Pollokshields Heritage History

Finding Dalcairnie – A Case Study

DalcairnieMy family has lived in this villa in Leslie Road for almost twenty years, but we never knew until now that it was called Dalcairnie when it was built in 1881 and until its conversion in 1951. Amongst the many named heads of households living here discovered through only one hour’s research in the open access GPO Directories in the Mitchell Library — from the photographic artist in 1899 with studios in Jamaica Street, to the owner of the company in St. Enoch Square who sent mail packages to the Cape of Good Hope in 1903 — the one who stood out the most was Stewart Lawrie, Manager of the Alliance Assurance Company in West George Street, mainly because he lived here the longest and in Edwardian times - from 1912 in fact.

Princes SquareA further afternoon spent searching the 1911 Census through the website Scotland’s People uncovered the rest of the Lawrie family, then living in 48 Princes Square (now Marywood Square), Strathbungo: Stewart’s wife Ada Pauline and their children Pauline, Isabel and Edwin, plus one 19 year old servant from Motherwell, Elizabeth Bridges. The census information gives each of their ages in 1911, from which one can work out dates of birth. This allows a search on Scotland’s People of related births, marriages and deaths.

Newark DriveThese certificates, and preliminary Google name searches, reveal so much more. Stewart Lawrie held positions of office such as President of the Insurance and Actuarial Society of Glasgow from 1909 to 1910, but why did the family wait until their children were 18, 16 and 11 to move from a substantial townhouse in Strathbungo, in 1912, to Dalcairnie in Leslie Road? Ada was a daughter of the then well-known Russ family of furriers whose clientele included such luminaries as John Jacob Astor and Ernest Hemingway, and the Russ family lived for many years at 35 Newark Drive.

Stewart and Ada were married for 40 years and died within two months of each other in 1930, he aged 76, she aged 59, yet he died in this house and she died at her brother’s home in Edinburgh two months earlier, with Dalcairnie recorded as her normal address. What led them to have to be apart at such a time: possibly Ada was away for treatment. The house was subsequently sold in the same year.

64 Terregles AvenueTheir children all died young but in very different circumstances. Pauline went to Canada to be married, but was sadly widowed and left with two small children, so she came back to live with her sister Isobel, spinster and domestic science lecturer, at 64 Terregles Avenue, until her death from tuberculosis aged 48 in 1941, preceded in 1938 at age 42 by her younger sister. Edwin met a more tragic end. He graduated in medicine at Glasgow University, and went to work in Malaya where he became a surgeon. At the fall of Singapore his wife and younger daughter, who were there, sailed for Australia but Edwin stayed on as he thought he would be needed as a doctor, was imprisoned at Changi and died there in 1943, aged 44.

In that one afternoon at my home computer, this Edwardian family, living in this house for 18 years, seemed to come alive within these walls. As we occupy the upper conversion, it is within their bedrooms I imagine life for them. They have left me with more questions to be answered, and a sense of how fragile life is, but also a sense of them being a real “Pollokshields family”, just like us (albeit a lot wealthier and occupying the full house!!), moving here from another local address, with other family members living only a few streets away, and across the generations.