasgow from Loch Katrina through the area meant that a large number of marines were drawn to Maryhill. When these got too cold, the local Irish priest would enter the inns with a shileigh and attack his countrymen until they left the pub. This was dramatic, but law enforcement failed and when Glasgow refused to provide some police officers, locals felt they had to act and police powers were sought, often the main motivation for citizenship. They were realized in 1856, and the town got its name from the combination of the first and last name of the wife of the local farm owner.

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (3)These police powers may have helped rid the city of unwanted outsiders, but new threats soon emerged from Maryhill and Glasgow itself. The City Council condemned the following:

“Inadequate precautions are taken to maintain the public peace in this city when disturbances and riots occur, which are too frequent in industrial and populous districts, owing to the temporary stoppage of trade and lack of employment of laborers. "

Although Maryhill was an independent town, it agreed to build the new Glasgow Barracks, which was moved to Maryhill from the East End. The significantly expanded complex was opened in 1876.

Mainly locally recruited soldiers were the basis of the Highland Light Infantry from 1920 and were considered unreliable during the 40 hour general strike in Glasgow in 1919 - Order issued. The barracks gave Maryhill the feel of a military town; Were there any soldiers? A hotel where tourists could entertain their families and military pubs such as the HLI (now defunct) and the Elephant and Bugle (the emblem of the HLI). Much of the barracks wall has been preserved, as has the gatehouse that provided access to the Wyndford housing estate it replaced.

The barracks may not be the armory of Venice, but the locals were so attached to the front door that they thwarted plans to demolish it. The Soldiers Hotel became for a time the center of Maryhill's trade unions and has a mural depicting the flogging of the leader of the Glasgow Weavers' Strike in 1797. But Maryhill has its own working-class martyr.

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (4)
In 1834, there was a strike in the calico printing house. Printers responded to the introduction of illegal work with sabotage, destroying their work by tearing it or spilling ink on it. One day the mill manager entered the factory when a pile of bricks and a window frame fell nearby. They "simply must not let themselves down," the strikers said. Arrests were made, some workers were imprisoned, and Glasgow Barracks troops were quartered in the factory where the scabs lived and ate during the strike. The authorities were then confronted with the murder of strikers in Butney by Clay Davie. A police investigation was carried out, but the killer was released. The Calico Printers' Union erected a monument to the worker in Maryhill Churchyard, an iron pillar with a bronze inscription.

"MEMORIAL TO GEORGE MILLAR who died at a later age
Nineteen, February 24, 1834, one of the calicos dies
Printing trades that are destined to destroy the union of regular workers
Workers trained to protect their wages. THIS MONUMENT WAS BUILT BY HIS HEADQUARTERS.

Maryhill Borough

Many graves in the cemetery were desecrated by the clergy.
An enthusiastic demolition squad crushed it in the general rubble when the church itself was demolished, and I was unable to find Millar's grave. These ruins overlook Butney. But while there is no surviving memorial at Millar, many other Maryhill workers at Maryhill Burgh Halls do or have had a case.

Two years after the opening of the barracks, the City Hall, designed by Duncan McNaughtan in the revivalist style of the French Renaissance, was also opened. Maryhill does not have the number of public buildings that areas like Govan or Brighton possess, so it is fitting that its council buildings are among the best of any registered Glaswegian. Or they were the most beautiful, because not long after the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the annexation of Maryhills to Glasgow, the salons were closed. So is the pool, whose beautiful exterior that stretches all the way to the Burgh Halls gives a glimpse of its former glory.

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (5)Adams Buntglasplatten

The Burgh Crown Hall was a series of twenty stained glass windows made by Stephen Adam's Glasgow firm. These windows commemorate the industry of Maryhill and the men and women who worked in it. This in turn gives us the key to Maryhill, its industrial diversity. Govan was ships, Springburn was locomotives, Brigton was textiles, followed by heavy engineering, but Maryhill had a diverse industrial base captured in these windows. Appropriately, one of the plaques commemorates the skill of the glassblower. Another depiction of workers in the chemical industry can be seen at the People's Palace in Glasgow. The rest is under the jurisdiction of the City Council and has blacksmiths, carpenters, gas workers, engineers and many other trades. This is a unique collection of world historical significance comparable to Maryhill's other great value, the Kelvin Aqueduct.

Despite the city's working-class character, public art in Glasgow has largely ignored work as a theme. Where there are records, the work is most often represented by classical maidens, as for example in the stock market, or medieval workers in city chambers, or even machines operating cherubs. Adam's Maryhill stained glass windows are a dramatic exception, but there are others. It reminds me of the MacGillivray shipyard workers outside Govan shipyard and the Lavery shipyard workers mural in the City Chambers. (see Glory
Govan Kapitel.)

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (6)The pools have long been closed, so any Maryhill resident who wants to swim (and isn't interested in the canal) has to get to Scotstoun, which is a few miles away.[The swimming pool and sports center reopened at Maryhill Burgh Halls in 2012]

There are no other public sports facilities in Maryhill, none. Donna Brooks from Glasgow City Council's Development and Regeneration Service told me:

"Plans for the redevelopment are not final but it is hoped the pool could become the site of a new sports centre, while the Burgh Hall could be used for a variety of social and commercial purposes."

Donna sees the canal becoming a focal point for Glasgow's regeneration, similar to the River Clyde, although canal development would be more local. Residential, sports and arts facilities are being considered, as are marinas for boats and even a hotel for various empty waterfront lots.

Restrooms disappeared, and the closing of plants like Bryant and May, which had provided their workers with exercise facilities (including a shuffleboard court), further encouraged sedentary lifestyles. But some try. Playing a sport that bears certain similarities to football, Maryhill Juniors have produced the likes of Danny McGrain from their ranks, although they last won the Junior Cup in 1940. The glory days are long gone, with three Olympians and a marathon gold medalist at the inaugural Empire Games 1930, "Dunkie" Wright. Channel fishing seems to be the most popular sport among the locals. I asked one if he had ever caught anything and if it was edible. "Oh yes," he said, "I have plenty of pike. But I never eat it, I hate fish."

In his interesting booklet, Memories of Maryhill, Roderick Williamson recounts his childhood between the two wars, growing up in Braeside Street among the respectable working class, adding that gangs, violence and crime were evident in this part of No Mean City. were absent, as was sectarianism. Many of the local men were skilled craftsmen in the council, and Wilkinson's father was a unique, often unemployed shipwright and ardent communist. This was the most prestigious part of Maryhill, on the very edge of the historic town and bordering fashionable north Kelvinside. Jock Nimlin, Glasgow's greatest working-class climber, was also from this area. His family consisted of Finnish immigrants, Methodists and members of the ILP, and Jock worked for years in the shipyards before his work as a writer and radio presenter led him to work at the National Trust.

Mackintosh Queen's Cross Church

Let's start here, right across from Maryhill
Road is Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Queens Cross Church, which was built in 1899 and is the only Mackintosh-designed church ever built. Today it is the headquarters of the Mackintosh Company and is open to visitors at certain times. Heading north along Maryhill Road, you can understand why churches such as Queen's Cross have been closed, as between this point and the junction with Queen Margaret Drive, much of the original housing stock has been demolished and replaced by "improved" areas. However, there are signs that living by the canal is now seen as an advantage, and there are plans to build waterfront homes. From here to Ruchill Street, Maryhill Road retains its original unbroken line of tenements, and Ruchill Street itself has a connection with Mackintosh, as the church halls, where you can stop for a cup of tea and a keek, are his handiwork, if not the church itself.

Further up the road we are in the heart of what is now Maryhill, with the barracks on the left. Its wall is now surmounted by the multi-storey buildings that replaced it, and a little further on is the Burgh Hall, unfortunately cut off from the community by the closure of Garbraid Avenue and, of course, the closure of the hall itself. Another notable building in this area is the public library on the right side of Maryhill Road which, like many others in Glasgow, was built in 1905 with the help of Alexander Carnegie. It has beautiful sculptures and a separate entrance for boys and girls. Passing under the aqueduct that carries the canal across the Narrows takes you to the part of Maryhill most connected to the waterway.

Dokovi Maryhill

Maryhill Docks, Locks and Dry Docks soon appear on the left, with the associated Kelvin Aqueduct, one of the largest canal complexes.
A works project relating to the additional construction of a canal through Scotland. The White House, a canal-era pub, is also still standing. Gone, however, is the canalside hotel that was built for waterway users and has a 24-hour license to manage permanent traffic through the canal. The re-opening of the canal is expected to be central to the rehabilitation of the whole Maryhill Locks area, which is in a very different state to Queen's Cross, where we started. The White House in particular, a graffiti-covered eyesore, only needs to be restored to reappear as a canal-side cameo.

Boat ride on the canal

On May 26, 2001, a fleet of 40 ships sailed from Falkirk to Bowling and ceremonially reopened the canal. Tour operators now offer cruises from Glasgow to Falkirk or even Edinburgh. This is a revival of the use of the canal by the people of Maryhill. Their thing on the water was sailing ships like the Gypsy Queen, which from 1905 to 1940 plied the canal to Kilsyth or beyond, performing with jazz bands. Until the closure of the canal in 1962, Maryhill's willows helped sailors and fishermen, who would later frequent it, open the various lock gates and be rewarded with a walk to Clydebank or even a game of bowling. However, it is unlikely that someone took a small submarine.
negotiated the canal in 1952.

Maryhill Pier is a good place to start from Maryhill Road towards the canal bank and take the steps back south until you are almost back where you started. Neat, tidy and devoted to leisure, the canal still bears witness to its past as the industrial heart of Scotland, and Maryhill in particular. The economic life of the city was so diverse that it is worth highlighting some of the most famous factories or their remains. Maryhill Locks had a slipway still visible which was used for shipbuilding from 1857 to 1921. The Swan Company built many of the famous Clyde stoppers, iron-hulled steam-powered ships that plied the Channel and Firth of Clyde, including the first, Glasgow. While it is still commemorated in the pub opposite (an old residential building) called The Kelvin Dock. Swan, who became the first manager of Maryhill, recruited many of his able men from among the Falkirk smiths. As the canal meanders towards Glasgow, the main branch runs from Stockingfield Junction towards Falkirk. A tangled jumble of buildings now stands on the site of the former Kelvin Chemical Works, behind which is the Maryhill FC stadium. lying. Continuing to the right, you will see a culvert that leads water from the canal to the site of the old works.

Unlocking Maryhill - A History of Its Places and People by I.R. West end of Mitchell-Glasgow (8)The former Bryant and May factory which produced Scottish Bluebell matches until 1981 and was formerly Alexander Fergusson's Lead and Color Works now appears on the left. This lovely building, which now has a rather faded mural to the credit of the canal, has been converted to non-industrial use. Passing the drawbridge over the canal in Ruchill Street, Mackintosh's Ruchill Halls come into view again on your right, while on your left is Maryhill's largest industrial concern, McLellan's Rubber Works, dating from 1876. With the remains of a factory which has its own quay in the canal , was in operation until a few years ago
Ruins and ruins and redevelopment for housing. The canal makes a bend and soon on the opposite side, where now only the coots and swans watch the coots and the swans watch the rough fishermen pouring onto the canal bank, are the two Maryhill glassworks, the Caledonia Works, which make bottles and jars, and the Glasgow Works for the manufacture flat glass. Much of this land is now occupied by the University of Glasgow Student Village. Although Murano Street no longer runs past the glass factory, there is still an active industrial operation along the canal at McGhee's Bakery, on the site of the former Firhill sawmill. The beautifully restored Nolly Brig underpass takes you to Firhill Basin.

On the other side of the canal, in the old town part of Ruchill, there are more remnants of Maryhill's industrial past. The Shaw and MacInnes ironworks miraculously survived until the year 2000, and the Phoenix chemical factories were also found in the canal alongside them, which unfortunately did not rise from the ashes like the mythical bird after which they were named. Both factories have long used the Firhill Basin to send their products from Maryhill to market. Shaw and
MacInnes, like the Swans at Kelvindock, originally brought his own
the skilled smiths of Falkirk; they conveniently came along the canal.

You can take a short walk to Ruchill Park and get a nice view of the city from its highest point, which was created by building a mini-mountain out of the rubble left over from the construction of Ruchill Hospital. This former highest point in Glasgow was known as 'Ben' Whitton after the park manager at the time. Or just walk to Queens Cross Church and our starting point on Burnside Street. By now you have understood where the inspiration for the Burgh Hall stained glass windows came from. And you will understand how the Forth and Clyde Canal produced Maryhill. It is to be hoped that the canal will contribute to the regeneration of Maryhill in its new role as a corridor for tourism, wildlife and recreation, although the industries of paper mills, glass blowers, chemical workers and all others have disappeared from the banks of the canal forever.

Urheberrecht I.R. Mitchell

Ian R. Mitchell, author of Unlocking Maryhill, is so pleased with the response to the article that he has written another post that will be of interest and encouragement to all who have written so far. (October 2007)
Restauracija Maryhill Burgh Halls - Ian R. Mitchell

Bigman: Celebrating Andy Scott's new sculpture at Maryhill– November 2008.


I am looking for information on the possible current location of a plaque that was once on the walls of the now defunct Garscube bar on Garscube Road. This is a memorial to the men from Lyon Street, a street off Garscube Road, who fought in the First World War. More than 200 men from this street volunteered for the war and Lyon Street became known as the most decorated street in Britain. Since the pub was demolished in 1962, the place of the plaque was lost. Anyone with information please contact me.[email protected]

See also:Maryhill Burgh Halls, Gordon Barr, May 2010

Archived comments

When we moved this page to our new content management system, we were unable to accept feedback.Comments are archived on this page..

Ian R. Mitchell, author of Unlocking Maryhill, is so pleased with the response to the article that he has written another post that will be of interest and encouragement to all who have written so far. (October 2007)
Restauracija Maryhill Burgh Halls - Ian R. Mitchell

This department:Maryhill,Piss


What is the history of the locks at Maryhill? ›

The locks at Maryhill had a dock-slipway, still visible, where boat building took place from 1857-1921. The firm of Swan built many of the famous Clyde “Puffers”, the iron hulled and steam propellor driven vessels which plied the canal and the Firth of Clyde, including the very first one, the Glasgow.

What is Maryhill famous for? ›

Maryhill is the home of Firhill Stadium, which has been the home ground of Scottish Championship club Partick Thistle since 1909. Originally from the burgh of Partick, the club moved to the Maryhill area in 1909 after struggling to find a new home nearer Partick.

What is the history of Maryhill Library? ›

A free public library had been in existence in Maryhill since 1823, when it was founded by a group of papermakers from Dawsholm Paper Mill. It was financed by charges for lectures and by donations from the local gentry. A new library in Wyndford Street (now Maryhill Road) was opened in 1905.

How did Maryhill Glasgow get its name? ›

Mary Hill (1730–1809) was an heiress after whom the town of Maryhill, now a district of Glasgow, was named. Mary inherited the Gairbraid Estate from her father, Hew Hill, who had no surviving male heirs.

What was the purpose of the locks? ›

The purpose of the locks and dams is to create a series of steps which river tows and other boats either climb or descend as they travel upstream or downstream.

What is the history of locks and keys? ›

The first all-metal locks appeared between the years 870 and 900, and are attributed to English craftsmen. It is also said that the key was invented by Theodorus of Samos in the 6th century BC. 'The Romans invented metal locks and keys and the system of security provided by wards.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated: 09/24/2023

Views: 5345

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.