THE GOOD SHEPHERD

"Morning, noon and evening the rambler by the riverside hears the tinkling of bells at this spot, warning the sisterhood to their frequently recurring exercises of devotion. The curious may also, on a sunny forenoon, espy the veiled form of the nuns, walking with measured pace on the green sward in front of the edifice, or lingering in pensive attitudes in the shadow of the surrounding trees. In this quiet and secluded locality there is nothing to disturb the contemplations of the fair devotees more harsh than the murmurings of the Clyde or the songs of the summer birds among the rustling foliage."

Thus, in 1852 did that famous rambler Hugh MacDonald describe the Sisters of the Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd then only recently come to Dalbeth. The land had belonged to the Catholic Church as part of the Barony of Glasgow, until the Reformation of 1560. In 1850, it returned to its previous owner. The following year it was given over to the nuns of the Order.

 

45) A surviving portion of the Good Shepherd complex,

facing the River Clyde.

 

The Sisters cared for "penitents" who were provided with accommodation and instruction in the separate Magdalen Asylum. In 1852 there were 30 such persons in their care. The penitents were supported by their own labours and from alms donated to the Convent.

By 1865 the Sisters had managed to establish a Reformatory for Girls at Dalbeth which provided a service for 100 girls. During the same period, West Thorn Mills on the west side of Dalbeth Burn had been acquired and converted to house a Catholic Boys Reformatory.

The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1902, with the parish itself being established as late as 1948. The Good Shepherd Sisters left Dalbeth in 1949 and moved to a new establishment at Bishopton. In 1975 the Parish was closed and the church taken down. Good Shepherd Primary was also closed. Much of the complex of buildings which once comprised the Convent were taken down or otherwise destroyed. One building still overlooks the Clyde from its hilltop site. It and the old school building are now used by the Talbot Association.

St Peter's Catholic Cemetery is still in use. There had already been a cemetery at Dalbeth when this was opened in 1863; the much smaller and now derelict Dalbeth Cemetery off London Rd. St Peter's has gradually enlarged through the years. Originally it was sited only to the east of the burn, but now covers both sides up to the boundary with the bottling plant.