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Baillieston and District Memories

by Alistair Stevenson

I come from a place called Garrowhill, a great wee place

Garrowhill, like the author, was born in the mid 1930's.  It was recognised as an up-market housing development, built centrally around  one of the Maxwell family home -  Garrowhill House.  This estate along with "Barachny House" and "Baileston House" is clearly shown on a map of the Monkland district published in 1795.
Those of us who were born or lived in Garrowhill found that it had very little identity of is own.   There is no Main Street or natural focus aside from the church and Barrachnie shops and you would hesitate to label it as a village or town in the normal sense.  Today it is very much a dormitory of the comfortably-off, lived in by those who work, shop and play elsewhere.   That may be so and if it is, it is no different from the Garrowhill of the thirties, forties and fifties.  But so what if there was no main street, cinemas, sport arenas, town hall etc.  So what if it was not a village in the true sense.  It was and probably still is, a different place.   What do I tell people when they ask me  "Where, in Scotland did you come from, Alistair?"  
I tell them   "I come from a place called Garrowhill, a great wee place."

ghillhouse.jpg (23662 bytes)

Garrowhill House (owned by J. Scott Maxwell)
was located at what is now Garrowhill Park

Yes, Garrowhill was isolated.   To the north, south and west it was countryside all the way.  Barlanark to the north and the new Baillieston to the south, did not exist at all.   Garrowhill was a clog shaped settlement whose boundaries were Barrachnie Rd, Edinburgh Rd. and Glasgow Rd/Main St.   Was it a problem that we were isolated?  No it was not.  The children could climb trees and haystacks, collect birds eggs, and chestnuts.   They did everything that country children did and yet they were only a ha'penny tram fare from the Coatbridge baths and a penny half to the pictures in Shettleston, where there was a choice of four cinemas.

They played, without fear, in the grand estate of Scott Maxwell"s Baillieston House.   The greenkeeper was no match for the wits and agility of the wee ones as they skipped and weaved between the trees and the hedges.   Fences were easy to climb!
Then there was the brickworks constructed on the site of the old Barrachnie Pit, just a few hundred yards along the extension of Hillsborough Road, south of Glasgow Rd.    This was the playground that was the answer to all children's prayers for not only could they build brick dens, they could slide down the steep smooth slopes of the old slate bings, on pieces of tin or a sheet of tarpaulin.  If they were lucky, Skinner, a truck driver and a favourite with the young ones, would let them ride in his cabin and let them help unload when they reached the new building sites.  This, of course, was at the end of the war.

The sand quarries and the flooded pit shafts, south of Mount Vernon, were an easy walk from the brickworks and they too were a source of great fun, yielding up sand martin's eggs, newts and baggie minnows.  The river Clyde near Broomhouse, The Monkland Canal were all within easy walking distance and by bike (little traffic) the Campsies and the Livingstone Memorial were within easy reach.

As the children grew, they became aware of the differences between the neighbouring children in Baillieston and themselves.  The Garrowhill children wore better clothes and didn't call a dog a dug..  The children of Baillieston were the bain of their lives.  The Baillies taunted them, picked fights with them and 'fermer' Greenshiels put the fear of death into them.
The children now understood that their parents had bought houses in Garrowhill, whereas their gand-parents lived in a council house.  They became aware that while the parents owned the house, they leased the land and paid feu duty to Scott Maxwell   They knew little of Scott Maxwell's politics.  They knew that the Maxwells were a very privileged family who rode the streets in groups of four to six, on the back of beautifully groomed horses and dressed in the best regalia.  The grown ups would encourage the little ones to keep bucket and shovel at the ready, for the gardens of Garrowhill were now ready for a pick-me-up.

A well designed modern primary school with great amenities, gardens and playgrounds was opened in 1939.  Who will forget Mr Logan, a veteran of World War l, the janitor, with his navy blue uniform decked in silver buttons, grey haired and a hook on his right arm.  These were the days of a free one third of a pint of milk for every child and the way Mr Logan could lift and stack the crates using hook and hand was a delight to see.
The church was a magnificent brick structure and like the school was built at the top of the hill, adjacent to Garrowhill House.

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Garrowhill Primary School 1944-1945 Mrs Dow's Class
Can you spot anyone you know?  Alistair is in the front row - far right

Aerial Photo c1950  - (click here for larger photo)
According to Alistair: "It shows the school, Scott Maxwell Estate, the Brickworks and all the lovely country side surrounding the clog shape development. I can even pick up my Grannie's place in Rhindmuir Ave. Swinton. Boy if she could only have lived to to see the big Baillieston traffic interchange at the bottom of her street, or nearly the bottom anyway"

The brick air raid shelters built on spare ground and at the side of the roads stayed on for a number of years after the war as did the large water tanks at the top of Hillsborough Rd. and at the corner of Douglas Dr. and Maxwell Dr.   The tanks, although never used as a war time measure were a great source of tadpoles.    The shelters were used for many other purposes than sheltering from German bombs.  It could be said that the gas masks issued to us saved us from gases just as volatile as the German variety.
There was no Main Street but the shops at Barachnie, MacAdam's at the bottom of Hillsborough Rd.   Robertson's opposite the pub and the shops at the roundabout on Thornbridge Rd. served as meeting places for all.

Garrowhill had Boy Scouts (The 124 of Lanark, the pride of Garrowhill) and cubs.   There was a large company of Boy's Brigade with a bagpipe band, Speedwells, Brownies, Girl Guides, Sea Scouts and Lifeboys.  And towards the end of the war, a Garrowhill Boys Choir.  The best boys choir in Scotland - maybe the only one.    They were well known from Paisley to Airdrie.  It was disbanded by Mr Aitken, the choir master, when Forby stood on a chair to "show off" during a performance and fell off, disrupting the whole show.
The grown ups had a bowling club, a popular tennis club and dancing at the British Legion Hall and church on Sunday.

ghill1.jpg (26829 bytes)

Maxwell Drive in the 1930s
If you look closely you will notice that at the rear of the lorry is the hand cart of Peein' Joe

We had our characters in those days.  Some like Peein' Joe would not be tolerated in these days.  Peein' Joe was a veteran of the first world war.  He had a barra which was basically a big wooden box on wheels.   He carried it all over Garrowhill with bits of kindling wood that he tried to sell to the housewives.  he lived, with his sister, in a little white cottage behind the bing (long gone) between Barrachnie and Mount Vernon.
He shuffled his way around the streets dragging his right leg behind him, a bit like "the mummy" in the old movies, puffing away at a dowt he had picked up in the gutter and wearing a cloth cap and raggy clothes. 
He acquired his name by his habit of relieving himself whenever he felt like it.  Standing at the side of his barrow, he would undo the appropriate buttons and to the delight of the Garrowhill children, he would point in the right direction and create a massive flow which would find its way to the nearest gutter.  Nobody but nobody could create a flow like Peein' Joe.

Who can forget Forbie, originally from Govan, whose head was forever bandaged or his arm in a sling.  He was a gentle tough nut who went on to be a champion Scottish amateur boxer.  He created havoc wherever he went.  For days the people of Garrowhill had collected rubbish to celebrate the end of the war in the Pacific.  They stored it in the air-raid shelters in Garrowhill Park to keep it dry.  The day before the bonfire was due to be lit, Forbie, having the day off school with one of his regular broken arms, was too bored to just hang around and with a box of matches set alight to the air raid shelters causing a massive amount of smoke and giving Garrowhill its first glimpse of the fire brigade since the war started.

Today Garrowhill has matured.   The concrete roads cracked up and are now sealed with bitumen.   The brickwork of front fences have weakened and the concrete caps unsteady but the gardens are still well kept.  The roads are saturated with cars (many houses were not equipped with garage) and the narrow streets were not meant for the traffic density of modern times.
The author who left for Australia in 1951 has returned for short stays in and around Garrowhill on several occasions 1953,1971, 1983 and 1991.  Each time the place looks great.   It is a different place, perhaps unique in its concept, from any other place in Scotland.


Email Alistair Stevenson


I was born 1939 at 26 Springhill rd name is Andrew Mcdicken and every piece of the  Garrowhill story I can clearly remember, especially "forbsie" who lived next door to my grand parents and made their life  a wee bit of hell.

Garrowhill house  became  the school dinner hall, then the dinner hall was moved to the British legion hall.  The house then became the library, and eventually torn down.
there was Finley's farm delivery of milk with their horse drawn cart

The Boys brigade paraded last Sunday of the month from Barrachnie shops to the church on the hill ,lead by the pipe and bugle band.

Shops: We had  the fish and chip shop we call Grannies Greasers.
Potts owned the hardware store.  Jones would charge your accumulators for the radio  and fix your bikes.

The brick works were a great place to play and play hooky from school   I think we called it plunking school

I collected stale bread throughout Garrowhill  for the Winston family chickens, who lived in I think Maxwell house  next to the brickworks

aye yours

Andrew McDicken




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