The Village of Chryston - North Lanarkshire - Scotland
The Development of Chryston Building During the inter-war period six smallholdings were built by the Scottish Agricultural Department, four at the west end of Chryston, on Main Street and Lenzie Road, and two on Gartferry Road. Two blocks of council houses were also built on vacant spaces in Main Street. Further houses were built in 1982 and senior citizens' houses in Solway Place in 1984, on the site previously occupied by Chapman's Building (Auchengeich Terrace). On the original site of Chryston Public School, the Chilterns home for senior citizens was opened in April 1978 and soon proved a worthwhile asset to the area. Water Prior to the house building mentioned above there were other important developments by way of provision of services. In the period 1885- 88 water mains bearing Loch Katrine water were led into the area, and where houses could not immediately take advantage of the facility stand-wells were provided on the pavement at intervals. It was about 25 years later that larger mains were installed and most houses received at least cold-water running taps. Among properties able immediately to take advantage of the facility were Chryston Public School, where in 1898 outside toilets flushed with water were built; the Parish Church manse in 1896, the Schoolmaster's house in 1901 and the Free Church manse. Gas Another development which took place at the turn of the century was the introduction of gas mains laid by the Glasgow Corporation Gas Company, following considerable agitation by members of the local Parish Council. In due course houses and other buildings were able to dispense with oil lamps and other means of lighting and enjoy this new facility. Among these was the Parish Church in 1910. Additionally, as the years progressed, the local Parish Council was able to erect lamp posts along the roads, so providing a measure of comfort for travellers. During the summer months the lamp tops and burners were taken down for maintenance. Many a young lad enjoyed assisting the lamp lighter by carrying the long pole with the carbide light at the top as he went round the roads. In 1924, when a house was being demolished in Main Street, there was evidence that an earlier attempt had been made to provide gas in the area. This was the discovery of a gas meter, dated 1872 and inscribed "Chryston Gas Company". This gas works stood alongside North Loan (Gartferry Road) and used natural gas extracted from the ground on site. This experiment only lasted a short time. The use of natural gas goes on locally even today. Since the early 1920s glass houses at Millbrae Nurseries have been heated by this means, the source tapped in Bedlay Glen. There were also some parts of the Garnkirk Burn at Berryknowe and Knockmilly where gas bubbled up at the burn side and could be ignited. Next to the Jubilee Gates (demolished when the Lenzie Road was realigned) stood a ventilator. Similar standards were provided in Berryknowe estate following an explosion in more recent times, due to an accumulation of gas in the sewers. Electricity In 1928 the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company introduced electric power to the district. In due course this new facility was being used in shops and houses, and eventually for street lighting. It provided the opportunity to have a valve wireless set powered by electricity instead of by use of an accumulator, in addition to other home improvements. In 1931 Rankin Bros. were advertising a three-valve wireless set at a cost of £5 17s. 6d. (£5.75). Electric lighting was introduced into the Public Hall in July 1928, and to the Parish Church in 1930. This all occurred in an era which was struggling to move away from the gloom of World War 1, the General Strike of 1926 and its aftermath, the slump in world trade and the unemployment queues. Still, in the midst of this atmosphere there were some highlights. Cinema David Kilpatrick opened a cinema hall behind the shops on the north side of the Main Road at the west end of Muirhead. His son operated the equipment and the power was obtained from an engine-house set back to the rear of the hall (now a smiddy). The films were silent and the tempo of these was portrayed by piano accompaniment, the choice of music being that of the pianist. Saturday matinees cost 2d. (1p) and evening charges were: Front Seats 1s. (5p); Rear Seats 1s. 6d. (7½p). This entertainment was in vogue for around 10 years, but when the "talkies" commenced the opposition from city cinemas proved too much and the hall closed. Its front door faces on to Fleming Avenue. It was used for some time as a plumber's store and now houses a plant-hire business. Stage Shows There were stage shows in the Public Hall by the Young Unionists and Junior Imperialists, such as "Bluebell in Fairyland", a very ambitious venture, and "The Masque of Empire". Other stage plays were presented by the Literary Society, such as "Dear Brutus". Another popular event was the competition held annually by the local Burns Society, the participants being pupils from local schools. In addition to the more popular sports a putting green was opened in 1922 on a site now used for bungalows (next to the dental surgery). This was owned first by Malcolm Blue and latterly by James McKenzie. Special competitions were held each week and many residents took part. Various organisations held dances in the Public Hall. For some years the Annual Fancy Dress Ball run by the Earl Haig Fund Committee was a highlight. Prizes were awarded for the best on show. 1937 Coronation Celebrations Then there was the celebration on 12th May 1937 to mark the Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The day commenced at 9.30 a.m. with religious services held in the Higher Grade School and St Joseph's R.C. School (now St Barbara's). Thereafter the pupils of both schools marched to the Public Park, led by the Chryston and District Pipe Band. There the Union Jack was unfurled by Councillor Robert Fleming and a Commemorative oak tree was planted by Miss Christie of Bedlay. It stands next to the east path to the Senior Citizens' Hut in the park. A detailed sports programme covering all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, then took place in the Public Park and Knowe Park. Fruit and sweets were distributed to the children at the conclusion of their part in the proceedings. At 5 p.m. decorated cars assembled in the school playground and before touring the district were used to convey senior citizens to their entertainment and meal in the Public Hall, at the close of which a dance followed, open to all ages. At 10 p.m. a bonfire and fireworks display took place in a field west of Lees' Walk. The following year was marked by the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park, which during its run was a mecca for many locals. Tait's Tower, the Clachan, the Fun-Fair, the Palace of Engineering, the Pavilions of the Commonwealth countries, the Music Hall, the brightly lit fountains and the majestic staircase all contributed to its success. And who could forget the rain at the weekends! A season ticket cost £1 5s. (£1.25) - costly in these days but good value. The War Years The memories of the Exhibition had hardly time to settle, for within a year the country was at war. The Public Hall became the nerve centre of the local Air Raid Precaution organisation. The small committee room had strengthening added to its walls and ceiling to support the air raid siren on the roof. Citizens were issued with gas masks to be carried at all times. Householders were instructed to black out all windows and protect the glass against bomb blast. The local Air Raid Warden in each road became responsible for seeing this order was carried out. Many men and women were already in uniform through service in the Territorial Army or conscription. Others were designated to be in reserved occupations by the nature of their employment. It was a time of increasing activity. In 1941, during the Clydebank and Glasgow air raids, two bombs fell in the district, but fortunately outwith the built-up area. One was near the Blacklands Farm and the other near Gartloch Distillery. In the same period, for a time, children were brought out from Glasgow for education in local schools. Following the conclusion of hostilities in 1945 life in the district slowly returned to normal. Rationing by coupons of food, sweets, clothing and other items was gradually suspended. 1953 Coronation On 2nd June 1953 the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was celebrated with a programme of events similar in many respects to that held in 1937. At 9.30 a.m. religious services were held for children and adults in their normal place of worship after which they gathered at Bowling Green Road to witness Miss Christie of Bedlay unfurl the Union Jack from the Bowling Green staff. Children's sports followed by seniors' took place. The senior citizens were entertained in the Public Hall between 5.30 pm and 8 pm. and a dance followed from 9 pm. until 1 am. Fireworks and a bonfire took place in the Public Park. All schoolchildren, and also senior citizens, received a souvenir of the occasion. Community Council On 27th May 1975 the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the Community Council was held in the Public Hall and this body was officially constituted on 10th October 1977. In following years, as well as dealing with local matters pertinent to the electorate, the Council arranged Gala Days. These were generally held in June, and all local organisations and the churches were invited to participate. The Gala Queen with her attendants, selected from the local schools, were led in procession by the Boys' Brigade Pipe Band to the Public Park, where stalls were set up by the participants. A Fancy Dress competition for the younger children, races for all age groups and usually a five-a-side football competition completed the programme. Speciality acts were also included as available. These special days continued until 1989, when interest waned. In April 1986 the Council purchased a minibus, naming it the "Beacon Bus". This has served the area well and is used by the local churches and organisations. It is also used to transport elderly and disabled persons on outings, and persons with special needs on holidays to a caravan situated at Anstruther. Senior Citizens Interests of senior citizens in the district are catered for by the Pensioners' Association and the Elderly Forum. Regular meetings and social events are held. A "meals-on-wheels" service is provided by the W.R.V.S., using a dedicated band of voluntary workers in conjunction with the Strathclyde Region Social Work Department. On 5th May 1992 the lain Nicolson Recreation Centre, in Chryston Road, was officially opened by Provost Robert Coyle of Strathkelvin District Council, to serve the whole of South Strathkelvin. It has facilities for all indoor games, exercise apparatus, a small sauna and an area for exercise and meetings. A Community Council was also constituted in Moodiesburn, along the lines of the one in Chryston, to serve the electorate there. There too, an annual Gala Day took place on lines similar to that held by its Chryston counterpart.
The Story of Chryston
by Neil Kidd
Ian Nicolson Sports Centre