Pollokshields Heritage Heritage Trail Two 

The Architects

The Landowners

The Master Plan

The Developers


Trail 2 Front Page


The Victorian garden suburb of Pollokshields was established in 1849 and developed over six decades thereafter. It was the vision of one family, the Stirling Maxwells, who owned the land on which the suburb was built. However, the suburb is the collective work of successive generations of Stirling Maxwells who guided the vision, with a series of developers, contractors and clients who realised it. Some of the best Glaswegian architects of the Victorian and Edwardian eras shaped its built fabric, with many of Glasgow’s finest craftsmen suppling the details.

Though Pollokshields dates from 1849, the germ of the idea for a grand garden suburb to the south of Glasgow dates further back to 1834 when the 8th Baronet Sir John Maxwell of Pollok commissioned Glasgow surveyor Peter MacQuisten to draw up feuing plans for part of his estate around Kinning House. Maxwell’s ideas fitted with a broader, European wide, movement of the middle classes out of crowded and industrialising city centres.

The reasons for this are not hard to discern. An 1839 report to Parliament on housing conditions in Britain had this to say about central Glasgow:
“I have seen human degradation in some of the worst phases both in England and abroad, but I can advisedly say, that I did not believe, until I visited the wynds of Glasgow, that so large an amount of filth, crime, misery, and disease existed on one spot in any civilised country.”

The overcrowding and lack of sanitation had consequences. There were three severe epidemics of cholera in Glasgow, - the first in 1832, then in 1848 and finally the epidemic of 1953-4 resulted in the deaths of a tenth of the city’s population. By 1850, half of Glasgow’s children died before their fifth birthday.

The suburbs, in contrast, offered fresh air and clean drinking water and the middle class desire to escape the rapidly developing industrial city of Glasgow would have been obvious to Sir John Maxwell, as would have been the proximity of his family’s estate and ancestral home. With his vision of a grand residential suburb Maxwell sought to profit from the inevitable encroachment.

This leaflet tells the story of the people behind the enlightened development of East and West Pollokshields from the original ambitious plans to the finished details.

Pollokshields Heritage would like to thank the following for their contribution in the completion and design of the Pollokshields Heritage Trail Leaflets: June Bell, Paul O'Cuinn, Ann Laing, Karen Currie, Helen McNamara, Evelyn Lennie, Roger Millar, Niall Murphy, David Hart, Fiona Frank, ClydeUnion Pumps and Glasgow Life.

We are grateful for the funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Glasgow City Council.

Text & Layout © Pollokshields Heritage 2012.

Pollokshields Heritage is a charity registered in Scotland (no.SC030101).

Heritage Lottery Fund   Glasgow City Council

The Craftsmen

Stained Glass Artists

The Ironwork

Every building, villa or tenement, in Pollokshields, with the exception of shops, was defined by ornamental cast ironwork on the street frontages. Almost all of this ironwork was, sadly, removed during World War II. Roofscapes were also embellished with coronets, finials and railings of iron, much of which fortunately remains.

The Ceramicists

The tenements of Pollokshields are renowned for their flamboyant ‘wally’ tiles. Among the designers was ceramicist: