It’s approximately 7 miles long, has over 50,000 residents and, like many of Glasgow’s areas, boasts of being a former burgh. But how many of us know Maryhill Road inside out?
With its parts fringing on the well-trodden west end and many other areas stretching out beyond Glasgow’s boundary, we’ve put together a list of hidden haunts and gems that Maryhill has to offer – including more than a few local facts its residents will be familiar with.
1. Everyone living within two streets of Maryhill Road will say they’re from Maryhill
“Where you fae?” It’s one of the first questions anyone can be asked in the pub as an ice-breaker, and for most it’s an easy answer….Shawlands, Dennistoun, Partick…somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…
However, ask many people who live within the radius of Maryhill Road this question, and they’ll proudly say, without hesitation, “Maryhill”. What many people don’t know is that there are pure hunners of places which teeter on the edge of this road, and are areas in their own right – from Queen’s Cross and Woodside to the Wyndford, sunny Summerston and even out towards the outskirts of the city – just be aware that people will stake their claim on the entire area, so don’t dare say anything bad about it if you don’t want a doin’!
2. It has a canal running parallel to it
The Forth and Clyde canal, opened for use in 1790, was once a thriving link for sea vessels travelling between the Clyde and the Forth; beginning at Port Dundas in Glasgow, and having branches as far west as Bowling and East as Grangemouth towards the River Forth.
The introduction of the railways and an increase in ship size saw the decline of the canal’s industrial uses towards the 20th century, but the 35 mile long route (with links to the Union Canal in Edinburgh) is a scenic destination for cyclists, dog walkers and wanderers who seek serenity in the heart of the city. Nature conservation projects have cleaned the canal up over the years, and art projects on regenerated barges keep its viability (excuse the incoming pun) afloat.
3. It was once known as the ‘Venice of the North’
Back in the day, when Glasgow was in the foggy midst of its strong industrial past, the canal docks and old glassworks – Caledonia and Glasgow Works to be specific – garnered Maryhill this accolade of a nickname.
4. There’s a village full of students
Which is otherwise known as the aptly named Student Village; a settlement established on Murano street for 20 something years. A seasonal retreat for most, students can be observed best from September to May, buzzing to and from their natural habitats: the pub (any will do), student unions, the Garage…and back to bed. Sometimes the library when needs must.
We say this with love – some of us used to be there. And we’re not bitter than our hangovers now force us to impose a personal curfew of 10PM. If you’re new to the city and want to get ‘on it’ pronto, you might find our guides to pubs (and other entertainment) particularly useful – here’s one we made earlier.
5. Its local football team is…Partick Thistle
Yeah….it’s confusing if you’ve not lived in Glasgow long, or football’s not your pub quiz subject. We covered this in our guide to Partick earlier this year….although the club hasn’t played there since 1908, it’s kept the name of Partick (and not Firhill/Maryhill) Thistle, and that way it’ll stay. The club’s fan base is perhaps more modest than Rangers or Celtic’s, but nevertheless mighty, and can be heard roaring from Firhill Stadium on a Saturday.
Despite having built walls around the canal side of the stands, you can still get a peek into the club from the footpath, a whispered tip that many kids enjoyed right up to the noughties.
We won’t go into details about the mascot since it’s been well and truly covered by the internet all summer.
6. Old factories are remembered and regenerated…
Many of Maryhill Road’s factories and tenements have been razed, rebuilt and changed in the past two decades. Lifelong residents and workers in the area have interesting experiences to tell, and communities pull together to overcome challenges and loss, which was felt most recently by the Stockline Plastic Factory accident in 2004.
Residents respect and remember various challenges the local communities have faced through the years while also being able to move forward together. Local halls, groups and events are often sparked into action on a grassroots level, and buildings have had an overhaul in recent years. Some factory buildings, including towards the canal, have been regenerated into working spaces such as the Whisky Bond, which bring new communities into the sprawling, vibrant hub which surrounds Maryhill Road.
7. …And its industrial past celebrated in stained glass
Maryhill Burgh Halls is rich in history both past and presently – it has been massively regenerated in the past few years.
Most significantly, it’s known for its stained glass windows by Adam and Small – originally in place at the beginning of the 20th century. The stained glass, renovated and restored with care by Glasgow Museums, is so significant because it depicts workers from Maryhill as historically accurate, wearing traditional clothes and in no way embellished with mythology as some of his other works were. More can be found on the history of the windows, including new, modern editions, can be found on the official Maryhill Burgh Halls website.
8. Its architecture
Old tenements standing strong with high rises round the corner, the bleak beauty of 70s brutalism, The Barracks, Neo Classical council buildings from the 1800s and new waterfront apartments on the canal….Maryhill’s changing faces are visible along the length of the road. With every turn there is a different era for fans of structure and urban wanders, and local forums help residents interested in the history of their building.
9. It has many brazen and eccentric local businesses
Take a walk along Maryhill Road from the beginning and you’ll find: a high quality print and frame shop; Pastimes (dedicated to hobbies and antique toys); bric-a-brac outlets; jewellery makers; and family run McLaren’s Opticians, whose retro shop signage has weathered the past 30 years.
Business owners aren’t frightened to shy away from their special offers, with several sticking it to The Man and telling customers they’ll offer a better deal than the (much larger) supermarkets nearby, through word of mouth or DIY signs outside their shops.
10. It’s on the Rennie Mackintosh map
One of Glasgow’s lesser known architectural treasures, by one of Glasgow’s best known architects, is all just a 20 minute walk from St George’s Cross subway. Built in 1896 for the free church, it has many of Rennie Mack’s most loved features, including his trademark styles – ornate nouveau stained glass, combined with sleek lines, within and without. (The Mackintosh Church, Queen’s Cross, 870 Garscube Road, G20 7EL, mackintoshchurch.com)
11. It hosts two libraries
With Woodside Library at George’s Cross, and Maryhill Library towards Gairbraid Avenue, locals need never go short of books and community events again. The buildings themselves are saturated in history; with high ceilings and outer features to add to the experience of visiting. Libraries across Glasgow host various toddler’s storytelling sessions, children’s art activities and seasonal community events that can be found on their found on their website, along with an online catalogue and opening hours.
12. It’s the site of a Buddhist retreat
Towards Maryhill Park and the edge of the city’s boundary line, there lies the Glasgow Mindfulness Centre. Founded in 2003 by Theravada Buddhist monk Bhante, the centre provides Mindfulness courses for healthcare professionals, people interested in Mindfulness teachings, and as a social enterprise for local communities to affordably introduce them to the practice.
13. The community halls host wrestling matches
“I C DUB” is probably the opposite of a Buddhist retreat, but some folks would say it relaxes them! And contrary to the bad rep Maryhill is sometimes subjected to, at least more fights are happening in the ring these days.
14. It has a welcoming community spirit
Maryhill has many thriving community groups and centres in venues including the Community Central Halls, Woodside Halls, Avenuepark St and local gyms. These venues host many successful community led initiatives including Maryhill integration Network, Maryhill Hub, North West Women’s Centre, Ruchhill Learning Centre, dance groups and regeneration projects. Information about all these ongoing groups and more can be found on the Maryhill Directory.
15. Its local art galleries are walls
The murals of Maryhill Road are bountiful, steadfast and being added to every year. While the Community Central Halls near Queen’s Cross has a (still vibrant) mural dating back to the Glasgow cultural renaissance of 1990, graffiti artist Rogue One has added some new editions in the past year – check out our recent guide to see more of Glasgow’s decadent graffiti.
It’s hard to stay neutral on this one – Jaconelli may be one of the best cafes in Scotland, let alone Glasgow. With round, Formica coated tables, low, warm lighting and an effervescent fish tank, its gorgeous, classic diner decor has long caught the affection of the locals and proved a visual feast for film directors. It was made famous for its appearance in the iconic Trainspotting and is a firm fave for Partick Thistle fans flooding in on match day.
Fame and fondness among the Glaswegian population hasn’t gone to the owner’s heads, however, and it is still one of the most reasonably priced places to get a fry up and cup of tea in Glasgow. And if that’s not your thing, homemade ice cream might float your boat – especially if we tell you they’ve started making ice cream cookie sandwiches (including full list of recipes and ingredients if you’ve got special requirements)…it’s a thing that’s happening. Get on it.
17. Residents take pride in their gardens
Take a walk around North Kelvinside, Summerston and Woodside and you’ll immediately see various residents are immensely attentive towards their gardens. The names of these areas alone suggest that historically these built up areas were vast expanses of fields and woods before industrialization.
Even in the 21st century, locals are determined to keep this city dearly green, with community groups pulling together to tend to the hub of The Kelvin Meadow, and Maryhill Integration Network’s well loved community garden on Avenuepark Street, to name but a few. As our hectic lives become increasingly stressful, it seems a bit of outdoor therapy is a well tapped resource in Maryhill.
18. It’s got great park life
There are a few parks dispersed about Maryhill Road, including Ruchill (with a cracking view of the city on top of the hill), the big gravel pitch near Queen Margaret Drive (which hosts a funfair every summer for the kids), basketball courts, Dawsholm (where the Vet School holds a rodeo every year), and Maryhill Park itself, located to the north of the road.
We’re not suggesting you hang out there every night – if you go down to the woods you might find a bit more than a teddy bear’s picnic – but for a wee bit of dog walking or summer events for the kids, they scrub up awright!
19. Its neighbour is Queen Margaret Drive
Worthy of its own guide, Queen Margaret Drive is a short-but-sweet street which careers down the hill from Maryhill Road to the top of Byres Road. It’s an assorted mix of quirky craft and wool shops, cool cafes full of sumptuous cake, its own part in the West End Festival, and offers more peaceful saunters along the periphery of the Botanic Gardens. It’s a pleasure crossing the River Kelvin an a scenic detour if you’re out on a jog, even on a rainy day.
20. Who is Mary, anyway?
Is she a bird? Is she a plane? Mary, it turns out, is real and does not have a hill named after her, though in Glasgow there are no shortage of them. She was in fact a woman called Mary Hill (1730 – 1809), daughter of Hew Hill, who inherited the land within and surrounding Dawsholm Park from her father who had no male heirs to succeed him.
It turns out an acre of land which Mary and her husband found difficult to sell is still known as Acre today, and the location of the land she was attempting to sell confirms previous claims over where the mothership of Maryhill actually lies. G20: stop having an identity crisis.
21. The bus numbers are easy to remember…
When you’re going south, way out east or up Great Western Road, it’s easy to be bamboozled by bus routes, times and – most recently – numbers! With bus numbers transforming, and 62s becoming 2s without much forewarning, even the most savvy Glaswegians were struggling with where they were meant to be going.
But if you’re going to Maryhill Road, worry not! All that has to be done is to hop on a 60 or 61 (which has been servicing the area since the dawn of time…and buses). Or the 10. And the wee yellow bus is a 17. Which has different fares and timetables. You’ll figure it out!
22. …But it only has one train station.
While Maryhill Road is well serviced by buses, you may be hard pushed to find a rail link if you’re wanting to stay nearer town. The train station is, however, in Maryhill’s heartland towards Summerston and the vet school, and has a decent service.
23. The urban reptile Great Escape
Sometimes this happens…not to alarm anyone.
23. And finally…there’s a new pub in town
We’ll just leave the Facebook link for the Lockhouse here for you to calm your nerves.
Up and down the length of the road, this diverse, busy and long(!) set of neighbourhoods have loads to offer off the beaten path. As much as hairy/scary Maryhill has put up with a decades’ long ripping and a bad rep, its many residents are proud, stick together and know some good patter to answer you back with. And – much as many places in Glasgow prove – it can punch above its weight and rise above the negative press, with loads of new things to offer.
Main image: Maryhill Burgh Halls / Flickr / CC