Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Gavin Stamp R.I.P.

January 23rd, 2018 No comments

by Andrew Greg

Gavin Stamp, who sadly died on 30 December 2017, was known to many of us in Strathbungo as a former neighbour and friend who was tireless in his rediscovery and promotion of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson as an architect of international importance. On the wider, even international, stage, he was a campaigner for architectural conservation, active in the Victorian Society and a co-founder and long-time chair of the Thirties, later Twentieth Century, Society. He was generous with his time to the Strathbungo Society, presenting a lively lecture on Thomson at one of our at one of our AGMs and being interviewed by the Strathbungo News in Autumn 1996.

Gavin was the voice behind the ‘Nooks and Corners’ column in Private Eye, succeeding John Betjeman, and a regular contributor to Apollo, the Spectator and Architectural Review. Charles Jencks called him “Pithy, succinct, elegant, opinionated and analytical with a strong sense and knowledge of history.”

Gavin Stamp at home (2013). Photo:

Gavin Stamp at home (2013). Photo:

He was born in 1948 and came to Glasgow in 1990 to lecture in architectural history at Glasgow School of Art. A pupil in history of art of David Watkin at Cambridge, his youthful conservatism had soon broadened into a wider appreciation of most aspects of 19th and 20th century architecture and the built environment. As one of the ‘New Georgians’ of the 1980s he combined his tweeds with radical conservationism. Ian Martin tweeted that he was “The only bloke I ever met with a pocket watch who wasn’t a wanker”. For further insight into his desired lifestyle see

Gavin was a brilliant and inspiring unscripted lecturer, indefatigable tour leader and author of much-admired books ranging from scholarly works on George Gilbert Scott and Edward Lutyens, especially his recent study of Lutyens’ ‘Memorial to the Missing of the Somme’, to several glossy coffee-table books of old architectural photographs, lost buildings and  townscapes, in which he could rail against developers and politicians. Most familiar to us will be his ground-breaking books on Alexander Thomson.

In Glasgow, while he was looking for a place to live, Thomson’s neglected home at 1 Moray Place came up for sale. He later regretted the “starry-eyed” enthusiasm that caused him to buy it without the funds to restore it. Indeed, the Evening Times infamously criticised him for his neglect. He did however research and publish its eccentric window mechanisms and in 2001 he put a new roof on the house to keep the water out.

His energies went into his family and into founding the Alexander Thomson Society in 1991 – of which the Strathbungo Society is a proud member. He was an active participant in Glasgow’s successful bid to be the UK City of Architecture and Design, 1999 and indeed hosted several meetings in the drawing room of 1 Moray Place.  He wrote and edited the two definitive books on Thomson, and helped organise the seminal exhibition ‘Thomson – the Unknown Genius’ during Glasgow’s reign as UK City of Architecture and Design. Previously he had orchestrated the saving of Thomson’s Holmwood House for the nation.

Gavin’s contribution to architectural history and architectural conservation is immense, on the national scale through his books and articles, campaigns and pressure groups, on the city scale in Glasgow where he championed not only Thomson but Glasgow’s magnificent Victorian buildings, and at the local level by saving individual buildings – and of course ensuring that Giles Gilbert Scott’s red telephone boxes were listed and protected.  It is somehow fitting that one of Scott’s telephone boxes is located adjacent to Gavin’s former home at 1 Moray Place, and where it may yet still be the focus for a guide to Thomson’s work in Glasgow’s Southside.  Indeed, 1-10 Moray Place was described by the great American architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock “with little question the finest of all nineteenth century terraces … and one of the world’s most superb pieces of design based on Greek precedent”.

It was Gavin Stamp, more than anyone, who helped the world better appreciate Thomson’s genius, something that we mark here.

Andrew Greg

Barrs Land

January 10th, 2018 2 comments

I wonder if anyone knows if there is still anywhere in Strathbungo that may give an indication where Barrs Lands was?  Family lived there and Edmistons Lands (Edmiston Road area presumably) and 3 generations worked for the brickworks (carters) then moved to live and work at Polmadie (dairyman and 2 firemen (railway I am presuming).

Any relevant info or guidance would be welcome.

I am not very sure about finding my way around the site as yet!

Thank you


The Alexander Thomson Society

January 5th, 2018 No comments

The Strathbungo Society agreed last year to affiliated to the Alexander Thomson Society  and, for those who are interested, there is lots of information in their New Year message about what they do.  “The renowned architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson designed 1-10 (Moray Place), and lived at No 1. He did not design any further buildings in Moray Place or the Squares, however, although the Titwood Place and Salisbury Quadrant tenements in Nithsdale Road and Nithsdale Drive were probably built to his design.”  (

Happy New Year from The Alexander Thomson Society!

Happy New Year from The Alexander Thomson Society!

Thanks to all who participated in our 2017 events or organised ones of their own. It was unquestionably a special year for the Society.
We had talks from Fiona Sinclair, Professor Dean Hawkes, Gary Paul, Gary Nisbet, Sally White, Mark Baines, Scott Abercrombie and Paul Stallan, to which we had over 850 tickets booked and over 50% sold out. Beyond this, we also delivered a number of talks and guided tours to other Societies across Scotland, and participated in events such as Doors Open Days and the Southside Fringe.


Our annual programme of Guided Walks led by Roger Guthrie was expanded this year and proved as successful as always. We owe thanks to SPAB Scotland who partnered with us for a trip to Rothesay, and Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis who ran Thomson specific tours throughout the year. We are also immensely grateful to the owners of Thomson’s residential buildings who opened up their homes over the course of two weekends for the fully booked ‘Get Into Thomson’ tours. Holmwood House and the National Trust for Scotland contributed a plethora of events to our calendar for the year, and continued to deliver the faithful restoration of Thomson’s masterpiece of villa design. Whilst Glasgow City Free Church who worship in Thomson’s St Vincent Street Church held a special memorial service to mark the anniversary of Thomson’s birth.


We organised two exhibitions this year, the first a celebration of the entries to our Double Villa Competition in the Lighthouse. The Double Villa competition had over 100 entrants sign up, with registrants from every continent except Antartica. The second was our ‘Lines of Thought’ exhibition, a significant display of original Thomson drawings alongside surveys and interpretations of his works by others. During its seven-week run it was visited by over 11,000 people.


Exhibitions of Thomson’s work were also held elsewhere, including Historic Environment Scotland’s exhibition at the Engine Shed and one at Balfron Library organised by the brilliant Balfron Heritage Group. We also held an online exhibition of sorts, with our ongoing ‘Takes on Thomson’ project which drew a vast array of creative reimaginings of Thomson’s work. Featured in this were pieces by Marion Gardyne who exhibited her Thomson inspired artworks at a variety of venues over the year, whilst a contribution is currently in progress by Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw who led Thomson-inspired stencil workshops with Glasgow City Heritage Trust.


Thomson was featured on TV and in print throughout the year, but the most significant of these was the fantastic new documentary commissioned by the BBC, clips from which can be seen here.


We are hugely indebted to the support of the BBC, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Free Church, National Trust for Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art, GIA, The Mitchell Library, Southside Fringe, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, The Lighthouse amongst many many others for their support and in-kind contributions over the course of the last year. But most of all we have the thank our membership for their ongoing commitment to raising the profile of ‘Glasgow’s Master Builder’.


Sadly the year ended with the loss of the greatest champion of Greek Thomson’s legacy, Dr Gavin Stamp. Gavin was our founding chairman and a Thomson fanatic. During his tenure with the Society he oversaw the publication of three books on Thomson’s work, the largest retrospective exhibition of his work ever held, and played a major part in campaigns to save his buildings. His passion and enthusiasm converted many to his belief that Thomson was one of Glasgow’s greatest architects, whilst the righteous anger he brought to the lectern and his writings emphasised the need for action to protect his threatened buildings. Gavin put it mildly when he said that upon arriving in Glasgow he noticed that “Thomson was a great architect who needed some help”. Thomson received that and more from Gavin, who, amongst his many accomplishments, was instrumental in organising the purchase of Holmwood House by the National Trust for Scotland, and its protection for future generations. He leaves behind a noble and vital legacy that focused in part on the preservation of the legacies of others. We are immensely grateful that as a Society we were able to benefit from his sharp wit, his brilliant intellect and his tireless commitment for so many years.


Looking towards 2018 we hope to build on the renewed momentum of the Society by focussing on delivering new publications, an exhibition of entries to our Takes on Thomson project, and carrying out new research. We hope to improve our website by adding a catalogue of Thomson’s buildings and designs, his lectures, and archive drawings. Whilst we will also continue our ongoing casework, our annual lecture series, and guided walks.


To those who are not yet members, please consider joining the Society for only £20 per year (£1.67 per month). Member benefits include copies of our journal, free access to our lectures and early access to tickets for special events. Information on how to join can be found here.


Thank you again to all who participated in our 2017 events, and we hope to see you all again in 2018!

Brighter Bungo – this coming Sunday January 7th

January 1st, 2018 No comments

brighter bungo poster

Where: Gather at junction of Moray Place and Nithsdale Road

Time: 11.00 to 13.00 hrs

When: Sunday 7 January

Bungo at the Bells: TONIGHT at 11.45pm!

December 31st, 2017 No comments

Just a reminder that we will meet for our annual Hogmanay event at the corner of Moray Place and Queen Square at 11.45pm!

Strathbungo Society response to Glasgow City Fire and Rescue Plan

December 1st, 2017 No comments

New Fire and Rescue Plans are being adopted across Scotland and a consultation on Glasgow’s is open until the 10th December (see here for all documents and online response form).   As a member of the Glasgow Community Planning Partnership the Society was consulted and considered the plan at our last meeting.  The response we submitted is pasted below and raises points about the provision of fire stations, access to the back lanes, the implications of the Grenfell fire disaster and fire safety in conservation areas.

The committee is keen to engage in more consultations in future and would welcome any feedback people may have.

Strathbungo Society response to Local Fire and Rescue Plan for the City of Glasgow 

The Strathbungo Society is delighted to have been asked to respond to this plan and more particularly that the Fire and Rescue Service is consulting local communities about the role of the Fire and Rescue Service.

We believe there are many positive proposals to the plan and are particularly pleased to see that the Fire and Rescue Service is keen to join up what it does with other services and make the most of the resources it has.  Two excellent examples of this are the proposals for how the Fire and Rescue Service could assist with responses to cardiac arrest in the city and how, when making fire safety checks, staff could also help people, particularly older people, identify other hazards in the home.  This is sound joined up thinking.

We have four major concerns about the plan.

  1. The Plan says nothing about the provision of fire stations in Glasgow. We are concerned that the success the fire brigade has had in reducing the impact of fires (eg domestic fire safety) and therefore reduction in demand could lead to demands or proposals to reduce the number of fire stations in the name of efficiency.   We accept efficiencies should be considered but from a community perspective, knowing that the fire and rescue service is there – even if never called upon – not just for fires but for major emergencies is one of the foundations for community safety and we do not think that should be reduced in any way.  Far better the fire service extends the way it uses its resources (as in proposals above to extend its role) than to cut them.
  2. The Fire and Rescue service should review how it best services effective access to Strathbungo’s / Glasgow’s narrow streets and lanes. A recent bin fire in the lanes behind Moray Place / Regent Park Square was inaccessible to the fire engine that attended.  More than one car was parked and blocking the entry to the lane from Nithsdale Road.  Luckily the fire was not too far down the lane, so the fire officers were able to run a hose to the blaze and extinguish it.  The incident could have been a far worse.  However, it illustrates two problems; one the public safety issue of vehicles blocking entrances to lanes which could be addressed by council traffic and parking control.  Traffic wardens are rarely seen in the area so making sure the area is on their radar would be a first step. (a matter for the Police?); Secondly the possibility for the Fire Service to consider the use of smaller fire engines / vehicles to allow it to effectively attend via narrow roads and tenement back lanes, of which there are many right across Glasgow and Scotland’s major cities and towns.  This issue is similar to that faced by the City Council’s cleansing services who now provide smaller vehicles to undertake the service rather than much larger vehicles.


  1. We are surprised that there is absolutely no mention of the Grenfell Fire and the implications this has for fire safety in the city, particularly when we know there has been extensive survey of buildings which it is reasonable to expect the fire service to take a view on. The commitment in the plan to “Working in partnership to ensure the appropriate provision of fire safety standards are incorporated in new premises under construction or premises undergoing material changes” does NOT go far enough. Some buildings need to be improved whether other material changes are happening or not.   We would like to see the fire service actively developing and arguing for further fire safety measures in a range of buildings across the city and part of this should be the retrofitting of sprinkler systems into tower blocks and public buildings that so far lack them. In addition, this could also usefully include a new policy of paid-for fire safety checks of Airbnb properties, particularly where these are in effect operating as short-term lets and other non-statutory forms of multiple occupation.
  2. How the Fire and Rescue service best promotes fire safety in tenement, terraced and Conservation Areas. We believe the Fire and Rescue Service has an important role to play in finding solutions to how modern fire safety measures can be made compatible with conservation objectives and in traditional tenement and terrace properties.  For example, the requirement for fire doors in some properties has resulted in the removal of fine old wooden doors.   We cannot see why doors cannot be created which meet both fire safety requirements and reflect the character of the original architecture.   Similarly, Victorian houses / flats are poorly insulated by modern standards, and there are risks that in addressing this private and third sector operators may be using unsafe materials / methods (as in Grenfell fire) or else the materials and the way they are used destroy the character of the house.  Therefore, we would like the fire service to consider its role in relation to wider objectives such as ensuring the fire safety of tenements and terraced houses in conservation areas – such as Strathbungo and Pollokshields – and its role in reducing fuel poverty.

Other comments we would make are:

  1. We agree with the analysis that much deliberate fire setting is of rubbish and fly tipping. A contributory factor to this has been the failure of Council refuse services to clear bulk items timeously (or at fixed times) with the result that items can lie on the streets or back lanes for prolonged period, in fact weeks.  A proportion of these are then set alight.   We would request therefore that the fire service adds its voice to local communities in making the case for improved refuse and especially bulk uplift collection.
  2. We also recognise that risks of fire within houses is likely to increase due to the forecast increase in numbers of people with dementia and the numbers of people with dementia living at home and these risks may further increase due to the escalation in mental health problems within society. This causes great concern for relatives and neighbours and we believe the fire service has a key role in developing effective preventive measures and besides sitting on Community Planning Partnerships needs to be at the table for Health and Social Care Partnerships.
  3. We understand the Fire and Rescue service shares our concern about misuse of fireworks. They have highlighted the practical difficulties of a ban on retail sales but seek their agreement in principle to support a community-wide initiative to explore a solution based on legislation and a programme of social interaction to address the causes


We welcome the commitment of the Fire and Rescue service to our local area partnerships in Glasgow and believe the issues we have highlighted here provide many good reasons why the Fire and Rescue Service should spend time interfacing with other services and local communities.

Beware – burglars about!

November 28th, 2017 No comments

Without wishing to raise undue alarm…

There has been a spate of burglaries recently (both in Moray Place and across the railway line). They appear to be targeting specific properties known to be empty (even if only during the working day). The burglars have been disturbed on at least two occasions.

Please take extra care to protect your premises and deter these folk! You will find plenty of advice here.

Pollokshields Heritage winter lectures

November 13th, 2017 No comments


Website upgrade

November 1st, 2017 No comments

Our hosting company will be updating the server where our website lives so the site may be unavailable over the next few hours (1 November).

On phone boxes, websites, social media and the next year…

October 27th, 2017 No comments

At the Strathbungo Society AGM on Tuesday 24th October, as well as the usual annual reports and a fascinating insight into Bygone Bungo, we held discussions on a variety of subjects at different tables. We asked each table to provide the top 3 or 4 points from their discussions, so here they are:

The coming year

  1. Promote the Society as a support / platform for folks in the community who want to do things – from setting up a book club or lunch club to a community dining event etc; we’ve got contacts, seed-money (perhaps), social media and web presence to help folks realise their ideas.
  2. Let the wider community know when there are important, formal consultations on the go: the Society successfully lobbied the Boundary Commission for Scotland to get Strathbungo into the same UK parliamentary constituency as Pollokshields (as it is for Council and Scottish election); no one else in Strathbungo commented (or knew about it).
  3. Think about a community-based Christmas giving event: ideas included working with a local choir to sing carols and use it to seek donations to local food banks. Or (ditto) hiring Pollok Park’s Clydesdale horses to do a Christmas ”trot about” up and down the Squares and Gardens.
  4. Other ideas: more arts stuff at Bungo in the Lanes, even working with artists to create artworks; get a box junction at the entrance to Moray Place to enable freer access; encourage flower planting in the lanes …

The phone box

Aka the “Bungo Booth”?

  1. All agreed this would need a flexible design and organisation that could allow it to be used by many different local groups, organisations, business (and for us to be able to link in with them).
  2. Popular on the survey and in the group was an information panel on local history / Greek Thomson… Discussed possibly of this being on external solid side of booth as a permanent display allowing rest of booth to be used as a multi-purpose space.
  3. Potential uses: book exchange, bike station, pop up shops / events, art exhibition / installation, tool library, greenhouse, starting point for architecture / local history trails / running groups. Hire for use would be nominal amount to cover running costs.

Web presence

  1. Make better use of social media: need to be much more active e.g. use our own Facebook page more, post in the Strathbungo & Shawlands Community group, use Twitter and Instagram?
  2. Rethink website (aka The Bungo Blog): need to think about who uses it and why, keep the blog (not everyone is on Facebook), think about what information newcomers to the area need/want to know.
  3. Check out other community websites as examples: e.g. Pollokshields Heritage & others

Feel free to add your thoughts here, or to comment on our Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who came and took part!