We’ve recently had the privilege to hear from two former members of staff, Project Co-ordinator Hunter Reid and Heritage Manager Gordon Barr. Hunter came in to speak to our volunteers as well as the board and new staff members about the challenging process of securing funding in order to restore the halls. Getting the project off the ground required ten years of hard work and perseverance. Although eventually completed well within the timescale, every step of planning the restoration presented a new challenge. The council agreed to support the project at the last possible moment – over four decades of dereliction have made their mark and it was clear that the building would not survive any further unless it was renovated. Fortunately, the restoration proposal lined up with the redevelopment of the leisure centre next door and the project got the green light. From here on, the sheer scale of the works necessitated the involvement of multiple donors. In Hunter’s words, the two most difficult grants to get are often the first and the last one. Along with a small team, he promoted the project to various funders, many of whom were already familiar with the landmark building. The favourable attention of the press also proved to be incredibly helpful. In recognition of his achievements in spearheading this project, in 2013 Hunter was awarded an OBE ‘For services to architecture and community engagement in Glasgow’.

Our second talk of the month was delivered by Gordon Barr, who introduced the new team to the history of the Halls. Gordon joined the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust at the time when the building works began. As someone with a passion for history, he was keen to find out more about how the building used serve the Maryhill community, and what lessons can be learnt from that today. He spoke about Maryhill as a proud anomaly in its time in that it was named after a woman who kept her maiden name, as evidenced by Mary Hill’s gravestone near the Cathedral. Prior to joining the city of Glasgow, the independent burgh of Maryhill was unique thanks to the variety of industries it nurtured. Many of the bygone trades were commemorated in the beautifully executed stained glass windows by Stephen Adams. As part of his post as Heritage Manager, Gordon carried out thorough research into these glass panels, collecting what became a visual history of the area. He remarked that the choice of artistic medium in itself was a measure of respect with which these trades were treated at the time – stained glass was remarkably expensive to commission, fabricate and maintain. In addition to this, the panels contain a fantastic degree of detail. The workers’ faces are all different and were evidently drawn from life. The story contained within these images is the legacy of an area that has celebrated its people and their crafts with pride.




Ruairi, Marc and Anna in the Halls courtyard.

Ruairi, Marc and Anna in the Halls courtyard.

A quiet table in the corner of the Spoon Café at the Halls this morning was bustling with conversation about learning and opportunities. As the new marketing intern at the Halls, I had the pleasure of meeting Ruairi and Marc who have been working at the reception desk as part of different training schemes. Ruairi first came into the Halls as part of a placement from Glasgow Clyde College. Although at the beginning he was not sure what to expect, he soon found that he enjoyed learning new skills and interacting with a range of people in a relaxing working environment.

When his placement came to an end, Ruairi decided to continue helping out at the Halls as a volunteer. As he learnt more about the organisation, he gradually picked up more responsibility and started taking initiative in handling enquiries on behalf of the Halls and liaising with the Board of Trustees. Following a period of volunteering, Ruairi is now working at the Halls as part of a Modern Apprenticeships scheme. Modern Apprenticeships are a paid training opportunity that helps young people gain hands-on experience of the workplace and learn on the job. More information about Modern Apprenticeships can be found here.

Marc, who also did his college placement at the Halls and will come back this summer as a volunteer, said that although public-facing work can sometimes be a bit daunting, he really enjoyed meeting different people as part of the job. Both Ruairi and Marc said that working at the reception desk has helped them build confidence in their customer service skills. They look forward to putting their new knowledge into practice when moving on to other career opportunities in the third sector in the future.

As an intern at the Halls, I have had the chance to combine my existing research skills with gaining further experience of marketing and promotions. Like Marc and Ruairi, I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn in a friendly working environment. It has been a privilege to be able to contribute to the operations of a charity with an ethos we all believe in – celebrating the amazing cultural heritage of Maryhill.


Volunteering at the Halls


Volunteering at the Halls

My name is Ilona Kvarik and I am a Hungarian living and working in Scotland. I came here in December 2009 to study English but I found love and opportunities here as well. Maryhill Burgh Halls offered me a volunteer position in their office so I can put my administration skills into practice again and also be part of the community. On my first day, everybody was so friendly and welcoming I felt very comfortable and eager to learn a lot about the Halls.

My first impression of the building was “wow” at the old outside but very modern interior. The stained glass windows in the main hall are absolutely incredible. I understood why so many people would want to hire this place for birthdays, weddings or parties.

I found myself busy since I started with lots of things to do: processing booking enquiry forms, using the database, answering the phone. I enjoy working here with this friendly atmosphere.



Maryhill Free Kirk

Church spire earlier in 2011
In 1847, the Free Church congregation had to leave the existing Maryhill Parish Church, and, while they were having a new church built, temporarily held their services in a sawmill near the boatbuilding yard at Kelvin Dock - a building that soon got the nickname 'Maryhill Cathedral' !
The Maryhill Free Church in Sandbank Street/Aray Street was completed in 1848 by the architect Charles Wilson. In 1859, the spire was added - an unusual design that is square at the bottom, has a middle stage that's octagonal with small lancet-windows in it, and a round spire above.
The church is now housing and a nursery, but the building and its spire have remained a key Maryhill landmark for over 150 years. In particular, the church and its spire feature prominently in one of the Stephen Adam stained glass windows, with the Canal Boatman standing with his horse on the canal bank just in front of it.
It's therefore doubly sad, that in the year when the Burgh Halls is re-opening at last, and the stained glass panel featuring the spire is coming back to the building it was designed for at last, that the spire itself appears to be in the process of being taken down.
Church spire in November 2011
The church building was listed by Historic Scotland in 1989; their description of the building is online here.
The entry for the church in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects is here.
The architect of the church, Charles Wilson, built a number of churches, and also the gate houses at the Botanic Gardens, as well as laying out the design for Park Circus on Woodlands Hill.


Find out more about the Canal Boatman panel here.



Maryhill Baths

Proposed Baths, Maryhill, Glasgow

From The Builder, April 18 1896, P.344

The plans for the new baths and washhouses for Maryhill, sanctioned by the Glasgow Corporation some time ago, have finally been approved, and it is expected that the erection of the baths and washhouses will be at once proceeded with. In the plans now approved the swimming bath is 75ft by 35ft.

There will be 6 hot baths for women, private washhouse with drying stove, and 35 washing stalls with drying stoves, and three hydro-extractors are placed conveniently at different points in the wash house.

The plans have been prepared by Mr A.B. McDonald, city engineer, and the cost is estimated at 10,000l.



Maryhill Barracks

Now the Wyndford estate, the surrounding wall and gatehouse is all that remains of the famous Maryhill Barracks.

The new barracks near Glasgow

From The Builder, April 27 1877, P.398

The operations in connection with the large military establishment at Maryhill are being rapidly pushed forwards, and it is hoped that by close of the current year but little will be wanting to complete the work. By the erection of the new barracks on a pleasant site on the eastern bank of the Kelvin, and about 2.5 miles to the North of Glasgow, the intention of the war office is to supersede the old military depot in Gallowgate, a crowded and somewhat unhealthy district of the city, at least before the improvement trustees entered so vigorously upon the important scheme they have in hand.

Originally the buildings at Maryhill were in the hands of a contractor who broke the ground some 6 years ago, but some misunderstanding arising, the War Department determined on assuming more direct control of the works.
These, we learn have been carried on by a system of civil and military labour combined, and which haas been attended by the most gratifying results. The buildings in course of erection cover an area of about 30 acres, allowing an additional 30 acres for the purpose of a drill and exercise ground. Fortunately the authorities were able to find upon their own ground a supple of stone excellently adapted for building purposes, and this it is computed, has enabled them to save several thousands of pounds. 

Accommodation will ultimately be provided within the boundary for a battalion of infantry 800 strong, stables for a squadron of cavalry, and quarters for a battery of field artillery.

We have already described in these columns the plans for the various buildings in detail, but it may not be out of place to recall the leading features. From the extensive site it will he readily seen that the separate buildings are varied in character, and in every way adequate to the requirements of a large military establishment. Among the more prominent may be mentioned a chapel and school in the gothic style of architecture, a spacious hospital which is all but finished, baths, was houses, canteen, games room, and a gymnasium to be fitted up I the most approved style.

The authorities have thus shown every desire to study not only the health and convenience of the men in question by providing them with suitable and commodious quarters, but have had due regard to the requirements of their higher nature in affording them the means of instruction and recreation.

The main entrance to the infantry section of the barracks is by a massive ornamental gateway on the Maryhill road, while the artillery and cavalry entrance will be by the Balgray road. The burgh of Maryhill is a thriving one, and the are many collieries and public works close at hand. The surrounding district however is rich in scenes of natural beauty, and when viewed from the aristocratic terraces of Great Western Road, the architectural features of the barracks serve greatly to enhance the general effect of the landscape.



Opening of New Municipal Buildings At Maryhill - April 26th, 1878

Glasgow Herald
Saturday April 27, 1878, page 5, column 5
Opening of New Municipal Buildings At Maryhill

The New Burgh Buildings and Public Hall erected by the Commissioners of Police of the burgh of Maryhill, and which were recently described in the Herald, were formally opened yesterday afternoon. The proceedings took the form of a cake and wine banquet, and there was a large attendance of gentlemen connected with Maryhill and the other suburban burghs. After an inspection of those parts of the buildings which are intended for the use of the Commissioners and their officials, the company assembled in front of the entrance to the Public Hall, where Bailie Murray presented Provost Robertson with a silver key, with which the Provost opened the hall door and invited the company to enter. In the proceedings which followed Provost Robertson presided, and amongst those present were Sheriff Lees, ex-Provost Shaw, Bailie Murray, Provost Cowan, Hillhead, Provost Harvey, Pollokshields, ex-Provost Hunter, Bailie Kennedy, Bailie McKissock, and ex-Bailie Inglis, Partick, Provost Mair, Kinning Park, Rev. Messrs Shanks, Rae, and Girvan, Maryhill, Mr Taylor, town-clerk of Maryhill, and Mr R McGowan, town-clerk of Partick. Addressing the company,
The PROVOST said he had to thank them for responding to his invitation to attend the opening of their new municipal buildings. The occasion afforded him a fitting opportunity for taking a brief retrospect of the past history of the burgh. It was now in its twenty-third year, the first meeting called for the adoption of the general police act having taken place in February 1856, and the necessity that then existed for municipal government must still be fresh in the recollection of some gentlemen present. The importance of the place through its local industries had increased the population and rendered police protection a very desirable matter. Having sketched the formation of the burgh, he said that no-one had done more for it than Mr Shaw, who had for twelve years been Provost, and three years a Commissioner. (Applause.) Shortly after the formation of the burgh the Commissioners found it necessary to erect police chambers, court hall, &c., and a site having been procured, buildings were erected on a position, leaving the balance of the property free for disposal, and all this at a cost of £2781 17s 10d.
After deducting the portion not required for police purposes, which yielded the sum of £1500, a balance of £1281 17s 10d was left as the cost of their present police buildings. The rental of the burgh at its origin was under £9000, while at present it was over £62,000. In course of time the police buildings were found unsuitable, the accommodation being much too limited, and the arrangements altogether objectionable, but the erection of new buildings was delayed until forced upon them. It was ultimately resolved in 1873 to acquire the site on which the present buildings were erected, and the price paid contrasted very favorably with that obtained for ground immediately adjoining, the price of the burgh purchase being 5s 3d per square yard, whereas the last price of that referred to was about 27s per square yard. Now that the work had been carried out, it was for them to judge whether they had made a wise selection. (Applause.)
Having stated the various departments into which the building was divided, the Provost said that although the accommodation might at present be a little in advance of the their requirements, it was not considered wise or prudent to provide only for the present, but to look to the future. (Applause.) In conclusion, he had to declare the new hall open, and he had given great pleasure in presenting ex-Provost Shaw with a silver key similar to the one presented to himself. He hoped Mr Shaw would be long spared to take an active part on the affairs of the burgh. (Applause.)
Ex-Provost Shaw suitably acknowledged receipt of the gift, and briefly referred to the great progress the burgh had made in the past 35 years. The usual loyal and patriotic toasts were then given in succession by the chairman, and enthusiastically pledged, after which
Ex-Bailie INGLIS, Partick, proposed, in the absence of Sheriff Clark, “Prosperity to the Burgh of Maryhill,” and in doing so remarked that he had been quite amazed at its progress. The time might come when it would be necessary to absorb Maryhill, Hillhead and the other burghs into Glasgow, but when it did come he hoped it would be done in a kinder spirit than was shown at present. (Applause.)
Baile MURRAY replied.
The other toasts were “The Sheriffs of the County”, proposed by Mr Taylor, and responded to be Sheriff Lees; “The Neighbouring Burghs of Hillhead, Partick and Govan,” proposed by Bailie Murray, and acknowledged by Provost Cowan and Bailie Kennedy; “The Burghs of Kinning Park, Govanhill, Crosshill, Renfrew, and Pollokshields,” proposed by ex-Provost Shaw, and replied to by Provost Harvey, and “The Architect.” (Mr McNaughtan).
The band of the 79th regiment was present, and played several musical selections during the proceedings.
The silver keys presented to Provost Robertson and ex-Provost Shaw were formed so as to be suitable for fish-slicers, and were supplied by Mr Sorley, jeweller, Argyll Street.
In the evening an assembly took place in the new Public Hall, which was numerously attended.



"Though the burgh of Maryhill presents few attractions to the rambler in search of the picturesque..."

Glasgow Herald
Saturday April 20, 1878, page 5, column 5
New Municipal Buildings At Maryhill

Though the burgh of Maryhill presents few attractions to the rambler in search of the picturesque, its development and dimensions exhibit many pleasing signs of progress. Of late years its growth has been rapid, and it is now fast assuming the proportions of a large and thriving town. Seven years ago its population did not much exceed 5000; now it is estimated at a little over 16,000; while its police assessments, which twenty-two years ago only realised £3000, now amount to the respectable sum of £62,000. Building operations are being carried out on a large scale, and at the present time there are no fewer than forty different manufactories in the burgh. In these circumstances it is not surprising that the Police Commissioners should have resolved to provide the community with municipal buildings and public hall accommodation suitable to the wants and requirements of the burgh. Plans and estimates prepared by Mr McNaughtan, architect, Glasgow, were accepted by the Commissioners, and building operations were commenced in the summer of 1876. The buildings are now almost finished; and their formal opening has been fixed to take place on Friday the 26th curt.
The new buildings, which are handsome in appearance and a decided ornament to the locality, have been treated, architecturally, according to the French Renaissance style. They are situated on a piece of ground bounded by Wyndford Street on the north, and Gairbraid Avenue on the south, and have three frontages - one to Wyndford Street and Gairbraid Avenue, and the third towards the apex of the triangle which the ground forms. The buildings are planned so as to be connected in one group, the various departments being kept separate by the internal arrangements. The main frontage has in its centre a massive porch, approached from the roadway by a flight of steps, and above it is a plastered break carried up to the level of the wall head, and crowned by an ornamental pediment, in which it is proposed by-and-by to place a clock. This portion of the building embraces Police Court, commissioners’ room, collectors’ room, clerks and burgh surveyor’s offices, &c, &c. Entrance is also obtained by this front through a corridor to the public hall, and by a private entrance to the police department. This department fronts Gairbraid Avenue, and embraces captain’s room, medical officer’s room, men’s muster room, Police Office, waiting room, and 15 cells, four of which have been specially designed for the accommodation of “drunks”. Careful consideration has been given to the sanitary requirements of this department, the arrangements for heating, ventilation, and cleaning the cells being very complete, while a lavatory and bath-room has beeb provided for the use of the constables. The public hall extends along Wyndford Street and presents a pleasing and handsome appearance. It is expected to afford accommodation for 1000 persons, and the lighting and ventilation are exceedingly effective, while there are abundant facilities for ingress and egress. On the hall windows are representations of the the various trades and manufactures carried on in the burgh, and it is proposed in the course of time to furnish the hall with an organ. The acoustics of the hall were tested yesterday by a company of vocalists in presence of Provost Robertson, and others, and were found to be most satisfactory. 
The mason work had been carried out by Messrs J & W Murray, Maryhill; the woodwork by Mr Archibald Macfarlane, and Mr Peter McOmish has acted as clerk of works; while the works have been carried out under the supervision of Mr McNaughtan, the architect.



Glassblowing - 1878 vs 2011

We recently had the chance to visit the Glassblowers at Edinburgh College of Art, to see for ourselves how glass is blown and made from scratch.

What was immediately very clear was that very little has changed since Stephen Adam chose a Glassblower as one of the subjects for his stained glass panel.

Here's the 1878 Glassblower holding his blowpipe, with molten glass on the end of it:

And here's the 21st Century Glassblower:

The only real difference is in the use of safety glasses to protect the eyes - and that the furnaces now tend to be electricly heated, rather than by gas.

But the equipment, tools, and methodologies are little changed from Adam's day.

Wooden bench & selection of tools, 1878:

Wooden bench & selection of tools, 2011:

There's more details about the historic stained glass panel here.

Find out more about ECA's Architectural Glass programmes here.

Many thanks to Agelos, Caz & Alec for their time, enthusiasm, and patience in answering our questions!

More images from our visit can be seen on the flickr stream here:





Maryhill: The Turner Prize-winning Burgh

Is Art the new Industry in Maryhill ?

It’s starting to look that way, as the list of Turner prize-winning artists that have links to the area grows ever longer!

Just last night, the 2010 winner of the £25,000 prize was announced as Susan Philipsz, for her audio installations under bridges in Glasgow city centre. Susan grew up in Maryhill, before heading to Dundee to study, and has said in interviews that she’d love to do more works in her home town. Her win is the first time the prize has been awarded for a sound-related work.

The first Scot to win the Turner also took the prize into new areas: Douglas Gordon in 1996 was the first video artist to win, and also grew up in Maryhill. One of his pieces involved Hitchcock’s Psycho slowed down to last for 24 hours.

Last year’s winner, Richard Wright, apparently now lives in the G20 area as well.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s another winner with a personal link to Maryhill, and the Burgh Hall in particular - 2001 winner Martin Creed, for a piece entitled The Lights Going On and Off.

His link to Maryhill is a personal one - Martin’s father, John Creed, has been comissioned to produce new sculptural gates for the Burgh Halls, taking their inspiration from the shapes and textures of the historic stained glass panels. The new gates are due to be installed in the new year.

John Creed with the new gates

Perhaps we need to think about a Maryhill Turner Prize Winners Exhibition for when the Burgh Hall re-opens next year... ? 


Find out more on...

John Creed and the new gates

Susan Philipsz

Douglas Gordon

Martin Creed

Richard Wright




Making Connections...

The Glasgow Herald of April 27th, 1878 has a wonderful description of the opening ceremony for the Maryhill Burgh Halls, which mentions that:
"the company assembled in front of the entrance to the Public Hall, where Bailie Murray presented Provost Robertson with a silver key, with which the Provost opened the hall door and invited the company to enter. [...]
The silver keys presented to Provost Robertson and ex-Provost Shaw were formed so as to be suitable for fish-slicers, and were supplied by Mr Sorley, jeweller, Argyll Street." 
We have therefore been trying to track down more information about quite how a silver key could double as a fish-slice (!)…
In the Glasgow Post Office Annual - 1877 - 1878 p.432 (digitised as part of the excellent Addressing History project), there are entries for both a William and Robert Sorley, Watchmaker & Jewellers, of 178 Argyle Street.
The same directory listing for 178 Argyle Street, just at the junction with Union Street, has a William Jeffray, jeweller also at that address.
[As an aside, 178 Argyle Street is now the site of KFC, and before that was the famous Glasgow landmark of Boots Corner. The actual buildings that the Sorleys operated from would have been demolished some time before that was constructed in 1926]
Elsewhere in the same volume are details that William lived in Hamilton Place in Partick, while Robert Sorely lived at 1 Kersland St., Hillhead.
Oddly enough, living at 2 Kersland Street, Hillhead at the time was one Mr Duncan McNaughtan - the architect of the Maryhill Burgh Halls.
Did he mention to his neighbour that a silverware commission was coming on the cards?
Meanwhile, on the stained glass front, the same PO directory has 'Adam & Small, glaziers, glass-stainers, and decorative artists' at 201 St. Vincent street. (Adam was living at 4 Cathkin terrace, Mount Florida at the time).
Stephen Adam famously got the commission to design and build the twenty stained glass panels representing the trades and industries of Maryhill, which were such a prominent feature of the Burgh Halls.
Sadly, the any paperwork relating to the commissioning of the stained glass panels, and how this particular artist was chosen has been lost over the years.
But by another odd coincidence, Duncan McNaughtan's offices were just down the road at 178 St. Vincent Street…
You can see which street directories have been digitised so far by visiting the Internet Archive site here.