Illustrated Essays

Illustration 1: View from Old Mugdock Road, where a lone cyclist contemplates the grandeur of the Campsies.
View from Old Mugdock Road, where a lone cyclist contemplates the grandeur of the Campsies.

Edenkill (now Edenkiln) occupied the heart of the community we now call Strathblane and was one of the three villages that comprised the parish, along with Netherton (Blanefield) and Mugdock. Edenkill dates back to the 13th century and the name means “a place sloping towards the church”. There was a market every Friday and two fairs a year. By the 1870s it was, according to historian John Guthrie Smith, roughly the same size as it had been in 1800 “but is hardly so picturesque, many of its thatched cottages having given place to common-place two-storeyed slated tenements”.

1881 Census

The 1881 Scottish Census gives details of the number of people in a dwelling as well as occupations and place of birth. The dwellings in Edenkill reflected a range of household compositions. Dr Rankin, who was born in Govan, lived in the large house known as Old Edenkiln with his wife, two children and servant. By contrast, the Benson family, consisted of Edward and Elizabeth Benson, seven children ranging in age from 13 to 2 and a brother and sister-in-law. Edward was a calico machine printer. There was a similar situation for the Gardner family. John Gardner, who was a calico engraver, lived with his wife Margaret and nine children ranging in ages from 20 to 3 years as well as his 77-year-old mother-in-law. Even with a large family by today’s standards, living in very cramped accommodation, many still felt able to take in a lodger. The census illustrates how many people in the parish were dependent on the Blanefield printworks for employment and also how several of them had come from the north and south of Ireland as well as various parts of Scotland.

With today’s modern sanitation, it is difficult to remember that sewage used to be discharged untreated into the Blane Burn. There were comparatively few water closets. The 1890s saw the creation of councils whose role was to improve the lot of the public. Their actions, however, were not enough to prevent the following cryptic letter being sent by a correspondent who signed himself “Glenguin” to the Stirling Observer of the 24th June 1893:

Even with the Sanitary Inspector living in the village what do we find? Ashpits not emptied for months, water closets past speaking about. If the inspector would go to “the palace” [ the ironic nickname of Burnside Row in Station Road] he would find something worthy of his attention and at Edenkill as well. When one looks over what is known as Bilsland’s Bridge they are glad to pull back as quick as possible. The fact of the matter is that we are not one whit better than when we had no county council!”

Rotting filth was an issue as it was apt to be the cause of diseases such as diarrhoea, enteric fever and probably diphtheria. The Parish Council minutes of the 18th July 1895 stated that the sanitary conditions of the districts of Edenkill and Blanefield could be improved as the fever was lingering too long. Perhaps the council was anxious that if they delayed, “Glenguin” might begin to write his letters again. Dr John McVail, Medical Officer of Health, who was noted for his reforming zeal, instigated many improvements in the parish. In referring to the closure of the printworks in 1898, Dr McVail noted in his report of 1903 that people were renting houses in the village as they saw it as a health resort! By the turn of the century steps were being taken to remove some of the more dilapidated properties and this continued for the next half century.

Edenkiln’s water supply originally came from the Blane Burn – presumably upstream from Edenkiln! –  and was stored (unfiltered) in ten-gallon tanks.  There were four pillar wells for the inhabitants. According to the Stirling Observer, the first supply of piped water came to Strathblane in 1881 with the opening of Strathblane Water Works and the construction of the local reservoir but seemingly this did not serve the Edenkiln part of the parish.

Old Mugdock Road

The fields around the area now occupied by Milndavie Crescent were the site of Strathblane Fair, a livestock fair held every November until the late 1880s. Schoolchildren used to be given the day off to attend.

View on Old Mugdock Road looking towards Dumbrock Road

This postcard, probably from the early 20th century, shows Old Mugdock Road as it approaches the junction with Dumbrock Road. The first two buildings on the right were demolished before the First World War but the third building, recognisable by its dormer windows, is now incorporated into the village supermarket.

Thomas Cullen established a shop there in 1839. In the postcard, a group of customers chat outside as a small dog trots up the hill towards the camera. For many years the Post Office, grocery store and butchers were run by various members of the Brown family.

Dumbrock Road

Dumbrock Road c1910

The whitewashed building on the left of this old postcard of Dumbrock Road shows what was known simply as “The Cottage”. It is the oldest surviving building in the area. A Stirling Observer article of 1910 suggests it was built around 1750 but other sources put the date nearer 1680. It was the last building in the village to have a thatched roof. In 1890 local historian John Guthrie Smith leased it and fitted it out as a public meeting place. As well as providing bagatelle, carpet bowling, billiards and dominoes, there was a shooting gallery. In 1911 the Cottage was replaced by the Village Club.

The cottage on the right, at the junction with Old Mugdock Road, is long gone but the next building, now a private house, once served as the original village Post Office.

Old Edenkiln

Old Edenkiln, Dr Rankin’s House

This part of the parish is also strongly associated with the doctors who have served it and continue to do so from the Edenkiln Surgery in Dumbrock Road. Unlikely as it seems, the parish was served by only three general practitioners between 1876 and 1985, all three of whom are buried along with their wives in Strathblane. Dr William Rankin, born in 1855, came to the village in 1876 and served until his early death in 1909. He lived in Dumbrock Road at Old Edenkiln, a house thought to have been built in 1769 as the factor’s house for the Leddriegreen estate. Dr Rankin’s obituary in the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald paid warm tribute to his knowledge and skills, adding:

“He took a lively interest in everything affecting the well-being of the district, and gave ungrudgingly of his means and time to every worthy object.” The Stirling Observer recalled: “A case of sickness won the same attention in the cottage as in the hall.”

He was also a leading member of the local bowling club, the curling club, the Cottage and the Parish Church. His successor, Dr George McMillan, moved into Old Edenkiln and also ran his practice from there. Though he served as a ship’s doctor and worked at two mental hospitals, following a degree from Glasgow University and a diploma in public health from Cambridge, he was less than 30 when he succeeded Dr Rankin. He stayed for 43 years! He received a small stipend (initially £21 a year), as medical officer and vaccinator for the district. The rest of his income came from patients’ fees, which he often overlooked when he knew the family had limited means. Among wealthier patients he had a reputation for sending out his bills in Christmas cards. Dr Rankin’s successor, Dr Perry Harrison, another Glasgow graduate and former naval surgeon, took over in 1950 and operated his surgery from the ground floor of another building in Dumbrock Road (third from the right in Illustration 3.) He retired in 1985 and passed away in 2016, aged 100. All three of these men have been remembered with great respect and affection by the people of Strathblane. Old Edenkiln is now a private house. This part of Dumbrock Road has long been known as “the Doctor’s Brae”.

Milngavie Road

Milngavie Road at the junction with Dumbrock Road c1900

Several of the houses at the bottom of Milngavie Road, before the turning into Dumbrock Road, survive from earlier times. The cottage on the left in this postcard is Ardwell Cottage (named after Lord Ardwell, the one-time owner of Leddriegreen House). Strathblane stationmaster, Peter McKillop lived there. It later became a vet’s surgery before reverting to a family house. Robinson Cottage, next to it, was occupied by several joiners. Andrew Wright was also the local undertaker and, according to the late Arthur Muir, was fond of pointing out that it took the same amount of cloth to line a coffin as it took to make a suit of clothes – 3 ½ yards! Mr Wright was succeeded by Andrew Scott, a leading light in the Christian youth movement, the Band of Hope, followed by Donald Macintyre whose wife was the village chiropodist. The joiner’s yard closed in the 1970s. Next to the two joined cottages is Glebe Cottage, which was once the site of Campbell’s Tearooms. It was built around 1790, before the construction of the main road from Milngavie.

Campbell’s Tea Rooms

The bridge over the Blane Water was known as Bilsland’s Bridge after a Mr Bilsland who ran a carting contractors and carriage hire business nearby. It was a popular meeting place for the “Village Parliament”, a group of worthies who would gather in the evenings to smoke their pipes and watch the world go by.

From the 1860s for around 100 years, a railway bridge crossed the road near the same spot, limiting the height of vehicles using the main road.

Dumbrock Road

Dumbrock Road beyond Old Edenkiln is unrecognisable from the 1950s. The Black Lawn, the name given to four tenements on the left of the road, were cleared in the late 1950s to make way for social housing. They had probably housed workers from the flock mill in the Glen and the nearby Dumbrock bleachfields.

Park Terrace

Park Terrace was the name given to the terrace of houses that stood where Park Place is now. They were named Park after Anthony Park Coubrough who was responsible for the development of the Blanefield Printworks. It was a good substantial building of twelve houses in all, built for the foreman and clerical staff of the printworks. The upper flats were accessed via staircases at the rear of the building. The printworkers’ houses tended to be graded, the poorer ones for the manual workers were down Station Road and the Wood Place area, while the more upmarket ones for white collar staff were at Park Terrace. This terrace was demolished in 1967 to make way for social housing. Today’s planners might have been more inclined to renovate them.

Alternative pic of Park Terrace
Dumbrock Road Prefabs

The Prefabs

Towards the end of the Second World War, Stirling County Council was already planning for more local authority housing in the village as well as planning for temporary housing. Around 1948 24 Prefabs, as they were universally known, were built and many villagers still have fond memories of them. Emily Brown, who was born in one of them, recalls:

“It was a very happy community. All the children played together. I remember the boys playing Knock Door Run. But the prefabs weren’t well insulated and so they were boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. I shared a bed with my brother and sister and we had stone hot water bottles and Dad’s army greatcoat over the bed to keep us cosy.”

Strathblane Prefabs, 1950s. This shot shows the Dumbrock Road council houses under construction, as well as the tenement known as the Black Lawn and the end of Park Place, which were both demolished to make way for council housing, as were the prefabs.

In the 1960s the decision was taken to demolish them to make way for the housing in what are now Dumbrock Drive and Dumbrock Crescent, as well as Dumbrock Road. One Sunday a gang of men arrived and proceeded to dismantle one of the now-empty structures. While some wondered why this was being done on a Sunday, the majority were content to watch the men at work and note the speed with which they worked. On Monday another squad came and dismantled the rest. It was only when they had finished that they realised one was missing! What became of it is not known.

The Kirkhouse Inn & Kirkhouse Farm

The Kirkhouse Inn was established in 1601 although until Victorian times it stood immediately beside the gates of the parish church. On occasion this was a source of friction. In 1774 the landlord was in open rebellion against the minister and the kirk session. According to session records, one of his offences was that he appeared at a session meeting and threatened “to kick the kirk officer’s heels and trample him like dirt under his feet if he would but presume to go to his house and call his wife”. (His wife was being pursued over some alleged irregularity.) The session tried to “bring him to repentance” and bound him over to the presbytery. After a presbytery inquiry he was laid under the sentence of lesser excommunication “till he should repent and humble himself”. Seemingly, he never did.

The Kirkhouse has long been an important meeting place in the parish. Standing at the junction of two major roads, it was both a toll house and a staging post for horse-drawn coaches. During the second night of the Clydebank Blitz in March 1941, it became a place of refuge for villagers, young patients from the Children’s Home Hospital and those fleeing from the German bombing in Clydebank. The bombing of Sunnyside in Blanefield resulted in villagers fleeing from Blanefield to Strathblane.

At a time when buying a drink on a Sunday was a major hurdle to be overcome, the Kirkhouse had the advantage of a seven-day licence. Anyone ordering a drink on the Sabbath needed to be a “bona fide traveller”, which involved travelling at least four miles and signing a book to say where they had come from. Some tall tales were told in its columns and the buses from Glasgow were extremely busy.

The Buchanan family were involved in running the Kirkhouse for at least 150 years until the 1960s. They also ran Kirkhouse Farm, which stood on the opposite corner of Campsie Road. Peter Buchanan was known as “the Three Ps” on account of his three jobs: postman, pig man and publican.

The Kirkhouse Inn has been considerably enlarged and has changed hands several times in recent years. It is the only remaining public licenced premises in the parish.

Kirkhouse Inn & Kirkhouse Farm

(Strathblane Parish Church is covered separately.)



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Local Shops Over the years a surprising number of people have run shops in the community. Some have lasted longer than others, but all have been memorable in their own way. The fortunes of retailers have waxed and waned with the general fortunes of the community....

Duntreath and the Edmonstones

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School (1716 – 1966)

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Dumbrock Mills and Bleachfields

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Blane Valley Railway

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World War Two

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Blanefield Printworks

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Free Church

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World War One

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Children’s Home Hospital (1903-1994)

“Often a child made a dramatic recovery on the back of good food, fresh air & loving care” - Margaret McIntyre, who worked at Strathblane Children’s Home Hospital for two periods between 1958 and its closure in 1994.  Penelope Ker  The rapid...


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