In terms of housing, the areas that make up the present East Renfrewshire have had many changes over the years. Many of the present towns started out as small farm holdings, which developed over time into towns and villages. The introduction of industry to towns like Neilston, Thornliebank and Busby, for example, in the form of the mills and the print works, brought about an increase in population as people came to these areas looking for work. It was important, therefore, for housing to be built to accommodate the increasing number of workers. Mill and print work owners often had housing built for their workers. In a similar way the village of Uplawmoor was primarily an estate village for workers on the Caldwell Estate.

One of the greatest developments then, in East Renfrewshire, was in the area of housing, especially in the 1930's and 1950's. In 1919 the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, had pioneered "homes for heroes" for the men returning from the First World War. Lord Weir commented on what he regarded as a serious housing crisis in the 1920's "the present shortage of working class houses is not only a national calamity...but a pressing national danger". Weir's attempt to address that problem was to experiment with pre-fabricated, steel housing in an effort to produce more affordable homes. A Weir steel cottage was built in Eastwood Park in May 1944; the building is now a ruin. This reflects the period after World War II when a new housing crisis was the catalyst to start a drive to provide affordable housing.

Burnside Terrace, Busby, c.1910 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


One of the first housing schemes was in Arthurlie Street, Barrhead. This is in contrast to the kind of houses people lived in before the housing schemes were built, e.g. cottages and low tenements. Large families and shortage of money in those days meant houses were often overcrowded.

By 1902, Paisley Road in Barrhead had a row of red sandstone buildings erected by the Barrhead Co-op Society, which had a shop on the ground floor and offices on the second floor.


In Mearns the story was slightly different. The 1930's were the age of the bungalow and in the Mearns district Mactaggart and Mickel built the exclusive Broom estate. All during these years, villas were being built along main streets such as Kilmarnock Rd. House building increased after the Second World War when the private builders (e.g. Lawrence, Mactaggart and Mickel, Dickson, etc.) started to provide many more houses for sale and mortgages became more available to working class people.

Through the 1960's the whole stretch between Eastwood Toll and Mearns Cross became built up. However, during the same decade, the old cottages that formed the village of Mearns were demolished to make way for the new Mearns Cross Shopping Centre, some say, destroying the old heart of Mearns.


While Mearns saw a boom in the building of bungalows in the 1930's, Eaglesham saw a decline and deterioration of the old village at that time. There had been a decline of industry in Eaglesham towards the end of the 19th century and a reduction in population. Eaglesham had gone from an industrial, bustling village back to a quiet country village. At the beginning of the 20th century it was this very lack of industry and village feel, which attracted many Glaswegians to take up summer and permanent residence in the village. By the late 1930's, however, Eaglesham contained so many dilapidated buildings that a Renfrewshire Councillor put forward a proposal that the whole village should be bulldozed and replaced with a council housing scheme. The intervention of the Second World War caused the shelving of any such plans.

In housing in Scotland generally, there was a move to buy and improve houses; this trend was also reflected in Eaglesham and lead to the village being declared a Conservation Area in 1960. It was recognised as being an outstanding and extremely well preserved example of an 18th century planned village. From the 1950's cottages and houses have been restored in Eaglesham and the gaps sites filled in. There was even a Glasgow-type Edwardian tenement block, the Coronation Buildings, which was felt to be out of harmony with the planned village and was demolished to make way for homes for the elderly.

The Planned Village

The planned village was initiated in 1769 - "a new town upon a very extensive and elegant plan" - by the owner at the time of the Eaglesham Estate, Alexander Montgomerie, the 10th Earl of Eglinton.

The planned village replaced the old kirktoun, which was centred round an ancient mote hill.

The kirktoun had been at the centre of a community of scattered farm hamlets or "ferm-touns" as they were known. In the 1750's there were about 126 of these ferm-touns in the parish of Eaglesham and the kirktoun had around 25 houses.

The village was planned in the shape of the letter "A" and it is the retention of this individual plan and the 18th century style of building, without distracting intrusions, which make Eaglesham historically and architecturally important. Planned villages were not uncommon between the years 1735 and 1850 in Scotland, mainly due to the changes in agricultural organisation and technology. The change towards new enclosed farms and new methods of farming produced a surplus of rural labour force and planned villages were created partly to rehouse some of this excess labour. Some of this surplus labour may have moved into the other trades that were emerging, for example, weaving.

As part of Alexander Montgomerie's plan the land was sectioned into single and double tacks and let on 900-year leases. The tacksmen (tenants) had to adhere strictly to building specifications, they had to be erected within five years and adhere to a minimum size.

Modern Eaglesham

The 18th century planned village, consisting of the "A" layout of the two streets, Polnoon and Montgomery, with the Orry in-between, is still recognisable on modern maps. Over the years, with the increasing population in nearby East Kilbride and the proximity of Eaglesham to the A77 Glasgow - Kilmarnock Road, the volume of traffic passing through Eaglesham to join the A77 had increased to an intolerable level, threatening the tranquillity of the village and causing serious pollution. The new Orbital Road, opened on April 2005, has addressed this problem through bypassing the village completely, restoring Eaglesham to something like its former self. There is now less chance of the village falling back into disrepair and decay due to the efforts that have been made to retains its sense of community and history, evident through the redirection of traffic away from the village and the listing of the village as a Conservation area.


The village of Thornliebank was first developed industrially in 1778 when Robert Osburn, a linen printer, attracted to the area because of the pure water supply, leased a piece of land and founded the first printfield. Osburn was the catalyst for the beginning of a workers' village and by 1789, a little street of cottages was in existence and there were a few two-storey buildings. This little hamlet of Thornliebank was in the area, which was later developed as mills, on the boundary between Thornliebank and Crosslees farm, and not the area of the present day Main Street.

John Crum then bought the premises for his sons, Alexander and James, to accommodate their expanding calico printing business based in Gallowgate, Glasgow. The success of the Crum brothers' business brought about a huge rise in the number of workers employed in the village, from 50 employed by Osburn's business in the latter half of the eighteenth century, to 847 employed by the Crums in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The health of the Thornliebank villagers was generally better than others, possibly the result of a sewage system installed by Alexander Crum, which provided good sanitation. The houses were said to be very comfortable and they also had gas and water installed. Alexander was also responsible for the planting of many trees and the employment of a village doctor. Mrs Crum, in contrast, arranged for the stairs at the front of one building block to be moved to the back to prevent gossiping villagers staring at her as she passed in her carriage.

In 1893, plans for new blocks of houses, consisting of two rooms and kitchen, were submitted by the Directors of the Company, for approval. The Crums had a great influence on many aspects of village life, as well as good housing, they were responsible for the provision of educational and recreational facilities in the village; they built the village hall and public baths, village park and library, and were associated with the building of the Thornliebank School in 1875.

When the printworks closed in 1929, Thornliebank itself lost a major part of its identity. The Third Statistical Account of 1959 reports "the village is overshadowed by the large, gloomy, walled, semi-derelict print works on which the village of Thornliebank was once dependent". Despite this, the village continued to grow. By 1951, 75% of the houses in the village were built from 1926 onwards, almost one-third of them by the local authority. In the 1930's, 630 private houses were built by Mactaggart and Mickel. In the 1950's, the Woodfarm Housing Estate was built by the local authority. From 1971 to 1977, 107 sub-standard private houses were demolished (properties on Kennishead Road, North Park and Campsie Terraces). At the same time 114 new local authority houses and 5 new private houses were built. There was a change of emphasis from the private to the public sector, unusual in the context of the Eastwood District as whole at the time, where 90% of the houses were privately owned. 


In 1854, Busby was a thriving and significant textile village with a population of well over a thousand.

The growth of the village we know today began towards the end of the eighteenth century and grew rapidly during the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the arrival of the textile industry in Scotland and its boom in the nineteenth century.

The cotton mill and print field workers had to be housed and the cotton mill and calico printwork owners had houses built for them; these were largely two-storeyed terraces, usually referred to as Lands. Wallace Land, Nelson's Land, Lang Land, West Land, Carswell's Land were owned by the cotton mill owners and housed their workforce, whereas, Church Land, Struther's Land, Printer's Land, among others, housed the printfield workers. Two-storeyed terraces were also built in Burnside Terrace, now Riverside Terrace, and Durham Terrace. These workers' terraces were demolished to make way for various new developments including the widening of Busby Road Bridge over the River Cart.

Some cotton mill workers were housed at Smithy Row, a two-storey cottage terrace with a thatched roof, which was situated where Lower Mill Road is today. The Lower Mill, where they worked, would have been only 100 yards or so from their doors.

The introduction of the railway to Busby, brought there mainly as a requirement of the flourishing textile industry, contributed to Busby's growth by bringing Glasgow merchants to the village. They came to Busby to raise fine sandstone villas and rear their families in the peaceful and picturesque surroundings of the village. Most of these merchants' villas were situated on the Lanarkshire side of the Cart, removed from the terraces of the mill workers in Busby village. These sandstone villas and the now mature trees planted at the time led to the designation of parts of the East Kilbride section of Busby as a Conservation Area.

In 1904, the "Pollokshaws News" commented on Busby's suitability as a residential area, also recommending it as suitable for people with lung complaints. The easy access to Glasgow combined with the pure air made Busby, the writer suggests, an ideal spot to build houses.

Two notable houses worthy of mention are both called Busby House. One, situated in Field Road and originally built in 1796, was commissioned by Durham Kippen, local landowner and owner of the Bleachworks, in 1856 to be remodelled and extended by architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson. The building was sadly demolished in 1969 after having been derelict for some time. The other Busby House was a building set back from the Main Street and later known as Dr. Moore's home. Built in 1799, it seems to have been sold or rented, along with Busby Cotton Mills, as the mill owners or tenants are shown in the valuation rolls to be residing at the house.


The areas of Netherlee, Williamwood, Stamperland and Clarkston have a certain uniformity largely as a result of a "greenfield" house-building boom of the 1930's when housing joined these areas together. Prior to the twentieth century most of the Clarkston area was farmland, parkland and woodland.

Much of what we think of as Clarkston today was, in fact, part of the estate of Greenbank. It is known that the estate was well established before 1770; Greenbank House, which is now a grade "A" listed building, was built around 1763 for a Glasgow merchant Robert Allason. Typical of such successful merchants he invested some of his new made wealth in land and property. Greenbank House is a good example of a small country house of the period with Georgian features and combining the "Palladian" style with the "Scottish Baronial".

Another impressive house is Williamwood House, built in 1930, and overlooking the orchard of the old house. The house was built for George Urie Scott, a leading cinema proprietor who owned a chain of picture houses.

The population of Clarkston around 1854 was 180, it was a little country hamlet surrounded by farms and woodlands. In the second half of the nineteenth century, life and habitation centred on Clarkston Toll and the opening of the railway station played a major part in the growth of the town.

As mentioned previously Clarkston grew significantly in the 1920's and 30's due to the "Greenfield" building boom. In the early 1920's red sandstone terraces were built at Netherlee, Carolside Avenue and Clarkston Toll. In the 1930's the physical landscape of the area changed dramatically with the construction of over 3,000 private houses (80% of those in the whole area). The vast majority of these were either two-storey semi-detached villas or detached and semi-detached bungalows built to limited number of designs.

View of Stamperland Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

One of the first of these housing estates was Carolside Park, acquired from the Williamwood Estate by Mactaggart & Mickel Ltd, who had been associated with building in Clarkton since 1909. They built semi-detached homes and four-apartment bungalows. John Lawrence Ltd was another company involved in house building during the 1930's in Clarkston. The company bought 98 acres of land in Clarkston in the Williamwood area and a large housing development took place from Kilpatrick gardens up to Clarkston Centre, that is, the area bounded by the Williamwood to Whitecraigs and the Giffnock to Clarkston railway lines. Lawrence also built houses, semi-detached and terraced houses, at Stamperland. Another builder building at Stamperland was James Wright of Cathcart. John Dickie was another building firm operating in the area.

Another of these housing estates was called the Oval, built on the grounds of the former Stamperland Farm. Built in the 1930's these houses and the surrounding streets remain mainly unchanged and are very popular today as homes for families and commuters to Glasgow. The existence of these houses, built in the 1930's, still makes Clarkston a highly desirable place of residence, although the style of housing tends to be repetitive and some may say lacking in architectural interest.

Perhaps of more interest is MacLaren Place in Clarkston Road. The building, a long three-storey tenement with shops at ground level was built for John MacLaren Lochead, proprietor of the area of old Netherlee House in 1935. The building is notable for its combination of traditional Glasgow details with popular 1930's decorative details. The building is "B" listed.

The farmlands, woods and estates of the nineteenth century are long gone and the landscape has completely changed. No longer is Clarkston known for its rural outlook, but for the high quality of its houses and amenities. It has become a highly desirable area in which to live and now the areas of Netherlee, Williamwood, Stamperland and Clarkston have a common identity, which they did not have during the nineteenth century.