Govan - Brief History
Govan, a parish and a burgh in the lower ward of Lanarkshire, and in the extreme NW of that county. A portion of the parish which was formerly in the county of Renfrew, was, by the Boundary Commissioners, in 1892, transferred to Lanarkshire. At the same time a small strip situated within the police burgh of Renfrew was added to the parish of Renfrew; and another part—bounded on the E by the municipality of Glasgow (as fixed by the Extension of Boundaries Act of 1891), on the S by the parish of Eastwood, on the W by the parish of Abbey, and on the N partly by the parish of Abbey and partly by the then existing boundary between Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire—was transferred to Eastwood parish. Neither of these two portions had any population. Govan is bounded N by Dumbartonshire, NE by Maryhill and Barony, E by City and Rutherglen, all in Lanarkshire; S by Cathcart and Eastwood, SW by Abbey and Renfrew, and NW by New Kilpatrick, all in Renfrewshire. The Clyde divides the parish into two unequal parts, the larger extending along the S side of the river with a length of 6 miles, and a breadth at its widest part, near the centre, of 1 mile; the smaller on the N bank of the Clyde—all W of the Kelvin, except a small patch just at the mouth—and measuring in its greatest length (along the Great Western Road, W of Kelvin Bridge) 2¼ miles, and in its greatest breadth (from Whiteinch on the SW to the point on the N where the county of Dumbarton reaches the Kelvin) 2⅛ miles. The total land area is about 6200 acres. Govan is here taken as including the small parish of Gorbals, which has been for a long time ecclesiastically distinct, and also had, for a considerable period, as is noticed in the article GLASGOW, a separate jurisdiction. The inhabitants of Gorbals, about 1727, found themselves numerous enough to think of building a church for themselves, and, this having been begun, the heritors of Govan granted the prayer of a petition from the feuars, elders, and inhabitants of Gorbals, asking that their district should be formed into a new parish. The church was opened in 1730, but, owing to opposition from the magistrates of Glasgow—who were superiors of the barony of Gorbals, and who had offered to ‘pay the expense of the building of the church, and to give a stipend and manse to the entrant’ if the inhabitants of the Bridgend would only ‘bear scot and lot with them ‘—and from the University authorities, who were patrons of Govan, it was not till 1771 that the new parish of Gorbals was disjoined and erected. The lands of Little Govan and Polmadie were in the same year joined to it quoad sacra, and so matters remained till 1873 when the Board of Supervision reunited the two for poor law purposes in what is now known as Govan Combination. The parish of Gorbals is very small, having an area of only 28·489 acres, but it is very densely populated.
The surface of Govan is irregular. Along the Clyde it is low and flat, varying in height from 19 (Clyde View) to 24 feet (Govan burgh) above sea level, but from this it rises to the N and S, reaching in the former direction a height of 214 feet near the county boundary, and, in the latter, of 165 feet at Ibroxhill, 170 at Haggbowse, and 137 at Titwood. With the exception of Barony parish in Glasgow, Govan is the most important and populous parish in Scotland, as well as the most valuable. This arises from the great change that has, within little more than half a century, taken place in its industries. Prior to 1840 there were on an average 4320 acres under crops of various kinds, and, besides this, there were many gardens and orchards, the produce of which went to Glasgow for sale. Now the agricultural area is very materially diminished, and is becoming less from year to year, while the area occupied by buildings of various kinds has rapidly and largely increased. Of the total valuation of the parish the portion set down as arising from agricultural land is only about the one-hundredth part, while the remaining, ninety-nine-hundredths arise from the built area, and this will ere long, when the new docks at Cessnock in the Plantation district are finished, be materially increased. The built area includes, on the N side of the Clyde, the burgh of Partick, the Glasgow districts of Hillhead, Dowanhill, and Kelvinside, as well as Whiteinch; and on the S side of the river the burghs of Govan and Kinning Park, the districts of Plantation and Ibrox, and the Glasgow districts of Hutchesontown,Gorbals, Laurieston, Tradeston, Crosshill, Govanhill East and West Pollokshields, Strathbungo, and Dumbreck.
History, etc. —The etymology of the name is uncertain. In 1518 we find it spelled Gwuan; and Leslie, in his Scotiæ Descriptio (1578), says that the parish got its name from the excellence of its ale (Anglo-Saxon God-win), while Chalmers, ín his Caledonia, advances the Gaelic Gamhan, meaning a ditch. How the parish came to be divided between two counties is not known. It has been asserted that the whole lay originally within the county of Lanark, but that in 1677 the lands of Haggs, Titwood, and Shields were transferred to the county of Renfrew ‘for the convenience of Sir George Maxwell’ of Pollok, to whom they belonged. This, however, cannot be the case, as these lands are, in the original charter granted by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1581, described as in Renfrewshire. The appearance of the district in late prehistoric times has already been alluded to in the article GLASGOW, but in connection with this it may here be noticed that in the parish of Govan there are beds of finely laminated clay and sand at different places at considerable heights above the sea. In lieds of clay at Balshagray and Gartnavel, about 90 feet above sea-level, the late Mr Smith of Jordanhill found marine shells, of which 10 per cent. were of types now living in colder seas. Whiteinch was, as the name implies, formerly an island, as was also part of the lands of Meadowside, and islands they remained till late in the historic period. There is mention made of the islands between Govan and Partick in one of the documents in the chartulary of Glasgow, and in the map in Blaeu’s Atlas, published in 1654, Whiteinch and a number of islands adjacent are shown, as are also villages at Partick, ‘Little Gouan,’ at the S end of Glasgow Bridge, and ‘Mekle Gouan,’ where the present burgh stands. This map also shows the parish intersected by a small stream which entered the Clyde opposite Stobcross. The land at Whiteinch was, till near the middle of the nineteenth century, very low, but about 1840 the Clyde Trustees got permission to deposit dredged material on it, and in this way the level over a space of 69 acres was raised from 10 to 15 feet.
The earliest notices of Govan that are to be found are in connection with church matters, in 1136, when Glasgow Cathedral was formally consecrated, King David gave to the See the lands of Perteyc and also of Govan (Guvan cum suis divisis), and Bishop Herbert (1147-64) erected the church into a prebend and bestowed it on his chaplain; and from this time onward to the Reformation we find frequent mention of various prebendaries of the parish. In 1319 we find Edward II. playing with the assumption of the power over Scotland that had been lost for ever, and nozninsting ‘Johannes de Lund,’ or Lundy, prebendary of Govan, but the presentee probably never appeared in his benefice. In 1525 Walter Betoun was ‘Rector de Gowan,’ and in 1527 he assisted at St Andrews at the trial of Parick Hamilton. His successor, Stephen Beatoun, presented to the charge by Queen Mary in 1561, was the last of the Roman Catholic clergymen. He was permitted to retain the temporalities of the benefice as long as he lived, and as, immediately before his death, he gave a lease of the teinds to his brother, the latter managed to retain them for other nineteen years, to the great loss of the University of Glasgow, to which they had been granted. After the Reformation Govan had a succession of eminent ministers. When the revenues of the vicarage of Govan were granted to the University, one of the conditions attached was that the principal of the University should preach at Govan every Sunday, and so practically be minister of the parish, though there was also an ‘exhortar.’ ‘We have,’ says the king in the charter, ‘thought it to be right, when our college is supported out of the tythes and revenues of that church, that they who provide temporal things should receive spiritual things, and not be defrauded of the bread of life, which is the word of God.’ The principal of the University, when this grant was made, was the celebrated Andrew Melvil, and according to the account given by his nephew, James, in his Diary, the Regent Morton was in his action in the matter exercising some political finesse. James Melvil says that this ‘guid benefice, paying four and-twentie chalder of victuall,’ was offered to his uncle, if he would only keep his views of church government in the background. When this was refused the appointment was kept open for two years, dangling as a sort of bait before the eyes of the worthy principal. Morton finding this all in vain, at length granted the revenues to the University with the above-mentioned condition as regards the church services, hoping thus in an indirect way ‘to demearit Mr Andro, and cause him relent from dealling against bischopes; but God keepit his awin servant in uprightness and treuthe in the middis of manie heavie tentationes.’ When Melvil was transferred to St Andrews in 1580 he was succeeded by Thomas Smeton, after whom came Patrick Sharpe, and Robert Boyd the last of the principals of the University who also was minister of Govan. Complaint had been made as early as 1596, and again in 1606, that there was no one ‘to teiche ye youthe of ye parochin of Govane dwelland besyde ye kirk yairof,’ and when Charles I. granted a charter of confirmation to the University in 1630 (ratified 1633) special power was given to the University authorities ‘of electing, nominating, presenting, and accepting for the proper service of the cure at the said church of Govan, a minister who shall take up his actual residence at the said church.’ This power had been acted on previously, for a James Sharpe had been appointed minister in 1621; and in 1637 the stipend was assigned of ‘fyve hundredth merks usuall money of the realme, twentie-four bollis bere, and eight bollis meil . . . togedder with ye whole mailis and duties to be payed to ye tacksman of ye vicarage of the small teinds,’ while the University connection was maintained by the condition that the minister should in the common schools’ of the college read a pub1ic lecture on some subject prescribed by the authorities. Of the succeeding ministers, the most eminent were Hugh Binning (1649-54), Alexander Jamieson (1659-62), William Thom (1746-91), and M. Leishman (1821-74). Mr Binning became, in 1646, at the age of nineteen, Regent of Philosophy in Glasgow University, and minister of Govan three years later. He is said to have been one of the ministers who was present at a dispute held at Glasgow with Owen and Caryl, the chaplains of Oliver Cromwell, during the Protector’s visit to Glasgow in 1651, and on that occasion his boldness and quickness were too much for the Independent divines, and caused Cromwell to inquire who that learned and bold young man was. On being told, his remark was ‘He hath bound well, indeed, but this [his sword] will loose all again.’ Mr Thom was an active and vigorous minister, and became popular, notwithstanding a considerable amount of feeling caused by a dispute about his settlement.
In Mr Thom’s time, little more than a hundred years ago, the interests of the parish were centred in farming. ‘Once upon a time,’ says Mr Wallace, writing in 1877, ‘and that too almost within the lifetime of our immediate forefathers, the parish of Govan was almost entirely an agricultural parish, and its population were a plain simple rural population. Only a century ago the population of the entire parish, even including Gorbals, which, as we have seen, was at that time incorporated with it, was only 4389. It will be easily seen from this let that the greater portion of the parish which is now teeming with myriads of human beings, and resounding from one end to the other with the clanking of hammers, the roar of traffic, and the incessant hum of general business and activity, was then reposing in all the quietude and somnolency of purely primitive life. The now large and populous south-side of Glasgow was then an insignificant country village, with no industry greater than a distillery for the brewing of ale, a bottlework, or a few handloom factories. The dwelling-houses of the people were thatched with straw, and most of them had small gardens attached to them, where the cottagers reared their own potatoes and cabbages. Many of the inhabitants kept their own cows and pigs, and they earned their scanty livings either in tilling the land or in those other trades, such as tailoring, shoemaking, coopering, and weaving, which are essential even to the most simple modes of existence. There was a thriving village, then situated at a considerable distance, to the south of the Clyde, known as “Little Govan,” consisting of a number of weavers’ cottages, but which afterwards, through the enterprise of two families of the names of Rae and Dixon, became the centre of a large coal and iron district, which gave a great impetus to the growth and prosperity of that portion of the parish, and even contributed largely to the importance of the city of Glasgow itself. Dixon’s Ironworks, or “Dixon’s Blazes,” as they are commonly called, were at the time of their first erection situated far out in the open country, whereas now the buildings and population extend beyond them for more than a mile. Close to the river Clyde where Carlton place now stands there was an extensive rope-work, while opposite the present Gorbals Church there was a shallow lord, where horses were led to the watering, and where horses and carts were driven across to the city when the Glasgow bridge was too rickety or too crowded to accommodate the influx of traffic from the country on the market-days; and then, too, the schoolboys could wade across the river without thinking they had done any wonderful feat. Afterwards the Lauries of Laurieston and other leading gentlemen erected a few commodious mansion-houses by the river side, which might then be almost termed country residences. A fine avenue of trees was formed, and these mansions were guarded against the public by a gateway erected near the present Broomielaw Bridge. In those days the male villagers of Govan and Gorbals took their turn nightly in acting as voluntary police and guardians of the peace. ‘their funds were raised by a voluntary tax, called “Reek Money,” and by another small tax upon malt.’
But this sleepy state of existence was soon to come to an end. The deepening of the Clyde was just begun; and now, in place of the fords already mentioned and another at the W, where the parish boundary crosses the Clyde, known as Marline Ford, there is a depth of 24 feet of water. The Comet was by-and-by to make her first adventurous voyage from Greenock to Glasgow, and to be the forerunner of the great fleet that now sweeps up and down the river, and that has brought such prosperity to Glasgow, and, above all, drawn the shipbuilding yards in its train. And yet all this came at first slowly; for when Dr Leishman wrote the article on Govan in the New Statistical Account, in 1845, the industries, etc., he mentions are—agriculture, which was the main occupation in the parish; the salmon fishery in the Clyde, which was rapidly falling off, the rent paid by the tacksman having decreased front over £300 in the beginning of the century to £60 at the time of his wrîting; cotton bleaching and printing factories in Hutchesontown and Tradeston; a silk factory at Tradeston, and a carpet factory at Port Eglinton, employing altogether over 5000 hands; Mr Dixon’s iron works, with four furnaces and an annual output of 4000 tons of pig-iron; a dye-work in the village of Govan, and handloom weaving also in the village. He mentions besides a new granite-faced quay on the south side of the river, and says that it will soon have to be enlarged; and this is all. This quay was to the W of Glasgow Bridge, and was erected first of timber in 1828, and in 1837 the timber, to the extent of 405 yards, was replaced by stone. Since then the harbour accommodation on the Govan side of the river has increased till there are now nearly 3000 lineal yards of quayage along the river, exclusive of Kingston and Cessnock docks and of the graving docks (see GLASGOW). In 1840 shipbuilding seems to have been undreamt of, for there is not the slightest mention of it; and yet it is to this and to the shipping that Govan owes by far the greater part of its increased value and importance. The whole of the shipbuilding yards immediately connected with Glasgow on both sides of the Clyde are in the parish of Govan; and the burgh of the same name, as well as Partick and the large district of Whiteinch, are mostly inhabited by an artisan population engaged in this industry, and finding employment in the various yards adjoining. Of the total tonnage of new vessels built and launched on the Clyde every year (for which see articles CLYDE and GLASGOW), about one-half, on an average, comes from yards in the parish of Govan. There are also in the parish large bakeries, large iron works, a number of boiler works and foundries—in-including the Plantation Foundry and the Govan (Helen Street) Tube Works—steam crane and launch works, railway engineering works, tool works, bolt and rivet works, oil works, a rope and twine work, silk, cotton, dye, and bleaching works; and brick works.
The part of the parish within the municipal and parliamentary boundary of Glasgow has already been noticed in the article GLASGOW and to what is there said but little falls here to be added. The Leper Hospital, built by Lady Lochow, daughter of Robert, Duke of Albany, has been already noticed. It was dedicated to St Ninian, and the ground on which it stood and by which it was surrounded—known as St Ninian’s Croft—is now occupied by part of the district of Hutchesontown. A chapel, belonging to the hospital, was ‘rebuilt and endowed in 1494 by William Stewart, prebendary of Killearn and rector of Glasford. The chaplain was the master of the grammar school of Glasgow.’ He was responsible for the safe keeping of the missals and silver chalices, and had also to supply fuel for the hospital, and to ‘give twenty-four poor scholars two shillings Scots each to sing seven penitential psalms, with the De profundis,’ on the anniversary of the founder’s death, for his soul’s repose. The barony and regality of Gorbals passed in 1587 from the Archbishop of Glasgow to Sir George Elphinstone, who seems to have retained for his own use funds really belonging to the hospital, and the care of building and inmates fell to the charge of the kirk-session of Glasgow, for in November 1587 we find this body ordering disbursement of money ‘to repair ye puir lipper folkis hous beyonde the brig of Glasgow,’ but with the saving clause that this was not to bind the session in time coming, nor to ‘derogate or abstract ye burden fra these persones, gif ony be, quha hes ben or may be fund astricted to repair ye samen.’ They at the same time ordered a return within eight days of the ‘nomber of ye puir in ye said hospitalle and quha are yai yt aucht to haif place yairin.’ ‘The site of the hospital itself was near the S end of Victoria Bridge, between Main Street (Gorbals) and Muirhead Street, and part of the buildings remained till early in the nineteenth century, and was known by the name of the Leper Hospital. The burying-ground was close by. The chapel was in Main Street (Gorbals) on the E side, and was standing till after the middle of the nineteenth century, but all trace of it, or even of its site, is gone since the alterations on Main Street (see GLASGOW). In the Old Statistical Account mention is made of ‘vestiges of religious houses’ near Polmadie, but these traces also have long since vanished. The districts of Govan, to both the S and W of Glasgow, have long been favourite localities for suburban residences, and as long ago as 1840 it was said that the parish was ‘studded with the villas of the opulent merchants of Glasgow.’
Communications. —Lying close to, and indeed including part of Glasgow, the parish is naturally traversed by a number of the great roads leading from that centre. The various ferries and bridges across the Clyde have been noticed in the article GLASGOW. The northern part of the parish is touched at the extreme NE corner by the Forth and Clyde Canal on its course to Bowling, and is also traversed by the lines of the Great Western Road and the Dumbarton Road, which unite near Yoker (in New Kilpatrick) and pass on to Dumbarton and away to the W Highlands. The southern portion of the parish is traversed by a road continuing the line of Eglinton Street and Pollokshaws Road, which passes to Kilmarnock and Ayr; and by two roads which continue the line of Nelson Street and Morrison Street westward, one branching off to Paisley, the other running parallel to the Clyde and passing through Govan and Renfrew on its course to Greenock. The Glasgow, Paisley, and Ardrossan Canal, which formerly passes from Port Eglinton, on the W side of Eglinton Street, westward and south-westward through the parish for nearly 3 miles, is now converted into one of the lines of the Glasgow and South-Western railway. The northern division of the parish is intersected by the Stobcross railway, the Yoker and Clydebank railway, and the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire railway. The southern portion is traversed by the Caledonian railway on its way to the various stations belonging to it in Glasgow; by the different sections of the Glasgow and South-Western railway system, with a branch from the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Line from Ibrox to Govan; and by stretches of the City of Glasgow Union Railway. Both portions are traversed by the Glasgow District Subway.
The burgh of Govan, formerly the village of Meikle Govan, is a place of considerable antiquity. According to Fordun, Constantine, King of Cornwall (traditionally a son of Rhydderch and Langueth, for whom see GLASGOW), resigned his crown, and becoming a follower of St Columba, founded a monastery at Govan in 565 A.D., and was the first abbot of it himself. Subsequent notices of it, down to the latter part of’ the 16th century, are confined to ecclesiastical affairs, but the ‘kirkton’ must have flourished, whatever the cause, for then we find Bishop Lesley, in the Scotichronicon of Fordun, describing it as ‘the largest village on the banks of the Clyde.’ In 1595 it is mentioned as Meikle Govan, and was then what it remained for two hundred years afterwards, a mere country village, with inhabitants of the agricultural class and possibly a few salmon fishers. In 1775 the population of the whole parish, inclusive of Gorbals and Partick, was 4389; so that the village itself could not have had more than about 1500 inhabitants. Towards the beginning of the nineteenth century handloom weaving was introduced, and in spring, when salmon fishing began, the weavers left their looms and fished all the spring and summer months. By 1836 the population of the village had increased to 2122, and in 1839 there were 340 hand-loom weavers in the place, weaving being the staple industry. Govan village was then, and indeed remained down to 1856 (when it was still more than a mile distant from the nearest part of Glasgow on the S side of the Clyde), a quiet village with old-fashioned thatched houses, some of them with quaint circular inside stairs. A few of these still remain, but they are fast disappearing to make room for ‘tall and imposing “lands” of houses, and the “canny natives”’ are now ‘outnumbered by the more vigorous and enterprising, if not quite so steady-going, members of the engineering, boiler-making, and other trades.’ These last, along with the shipbuilding, have, since about 1860, caused such a rapid enlargement of the limits of Govan, that it is now practically conterminous with Glasgow through the burgh of Kinning Park. Under the Lindsay Act the police burgh of Govan was formed in 1864, and has an extent of 1124 acres. It successfully resisted proposals for annexation to Glasgow in 1891, and its municipal affairs are now managed under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 The principal street extends for more than a mile along the Glasgow and Greenock Road, and from this streets branch off on both sides, the newer ones mostly at right angles. The burgh buildings in Albert Street, erected in1867, and restored after a fire which destroyed part of them in 1882, have a good front, Italian in style, and are internally convenient and commodious. They contain a large hall (used also as a court-room), 60 feet long, 34 wide, and 23 high, capable of accommodating an audience of some 600 persons, a commissioners’ room, a magistrates’ room—in which hang some characteristic views of the quaint houses of ‘Old Govan ‘—accommodation for the chief-constable, police cells, etc. In buildings connected with them are also some of the offices of the different burgh departments (the rest of which were in 1893 in Hillock House, on the N side of Govan Road, farther to the W), and the chief fire station. The police barracks (1869) contain good quarters for the sergeants and constables, both married and single. There are sub-offices at Plantation (purchased and altered 1874-75, and extended 1892-93) and Fairfield (1883-84). At the last, which, though small, may be termed a model building, there is a mortuary. At the fire stations at Albert Street and Plantation there are steam fire-engines, and besides these two, other four ‘steamers’ are within call. The police force consists of a chief-constable, a deputy superintendent, 2 lieutenants, and 76 inspectors, sergeants, and constables. All the municipal establishments are connected by telephone, and for police and fire purposes the system is so carefully elaborated that there arenearly 40 telephonic connections between the police offices and all corners of the burgh and its outskirts. For the benefit of the large working population of the burgh, who are so liable to meet with serious accidents while engaged in their daily employment, a fully equipped ambulance waggon is maintained at the public expense, while more than half of the constables are fully trained to give first aid to the injured. In connection with the cleansing department there is a refuse destructor at Ibrox, erected in 1892-93. The tramway lines through Govan proper and to Ibrox were purchased by the Police Commissioners in 1893, but are worked by the Glasgow Corporation. The parish church, towards the W end of the bridge, was built in 1884-88. Plain Early English in style it has about 1500 sittings. It stands in the midst of the churchyard, on the site of the old church, which was, when the new church was built, removed and re-erected in John Street as Elder Park church, erected quoad sacra in 1892. This has a graceful spire modelled after that of the church at Stratford-on-A von. The Gaelic church (1866), originally a mission charge, became in 1883 a quoad sacra parish church—St Kiaran. There is also Dean Park quoad sacra church. The Govan Free church is in Summertown Road. Govan St Mary’s Free church is at Govan Cross. Built in 1872-73, it has a tower and spire 150 feet high, and contains 1100 sittings. There is also a Free Gaelic church (St Columba’s) in Windsor Street. The United Presbyterian church, at the corner of Copeland and Govan Roads, is a very ornamental, though somewhat un-ecclesiastical-looking, building, and there is another U.P. church at Fairfield. The Baptist church (1876) is in the Early English style, and contains 650 sittings, while adjoining it is a hall with accommodation for 450 persons. The Roman Catholic church (St Anthony’s) is a handsome Byzantine edifice built in 1877-78, in lieu of a temporary chapel of 1864, and contains 1500 sittings. There are also charges in connection with the Episcopal church (St Michael’s), the Free Evangelical church, Wesleyan Methodists, and the Congregational church. There are the usual social, religious, and philanthropic societies. Thom’s Library, founded by the widow of the Rev. William Thom, minister of Govan from 1746 to 1791, which was open to parishioners on payment of a very small subscription, ceased to exist about 1884, and the books were handed over to the Young Men’s Christian Association. There is a newspaper, The Govan Press, which was established in 1880, and is published every Saturday.
To the W of the burgh, immediately to the S of Fairfield Shipbuilding Yard, on the S side of the Renfrew road, is the Elder Park, gifted to the inhabitants in 1885 by Mrs John Elder in memory of her husband, the famous shipbuilder (1824-69), and of his father, David Elder (1785-1866). The latter was a native of the county of Kinross, and came to Glasgow in 1817 to practise as a mechanical engineer and millwright. Becoming associated with Robert Napier, he was entrusted with the construction (1822) of the first marine engine turned out from Napier’s works, and all the engines of the early Cunard liners were constructed under his superintendence. John Elder became, in 1852, a partner in the firm of Randolph, Elder & Co., millwrights, and the co-partners became shipbuilders in 1860, the famous Fairfield yard being opened in 1863. Mr Elder ‘gained great prominence in engineering circles by his adoption of the compound high-pressure and low-pressure engine, and he carried the compound principle still further, to embrace the now favourite triple-expansion engine, and also an extension to quadruple expansion. He did not live to see these developed into actual practice. He brought to perfection Watt’s idea of the steam jacket, adopted various appliances which saved fuel to the extent of 30 to 40 per cent., and perfected appliances for the balancing of driving forces, and the redirection of strain and friction in engines. To the inventions of Mr Elder may be attributed the placing of steam vessels on the Pacific, Australian, African, and other distant services.’
Mr Elder had intended to lay out part of the large tract of ground around his shipbuilding yard for the erection of workmen’s houses and other public purposes, and Mrs Elder, always a keen sharer in her husband’s lofty ideal of duty, endeavoured to carry out part of his plans by setting aside 37 acres of the land as a public park, at a total cost, inclusive of laying out, of some £50,000. The ground has a frontage to Renfrew Road of 1550 feet, and a width from N to S of 800 feet on the E, and 1200 on the W side. At the NE corner is the main entrance, with six imposing pillars, the two at the sides of the central opening being surmounted by standards and ornamental lamps. A wide carriage drive sweeps all round, and there is a centre path 30 feet broad. On the N side is an oval model-yacht sailing pond, lined with concrete, 330 feet long, 165 wide, and 2 deep in the centre. On the S is a nicely laid out garden, and there are a number of drinking fountains. The park was opened by Lord Rosebery on 27th June, 1885, with considerable public ceremonial. Near the main entrance is a bronze statue of Mr Elder, 10 feet high, executed by Boehm. Erected by public subscription, at a cost of over £2000, in 1888 (when the ceremony of unveiling it was performed by the Marquis of Lothian, then Secretary of State for Scotland), it represents the well-known shipbuilder standing beside the model of one of the compound engines invented by his genius, and which, according to the inscription on one of the sides of the granite pedestal, ‘effected a revolution in engineering second only to that accomplished by James Watt, and in great measure originated the development in steam propulsion which has created modern commerce.’ At Govan Cross there is a very handsome memorial to Sir William Pearce, also of the Fairfield Yard. Provided from a fund of over £2000 raised by public subscription, the statue, nearly 10 feet high, was executed by Onslow Ford of London; it surmounts a handsome pedestal of Aberdeen granite 12 feet high, and was unveiled in 1894 amid great popular enthusiasm.
The burgh has a post office, with money order, savings bank, insurance and telegraph departments; a railway station, offices of the Union, Royal (2), National, and British Linen Company’s Banks; a branch of the Glasgow Savings Bank, and agencies of a number of insurance companies. Prior to 1893 the burgh was divided into four wards, each of which returned three commissioners; but subsequent to that date there were six wards, and burghal affairs were managed by a provost, six magistrates, and eleven commissioners; the yearly income is nearly £31,000. Valuation (1864-65, when the burgh was first constituted), about £5000; (1881-82), £202,362; (1892-93), £240,820, inclusive of railways, tramways, and gas and water pipes. Pop. (1864), 9000; (1871), 19,200; (1881), 50,492, of whom 49,426 were in the police burgh; (1891), 63,625, of whom 61,589 were in the police burgh. Houses (1891) 12,613 inhabited, 511 uninhabited, and 7 building.
For particulars regarding the other two burghs of the parish, see Kinning Park and Partick.
Educational Affairs.—The inhabitants of Govan in the 17th century seem to have been advanced in their educational views, for in the records of the kirk-session of the parish for 1653 it is recorded that ‘the session does ordain that everie elder in their several qrters do search who have children able and fit to come to schoole, and does not send them, to deal wt. them for that effect, and to signifie that if they prove deficient hereinto, according to an old act of session, they will be oblidged to pay their qrter, as well as if they came to this schooll;’ but it is somewhat to be feared that their descendants were not so strict, for when the Govan school-board came into existence in 1873 it found 11,082 children of school age in the parish, with accommodation in 46 schools for only 6583, and only 6049 children of school-age on the rolls, of these schools only one was a public school (the old parish school at Govan Cross), and the board at once proceeded with the erection of new schools, and it had in 1896 under its charge 2 schools, one of which received a very large extension. These, with their accommodation, and average attendance and amount of grant (inclusive of drawing) for 1894-95, are given in the following table:—
The schools at Dowanhill, Lorne Street, and Strathbungo were erected in 1893-94; the accommodation provided at Lambhill Street, Rosevale Street, and Church Street, which had previously been increased by the use of temporary premises, has been permanently and substantially increased; and Broomloan Road school, which had been temporarily occupying a hall with accommodation for 128, received in 1896 an addition capable of accommodating 959. There is now accommodation in the board schools for 25,641 scholars; while 5 other elementary schools under government inspection—Abraham Hill’s Trust School (853), and the Roman Catholic schools at Govan (1143), Govanhill (342), Kinning Park (1234), and Partick (686)—provide places for 4258 more, and 25 higher-class schools have 4499 places—a total of 34,398 places, as against 6583 at the time of the passing of the Education Act; while in 1891 the number of children in the parish between 5 and 15 years of age was 62,457, of whom 47,245 were receiving instruction. In 1891 the population of the parish within the school board district (i.e., outwith the Glasgow parliamentary boundary) was 158,233. Besides the grants noted above, the sum of £822, 18s. 4d. was in 1894-95 received from the Science and Art Department. Needlework and cookery are taught in all the schools; while in 1894-95 there were evening classes in 13 schools, with an average attendance of 1665 pupils, who earned in grants £1637, 7s. 6d. from the Education Department for ordinary subjects and for drawing. Certain reductions, amounting to £189,15s., brought the total grant down to £1447, 12s. 6d., or at the rate of 17s. 4½d. per scholar. The net cost to the rates was £583, or 7s. per scholar. The staff numbers over 500, of whom 21 are head-masters, 21 mistresses, 270 certificated teachers, and 136 pupil teachers. The salaries of head-masters vary from £250 to £500 a year; of principal male certificated assistants, £96 to £144; of principal female assistants, £78 to £108; other male assistants, £66 to £90, and other female assistants, £48 to £72, but the board may, in exceptional circumstances, fix a rate of salary higher or lower than these. The total salaries of teachers in 1894-95 was £31,910. The income for 1892-93 was £61,414, of which £19,800 was derived from the school rate, £20,546 from the annual grant (including drawing), £10,498 from the grant in relief of fees, £4498 from fees, and £1238 from science and art classes. Of the expenditure of £60, 188 more than half went for teachers’ salaries, as given above, while the other leading items of outlay were (for schools only) £3867 for repairs to buildings and furniture, £2850 for rents, rates, insurance, &c., £1548 for science and art classes, £11,250 for interest and repayment of loans, and £2534 for administration. Of total loans of about £200,000 received down to 1893, over £50,000 had been repaid by the same date.
Of the schools erected by the board the cost has varied from about £7 to over £15 per unit, the average being over £9. The buildings vary in style, but are mostly handsome and tasteful, forming square blocks, with the stairs in the centre, and the school rooms and class-rooms running off on either hand. They are all mixed schools, but have the separate entrances, &c., for boys and girls prescribed in the Education Department rules. Inside, the boys and girls form separate subdivisions of the classes. The board, which consists of 15 members, has over 40 monthly and special meetings every year. Under the management of the board is the ‘Alexander Stephen’ bursary, of the annual value of £20 a year, and tenable for two years, two bursars being thus benefited every year. It was founded by Mr Alexander Stephen, shipbuilder, Linthouse, and chairman of the board from 1873 to 1885, who in 1881 gifted £1000 for the purpose of enabling deserving boys to attend the University. Candidates must be at the time, and have been for two years previously, pupils at one of the Govan board schools. The election is made by competitive examination, and the subjects in which papers are set include Latin, French, mathematics, and English or French. Abraham Hill’s Trust Fund, the income of which is now used for the Abraham Hill Trust School and general educational purposes in the parish, originated in a sum of £200 mortified for educational purposes by Abraham Hill of Wolverhampton, a native, of Govan, in 1757. The money was invested in land in the W of Govan, which, in course of time, so increased in value that when it was sold in 1871 it produced a sum, the income derived from which is now more than three times the amount of the original benefaction.
Ecclesiastical and Parochial Affairs. —Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Glasgow and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and, besides the parish proper, includes the 22 quoad sacra parishes of Abbotsford (pop. 1891, 9872), Bellahouston (8376), Dean Park (3175), Elder Park (erected since census of 1891), Gorbals (54 57), Govanhill, Hillhead (10,435), Hutchesontown (9125), Kingston (8008), Kinning Park (15,422), Laurieston (10,557), Maxwell (14,104), Oatlands (erected since census of 1891), Partick (11,736), Plantation (13,615), Pollokshields (8516), Queen’sPark (9457), St Bernard’s (11,765), St Kiaran’s (2327), St Mary’s (9096), St Ninian’s (10,988), Strathbungo (3811), and Whiteinch (6488). A very small part of Kelvinhaugh quoad sacra parish belonging to the civil parish of Govan had, in 1891, a population of 14; and the ecclesiastical parish of Govan itself had, at the same date, the large population of 109,711. There are mission charges at Hyndland, Belmont, and Titwood. Fifteen of the quoad sacra parishes and the four mission churches have been established since 1875. The stipend of the parish is nearly £1000 a year.
In 1893 there were 26 Free churches in the parish— Augustine, Buchanan Memorial, Candlish Memorial, Cunningham, Gorbals, Govan, Govan St Mary’s, Govan St Columba’s, Hutchesontown, Kelvinside, Kinning Park, Knox’s, Paisley Road, Partick, Partick Dowanvale, Partick High, Plantation (White Memorial), Pollokshields, Pollokshields Stockwell, Queen’s Park, Renwick, Rose Street, Union, Victoria, Westbourne, and Whiteinch. In the same year there were 21 U.P. churches
—Belhaven, Caledonia Road, Cumberland Street, Eglinton Street, Elgin Street, Erskine, Govan, Govan Fairfield, Govanhill, Hutchesontown, Ibrox, Oatlands, Partick Dowanhill, Partick East, Partick Newton Place, Partick Victoria Place, Plantation, Pollok Street, Pollokshields, Pollokshields Trinity, and Queen’s Park. There were, besides these, 5 Roman Catholic churches, 3 Congregational, 3 Evangelical Union, 3 Baptist, 2 Wesleyan Methodist, and 1 Original Seceder churches, a John Knox Kirk of Scotland, and 6 Episcopal charges and missions. For registration purposes the parish is divided into the districts of Govan (pop. 1891, 41,735), Plantation (22,980), Kinning Park (33,291), Tradeston (27,436), Gorbals (49,939), Hutchesontown (59,750), and Partick (50,466).
For parochial affairs the parish has been united with Gorbals since 1873, as has been already noticed, in what is known as Govan Combination. The original poorhouse was in the old cavalry barracks in Gorbals. The present poorhouse is at Merryflats, to the W of Govan, and was finished in 1872, at a cost of £100,000. It has accommodation for over 700 paupers and over 200 lunatics; but the Court of Session having decided in 1882 that the Glasgow District Board of Lunacy was not bound to take over the Merryflats Asylum, and was, notwithstanding its existence, entitled to impose a lunacy assessment within the Govan Combination district, difficulties followed, which practically resulted in the dissolution of the District Board in 1888. Thereafter, in 1889, in consequence of the premises at Merryflats being deemed by the General Lunacy Board for Scotland too small in view of the great increase of population since 1871, the Govan Lunacy board acquired the Hawkhead estate, extending to 171 acres, in Abbey parish, Paisley, as a site for a new asylum. There, handsome buildings, Italian in style, with a central tower, begun in 1892, are now in progress, and will, when finished, provide accommodation for 500, and ultimately, if needed, 600 patients. The cost will meanwhile be about £102,000, but the total sum ultimately necessary may amount to nearly £160,000. The asylum at Merryflats will, after the completion of the new building, become a second-class establishment with not more than 180 inmates (the number for which it was originally designed), all of the harmless incurable class. There is also a Combination Fever Hospital at Shieldhall, near Merryflats, for the burghs of Govan and Kinning Park and portions of the Govan parochial district. The hospital was opened in 1883, and is under the care of a resident medical superintendent with the requisite staff of nurses. As the establishment is maintained from the rates admission is free, and patients are sent for whenever notice is given to the authorities.
Of a total of 4345 paupers on the roll at 15 May 1896, 2467 were registered out-door poor, 151 casual out-door poor (including Irish, suspense, &c., poor), 696 were in-door poor (including Irish, suspense, &c., poor), 114 were dependants of the in-door poor, 684 were lunatics, and 233 were other parish poor. Of 4506 applications for relief during the year, 878 were from natives of the parish, 2063 from natives of other parts of Scotland, 144 from natives of England, 1346 from natives of Ireland, and 75 from foreigners. The income of the board for the same year amounted to £65,294, of which £47,545 came from ordinary poor and poorhouse building rates, £ 6466 from the Government Lunacy grant, £3597 from other parishes for their poor, and £2095 from the relatives of paupers, including lunatics. The expenditure on the out-door poor was £36,613, and on the in-door poor £10,480. The parish council consists of 36 members, 1from the first ward, 3 from the second, 3 from the third, 2 from the fourth, 2 from the fifth, and 3 from the sixth, 6 from Govan burgh, 5 from Partick burgh, and 2 from Kinning Park burgh, 1 from the landward district, and 5 comprising the landward committee. The out-door staff consists of 69, and the indoor of 27 persons.
Rental (1839) £100,913, 3s. 2d., (1861) £380,000, 1879) £1,135,257, 12s. 7d., (1880) £1,151,637, 15s. 7d., 1881) £1,178,463, 6s., (1891) £1,357,733, (1895) £1,541,785, of which £978,081 was within the municipal boundary of Gasgow, and the rest in the suburban burghs and landward part of the parish. Pop. (1775) 4389, (1793) 8318, (1831) 26,695, (1861) 105,716, (1871) 151,402, (1881) 232,896, (1891) 280,275. houses, 57,202 inhabited, 2982 uninhabited, and 323 building. Of the total population of 280,275 in 1891, 135,627 were males and 144,648 were females; while 57 persons spoke Gaelic only, and 10,297 both Gaelic and English.—Ord. Sur., sh. 30, 1866.
See also M’Ure’s View of the City of Glasgow (1736, new ed. 1830); Brown’s History of Glasgow (1795-1797); Denholm’s History of the City of Glasgow (1804); Cleland’s Annals of Glasgow (1816); Hamilton’s Description of the Sheriffdom of Lanark and Renfrew (Maitland Club, 1831); Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis (Maitland Club, 1843); a valuable article by the late Dr Leishman in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (Vol. for Lanarkshire, 1845); Strang’s Glasgow and its Clubs (1856); Reid’s (Senex) Old Glasgow and its Environs (1864); Wallace’s The Parish of Govan as it was and is (1877); Wallace’s Popular Sketch of the History of Glasgow (1882); Wallace’s Popular Traditions of Glasgow (1889); and Craig’s The Elder Park (1891).
From Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896