Nitshill Memories “Childhood & Teenage Years”

The History

Nitshill Memories

“Childhood & Teenage Years”

The next generation of the Love family,
1976, in their Gran’s back garden in Pollok - Tracy, Jim, Cheryl & Steven

Submitted by Janette Aitken

Janette remembers playing outside playing most of the time. They played hide and seek, rounders, peever, skipping ropes, Chinese ropes, hitting a ball in a stocking against the wall, and they played shops and put on concerts. She went to the Brownies and Girl Guides in the Baptist Church at the park, which runs along to Crookston Road. She cannot remember what that area was called but it ran all the way up to Nitshill Road. There was a youth club at Craigbank for a while. There was a swimming pool in Shawlands and also in Craigbank Secondary, which was used by the public on a Thursday night. However, Janette commented that, if you did not have a swimming costume then you could not go swimming, and she did not have one. When she was a teenager, a dance was held at the old Chapel on Peat Road, which was run by the church. She remembers her new duffle coat being stolen from there. Her dad was still alive then and he was watching from the window for her coming home. She does not remember going to the discos at the Scout Hall in Nitshill, but the Interviewer remembered going there with her. Janette remembers going with her mum for a new coat and she wanted one with a tapestry style. She bought it but never wore it, as her mum had been correct – it was horrible.

Janette Armour, East Renfrewshire

Ropes, skipping ropes, peever – a crowd of us out in the middle of the road, because there wasn’t any traffic, and doublers [bouncing two balls against a wall]… Now and again, we’d go to Barrhead to the pictures, the Pavilion at the Centre, or we would just walk through the park from the back of Darvel Street and walk through to Barrhead into Cowan Park. It took us forever. It was a field, ‘Clarks Park’, that belonged to some farm, but we just used to cut through it to Barrhead.”

Jean Barnes, Arden

Carol remembers that nearly all the children in her area were around the same age and in the summertime everyone played together. They played games such as kick the can, ropes, Chinese elastic ropes, rounders, balls, hide and seek, building dens. Sometimes, in the summer, a group of them would go to the swimming baths in Barrhead, cutting through fields to get there. They would go out and sometimes not come back until late. Carol knows that Nitshill did not always have the best of reputations, but she never felt as if there were any dangers:

I had a wonderful childhood in Nitshill and the people that I played with they were all just, they were all just nice, we were all the same… We used to have wee concerts, so we did, in the close, and peever. But the close concerts were fun because our close, with no security entrance, so the close that I stayed in, well, all the closes were flat at the front. You went up and you had, like the doors to the cellars, but that was your stage. To get dressed before you came on to perform, you would be on the stairs and then that was you coming round to do your turn.”

When asked what her act was in the close concert, the respondent said, California, Here I Come,  and she remembered all the lines of the song.  Some of the other children told jokes.  

Carol also said that they played in the woods and played in the burn, although she was not allowed to go into the burn. She recalls wearing her lovely ‘First Sunday in May’ outfit, with white sandals and white socks, and when she returned home, they were no longer white!   Even when her mother accused her of being in the burn, she said she had not.

Carol Borland, Glasgow

Morag McMillan, Janette Love (centre) & Margaret Love, 1968, Pollok

As a boy, growing up in Nitshill, Martin got up to the usual things, getting into mischief. It was a good place to stay; they were out all day. His two brothers worked in the brick works in Nitshill, and they bought a bike between them, so Martin would ‘borrow’ it and he and his friends, some of whom had second-hand bikes, would cycle down to Irvine. They would take a bottle of water and “two jeelie pieces”.

Martin Brady, Cumbernauld

We played down the orchard because there was a big swing there, and we had a big see-saw made out of a big tree that fallen, and there was apples and brambles and everything in it, and we played out in the street, and we’d play rounders and kick door, runaway!”

In her teenage years, Kathleen would go to the Pavilion cinema in Barrhead, and ‘The Elephant’ in Shawlands,  and she  went dancing in the Nitshill Hall and in Paisley.   

Kathleen Cassidy, Glasgow

Victoria said she had a doll called ‘Dolly’.  She also played Battleships, Connect 4, Guess Who, Monopoly, and Kerplunk. The outdoor games she played were Hide and Seek, Kick the Can, Cocarustie, Tig, Chap the Door Run Away. She remembers that there was always a crowd of children playing together.

I went swimming, because there was a swimming pool just built soon after we moved in, so we all went swimming, because we all had a pass, because we lived locally, and it was cheaper to get in.  When it first opened, the queue was right around the whole building for days, and you had to queue for hours to get in… It was different to what kids do now. I’d say if kids now lived the way we did back then, they’d be a bit more streetwise, because we had to learn very quickly, because we were out in the streets.  Having to learn that money isn’t the key to everything, happiness is."

Victoria Corstorphine, East Renfrewshire
The Red Hills, we played there a lot. It was up at the Hurlet; it was all Red Blaes.    There was a cycle track there, and I used to get scared watching them [the cyclists], because when they came round that, there was only about a foot around it and they would’ve been in the river… I played on my bike and we played football, morning, noon, and night. There wasn’t a great deal of organised things to do, very few youth clubs. There was nothing round about Nitshill really, you made your own fun, played Hide and Seek, Tig. The girls would draw beds on the street."

Eddie Foy, Paisley
I was a bit bad. I went on adventures, got a stick, and went somewhere. Sometimes I would have a match and set fire to the grass, but the thing is you’d get to a bit of dry grass and it was already burned, somebody had got there before. So, it wasnae just me who done this; it was a hobby finding this bit of dry grass and burning it and smelling it, but you’d put it right out with the school bag and then go home… I was in the Cubs. That was great, because you actually learned how to use a knife, because carrying a knife was kind of normal then, everybody had one and it was all about whittling, making tent pegs, carving your name on a tree. A menchy, or taking sap out of a tree that was a big one, you’d collect the sap and set fire to it again because it was flammable."

John Paul McBride, Glasgow
There were two cinemas in Govan, the Lyceum and the ABC Picture House. There was the Imperial, which is now The Grand Ole Opry, and then there were another one further on up, I can’t remember the name of that… I went to the Govan ones, or the ones at Shawlands, the Waverley or the Embassy. I’ve never been in the Elephant; there were three pictures in Shawlands."

Michael McKernan, Glasgow

Theresa and her friend Angela Watters, as children, loved Elvis, and whenever they heard his music they would dance about in the lane.

You had to find your own entertainment. You never had a chance to have a hobby, you were too busy doing other things. You and all your pals would be outside playing.    Nowadays, it’s like kids don’t know how to play.  I say nowadays’ kids are getting more infections and everything because people are so clean, too clean; whereas years ago, a bit of dirt, you didn’t worry about because it was good dirt… Mum always took us to swimming in Eastwood Swimming Pool. If we were lucky, we would go to Rouken Glen Park, it was a family thing.  We had a great childhood in Nitshill. We had a lot of freedom, but you had to be home at a certain time. My Mum wasn’t the quietest person, so when it was time for you to come in, she was hanging out the window, shouting. The first ones to go in were Susan and June. It was, “Susan and June, up!”, and then it was “Terry Irvine, up!”

Theresa McLaughlin, Glasgow
I was lucky to have a Mum at home, and I’m not saying this because she’s here, because I’ve told her this as well, I did enjoy that, knowing my Mum was there. I just remember having a happy time. We had a stable home, my Mum and Dad were there for us, we were happy, fed and clothed, not everybody had that.”

Coreen McKechnie, Glasgow
Looking back, it was really the happiest days of my life, the happiest days of my life! It was carefree, just open fields, there was the wee woods, and then up at the Hurlet there was the big woods that took you through to, in those days it was called Hawkhead, but it’s Leverndale now. You just roamed all over the place, there was nobody bothering you. There was no swing park, but you used to walk right up Pinmore Street and they called it ‘Clark’s Park’, for whatever reason, I don’t know, and we used to walk over there, and it took us into Barrhead to Cowan Park, and that’s where we’d go for the swings.”

Alistair Mutrie, Glasgow

Susan Stewart, Jimmy & Carol Osborne - Holiday snap, Blackpool

Submitted by Susan Rasdale

Susan remembered that when growing up, there was not any cinemas in the area, and her Mum was of the opinion that if you could get up, you could get out, so they played in the back garden. Her Grandfather, Neil McDonald, worked as a bin man in the West End of the City, and he would bring things home from the bins. On one occasion, when she was about 12 or 13, he brought home a cricket bat and gave it to her. Cricket was not popular in Scotland, so they used the cricket bat to play rounders.

So, our back garden was big enough that we could play rounders, my brothers and sisters. And my brother Neil, who was two, no three, down from me, he’s the second youngest, he was just a pain when he was young. He’s the loveliest, quietest, gentlest person you could ever meet now, but when he was young, he was a pain in the neck! He got it all out his system then. So, we were playing rounders, and he was winding me up, so if I was twelve, Neil would be seven, so he was only a wee boy. I don’t know what he was doing, but I threw the cricket bat at him, and I took it by the handle and I just fired it all the way down the garden, and hit him smack in the head with it. I thought I’d killed him, he dropped like a stone. I thought my Mother’s going to have my guts for garters, but he was fine; he had a head like a rock! He just had a big bump on it. So that’s the kind of thing we did… We used to walk the streets, believe it or not, that sounds really bad! We had our Gloverall Duffle coats, we were passionate about these Gloverall Duffle coats, and our brogues; we thought we were just something else, fashion-wise, and my friend Maggie McLaughlin lived at the Bundy, and she’d walk up to mine and then we’d walk up to South Nitshill.”

Susan recalls a disco in the Scout Hall in Pinmore Street that was held once a month, when she would dress up in her latest “gear” and it was always busy. This was a big occasion for the teenagers.

Susan Rasdale, Kilsyth

Kerby, hide and seek, kick the can, marbles, cocarustie, you were always out; everybody in the street played. When I was a bit older, they built the adventure playground around the corner from me. We had Mrs Lafferty, who ran the ‘Hut’, she did everything with us. The Hut had tennis rackets, footballs, table tennis, and then you had the wee classes they had for us, and we had the asphalt, and you would do, like, exercises and things, that you would do at school sports day, like jump through the hoops, get the bean bag, throw this or do that.   That was all outside. We had wee discos on a Friday night, and then the park was huge, you had two slides to the park.”

Caroline Reid, Glasgow

When she was young. Letty remembers playing Chinese ropes, playing with balls up against a wall, much to the annoyance of Mrs Osborne in the ground floor flat. She could not understand why this caused so much annoyance but would probably be the same herself now. She loved her hula-hoop and had a bike, which was an expensive item, and dolls, and she played games such as tiddlywinks and ludo. These were indoor board games and only for rainy days, and every house had them.

Letty Smith, Glasgow

Margaret went to local dances in the Scout Hall in Nitshill, or to the wooden huts at Peat Road roundabout, where they had great dances. They also went to the Congregational Church in Househillwood Road where people came from all over the local area - Craigbank, Priesthill and Nitshill - to their dances. Levern Primary School used this church for their Christmas and Easter services. There were clubs in Nitshill Primary, including a girls’ club and sewing clubs. Gowanbank Primary School had a country dancing class, and there were loads of things like Brownies and Guides. These were held in the local halls and schools. Margaret attended Guides until she was about 14. There was no swimming in the local area, and she does not remember any particularly special events at Christmas.

Margaret Steele, Glasgow

As a teenager, Neil played in the woods at Nitshill on a tree swing, which went over the burn.

Sometimes maybe 12 of you on this rope swing, and the bloody thing would snap, but you didnae bother. Sometimes you didnae get over the water and it would snap.  You just grabbed onto somebody and hung on for life; and that was us sober as well! It was just bonkers. That was us 13 or 14 [years old], with platforms on!”

Neil Stewart, Glasgow

When Karen was a teenager in Nitshill, Househillwood Community Centre used to show films, and that was their cinema. Viewing was either free or very cheap. They showed two films, with an interval inbetween. On Friday nights, discos were held in the same Community Centre. Karen’s favourite dance song was Boogieland, and then the film Grease came out and they danced to that music.

Karen Stewart, Glasgow

We used to go out on our bikes. I really loved cycling, and one time my brother and myself, we cycled to Ayr; I think we were probably about eleven. To Ayr from  Househillwood. My father couldn’t believe it when we came back, and he was waiting saying “what on earth happened to you?” That’s where we went cycling, to Ayr. I’ll never forget it. Never did it again, mind you. Of course, there was no traffic, very little traffic, it was a long time ago, sixty-five years ago. We drew beds, and played rounders and all sorts in the streets, because there were very few cars around. It was good for children growing up, particularly there, and a lot of freedom. I also ice skated; I went ice skating with another friend to Crossmyloof or Paisley. On a Saturday night, we would go to her house, put on the music, and then we would dance. It was really good.”

Ann Sword, Glasgow

Bert and his friends made their own fun. They did not attend clubs but liked making ‘bogies’ from old pram wheels, in the summer holidays. These were carts that they sometimes raced against each other. Bert was not into football.

Albert Wallace (Bert), Glasgow

You’ve got the Pollok Centre now; you’ve got the cinema; you’ve got swimming baths. You had to go to Pollokshaws or Govan if you wanted to go swimming. You had to go to Shawlands, Govan or Barrhead to go to the pictures. There was nothing here. There used to be an army camp, down there on the Corselet Road, and we used to play in that. We played on a big swing over the burn.”

John Williamson, Glasgow
I thoroughly enjoyed Nitshill when I lived there. When we were young, we had great fun playing outside with our friends. There were about two cars on the street, so loads of room to play. My best friend was called Isabel Hart; she always had new nice dresses.  One particular dress was a brown candy-striped dress. I was so pleased when she finished with it and gave it to me! We used to have sewing and knitting nights with my friends; we would take turns in the houses and always had tea and biscuits.”

Theresa Mulheron, Jersey, Channel Islands
As I say, all the weans, we played with in the street. We were all poor weans, we just never knew we were poor weans, you know what I mean. It’s like, there was none of this, like, keeping up with the Jones’s, and flash gear. Everybody went oot in their sannies and their wee pinny dresses. You got something new for Easter and something new for the First Sunday In May…then you were a toff!”

Elizabeth Murray (Liz) Glasgow
I remember, we would collect newspapers, and you would take them up to the Gorbals and you would get money for them; yes, because they were going to make them into something, obviously. I remember this cupboard in the living room, and we used to keep all the newspapers and build them up, and build them up, and then we would take them up, and you would get money for them. Also, what we used to do in that cupboard was make sugarolly water. It was liquorice, put into water in bottles; shows how poor we were, liquorice into water in bottles, put it in your dark place, and of course you would have sugarolly water. So, you would drink that as well, and also, we would make perfume, all wee girls did that.”

Ann Sword, Glasgow