Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

on Thursday 10th April 2014



87 people



Ms Petrina Cairns (President)



Ms Cairns welcome all members and visitors to the April meeting and the first of the light nights. Ms Cairns explained the fire drill, housekeeping rules and requested that all mobile phones be turned to silent or off.



There were apologies from Gaynor MacKinnon, Sallie Marshall and Jim O'Kane.



The Minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 13th February 2014, were approved and proposed by

Joyce McNae and seconded by George Kerr.

There are no Minutes from the 13th March 2014 meeting as the meeting was cancelled due to Adelaides being without heating.


President's Report

The Directors were so disappointed to have to postpone last months meeting 'Memories of the Glasgow Apollo'. Kenny Forbes has very kindly agreed to reschedule to the December 2014 meeting.


Hopefully the Directors managed to contact most members and a big thank you to them for doing that. However, a few people turned up on the night. This highlighted the need for us to have a current contact number and/or email address.      This would be useful should similar circumstances arise again. Please pass any change of details to Sam Gordon our Membership Secretary.


I'm sad to report the passing of Mr George Campbell in late February. Condolences were sent to his wife, Irene. George was a regular attendee of the Club until his health deteriorated. I'm sure all those who knew him at the Club will miss him greatly.


We have also just been informed of the passing of Mr Hugh Connelly, another regular attendee who will be missed.


The Club would like to apologise for the noise disturbance which affected some areas of the auditorium during the Members night event on the 13th February. This was due to some vacuuming in the nursery. Adelaides have been approached and will try to prevent it happening again.


Adelaides have raised the hire price of the Hall for the next financial year by 33%, which will cost the Club an extra 350 per year. Whilst the Club is loathe to do so, this has raised the proposal that we increase the yearly membership fee to 18 and the visitors rate to 4 per meeting. We haven't taken this decision lightly but the Club must cope somehow with the added costs. We propose to raise this at the AGM next month.


Well done to George Parsonage, chosen as one of the Commonwealth Games baton bearers. I'm still not sure about the Red Road Flats demolition as part of the opening ceremony. While it will certainly be spectacular but I'm unsure about the message it will convey. I'm sure everyone has their own  opinions on the matter.


If you enjoyed our 'Walk around Calton' in 1917 for our Members night in February with Mr Fyfe and Miss Agnew then...... Peter and Anna will resume their alter egos at their presentation to the Calton Heritage Group on 28th April.


AGM next month - another year over, can you believe it !

Please remember to bring your Membership card for entrance to the City Chambers and that the meeting will start at 7.00pm. If you haven't already collected your AGM material then please see Sam after tonights meeting.


Secretary's Report

Club outing dates for your diary:

Tappit Hen - 22nd May - a return to Kelvingrove Bowling Greens, come rain or shine with a light refreshments in a local hostelry. Cost 8


J.A.S. Wilson Memorial Walk - 5th June - A walk around the Calton with Mr Peter Fyfe and Miss Agnew. Recreating the walk presented at the Members night. Leading the walk will be Mr Peter Mortimer. Meet at Glasgow Cross 6.15pm


Summer Outing - 14th June - Abbotsford tour at 2.00pm, then Peebles for High Tea at the Green Tree Hotel in centre of town. High Tea is booked for 5.00pm


Bus and Guided Tour of Abbotsford 23

Bus, Guided Tour of Abbotsford and High Tea 36.50


Bus 09.30 am Mount Florida Bowling Club

Bus 10.00 am Cochrane St / City Chambers


Shona has copies of the menu from the Green Tree Hotel. If all interested could give an idea of menu preference to Shona by the AGM she will pass your choice on to the hotel. Please also leave a contact number.



Ms Cairns is introducing tonights speaker. "The topic tonight is 'The Parkhead Story' and the speaker needs no introduction - Peter Mortimer, tonight appearing as himself and not his recent alter ego Peter Fyfe. It's great to have you back. We're looking forward to another fascinating talk so without further ado......"


Thank you for having me at the OGC and letting me tell you 'The Parkhead Story'. There is a lot going to be happening in this area this year, it was about time that we looked east.


Parkhead began as a small weaving village situated about 2 miles to the east of Glasgow City Centre. It principally consisted of  hand-loom weavers before these hand-looms were superseded by large power loom weaving. There was also coal mining in the area. In 1784 the population was only 678.

The weavers lived in cottages where the lower floor was the loom store and the weavers and family would live in pretty cramped conditions on the upper floor.

Peter showed us Parkhead Cross around the time of change from weaving and coal to it being an major industrial part of Glasgow. This is the meeting point of 5 roadways, Gallowgate, Springfield Road, Tollcross Road, Westmuir Street (leading to Shettleston) and Duke Street (formerly known as New Street).

We then headed over to Parkhead Forge. Established in 1837 by Reoch Brothers & Co and then taken over by Robert Napier in 1841 to make forgings and iron plates for his shipyard. The Forge was then sold to William Beardmore, becoming William Beardmore & Co in 1886. By 1896 the works covered an area of 25 acres and was the largest steelworks in Scotland. They were a major employer in the East End, the number of workers reaching a peak of over 20,000 during the First World War. Involved in manufacture of armaments and armour plate for warships. Beardmores operated in the area up until the early 1980s. The Forge Shopping Centre was later built on the site, opening in 1988 and subsequently joined by a retail park and market hall.

Peter then showed us the grand tenements that had been built.

The Watson Tenement at Westmuir / Duke Street where busts of the Watson family are clearly visible. Built in 1905 to a design by Crawford & Veitch.

The McKellar Tenement at the gushet on Tolcross Road. John Campbell McKellar was an architect and tenement builder.

The first floor of this tenement used to house the dental practice of Julius Green. Jewish by birth, he fought for the British Army and was a prisoner of war at Colditz Castle. He worked for MI9 in the prison and sent coded letters to his wife. This information was forwarded by her to British Intelligence. Julius later wrote a book called 'From Colditz in Code'.

Glasgow Savings Bank at 1456 Gallowgate, built to a design by John Keppie, a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It's thought that a young Mackintosh worked on the interiors.

The oldest tenement is at Gallowgate / Duke Street to a design by Burnet, Boston & Carruthers, on the site of George Honeyman Farmer's public house, which would have been used by people traveling to Glasgow.

Heading back to the city there was Camlachie Distillery from 1832 and one of the lowland distillers. They ceased production of whisky in the 1920s. The distillery then became a bonded warehouse.

There were the works of A.G. Barr, famous for Irn Bru. Established in Falkirk by Robert Barr. This factory was opened in 1867 and Irn Bru was patented here. Irn Bru moved out to Cumbernauld and the site is now Bellway Homes.

There were many other manufacturing companies like the Parkhead Metal Refining Works at Back Causeway and Springfield Wire Works where the Riddle was invented by William Riddle. These businesses all played a major part in the economy of the area.

As Parkhead grew then so did the need for public buildings, like the Parkhead Library built in 1906 as one of the Carnegie libraries (still in use today). The Parkhead Bathhouse for laundry and baths which would have been particularly busy because of the forge. There were schools, Camlachie Primary, Parkhead Primary, Newlands Primary School, Quarrybrae and in Peter's opinion, the finest school in Glasgow, Riverside which stood where the Commonwealth Games Athlete Village is. Camlachie Jail and Police Station built in 1887. Parkhead Picture Palace and The Granada Picture Hall.

Celtic Football Club, founded in 1888 by Brother Walfrid of St Mary's as a means of raising funds for the poor and deprived in the east end of Glasgow. In 1967, Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup. They are the other half of the Jack and Victor of Glasgow......Glasgow Rangers.

Belvedere Hospital, built as an infectious disease hospital. When it was built it was felt that it was sufficiently out-with the City for fresh air. It was demolished a few years ago and is now housing.

As Glasgow grew Church graveyards couldn't keep up. The Janefield Estate on Gallowgate was purchased by the Eastern Cemetery Joint-stock Company with the aim of laying out a necropolis to serve the East End of the City. There's 24 acres of cemetery and something like 19,000 graves.

Peter is currently researching Janefield for a Memorial Trail. Tracing Maggie Shield who perished in the Greenhead disaster (one of the 29 girls who were crushed when the wall collapsed) and James MacKechnie who won the Victoria Cross for fighting in Crimea and died a pauper.


I have just scratched the surface of Peter's informative and entertaining talk on places and buildings that we have walked or driven past. If you would like to learn much more, then please look at the webpage,  parkheadhistory.com  where Peter is a contributor.


Q - Talking about Janefield, could you tell me about the Commonwealth War Graves.

A -  As you go through the gates of the cemetery you will see the war memorial, called 'The Cross of Sacrifice'. This type

      of war memorial is found in cemeteries with over 40 war graves. In one part there's 12 graves in a row. The graves

      are tended by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Q - I'm curious about the Commonwealth Games coming. How much of a change will it bring to the area?

A - The principal change will be the affordable housing - difficult to say what will happen after the games, it may put a

      strain on the infrastructure.

Q - I was born and bred in Silverdale Street, which we called Steven Parade. Why was it known by this name?

A - It was named after tenement builder William Stevenson. His WS initials can still be seen at the corner of London Rd.

Q - Next to the Granada there was a low building that used to be a wee plumbers that had previously been a wee school.

      We demolished it and I wish we had kept the pictures (Frank Ewing)?

A - Willox used to be a Baillie. In the 1850s he wrote extensively about the buildings and the characters. I think it may

     have been a Subscription School.

Q - You showed the Church beside Prince Charlie Rd. Beside that is Ravel Row. Why is it called that?

A - It's to do with the weaving. A ravel or ravelings was tangled yarn.

Q - Is Parkhead Hospital built of part of the Beardmore Company at Parkhead Forge ?

A - It is, although I believe it is to close. It's causing a lot of consternation because it is a Mental Health Hospital.

Q - Why was Vinegar Hill called Vinegar Hill ? How did it get it's name ?

A - One thought is that the area is called after the Battle of Vinegar Hill which took place in Ireland but....I think it is more

     likely to do with the vinegar works, D. King & Co that were nearby.


Vote of Thanks

Mrs Anna Forrest thanked Peter Mortimer very much for his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Glasgow. "What a man he is, he walks as fast as he talks and whenever I do a walk with him I need a lie down. A walk through Glasgow is amazing with him, his knowledge of the Industrial Architecture is incredible, and, he is generous with that knowledge.

Thank you so much for that, Peter.




Q - In which year did Parkhead Forge cease to be operational.

A - The winner is Rosemary Sannachan, who correctly gave the date as 1976.




A possible Club Outing date to Inchinnan Old Parish Church at the start of the next Session.


Next Directors Meeting  - Thursday 1st May 2014

Next Members Meeting  - AGM at Glasgow City Chambers on Thursday 8th May at 7.00pm


Ms Cairns thanked everyone for coming and wished all a safe journey home.


                                                                                                                                                    Shona Crozer

                                                                                                                                                    Recording Secretary