Welcome to the Strathblane Heritage Website!
“This century has seen many improvements in Strathblane, and though we are not yet very far on the road to perfection, still we have made a start on our journey and there is no reason why we should now pause.”John Guthrie Smith, The Parish of Strathblane & Its Inhabitants, 1886
Looking for material for a local history project? Think your ancestors may be buried here? New to the area and want to know something of its history? Fond memories of the Strathblane of yesteryear and fancy a trip down memory lane? Enjoy exploring old maps? Maybe you just like browsing through old photographs and postcards? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
This website is the work of volunteers from Strathblane Heritage, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, and our web designer Derek Townsend of Webreturn. As you can see from the menu, it falls into a number of sections.
Though we are a local (as opposed to a family) history society, we receive inquiries from throughout the world from the descendants of those who once lived in the area. At present we are not able to offer genealogical services but are delighted to host an alphabetical online index of everyone buried in Strathblane up to 2005 together with headstone transcriptions, thanks to a unique collaboration between Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society and local volunteers, led by Charles Kerr.
For a community of little over 2,000 people, Strathblane has a rich history, which has been well-covered in two previous publications. In 1886 the Victorian antiquarian John Guthrie Smith, who lived at Mugdock Castle, produced his gargantuan tome The Parish of Strathblane and Its Inhabitants from Early Times: A Chapter in Lennox History. Though often convoluted, sometimes fanciful, and focused more on landowners than social history, it is packed with fascinating and colourful detail and remains an important source. The second book, Strathblane 1870-1970: A Century of Change, by the late Alison Dryden, published in 2012 by Strathblane Heritage Society, fills in much of the intervening period. (It is available from Strathblane Heritage, price £8.50.)
Drawing on both these sources, updated, expanded and highly illustrated essays on a number of aspects of local history have been produced for our History and Heritage Section. There is a brief essay on the history of the parish, followed by topics that include Blanefield Printworks, the Blane Valley Railway and the Dumbrock Bleachfields, as well as different parts of the parish, such as Netherton, Carbeth and Mugdock, arranged in alphabetical order. More topics will be added as they become available. These will include Craigallian, The Legacies of Slavery, Rob Roy, Whisky and Temperance and Strathblane Rocks! (geology). The section on Village Activities will include material about the bowling club, youth groups, cricket, riding stables and dancing classes. A section on the six local men who died in World War 2 is planned for 2025, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of VE Day. We are very much open to suggestions for other aspects of local history that could be covered.
Resources & Reminiscences
The third part of the History & Heritage section, arranged in roughly chronological order and titled Resources and Reminiscences, provides reproductions of (or links to) important documents and recollections of life in Strathblane. These include all three Statistical Accounts, produced by Strathblane parish ministers in 1796, 1841 and 1951, as well as two fascinating accounts of growing up in Strathblane before World War 1 and vivid recollections of the 1930s and 1950s. This section also includes a link to the delightful film This is Our Parish , 1958-59, created by Harry and Helen Arnold. It features a number of today’s senior citizens as babies or small children. Also included are links to John Guthrie Smith’s history of the parish, which is available on Google Books, and full access to A Village Remembers, a World War 1 community project that tells the life (and death) stories of all 27 men whose names appear on Strathblane War Memorial, as well as a number who do not, despite local connections. This section finishes with various images and recollections of the old school, which closed in 1966 when the primary school moved to its current site.
- Now & Then Sliders. Our Gallery showcases a number of Now & Then “slider” images, where you are invited to move a cursor across the screen to reveal how an image from the past looks today. That’s how an iconic 1920s image of 17 men on the massive boulders known as the Auld Wives Lifts magically turns into 17 women of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club in 2023.
- Views & Places. This section begins in Strathblane (Edenkiln) before moving to Blanefield (Netherton) and finally covering some outlying areas.
- Buildings. This section is arranged in alphabetical order.
- People. This section is in three parts, each arranged alphabetically. There are (a) Individuals, (b) Groups and (c) Local men killed in the First World War, including some not on Strathblane War Memorial.
- Strathblane School Photographs from the old school (pre 1966), arranged in approximately chronological order. (The precise dates of some of these are unknown and further information would be welcome.)
- John Guthrie Smith illustrations and woodcuts
The National Library of Scotland has one of the best map collections in the world, including an unparalleled archive of maps of Scotland. With their consent, we reproduce a variety of maps of the Strathblane area, stretching right back to Timothy Pont’s 16th century map, published by Joan Bleau in 1654.
We also offer sections on poetry, song and literature about Strathblane,including Ossian’s beautiful recording of The Braes of Strathblane, as well as news of Strathblane Heritage events. We want feedback and so please use the Contact Us section to tell us what you think of our website and how we can improve it!
Strathblane Heritage Society was founded in 1993. For more than two decades its driving force was Murray O’Donnell, who had been born and bred here and was not only a fount of knowledge about every aspect of local history but was also a marvellous raconteur. He teamed up with Alison Dryden. Though a social worker by profession, Alison amassed a vast amount of insight and information about Strathblane’s past, turning her research into a series of leaflets. Recognition is also due to Alan Campbell, who published this information as well as old postcards and photographs on his website, Strathblanefield.org.
Along with village GP Dr Perry Harrison and Margaret Campbell, a number of talks and exhibitions were undertaken. There have been activities for local primary school children as well as a play about the Blanefield Printworks, performed by the Blane Valley Players.
And though Alison sadly died in 2009, the Heritage Society was able to gather her work and publish it under the title Strathblane 1870-1970: A Century of Change (available to buy through Strathblane Heritage, price £8.50). Through the covid era the society was sustained by a small group under the able leadership of Jenny Oswald.
Though all of the original committee have now passed away, a new committee was brought together in 2022 to take Strathblane Heritage forward into a new era. Our first major project has been the production of this website. We hope you like our new logo, which is inspired by one of the designs registered with the Board of Trade by the Blanefield printworks.
The current committee comprises Anne & Alastair Balfour (co-chairs), Jane Parfitt (treasurer and membership), Jude Gregor (secretary), Susan Kelly and Jim Neill. Public meetings are held on the third Monday of the months of September, October, November, January, February and March at 7.30pm in the Village Club. All are welcome. Annual membership is £10. Guests £3 per meeting.