Parks

Cowan Park, Barrhead

A plaque at the lodge at the entrance to the park records that the park was the bequest of James Cowan of Rosshall in 1910. Rosshall is the mansion James built at Crookston, presently a hospital. His landscaped garden is now a public park. James Cowan was born in Barrhead where his father ran a small hotel. Though he started a haulage business with one horse and cart, it grew rapidly when he became a railway contractor and he ultimately made a fortune. Cowan Park was officially opened on King George V's Coronation Day when a children's treat was laid on by John & Joseph Turner of Parkhall.

One woman only is mentioned in the War Memorial, Rebecca McFarlane, daughter of the Gateside Laundry manager and a nurse in the First World War. An avenue of lime trees to the left of the bandstand was gifted by provost Andrew Shanks to mark the Coronation in 1953. The Playing Field area was once Barrhead Aerodrome (1909-1911) and beyond is Dubbs Farm, once a Maxwell possession for 560 years.

Eastwood Park, Giffnock

The 19th century mansion house set in Eastwood Park is in the former estate of Lord Weir, formerly that of the Earls of Eglinton. In 1845 Thomas Smith bought land and the house was built some time after that. In 1864 the estate passed to Joseph Wakefield of Inglis & Wakefield who had taken over the Busby Printworks. In the 1880's and 90's the owner was David Tod, of Tod & McGregor Engineering, who had the house enlarged in 1893 by a bow window and new entrance.

Lord Weir bought the estate in 1914 at a time when Giffnock was still rural and had not yet been engulfed by the advances of Glasgow. It was described as a, "solid, Victorian mansion". Entrance gates to the park were presented to Lord Weir after 1945. Laurel and Hardy were there to open a fete after the war as well as Danny Kaye. In 1968, Renfrew County Council acquired the estate. The Mansion House was completely renovated and opened by Viscount Muirshiel in 1971.

Although for most of its history Eastwood Park has been a private estate, it is now best known for its prestigious Recreation Centre, fine theatre and modern Council offices. The most recent building in Eastwood Park is St. Ninians Roman Catholic High School, which was officially opened in 1985. The Mansion House, better known as Eastwood House, is a venue that can be hired for weddings, private functions and events.

Rouken Glen Park, Giffnock

The lands of Rouken Glen Park originally belonged to the Scottish Crown and then to the Earls of Eglinton. It takes its name from the old Rock End Meal Mill in the Glen.

Walter Crum of Thornliebank Printworks purchased the estate, originally known as Birkenshaw Estate, from a Glasgow merchant and the Mansion House, originally called Birkenshaw House, was reconstructed during that year. Alexander Crum made many alterations to the house in 1879 and changed its name to Thornliebank House. One of Alexander Crum's hobbies was landscape gardening and he was responsible for the layout of Rouken Glen. On Alexander's death in 1893, the house passed into the hands of his brother, William Graham Crum, who eventually sold the estate to Archibald Cameron Corbett, MP (later Lord Rowallan) on 19th May 1905.

In 1906, Lord Rowallan gifted the estate and house to the "citizens" of Glasgow for all time. It was then that it was decided to call the park "Rouken Glen Park" after the old mill, which had once stood there.

Rouken Glen officially opened on Saturday 25th May 1906. The tramlines were extended from Glasgow to Rouken Glen in 1908 and a visit to the park proved to be very popular outing as it still is today. The park was used as a military base and soldiers were billeted in the mansion house during the Second World War. As a result the house fell into disrepair and was demolished.

One early building does still stand, Birkenshaw Cottage, which is believed to have been at one time the regular summer residence of a Glasgow architect and his family. His daughter, the infamous Madeleine Smith, stood trial in 1857 accused of poisoning her French lover. The verdict was not proven and Madeleine emigrated to America. Birkenshaw Cottage still stands and has been used as a popular tearoom since the early years of the twentieth century. Today it is a poplular Chinese Restaurant. There are photos of families in their finery enjoying their refreshments outside the Tea Rooms.

From the early 1900's until after World War I entertainers performed in the Entertainment Hall in the Queen Mary Tea Gardens in the park. Tickets could be purchased in advance or were available free on tramcars from Paisley. Concerts were also regularly performed several nights a week during the summer season. These concerts were attended by people in their hundreds.

Rouken Glen is, and always has been, a very popular park. There was an outcry when plans to close the park in 1983 were announced. Fortunately, negotiations between the two District Councils involved resulted in Eastwood District leasing the park for 125 years from 16th June 1984. Today the park is as popular as it was in the early days of the twentieth century. The garden centre, tearooms, boating pond and swing park mean there is something for everyone.

The remainder of the Glen, with its wildlife, trees, waterfall, beautiful walks, is still there to be enjoyed by all, just as they have been since Lord Rowallan's generous gift.

In May 2006, students at Strathclyde University created a website on Rouken Glen as part of their coursework, using photographs from East Renfrewshire's archive collection. Have a look at the Rouken Glen website to see many more interesting facts and photos on Rouken Glen.