MARYHILL, which originally stood outside the city boundaries. grew from lands of various gentry estates into a thriving village and then a burgh,. It was absorbed by Glasgow in 1891.

Its name is connected to the Gairbraid estate which forms part of the area. Gairbraid House stood until the 1920s and the modern day Gairbraid Avenue aligns with the original carriageway to the house.

Glasgow Times: Gairbraid Public School. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

In the 1700s, the estate and house were owned by Mary Hill and her husband Robert Graham. The couple feued lands in 1791 on condition the future ‘town’ was named after Mary.

It was really the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1790 which ‘made’ Maryhill.

The canal brought access to trade and work. Iron foundries, textile, paper and saw mills, weaving and boatyards all flourished, drawing in more workers from all over Scotland and elsewhere. By 1850 the population in Maryhill had risen to around 3000. As the textile industry waned it was replaced with glass and rubber manufacture and brewing. This variety of industry set Maryhill apart from other burghs.


All this growth led to Maryhill becoming a police burgh by popular demand (the archives include a list of signatures for the creation of the burgh) in 1856. A police office, with magistrates’ chambers, and living quarters for the first Superintendent of Police George Anderson, was built on Maryhill Road in 1857. When the Burgh Halls were built later in 1878 (designed by Duncan McNaughtan) the police office moved there. Now the building is home to a heritage centre.

There have been claims that Maryhill’s police force was desperately needed in the 1850s due the lawlessness at that time. This is probably an exaggeration, as is the common tale that the Maryhill district ‘the Butney’ was so named as it was populated by convicts choosing to work on the canals rather than face transportation to Botany Bay, Australia. However, the burgh commissioners’ minutes in the archives show just as much concern for street cleanliness, building applications and public health as with crime.

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In 1876 a soldiers’ barracks for Glasgow opened on the former Ruchill estate. The Maryhill Barracks covered 30 acres including parade grounds, a hospital and a chapel all surrounded by a perimeter wall. Latterly the Highland Light Infantry were stationed there. The soldiers were a common sight at local pubs such as the Elephant and Bugle and the Roxy cinema, until the barracks closed in the 1960s. The Wyndford Housing estate now stands on the site.

Glasgow Times: Maryhill Barracks gate c1900. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

The canal which shaped Maryhill’s long industrial heritage is still there, and while most of the manufacturing has gone, records of the schools, businesses and burgh mean the long industrial heritage is not forgotten.