Living in Crookston

Wendy Jack charts the past and present success of an active community

Look at a map of the Crookston area on Glasgow's South Side and you'll see it forms an approximate circle with Hillington, Cardonald, South Cardonald and Crookston Wood. The two arteries of Paisley Road West and the White Cart Water run parallel through its centre.

Crookston is undergoing a major regeneration with builders developing a number of sites while other plans are afoot to create a shopping centre, a four-star hotel and leisure complex and an 18-hole golf course.

This is very good news in an area conveniently placed for the city centre and with easy access to the central belt.

Crookston never became a village or a burgh in its own right. Originally part of Renfrewshire, it was incorporated into the City of Glasgow in 1926 and has a most interesting history of which many may be unaware.

Crookston Castle - Glasgow's only ancient monument and now radically reduced in size - dates from around 1400. It replaced a castle believed to have been founded during the twelfth century, probably built of wood.

What is fascinating about Crookston's history is its links - through the castle - with the Royal House of Stewart, whose homes were in the surrounding lands.

In 1168 Sir Robert de Croc received the lands of the Levern Valley from the High Steward of Scotland, probably for serving well in battle. He was given two conditions - to build a stronghold to maintain law and order and to organise a parish and build a church.

Crookston Castle was the stronghold. It occupied the same site as the present building with the ordinary people living in turf huts around it.

Little is known of the prescribed church, although a twelfth-century chapel is believed to have existed. But de Croc did found a men's hostel on the banks of the Levern Water between Crookston and Barrhead. Possibly run by the priests of the church as part of their parish duties, history acknowledges the hostel as one of Scotland's earliest recorded hospitals.

Later, for five or six generations, Crookston Castle became home to the Stewarts, lords of Darnley. Their most famous member was Lord Henry Darnley who became the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

Many tales featuring Mary became legend, including that which said she watched the Battle of Langside from Crookston Castle. However, as Langside is invisible from the site, that one has been discredited; history has recorded her viewpoint as Court Knowe in Cathcart.

Crookston's change from rural to urban community was mainly due to the building of the railway and later the tramways.

First to reach Cardonald in 1841 was the Glasgow and Greenock Railway followed by the building of the Canal Line and the opening of Crookston station in 1885. This encouraged people to build large villas in Ralston Avenue.

About 1877 Rosshall House was built on an estate off Crookston Road by the Cowan family who were involved in the building of the Paisley Canal Line for Glasgow and South Western Railway. They lived there until 1908 when the Lobnitz family, dredger builders in Renfrew, took over the estate.

Glasgow Corporation bought Rosshall Estate in 1948, leasing the house to Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College which later used it as the highly regarded Scottish Hotel School. The grounds were taken over by the city's parks department which opened them to the public in 1965.

By 1982 the college had become Rosshall House, part of Strathclyde University, and was bought for use as a private hospital.

The Western Heritable Company built houses to rent in the early 1930s which began Crookston's real evolution.