Bridgeton is a relative newcomer to Glasgow's history. The land upon which the village was founded belonged to the Barrowfield estate, a title that now only survives in the name of a street and a local housing development. The name Barrowfield has undergone several corruptions over the years. The first historical reference was to Borrofeild in 1513 in the diocesan records. It was not until 1587 that the spelling Barrowfield emerged. All of the variations are believed to derive from the original Burrow-Field, which might refer to its belonging to the burgh or the method of cultivation in "burrel" or barrel shaped ridges.
The land was originally part of the Barony of Glasgow which was controlled by the Archbishops of the town until the Reformation. After the church lands were secularised, they passed through several hands. One historian, Robert Reid, speculates upon somewhat of a "carve-up" of the town's great Eastern and Western Commons among Glasgow's ruling cliques in the 17th century. The governance of Glasgow had fallen into disarray after Cromwell ordered the indefinite postponement of the election of magistrates in 1657. With his death in 1658 and the confusion of the Restoration, the powerful families kept voting themselves into office and subsequently divided up the common lands among themselves!
2) Barrowfield House was sited at the end of Queen Mary St. It pre-dates the Walkinshaws.
Barrowfield was acquired in the late 17th century by John Walkinshaw, eldest merchant baillie of Glasgow, who already owned the adjacent Camlachie lands. This combined estate was extensive and almost totally rural in nature. The estate eventually passed to his grandson, John Walkinshaw, and according to Reid it was he that feued land in 1705 for the establishment of a village on that part of the estate called Goosefauld, to be known as Barrowfield.
Those were the years of the Hanoverian Succession (1714) and the Jacobite Rebellions (1715 and 1745). The Walkinshaws espoused the Jacobite cause, John Walkinshaw being at one time a Stuart envoy to Vienna, but their fortunes failed with those of the House of Stuart in 1715. Walkinshaw was taken and imprisoned in Stirling Castle. Remarkably, his escape was effected by the simple ruse of exchanging clothing with his visiting wife and walking free! His estates of Camlachie and Barrowfield were then forfeited and subsequently purchased by the magistrates of Glasgow in 1723 although Walkinshaw's wife was allowed the income from some coal workings on the estate and a residence at Camlachie Mansion. In 1730 Barrowfield and Camlachie were sold to John Orr. Walkinshaw himself died in 1731 but before passing from our story, that family make a last contribution.
3) Clementina Walkinshaw.
(Scottish National Portrait Gallery).
During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Prince Charlie reviewed his retreating army at Provost Haugh; that part of the Glasgow Green now laid out in football pitches. Further along on his retreat, at Bannockburn House in 1746, he met the late Walkinshaw's youngest daughter, Clementina. This marked the beginning of a rather strange liaison which saw Clementina called to the Prince in exile in 1752. She bore him a daughter, Charlotte, who was eventually legitimised and created Duchess of Albany - the "Bonnie Lass O' Albany" written of by Burns.
4) The Arms of Orr of Barrowfield. The family motto "Bonis Omnia Bona" means "All is Good to the Good".
It was during the Orr's ownership that the development of the village was spurred in 1765 with the partial closure of the old Glasgow Bridge. This bridge, which crossed the Clyde from the village of Gorbals to the bottom of the Stockwell, had been built in 1345 and represented the main access route to Glasgow from Rutherglen. The only other main route was over the Dalmarnock Ford which was not the safest of crossings - indeed an edition of the "Glasgow Journal" for 1774 tells of one unfortunate Rutherglen farmer who fell from his cart and drowned when his horse stumbled while fording the Clyde.
5) Rutherglen Bridge soon after construction. Allan's Pen is to be seen to the left, with the chimneys of the Turkey Red Works in the background.
The bridge had fallen into so dangerous a condition that the city magistrates were forced to ban any carts from using it. This represented such a restriction on commerce between Glasgow and the Royal Burgh that the latter resolved that they should have their own bridge across the Clyde, and one that was free from toll. The site was chosen and the new Rutherglen Bridge crossed the Clyde between the lands of Shawfield and Barrowfield.
The bridge, designed by James Watt, was opened in 1776 and is supposed to have been a reproduction of the Glasgow Bridge. It was only sixteen and a half feet wide and had a steep rise from the river banks which gave it a distinctly hump-backed appearance. The cost was £1,800 of which the Royal Burgh contributed œ1,000 in order to secure its freedom from toll charges. It was from this bridge that the village of Barrowfield, spreading down the new Main St very soon after adopted the name of Bridgetown and then Bridgeton. The estate was sold off by the Orrs in 1786 and was eventually divided between a great many proprietors.
The Clyde Walkway from Rutherglen Bridge to Dalmarnock Bridge and beyond follows a public footpath used by many generations both for travel and recreation but free access to the riverside has not been retained without a struggle. In the 18th century there was a trend by riverside landowners to absorb the path into their lands. Newhall estate at Rutherglen Bridge was owned by Alexander Allan. To gain uninterrupted access from his property to the riverside, he had a pen built and turfed over. This annoyed local folk to such a degree that they boycotted any weaving work put out by Allan. No direct action was taken against the pen but during the following winter the Clyde flooded and much of it was destroyed. He did little to repair the damage and quit Bridgeton a few years later. Nowadays, the site of Allan's Pen is marked by a small plaque set in a wall beside the riverside path.
The Dalmarnock name seems to be far more ancient than that of Barrowfield being recorded as far back as 1174 as "Dalmurnech". Hugh MacIntosh (1902) notes this as being Celtic for "the meadow or plain abounding in bent and iris". In medieval times the land of Dalmarnock also belonged to the church and was largely used for agriculture. After the Reformation possession appears to have eventually passed to two families; the Woddrops, who rented the land from the church in 1522 and who retained it for almost four centuries, and the Grays, who purchased three-quarters of Dalmarnock in 1678. Given its contiguity, it is not surprising to find that in the 16th century the Woddrops (or Weddrops) also rented the lands of Barrowfield. The estates of these families were extensive and not limited to Dalmarnock. One of the Grays was also inclined to the Jacobite cause but his wife denounced him to the authorities in 1715, preventing him from joining the rebellion and suffering Walkinshaw's fate of forfeiture. By its very existence, the ford over the Clyde at Dalmarnock made the area noteworthy and of strategic importance. It was probably used by the Romans during their invasion and occupation, and later by the masons of Rutherglen as they travelled to their daily labours on the building of Glasgow's cathedral.
In 1568 when Mary, Queen of Scots and her army tried to use the ford en route from Hamilton to Dumbarton she found it held against her by her half-brother, the Regent Moray, who army was drawn up near Barrowfield. She had to seek a less suitable crossing downriver and, pursued by Moray, was forced into battle at Langside where she was defeated. In her flight from the battlefield she reputedly stopped at Barrowfield seeking aid. This gave rise to a later legend that the Queen had stayed at Barrowfield House. It seems unlikely that the Queen would remain so close to her enemies, but she may have rested there briefly then returned over Dalmarnock Ford on the journey that was to take her to imprisonment in Elizabeth's England. Queen Mary's farm, built in 1844 on the site of Barrowfield House and from the stones of its ruins, took its name from this legend, as did the later street.
Before Rutherglen Bridge had been built there had been an intention to build one at the Ford, but the new bridge probably alleviated some of the pressure for this provision. However, with the growth of business and trade at the turn of the 19th century the need resurfaced. A wooden structure was erected in 1820-21 by the Road Trustees for the sum of œ3,182, a tollhouse being built in Dalmarnock Road to collect the toll for using the bridge and road. In 1823, a landowner at Dalmarnock tried to build a wall to prevent access upriver from the bridge. Local people were so outraged that an organised crowd, under arms, broke the wall down. After prolonged legal action by concerned citizenry the House of Lords in 1829 declared a right of access along the whole pathway, which has remained free since.
6) The second Dalmarnock Bridge, built in 1847-48 by the Road Trustees.
Dalmarnock Bridge eventually needed replacement in 1847-48 by another timber bridge built immediately to the east of the earlier one. Remarkably, this survived until the present bridge was built in 1889-1891. Rutherglen Bridge was the oldest river bridge within Glasgow when it was reported to be in a dangerous condition in 1889. It was, besides, no longer adequate for the greatly increased amount of traffic it had to cope with. The old bridge was demolished in 1891-92 and the present bridge was built on the site from 1893-96.
7) The Tollhouse at 556, Dalmarnock Rd. was built circa 1820 by the Road Trustees. It is now the oldest building in the area.
In its earliest days Bridgeton was administered by a Feuars' Court of local landowners, with a Provost elected from their number each year. Calton became a Burgh in 1817 and in 1844 promoted a Bill seeking to annex Bridgeton, but the village responded by trying to be erected into a Burgh itself. Both applications were rejected by Parliament and the mutual rivalry ended in 1846 with the passing of the Glasgow Municipal Extensions Act. This Act was effected on 1st January, 1847 and on that date Bridgeton and Dalmarnock - as well as Calton - were annexed by Glasgow, and became suburbs of that city. With that annexation, the industrialisation of Bridgeton and Dalmarnock proceeded apace.
8) The demolition of the original Rutherglen Bridge.
9) Dalmarnock House. There were several mansion houses in the area, many built in the 18th century. The Grays sold their land to John Buchanan in 1784 who built the house shown here. The site was latterly occupied by Dalmarnock Power Station but is now vacant land. Even in the 1840s when Bridgeton was already well built over, this house remained one of the very few in Dalmarnock.
10) Crown Point House. The land upon which this house stood was originally part of Parkneuk on the Camlachie estate beside the Burn, which marked the boundary with Barrowfield. It was bought by William Alexander who combined it with Mountainblew to form the new Crown Point estate - named after a famous victory in the Canadian war. The house was built in 1761 and survived until very recently.
11) Campbellfield. This estate lay north of Barrowfield, centring on what was once Rowchester St and now part of the Crownpoint Sports complex. It was acquired by William Auchincloss in 1762 and named in honour of his wife. The house was built c.1765 and survived until 1868. A pottery was established using local clay, and the land later given over to building.
12) Hugh Macdonald (1817-1860)
Many districts of Glasgow in their earlier, independent days have produced individuals keen on extolling the virtues of rambles around their native lands, and Bridgeton is no exception. Hugh Macdonald, author and poet, was born in Rumford St. in 1817. He was the eldest of 11 children of West Highland parents who came to Bridgeton seeking work. Macdonald himself worked at Monteith's Barrowfield Works for several years as a block printer. He eventually became sub-editor of the "Glasgow Citizen" where he produced a series of articles detailing his "Rambles Round Glasgow". These were published as a book in 1854 which has remained popular to this day. Macdonald is commemorated by a fountain in Glasgow Green, the setting of one of his Rambles.
13) James Maxton (1885-1946)
Until 1976 the Parliamentary Constituency of Bridgeton embraced Dalmarnock, Bridgeton, Calton and Mile-End. The Independent Labour Party established a strong local branch from their base in a disused shop in Canning St. and after many years of campaigning, James Maxton was elected as an ILP MP for the constituency in the 1922 election. He was one of the many new socialists to go to Westminster that year with such high hopes. With the others, he helped establish the first Labour Government of 1924 and was one of the few to survive the consequences of its failure. Maxton was not from Bridgeton, he was born in Pollokshaws, but he represented the district until his death in 1946. He was a well-loved and highly respected man. In nearby St James' School, where Maxton taught from 1909-12, there is a commemorative plaque, and a local children's home bears his name - Maxton House.