South Side

Angel Building, Old Toll Bar & Kingston Halls (1900-1907)

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Glasgow City Archives

The familiar golden figure of Paisley Road West’s angel soars heavenwards in this circa 1900 shot of Paisley Road Toll. The identity of the sculptor is uncertain but it’s thought to have been the work of Alexander Ewing. The sculpture itself eluded all efforts at identification until 2004 when Gary Nisbet of uncovered her name in a long forgotten article in the Govan Press newspaper. “Commerce and Industry” is her Sunday name, but you’ll find few locals who know her as such.

The substantial gushet block that now houses an Italian restaurant was built in 1889 as Ogg Brothers’ Drapery Warehouse, an outfitters known for supplying uniforms to merchant seamen. It was designed by Bruce and Hay and occupies the site of the former barhouse toll-bars of Three Mile House, Paisley Road and the old Govan/Renfrew Road. Three Mile House was a hamlet on the Paisley Road that would also come to be known as Halfwayhouse or Halfway. The fabric of the building isn’t much changed, although we’ve lost a few decorative roof ornaments, including a weather vane. The modern day signage of long-established restaurant “La Fiorentina” is sadly typical, and tends to dominate the ground floor.

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Glasgow City Archives

The second image shows the Old Toll Bar which has thankfully survived the upheaval and destruction of the surrounding area. It opened in 1874 and its lavish interior was added in 1893. It remains the best preserved example of a “palace pub” in the city, featuring rich dark woodwork, fine classical style painted glass, large engraved advertising mirrors, and an elaborate carved gantry. All of this was almost lost in January 2014 when a load-bearing wall was accidentally dismantled in the basement, rendering the entire block unsafe. With remedial structural work completed, and a sympathetic makeover from new owner Mido Soliman, the Old Toll Bar re-opened in October 2016.

Plantation House, Glasgow - Photo courtesy of The Glasgow Story
Plantation House, Glasgow – Photo: The Glasgow Story

The area to the west of the toll is known as Plantation, a name given by Glasgow merchant John Robertson after he acquired the Craigiehall Estate in 1783. It has long been supposed that this name derives from Robertson’s own overseas interests, but a 1741 estate map produced by Robert Ogilvy for Sir John Maxwell of Blawarthill shows a patch of woodland here marked as “Plantation”, a common enough practice that simply denotes an area of newly planted trees. When John Robertson purchased the estate in 1783 there stood a small house in green fields at what would be the top end of modern day Mair Street. It was then acquired by John Mair (after whom the street is named)  in 1793 who set about upgrading and expanding the building into the fine house you see above. The area was feued for tenement development throughout the 1870s and by 1878 Plantation House was in disrepair. It was finally demolished in 1900.

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Glasgow City Archives.

Leaving the toll behind we arrive at Kingston Halls and Library. Designed by Robert William Horn of the City Engineer’s Department, it was opened on 8th September 1904 by Lord Provost Sir John Ure Primrose who declared that “We are citizens of no mean city”. Kingston was the first Carnegie-funded library in the city. The building suffered a major fire in 1948 but was rebuilt and reopened in 1957. It finally closed in 1981 following years of depopulation in the area resulting from the development of the Kingston Bridge and associated motorway infrastructure. Ibrox library opened nearby that same year and Kingston served for many years as a homeless night shelter before homeless charity the Talbot Association took up residence.

Juvenile reading rooms, Kingston Library, 1907. Photo: The Glasgow Story.
Juvenile reading rooms, Kingston Library, 1907. Photo: The Glasgow Story.

Photos reproduced with the kind permission of Glasgow City Archives

Architecturally Horn modeled the hall after J.J. Burnet’s athenaeum, giving it a three bay Edwardian Baroque front rendered in red sandstone. The library entrance is set to the right hand side and features a figure of learning in the aedicule above the door. In 2010 it survived another brush with fire when the neighbouring tenement burnt down. The hall and library now sit orphaned on Paisley Road in front of the Springfield Quay entertainment complex, an ugly advertising hording pitched in the space vacated by the its former tenement neighbour.

Shawlands Cross (Crossmyloof Mansions) – c1900

A view looking south west to Shawlands Cross. The distinctive wedge shape of Crossmyloof Mansions at the junction of Kilmarnock and Pollokshaws Roads is a familiar sight to most South Siders, not least because on its bottom floor you’ll find The Granary. Home to a couple of generations of Shawlands drinkers since it opened in 1983, it was previously the southern outpost of Glasgow firm Samuel Dow Ltd. The company was started in 1807 by Lochaber native Samuel McCalman (Dow being an anglicised form of the surname). Originally a wine merchant and whisky bonder, the company had several pubs across the city by 1899.

The building itself is a white ashler tenement of around 1890, topped by a ballustraded parapet. The triangular footprint means it’s one of several “gushet” buildings in the city, other prominent examples being Eglinton and Paisley Road Tolls. Crossmyloof Mansions is a category B listed building and forms part of the Shawlands Conservation Area.

On the right is the former Glasgow Savings Bank which is now Linen bar and restaurant. It was designed by Neil Campbell Duff and opened its doors in 1906. Through the lights on the right hand side are two handsome churches. Furthest away is the Shawlands Old Parish Church designed by John A. Campbell and opened in 1889. It’s now home to the modern Destiny church. Just visible through the trees on the corner is the former Shawlands United Free Church, designed by Miller & Black and built between 1900 and 1903 at a cost of £15,000.

Langside Avenue – 1890s

Photo (C287): Sourced from Virtual Mitchell and reproduced with the kind permission of Glasgow City Archives.

A view of Langside Avenue looking west towards Minard Road. On the left you’ll see the pub that, 20 years or so after this photo was taken, would become James O’Malley’s magnificent Corona bar. Some things never change and you can clearly see the distinctive “T” of J & R. Tennent on the wall. On the traffic island next to what is now a taxi rank there once stood an ornate drinking fountain by Walter MacFarlane’s world famous Saracen Foundry. It’s often said that this was the Bailie James Martin memorial fountain, now situated at Glasgow Green. This now appears to be untrue. Photographs show the Martin fountain in place at Glasgow Green in the early 1900s, while later images show the Crossmyloof fountain. So unless it was regularly commuting between Shawlands and the green, we have a lost fountain to find.

White Elephant Cinema, 42 Kilmarnock Rd – c1950


Photo: The Herald

The White Elephant cinema was designed by architect Harry Barnes and opened its doors in 1927. It was commissioned by renowned showman and eccentric A.E. Pickard, father of the Britannia Panopticon music hall. More than just a picture house, this building also housed a ballroom and restaurant, while the main auditorium could comfortably seat 1900 people.

The cinema was named as the result of a competition but was shortened to simply “Elephant” after it was sold to cinema mogul Alexander King in 1934. In the 1950s a CinemaScope screen was installed.

It closed in 1960 after which the street level was converted to shops. The main frontage was resurfaced and cut down in a crude attempt at modernisation. The original finish was more like the left hand side of the complex. This portion of the building has, over the years, been home to a series of night clubs, from Mr D’s and Rosco’s to its most recent incarnation as G1 Group’s The Cell. It now lies empty despite periodic rumours that it might return to its former use as a cinema.

Waverley Picture House, 18 Moss Side Rd – 1971


The Waverley Picture House was designed by Watson, Salmond & Gray for Shawlands Picture House Ltd and opened on 25th December 1922. The building is finished in red sandstone but its most prominent feature is the handsome, corner dome ringed by Egyptian columns. Inside the auditorium, there is a barrel roof ceiling and columns along the walls. In its early years there was also a tea room. In 1928 a Christie two-manual theatre organ was installed.

From Septmeber 1929 it was operated by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) . The Christie theatre organ was removed from the building in 1953 and the Waverley Picture House was re-named ABC in 1964. The ABC was closed on 31st March 1973. It was then converted into a bingo club and from 1982 until the late 1990s it was operated as a snooker club. The building then stood derelict until 2002 when it was sold to Stefan King’s G1 Group which operated it as “Tusk” bar, restaurant and nightclub until its closure in 2009. In recent years plans have been floated that would see the building return to its intended use as a local cinema.

On 17th June 1992, Historic Scotland designated it a Grade B Listed building. On 25th November 1993, the exterior of the building was upgraded to a Grade A Listed building.