Pollokshields was conceived in 1849 when Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, 8th baronet (1791-1865), commissioned architect David Rhind (1801-1883) to draw up plans for the development of the Shields part of his estate. The proposed suburb was designed to accommodate middle-class Glaswegians seeking quality housing beyond the boundaries of the congested city. Rhind's scheme divided Pollokshields into two distinct zones. While the eastern district consisted of terraces and tenements, the west consisted entirely of villas. Shields Road separated the two areas.
Landscaping was particularly important in west Pollokshields where ample gardens set off the villas to best advantage. The eclectic range of building styles was intended to display the individuality of property owners and included work by the innovative architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson (1817-1875). Despite the spaciousness of its tenements, the eastern district came to be far more densely built-up. By 1881 the west had 2,104 inhabitants compared with the east's 4,360, although the west covered more than twice the territory. The west was also exclusively residential, which meant that the east came to be the focus of social activity, accommodating shops, schools, churches and community buildings.
Fear of Glasgow domination, especially the burden of city taxes, induced the westerners to seek formal, self-governing status. In 1876 their community became an independent police burgh with an elected council. Four years later the east followed suit. However, Pollokshields home rule was short-lived. The promise of generous taxation concessions eventually induced the two burghs to amalgamate with Glasgow in 1891. Pollokshields was linked even more strongly with the rest of the city when the Cathcart Railway opened in 1894. By the 1900s Pollokshields was firmly identified as one of Glasgow's most attractive and affluent neighbourhoods.
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