Aikenhead House, Kings Park, Glasgow

Aikenhead House, Kings Park, Glasgow


Prior to the housing developments of the 1920’s & 1930's, "King’s Park" was an area of hilly countryside centred on the Hundred Acre Hill beside the steading of Meikle Aikenhead, which was situated on the site of the present day King’s Park Primary School. The buildings at Meikle Aikenhead were demolished in 1928.

The public park which we know today was previously part of a private estate centred on Aikenhead House and its grounds. A section of the estate around the mansion-house was gifted to Glasgow Corporation by the builder, J.A. Mactaggart, in May 1930. The Corporation retained the beautifully landscaped parkland for use by the new residents as the now familiar King's Park. The woods and walled garden of the old estate have been well preserved to be enjoyed by the present day visitors to the park.

The new residential areas were developed by Mactaggart and Mickel Ltd and the Western Heritable Investment Company.
The suburbs were built around the new stations, King’s Park and Croftfoot, which were yet to be constructed when the map below was surveyed in the early 1920’s. This map, which was prepared just before the inter-war housing development started, shows Mount Florida and Cathcart Stations as red circles. On the Newton branch line at that time the first station after Mount Florida was at Burnside.
As the new houses were erected in stages, Kings Park Avenue and the adjacent Second and Third Avenues were extended to Aikenhead Road. Kingsbridge Drive stretched out from the railway bridge to run alongside King's Park Avenue heading eastwards to Rutherglen.

1920's map of King's Park

1920's map showing King's Park as distinct from Aikenhead Estate which is now the public park with that name


View of  King's Park Avenue from Carmunnock Road, showing early 20th century terraces

View of King's Park Avenue from Carmunnock Road, showing early 20th century terraces


King's Park Avenue from Aikenhead Road

View of King's Park Avenue from Aikenhead Road showing early sandstone terraces and later inter-war development


View of Hundred Acre Hill, King's Park, from the south

View of Hundred Acre Hill, King's Park, from the south


View of King's Park Primary School from Hundred Acre Hill

View of King's Park Primary School, former site of Meikle Aikenhead, from Hundred Acre Hill


View of Mount Florida and Hampden Stadium from the northern slopes of Hundred Acre Hill

View of Mount Florida and Hampden Stadium from the northern slopes of Hundred Acre Hill, King's Park


Map showing Meikle Aikenhead and the Hundred Acre Hill in the 1850's

Map showing Meikle Aikenhead and the Hundred Acre Hill in the 1850's


Central part of Aikenhead House built in 1806 for tobacco merchant, John Gordon

Central part of Aikenhead House built in 1806 for tobacco merchant, John Gordon


1878 photograph of Aikenhead House from old scrapbook

Scrapbook photograph of Aikenhead House in 1878, showing side wings which were added in 1823


2009 photograph from same spot as 1878, showing very few external changes after the conversion into flats in 1986

2009 photograph from same spot as 1878, showing very few external changes after the conversion into flats in 1986


Scrapbook photograph of Aikenhead House in 1875

Scrapbook photograph of Aikenhead House in 1875


Scrapbook photograph of Aikenhead House in 1885

Scrapbook photograph of Aikenhead House in 1885


Window openings, blocked up and painted to provide symmetry and avoid payment of window taxes

Window openings, blocked up and painted to provide symmetry and avoid payment of window taxes


Aerial view of Aikenhead House and gardens to rear

Aerial view of Aikenhead House and gardens to rear


The last private owner of the Aikenhead House was Mr Henry Erskine Gordon (1849-1929), the grandson of John Gordon who had built the house. Mr Gordon died at home on 12th April 1929. In August of the same year the trustees of his estate offered the mansion-house and surrounding parkland to the city for a sum of £10,000. This offer was recommended to the Corporation by the Parks Committee but was rejected in September 1929 on account of conditions imposed by the trustees regarding future use of the mansion-house and its immediate surrounds.

Extract from  Glasgow Herald  regarding acquisition of Aikenhead Estate

Extract from Glasgow Herald 22nd August 1929 regarding proposed acquisition of Aikenhead Estate

The picture caption reads:- "The Parks Committee of Glasgow Corporation yesterday decided by a large majority to recommend the purchase of the estate of Aikenhead, in the south side of the city, for use as a public park. It is understood that the purchase price is about £10,000, which includes the mansion-house. The photograph shows the mansion-house from the gardens at the back."


Map from 1929 showing position of Aikenhead Estate relative to other south side parks

Map from Glasgow Herald 22nd August 1929 showing position of Aikenhead Estate relative to other south side parks


Headline from 1929 regarding acquisition of Aikenhead Estate

Headline from Glasgow Herald 22nd August 1929 regarding proposed acquisition of Aikenhead Estate


Following the rejected offer to the city, 250 acres of undeveloped land in Aikenhead Estate were acquired by Mactaggart and Mickel Ltd and the Western Heritable Investment Company Ltd for the erection of 3000 houses in addition to the 2900 which had been built previously.
In May 1930 Sir John Mactaggart unconditionally offered Aikenhead House and 68 acres of surrounding parkland as a gift to the city, which was accepted by the Corporation.

Extract from Glasgow Herald 16th May 1930 regarding gift of Aikenhead Estate as a new public park

Extract from Glasgow Herald 16th May 1930 regarding gift of Aikenhead Estate as a new public park

On 1st May 1936 Aikenhead House was opened to the public for the first time, after it had been converted for use as a museum.
During World War II the house was taken over by the military authorities and after the war it was used for a spell as storage space for the Burrell Collection which had no permanent home at the time.
By the 1970's, the boarded-up building was constantly vandalised and was suffering the effects of both dry and wet rot. It was estimated that it would cost over £1millon to repair its decaying fabric. In 1979 the City Council considered the demolition of the mansion, but its “A” listed status prevented them from carrying through the proposal.
In June 1984, consultant engineer Douglas Loan offered to buy the house for a nominal sum of £1000. His firm, Classical House Ltd, began work on the conversion to flats in February 1985, which were ready for occupation the following year.


Ornamental sundial beside walled garden

Ornamental sundial from 1885, originally sited at Douglas Castle Lanarkshire, brought to the park in 1930


Entrance to walled garden from park

Entrance to walled garden from park


Ornamental plants in walled garden at Kings Park

Ornamental plants in walled garden at Kings Park


Cobbled crescent in walled garden with benches overlooking flower beds

Cobbled crescent in walled garden with benches overlooking flower beds


Ivy clad walls at entrance to former stables in Croftpark Avenue

Ivy clad walls at entrance to former stables in Croftpark Avenue


Huge arched entrance to park from cobbled stables courtyard

Huge arched entrance to park from cobbled stables courtyard


Deep shadows under the arch at stables

Deep shadows under the arch at stables


Former estate workers cottages in Croftpark Avenue, facing the park

Former estate workers cottages in Croftpark Avenue, facing the park


1850's map of Aikenhead Estate

1850's map of Aikenhead Estate


View of sandstone terraces of Second Avenue looking towards Carmunnock Road, c.1930

View of sandstone terraces of Second Avenue looking towards Carmunnock Road, c.1930


View of Aikenhead Road in the early stages of the inter-war development of King's Park

View of Aikenhead Road in the early stages of the inter-war development of King's Park


Workmen's bothy in King's Park Avenue c.1930

Workmen's bothy in King's Park Avenue during construction of typical "Mac & Mick" terrace, c.1930


Construction of detached bungalow in Menock Road, King's Park, showing concrete blocks and roof tiles, c.1930

Construction of detached bungalow in Menock Road, King's Park, showing concrete blocks and roof tiles, c.1930


Long view of King's Park Avenue  showing the original two lane carriageway

Long view from the far end of King's Park Avenue showing the original two lane carriageway


This 1937 picture of the newly built State Cinema in King's Park was taken by the staff photographer of the City Assessor's Department, who also took many photographs of inter-war shop fronts which are now in the possession of Glasgow City Archives.
I worked as a surveyor with the City Assessor's Department for over 32 years before my retirement in 2007. My colleagues and I regularly made trips to the Mitchell Library to donate the original canvas backed photographic prints found in survey reports. Many of these old images have been digitised for the Glasgow Story project.

State Cinema, Castlemilk Road, King's Park, 1937

Art Deco style State Cinema, Castlemilk Road, King's Park, 1937



Dixon Halls, Crosshill

Gorbals
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Pollokshields, Garden Suburb
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Govan
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Strathbungo & Crossmyloof
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Mount Florida
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Pollok Park & the Burrell
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Langside and Battlefield
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White Cart Walk, Pollok Park
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King's Park
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Rivers: Brock, Levern & Cart
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Castlemilk
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Pollokshaws & Auldhouse
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Queen's Park Churches
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Shawlands & Pollokshaws Churches
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Muirend to Cathcart
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Old Cathcart
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Newlands
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White Cart Walk, Linn Park
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Cathcart Circle - A Railway Tour
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East Renfrewshire Suburbs
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All original artwork, photography and text © Gerald Blaikie 2017
Unauthorised reproduction of any image on this website is not permitted.

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