POLLOKSHAWS has seen massive changes over the years,.

Its history, firstly as an independent burgh and then annexed to Glasgow from 1912, can be traced in its burgh records within the collections at Glasgow City Archives.

Glasgow Times: Pollokshaws 1958 Pic: Glasgow City Archives

Prior to the industrial revolution Pollokshaws was a small rural village, but its location by the White Cart Water and Auldhouse Burn along with coal resources available in the area, made it an ideal place for cotton manufacture.

Various historical gazetteers describe the area as dominated by spinning, weaving, bleaching and printing. As these industries thrived, more workers moved to the area so that by 1831 the population had grown to more than 4500.

Local landowner Sir John Maxwell of Pollok was greatly involved with establishment of the Burgh of Pollokshaws, petitioning the government in 1785. Burgh status was finally attained in October 1812, and Sir John was the burgh’s first provost. Sir John and the new councillors held their first meeting on April 23, 1813.

Glasgow Times: Meeting minutes. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

The meeting minutes over the years deal with everything from street planning to health, tramways and drainage. They were not without some excitement. In 1826 Thomas Baird and others held a robust protest ‘with a view to intimidating the present Provost and councillors’. Mr Baird was upset that he had previously lost the vote to become Provost...

Sir John gifted the area the Pollokshaws Industrial School, in 1854 on Bengal Street. The school was rebuilt in 1907 and renamed the Sir John Maxwell School in 1909. It’s hard to believe the school’s classical design by architect John Hamilton disappointed some critics at the time who felt it should have followed the Scots Baronial style of the nearby Burgh Hall. The new school building accommodated almost 500 pupils. The City Archives hold its records including an early logbook for the industrial school dating from 1864 and admissions from 1872. Closed in 2011, the building sadly remains empty.

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Sir John Stirling Maxwell (descendant of the former provost) provided the Burgh Hall which opened in 1898 and is still in use for events today. Its design is said to be based on the old Glasgow college buildings and it cost £20,000 to erect.

In 1958, Pollokshaws controversially became Glasgow’s second Comprehensive Development Area. In an effort to tackle poor housing conditions, a great many buildings were demolished. Photographs show streets which are almost unrecognisable today. The story of Pollokshaws survives in a few buildings such as the round Tollhouse, Pollokshaws Road and the Dutch style clock tower from the 1803 townhouse where the burgh councillors met, as well as of course the archives we are fortunate to preserve.