A Walk on the Woodside

Gairbraid St, c.1910.  Record # C1847, Virtual Mitchell

Cataloguing my family history research and specific locations for the maternal side of my family who lived in and around the Maryhill area of Glasgow from the early 1870s to the 1960s, I noticed with interest how they tended to remain within this specific area of Glasgow for generations. Places such as Cameron St, Abington St, Doncaster St, Scotia St, New City Rd, Garscube Rd, Windsor St and Maryhill Rd to name a few of the locations within the north of Glasgow were mentioned in the statutory registers, census returns and the valuation rolls of my maternal family through close to 100 years.

Multiple generations were born, and some died, often of infant mortality, within the same tenement flat. My grandfather, great grandmother and two great grand aunts were all born and lived at various times in the same flat in Cameron St. The place of birth of multiple siblings can sometimes reveal a different location of birth but it's often a tenement next door, suggesting a bigger flat became necessary once the family grew.  Families often changed accommodation with their parents, with parents moving into the place previously located by the growing family, and with the family then residing in their parent's flat.

102-114 Maryhill Rd, 1936. Record # C5016, Virtual Mitchell

With marriage certificates providing the usual address of each party, we see again people marrying someone close by such as someone from Abington St marrying someone from Cameron St or New City Rd marrying someone from Windsor St.  This closeness of location suggests that the parties knew each other through school or by living within the same neighbourhood, as often the usual residence of both parties listed on the marriage certificate were tenement closes next door to each other or streets next to each other, or possibly by attending the same church or community gathering. Once married, they remained within the area of their birth in places, such as Doncaster St and Cameron St.

Napiershall Public School, Napiershall St, c.1916. Record # C7470, Virtual Mitchell

Census returns offer a great insight into the movement of families through the generations, especially if they remain within the same locality and families are recorded on each 10-year census return.  We see families living as one household on a return and 10 years later away from the family home but living with their husband or wife and children within the same tenement building or very close by. This pattern is repeated generation after generation.  The 1911 census for a section of Cameron street in Maryhill reveals that my great grandparents and their daughter lived in one flat, my great great grandmother and my great grandfather’s siblings were in another, and various other great grand aunts and uncles living within the same tenement building.  Did they all grieve together as wife, mother, brothers and sisters four years later, hearing of the death of my great grandfather in the First World War?  

34-38 Cameron St, 1964. Record # C8849, Virtual Mitchell

A sad side to this research is the frequency of infant mortality, with many children dying aged between eight months and four years old. Often the cause of death was something that one would not expect to die of today, suggesting poverty and living conditions being a contributing factor. Maybe this is the reason why many of these locations which play an important part in my family history are now sadly gone, or the original tenements are no longer standing having been demolished in the 1960s.  Cameron St, Abington St and Scotia Streets are gone.  Of all the streets or more so buildings linked to my past, there is only one still standing and that is in Firhill St. Historical family tenements in New City Rd, Garscube Rd, Gairbraid St, Windsor St, Hopehill Rd and Cedar St are all gone too.

Garscube Rd, 1966. Record # C3678, Virtual Mitchell

From a place so constant and familiar to generations of my family for nearly 100 years, it would be almost unrecognisable to them if they were here today.  Thankfully, through genealogical sources and family history research, these places remain recognisable to me.

What would you be interested in learning about the locations where your family used to live in?





  1. Enjoyed reading your blog. My family were from roughly the same area as yours and like your grandfather, my great uncle was in the HLI and did not return from the war. He does not have a grave either but is memorialised at Arras. I too am interested in the numerous moves of address within this area, but my family also moved to different areas of Scotland, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire and even England in one case. I'm guessing they moved with the work. However most ended up back in cowcaddens or maryhill, which is where I grew up also. I look forward to your next post with interest.


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