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Newton Mearns is a district in East Renfrewshire, south of the city of Glasgow. It is situated in the ancient parish of Mearns which has a history stretching back to the twelfth century.

Drawing of Clock tower of Mearns Parish Church by Gerald Blaikie

Clock tower of Mearns Parish Church


The name Mearns is derived from the ancient British ‘Maeronas’, which translates as a district inhabited by herdsmen or dairy-people.
The parish is of considerable antiquity with the earliest surviving relic being the seal of Nicholas de Mernes from c.1170. The seal is shaped as a pointed oval with an image of a fleur-de-lys. It carries the legend 'Sigillivm Nicolai de Mernes', (Seal of Nicholas of Mearns).

Seal of Nicholas de Mernes c.1170

Seal of Nicholas de Mernes c.1170

Nicholas was the son of the patriarch of the family, Roland de Mernes (1124-1204), who is mentioned as a witness to a donation made to the monastery of Paisley in 1177.
In the 13th century, the barony of Mearns came by marriage into the possession of the Maxwells of Caerlaverock, Dumfriesshire.
‘Nova villa de Mernis', (Newtown of Mearns,) is mentioned in two donations by Sir Herbert Maxwell to the monastery of Paisley in 1272 and 1316.


Description of Mearns parish from Ordnance Gazeteer, 1901

Description of Mearns parish from Ordnance Gazeteer, 1901


The map below, published in 1826, shows the red boundary of Mearns Parish with Eaglesham Parish to the south, coloured yellow in the map. The boundary is formed by Earn Water, which meets up with the White Cart at Waterfoot.
To the east, Mearns Parish was bounded by White Cart Water which formed the county boundary with Lanarkshire, shown blue in the map.

Map showing boundaries surrounding Waterfoot

The map was the source of some confusion regarding the name of the village of Newton Mearns, which is shown as 'Newton', consisting of rows of houses situated on either side of the road to Kilmarnock. It could however be mis-read as 'Newton Shaw', not noticing that 'Shaw' is represented with a house symbol to the south of the village. Until recent times this was the site of Shaw Farm on the banks of the little burn shown on the map.
The extract below from 'The topographical, statistical, and historical gazetteer of Scotland' (1848), clears up the mystery.

Extract from the topographical, statistical, and historical gazetteer of Scotland (1848), regarding Newton Shaw

Shaw Farm, Newton Mearns

Shaw Farm, Newton Mearns


Mearns Castle consisted of a single tower situated on a rocky eminence surrounded with a strong wall and ditch and an entrance secured by a drawbridge.

Sketch of Mearns Tower from the south-east

Sketch of Mearns Tower from the south-east

What appears to be the front entrance at the ground floor level of the tower gives access only down to the vaulted cellar. To enter the habitable parts of the castle you would have to use the opening at the entresol level, which would be very easy to defend. This doorway leads to the main hall of the castle, which is centred on a large fireplace shown in the section. The fireplace is at the opposite end of the hall to the entrance, with the windows in the side walls having stone seats. The entresol entrance gives access to the spiral staircase which leads to the upper storey, but not to the ground floor.

Plans and section of Mearns Tower

Plans and section of Mearns Tower


Bronze ewer found in the grounds of Mearns Castle c.1823

Bronze ewer found in the grounds of Mearns Castle c.1823


Mearns Castle

Mearns Castle, 1863


Modern view of Mearns Tower showing arched entresol entrance above cellar entrance  at ground level

Modern view of Mearns Tower showing arched entresol entrance above cellar entrance at ground level


Aerial view of Mearns Castle and Maxwell Mearns Parish Church

Aerial view of Mearns Castle and Maxwell Mearns Parish Church


Mearns Castle, 1873

Mearns Castle, 1873


Old photograph of Mearns Castle and surrounding woodland

Old photograph of Mearns Castle and surrounding woodland


Pollok Castle, Mearns

Pollok Castle, Mearns

Pollok Castle, Mearns, was the seat of the Polloks of Pollok who could trace their ancestry back to Fulbert de Pollok in the twelfth century.
It originated as a simple battlemented tower, which was demolished by Sir Robert Pollok in 1710 and replaced with a “stately large house of a new model". This structure survived until 1882 when it was almost entirely destroyed by fire.
In 1886 the castle was rebuilt in the Scottish Baronial style by Mrs. Fergusson Pollok to the designs of Mr. Charles S. S. Johnston, architect.
In 1947 the estate was inherited by a nephew of the last of the Polloks to occupy the castle, who sold it on to a developer who managed to clear the site of most of the historical buildings by 1954.

Photograph of Pollok Castle and surrounding estate

Photograph of Pollok Castle and surrounding estate


The site of Pollok Castle has been left somewhat isolated from modern Newton Mearns by the M77, Glasgow - Kilmarnock motorway. A new house was built in 2003 in the woodland which once surrounded the demolished castle. Further residential development of the old estate has taken place since then.

Site of Pollok Castle near the M77 motorway

Site of Pollok Castle in woodland on opposite side of the M77 motorway from Newton Mearns


The inscription below dates from the reconstruction of Pollok Castle in 1886.
"Founded 12th Century - Enlarged 1686-97 - Altered and Repaired 1820 & 1856 - Burned 1882 - Rebuilt and Enlarged 1886-7"

Inscription at Pollok Castle detailing the history of the structure

Inscription at Pollok Castle detailing the history of the structure


Gateway in south wall of Pollok Castle Entrance gateways to Pollok Castle

Entrance gateways to Pollok Castle


Pavilions at south wall of Pollok Castle

Pavilions at south wall of Pollok Castle


South front of Pollok Castle

South front of Pollok Castle


Photograph of south front of Pollok Castle

Photograph of south front of Pollok Castle

The Polloks were kinsmen of Walter FitzAllan (1106–1177), the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland. The earliest recorded head of the family was Fulbert de Pollok, whose name occurs a number of times in the register of the monastery of Paisley. Fulbert had three sons, Peter, Robert, and Helias. Helias was a priest and a canon of Glasgow who possessed the church and church lands of Mearns, which he had received from the High Steward. He later granted the church with its lands and teinds to the monastery of Paisley. This grant was confirmed by King William the Lion and by Jocelin, Bishop of Glasgow. Helias's brothers, Peter and Robert, were conspicuous figures at the courts of both Malcolm IV and William the Lion.
The parish was associated with Paisley Abbey until the times of the Reformation.


Capelrig Tower is situated on an elevated site, just south of Patterton Railway Station. The surrounding mature woodland has made it very difficult to get a good look at it from ground level. It is unlikely that the fine parkland and trees shown below will survive the suburban encroachent which has spoiled much of this part of East Renfrewshire.

Capelrig Tower, Mearns

Capelrig Tower viewed from the north

The 'Lands of Caplerig' were named after a 'rig' or ridge of ground which belonged to a chapel which Herbert de Maxwell endowed c.1300. This chapel is believed to have belonged to the Knights Templar. The tower is thought to have been erected around the late 1700's to provide a viewpoint for the surrounding countryside.


The spectacular Waulkmill Glen Viaduct is situated just west of Patterton Station. It carries the rail track over the reservoir on its way to the Neilston terminus. The railway originated as a freight line operated by the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway connecting the Lanarkshire coalfields with the Clyde coast port of Ardrossan. The viaduct was constructed during the period of its development in the late 1880's. Patterton Station opened in 1903 when the line began to be used for passenger services connecting to Glasgow by way of the Cathcart Circle lines. An illustrated history of the development of these services is included in the Origins of Cathcart Circle page of this website.

Capelrig Tower, Mearns

Waulkmill Glen Viaduct


A small selection of old photographs of scenes in and around the old village of Newton Mearns is featured below.

Main Street, Newton Mearns

Main Street, Newton Mearns, now the site of 'The Avenue' Shopping Centre


Anderson's Garage, Ayr Road, near to Mearns Cross

Anderson's Garage, Ayr Road, near to Mearns Cross


Signpost and drinking fountain at Mearns Cross

Signpost and drinking fountain at Mearns Cross


Mearns Cross viewed from Eaglesham Road

Mearns Cross viewed from Eaglesham Road


Small boys at Mearns Cross

Small boys at corner of Barrhead Road, Mearns Cross


Mearns Parish Church, otherwise known as Mearns Kirk, has occupied the same site since ancient times. A succession of church buildings have been here since the 9th century. The present building was substantially altered and enlarged in 1813, with further alterations and improvements taking place throughout the subsequent years. The graveyard surrounding the church is worth a visit for those interested in local history.

Mearns Parish Church and graveyard

Mearns Parish Church and graveyard


There are two post-Reformation Roman Catholic churches within the traditional boundaries of Mearns Parish; St. Joseph's, Clarkston and St. Cadoc's Newton Mearns. Both parishes are included within the R.C. Diocese of Paisley.

St. Cadoc's church is a modern structure, built in 1981 to replace a prefabricated timber weatherboard church erected when the parish was established in 1966.

St. Cadoc's Roman Catholic Church, Newton Mearns

St. Cadoc's Roman Catholic Church, Newton Mearns


Mearnskirk Hospital was built in the 1930's for Glasgow children suffering from tuberculosis, providing the young patients with the benefits of pleasant surroundings and fresh country air.
It later became a general hospital, operating as an annexe of the Victoria Infirmary.

The hospital was sold for development in the 1990's, providing houses and flats on the extensive site. The administrative block was redeveloped as a council run nursery school. A new custom-designed care home for the elderly, Mearnskirk House, was built on the approaches to the old hospital.

View of newly opened Mearnskirk Hospital

View of newly opened Mearnskirk Hospital with freshly planted saplings in the grounds, c.1930


Apartment blocks converted from former Mearnskirk Hospital buildings

Apartment blocks converted from former Mearnskirk Hospital buildings


Pavilion where beds were formerly laid out at Mearnskirk Hospital

Pavilion where beds were formerly laid out at Mearnskirk Hospital


Former Administration Block at Mearnskirk Hospital, now

Former Administration Block, now Hazeldene Family Centre & Nursery School


Statue of Peter Pan at entrance to Mearnskirk House, an NHS operated nursing home at former Mearnskirk Hospital

Statue of Peter Pan at entrance to Mearnskirk House, an NHS operated nursing home at former Mearnskirk Hospital


The statue of Peter Pan was dedicated to the first superintendent of Mearnskirk Hospital, Dr. John A. Wilson, OBE, who died before realising an ambition to erect a bronze figure of the little boy who never grew up. Dr Wilson's friend and hospital benefactor, Alfred Ellsworth, organised fundraising to create the statue which was completed in 1948, two years after Dr Wilson's death.
The sculptor of Peter Pan's statue was Alexander Proudfoot RSA, Principal of Glasgow School of Art. It was cast by Edinburgh based artistic bronze founder, George Mancini, who left his mark in the molten metal at the base of the work.

Statue of Peter Pan at Mearnskirk Hospital Script at base of statue of Peter Pan at Mearnskirk House

Statue of Peter Pan at Mearnskirk House with scrawled inscription "G. Mancini cast me 1948"

The plaque below the statue reads "In memory of Dr John A. Wilson O.B.E. first superintendent of Mearnskirk Hispital 1928-1946. Erected by A.L. Ellsworth and his friends".


Whitecraigs House, which occupies a large corner site on Ayr Road, was designed in 1898 in the then fashionable Arts & Crafts style. It was built for William Mann, a local councillor on Renfrewshire County Council who was also a Justice of the Peace. A fountain erected in his memory can be found near to Mearns Cross.
The drawing below by architect H. E. Clifford was displayed at the architectural exhibition of the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts in 1898.

Exhibition drawing of Whitecraigs House, 1898

Exhibition drawing of Whitecraigs House, 1898

Photograph of Whitecraigs House, 2015

Photograph of Whitecraigs House, 2015


Greenbank House and Gardens are situated off the Mearns Road near Clarkston. The mansion house was built by Glasgow merchant Robert Allason who had acquired the estate in 1763.
The house and gardens were donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1976 and have since become a popular visitor attraction.

Victorian photograph of of Greenbank House

Victorian photograph of of Greenbank House


Front of Greenbank House

Front of Greenbank House


Sundial in grounds of Greenbank House

Sundial in grounds of Greenbank House


Rear of Greenbank House

Rear of Greenbank House


Gateway to rear of Greenbank House

Gateway to rear of Greenbank House


Cottages on Mearns Road, near Greenbank House

Cottages on Mearns Road, near Greenbank House


The ancient lands of Capelrig were acquired by Glasgow lawyer Robert Barclay in 1765, who erected the mansion house in 1769.
Capelrig House was occupied as offices by East Renfrewshire Council until the summer of 2011. The house is currently used as ancillary offices and stores by Eastwood High School, with the surrounding excess land being surfaced to create playing fields and car parking. There is no public access to the house.

Victorian photograph of Capelrig House

Victorian photograph of an ivy-clad Capelrig House


Front of Capelrig House

Front of Capelrig House


Rear of Capelrig House

Rear of Capelrig House alongside running track for Eastwood High School


Old photograph showing rear of Capelrig House

Old photograph showing rear of Capelrig House


Date plaque at Capelrig House

Date plaque at Capelrig House


Newton Mearns Parish Church at Mearns Cross was built in 1939, replacing an earlier smaller building on the same site. The church was formally opened on 16th December 1939 by Rev. Dr. James Black assisted by the minister of the congregation, Rev. W. Murray Mackay. Mr Mackay read a list fo the gifts received, including the pulpit and two stained glass windows. The church was designed by James Maclaren Honeyman in a Free Gothic style with Art Deco touches. Honeyman also designed Williamwood Parish Church, but in a very different style.

Newton Mearns Parish Church, Mearns Cross

Newton Mearns Parish Church, Mearns Cross


Glasgow Reform Synagogue in Ayr Road occupies a simple brick roughcast hall built in the 1960's.

Glasgow Reform Synagogue, Ayr Road

Glasgow Reform Synagogue, Ayr Road


Three storey farmhouse, Burnhouse Farm

Three storey farmhouse, Burnhouse Farm




Logo of Mearns Tower

Giffnock & Netherlee
    East Renfrewshire

Newton Mearns
    East Renfrewshire

Thornliebank & Rouken Glen
    East Renfrewshire

Busby & Waterfoot
    East Renfrewshire

Newlands
    City of Glasgow

Cathcart - Architecture & History
    City of Glasgow

Muirend to Cathcart
    Along Clarkston Road

Pollokshaws & Auldhouse
    City of Glasgow

White Cart Walk
    Cathcart to Netherlee

Churches of Eastwood Parish
    City of Glasgow

White Cart Walk
    Pollok Country Park

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All original artwork, photography and text © Gerald Blaikie 2016
Unauthorised reproduction of any image on this website is not permitted.

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