KILBARCHAN AND THE RENFREWSHIRE UPLANDS.
(Via GREEN CAR TO PAISLEY.)
JOIN CAR AT GLASGOW CROSS, JAMAICA STREET, OR PAISLEY ROAD TOLL.
Route—Argyle Street—Jamaica Street—Bridge Street—Morrison Street—Paisley Road—Crookston—Paisley Cross—Elderslie—Johnstone—Kilbarchan.
Glasgow Cross to Kilbarchan, 12 miles.
FROM the Cross of Glasgow to Kilbarchan, the distance by tramway car is twelve miles three furlongs. It is an interesting route. The traveller passes from the heart of a city throbbing with the ceaseless activities that constitute modern commercial life, to the less strenuous stir of the suburbs, thence into a pleasant countryside of green field and hedgerow and bien farm towns, and so to Paisley, a neutral-tinted pocket edition of Glasgow in so far as business and its manifold interests are concerned. We travel by the Paisley Road, an ancient thoroughfare, a memory of its rural days still clinging to the present busy street in the place-name, Paisley Road Toll. Within the memory of old folks there stood at the gushet of to-day, almost on the site now occupied by the drapery warehouse of Ogg Brothers, the barhouse toll-bars—one for the Three Mile House in Paisley Road and the other for the old Govan or Renfrew Road; down the latter go the (blue) Renfrew cars. There was constant travelling on both turnpikes by persons going to Paisley or to Greenock. From 1780 to 1794 these two tolls Paisley Toll and Renfrew Road Toll-showed a rental of £143 in 1781; £263 in 1794. In what was the last year of their halcyon days, 1840, the income from the Paisley Road Toll was £1,806 13s. 4d., and from the Renfrew or Govan Road Toll, £778; from then, what with keen railway and steamboat competition, the revenue was a steadily diminishing quantity. Both tolls were abolished in 1879. The year that witnessed the abolition of the old-world toll saw the introduction of a Tramway, the Govan and Ibrox tramway system, which ran from the Paisley Road Toll to Whitefield Road, Ibrox. This tramway system was acquired by the Town Council of Govan in 1893 and by the Glasgow Corporation in 1896. In 1878 also, steam cars were put on between Paisley Road Toll and Govan, via the old Govan and Renfrew Road, and continued running until 1893, when the Govan Corporation took over the line from the Vale of Clyde Tramway Company, and leased it to the Glasgow Tramway and Omnibus Company, the Glasgow Corporation acquiring the concern in 1896.
On our right after leaving Paisley Road Toll we pass Plantation Street, a place-name suggestive of a district somewhat different from the tenement-haunted vista of today. This modern and work-a-day streetscape possesses a history containing not a little of the romance of life. In the year 1783, John Robertson, merchant in Glasgow, purchased the estate then named Craigiehall, and upon which, and in the midst of green fields stood a small dwelling-house. This gentleman was the proprietor of several sugar and cotton plantations in the West Indies, and he named his Glasgow acquisition, Plantation. Robertson was for many years cashier of the Glasgow Arms Bank, had a slitting and rolling mill at the mouth of the Kelvin, established the first regular ferry from the Pointhouse to Govan, and owned a warehouse on the Broomielaw: the present Robertson Street, being carried through his property, was named after him. In 1793 Plantation estate was sold to John Mair, a Paisley mason, who had “made a hantle o’ siller,” and from the Mair family it passed in 1829 to William Maclean, merchant in Glasgow, and deacon-convener of the Trades House. The purchase price was £15,000. Maclean advised the Trades House to acquire the lands, but his advice not being accepted, he bought them himself. He was a man of foresight. For a small portion of the land the G. & S.-W. Railway Co. paid him £30,000, and he received nearly as much from the Clyde Trustees for a strip adjoining the river. The whole of Plantation lands are now built over, and old William Maclean’s investment has proved something akin to a gold mine for his successors.
At Lorne Street, a little past Plantation Street, the Renfrew (blue) car leaves the Paisley Road to join the new Govan Road, which runs alongside the vast Princes Dock, the Paisley car proceeds straight ahead, passing on the left Bellahouston Academy—opened in 1885—and on the right the chaste, tree-embowered residential quarter of Ibroxhome, and at Copland Road we are at the Ibrox Terminus where football enthusiasts alight for the famous Ibrox Park, scene of many a triumph—and defeat—of the renowned Rangers.
Leaving Ibrox Terminus, we have on our right Ibrox Railway Station and the quaint Three-Mile House, architecturally a reproduction of the old Stag Inn, which stood where now are the Dry Docks of Govan; on our left are the fine sylvan glades of Bellahouston Park. The grounds and house of Bellahouston were purchased from the Misses Steven by the Glasgow Corporation in 1895 for £50,000. The lands were converted into a public park, and in 1905 the adjoining lands, with the old mansion house of Ibroxhill, were acquired by the Corporation, and these, combined with the Bellahouston ground, form one of the finest of the city’s public parks. Ibrox and the adjacent lands of Dumbreck and Bellahouston, were held for centuries by the old Glasgow families of Hill, Rowan, and Steven. In 1557 lands were “rentalit” in the “quarter callit Dwmbrek,” and in 1590 there appears the name of “Thomas Hill, son of Zaures Hill in Ybrocks”—hence probably is derived the curious term Ibrox-Y-brocks, the land of ye brocks-brock, Scots for a badger. Within the park and crowning the higher ridges is the old mansion of Bellahouston, built about 1770, and known formerly as Dumbreck House. It was built by William Woddrop, passed to Robert Scott, founder in 1761 of the famous Thistle Bank in Virginia Street, and acquired at the beginning of last century by Steven of Bellahouston, who changed its name to Bellahouston House. Of the mansion house of Ibroxhill, all that remains is the portico, which strikes a picturesque classic note in the rock garden of to-day. Ibroxhill house was built in 1801 by John Bennet, a Glasgow writer, and in 1816 was acquired by John M‘Call, merchant in Glasgow, who added largely to the mansion, the designs being by his brother-in-law, the celebrated James Smith of Jordanhill, antiquary, architect, and man of letters, who also designed the old Parish Kirk of Govan, now the Elder Park Parish Kirk. The last occupant of the venerable mansion of Ibroxhill was Sheriff Davidson. It became the property of the Glasgow Corporation in 1905; was converted into a tea room and general waiting room in 1910, and was taken down in 1912.