Very little has been recorded concerning the early history of the hamlet of Mile End, which developed along the banks of the Camlachie Burn from modern Bridgeton Cross towards Camlachie. It was situated to the east of Calton and north of Bridgeton, but was independent of both of these villages until it fell under the legal jurisdiction of Calton in 1819. There may have been an insignificant cluster of habitations in the locale from an earlier period, but development is only remarkable from the turn of the 19th century.
The origin of the name is not recorded, but it may be of interest to note that, as the crow flies, Broad St. - Mile End's main thoroughfare - is almost exactly a mile from Glasgow Cross, the Cathedral and Dalmarnock Ford. These were highly significant places from far more ancient times and may have given rise to the name for some unknown reason.
A description of the area in the earlier days of the 19th century is provided in a 1903 commemorative book by the minister of St. Clement's Church of Scotland, whose parish encompassed most of Mile End. This book includes turn of the century photographs of Crownpoint Farm house on Crownpoint Rd, Crownpoint House itself and Broad St.. One church member, of over 70 years of age at the time of publication, could recall his childhood there. Most of the parish was still open fields with only Broad St. having a few houses. The Camlachie Burn flowed diagonally through the district towards Barrowfield Toll.
The burn marked the boundary between Calton and Bridgeton, with the Calton police having no jurisdiction in the latter village. This was a situation which the local children took full advantage of, jumping over the burn into Bridgeton to evade the police when their escapades warranted it. Unfortunately, this was a situation many adults also took advantage of.
In those early days the burn was still a pristine stream, meandering on its way to the Clyde. Children could swim in the deeper pools under the shade of the ash trees bordering its banks, or fish for the silver eels for which it was famed.
Development took place along Broad St. - so named due to its unusual width. This was slow initially, in common with the general vicinity, but by the late 19th century the village was as heavily industrialised as its neighbours, particularly by the textile trades. Many of main streets were laid out during this period. Brook St. was named after the Camlachie Burn over which it was built. Fordneuk St. is believed to have taken its name from a ford over the same burn. St. Marnock St. was named for the patron saint of Kilmarnock - the owners of the Laird & Thomson mill came from that town and laid out the street on their land.
With the population and works also came the churches. There were representatives of many of the main denominations; London Rd United Secession Church, Christ Episcopal Church (the "English" church), St. Clement's Church of Scotland and Bridgeton Baptist Church. The buildings of the latter two have survived although they are now being used for other purposes.
Some of the most notable firms in the area were J. & J.S. Templeton's in Crownpoint Rd. and other locations, John Lyle & Co in Fordneuk St., Mavor & Coulson Ltd (latterly Anderson Strathclyde) in King St.., and Duncan Stewart & Co. Ltd in Summer St. These have now all gone with Glasgow's industrial decline, although many of the buildings remain. The weaving sheds in David St. built for cotton spinners and weavers George Grant & Sons c.1862 are reminders of the age when weaving was the most important industry.
Today, the Mile End area is still largely occupied by factories and other business premises. The former David Dale College buildings remain in Broad St.. For a time they were incorporated into the Glasgow College of Building & Printing as the Bridgeton College, but this is in the process of changing. Housing is almost non-existent, except for a few isolated tenements and the homeless persons' accommodation at Robertson House. There is little left to suggest the thriving and independent community that once lived there; it seems to have become a backwater to the more extensively redeveloped Bridgeton.
Co-operative efforts are being made by a variety of agencies, including the East End Partnership, to effect some redevelopment of the area. Part of the strategy being used is to re-establish Mile End's former identity, gradually submerged by its neighbours Bridgeton and Calton. Inherent in this is the need to emphasise the old boundaries of the village. One consequence of this scheme therefore has been the extensive landscaping of Mile End's southern border at London Rd. A significant feature of the work there has been the placement of eight massive marker boulders inscribed "Mile End Quarter".
© 2005 Gordon Adams
Watson, Rev. David (1903); "A Mile-end Chronicle - Being a Souvenir of the Semi-Jubilee of St. Clement's Parish Church, Glasgow." Glasgow, R.Robertson.
NOTES: Updated for 1st March, 2010.
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