The Beginnings of Govanhill

A Workers' Suburb

Govanhill was laid out in the scond half of the 19C along quidelines set down by the Dixon landowners. The four story tenements were mainly of good quality for the time, many, but not all, with toilets and later bathroooms. Churches, community buildings such as the library and shops, cinemas and dance halls followed. There was one small park – Govanhill Park.


So it became a place for skilled and semi-killed workers, many working close by in places such as Queens Park Railway works near Polmadie.

Queen’s Park itself was already developed by the 1860s as a place of relief from the smoke, grime and overcrowdedness of Victorian Glasgow and the grander tenement flats of Crosshill and some villas were built to the north of the park – so that by 1900 the two places had merged.



Most incomers were Scots- moving to Glasgow from surrounding areas and also the Highlands.

But even in the early days small numbers from elsewhere could be found. Nearby Larkfield was a group of cottages called the “Lower English Buildings” because they accommmodated iron workers specially brought in from England to work in the nearby foundry (see engraving below)


Much of the area remains as it was built, although there have also been many changes and houses have been improved.

The stories and memories we have colleceted do not go as far back as the 19C – but they are of a time not that long ago when the houses, shops, baths, cinemas, work and life were not that different from the early Govanhill. They will give you a flavour of what life was like in this busy and lively community. To listen to them go to “Interviews” on the Menu Bar  to hear them