Renaming Glasgow's Streets

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Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby GreatCollapso » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:48 pm

I was wandering around Woodlands on the brilliant National Library of Scotland overlay maps and found that Otago Street and Otago Lane used to be called Smith Street and Ashfield Lane respectively. This piqued my interest as I had also (perhaps naively) thought that street names were a fairly permanent fixture until I came across this list which shows most if not all of the street names in Glasgow which have changed.

With regard to Otago Street specifically, I was wondering if anyone had any background on why the name was changed? The only information I can find about Otago is that it's a region in New Zealand and that the word itself is an old Maori word meaning 'isolated village' or 'place of red earth' depending on what old Maoris you go to for a translation. The only link that I can see to Scotland with regard to the region is that an offshoot of the Free Church of Scotland founded the settlement with ships coming from Greenock.

From a very light browse, I can see that there are obviously a lot of places in Otago, NZ which are named after Scottish locations (as you'd probably expect) and the University of Otago and Otago Street's proximity to Glasgow University could have something to do with it. Does anyone know?

On a wider thought, has there been any recent street name changes and how do these go down in the community? I still find the idea of the name of your own street being changed from under you to be absolutely flabberghasting so I'd be intrigued to hear from anyone who it's happened to.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby GreatCollapso » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:34 pm

As a follow-up to this, perhaps I should have wandered further. It appears that Otago Street has always been present (at least since some point between 1857 & 1882) at the northern part of the street (where the modern Piping Academy is) but was called Smith Street from the tight corner at the wee garage right down to where Hillhead Primary is now where it changed to Westbank Street (although it was renamed Smith Street South between 1891 & 1892).

I suppose I'll have to rephrase my question to be, "What did Smith Street do wrong to be renamed?" Was there a lot of construction around that time and the name changes were done to reflect a more prosperous, attractive area? Otago, I assume, is infinitely more exotic than Smith.

Way to poorly research your first post, eh?
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Bridie » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:57 pm

First thought is that the naming of Otago St had something to do with shipping (usually does) :D

Scottish settlers arrived in 1865 at Port Chalmers Bay around the time of the goldrush of 1861-1864 and after.
Might be worth checking out if the original Otago St was the site of any offices etc which may have been involved in the transportation.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.anc ... go1865.htm
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby SomeRandomBint » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:35 am

I think a lot of the street renamings happened as outlying areas were incorporated into Glasgow. I noticed there's often a long list of the same name (Hope Street, for example), which obviously would be confusing when it came to mail and emergency services. So that I think would explain some of them.

Some are caused by re-routing previous roads a different route. An example of this is Cumbernauld Road being changed to Smithycroft Road. Cumbernauld Road still exists today, but I suspect what happened was that, when the area was developed, they created a diverted section of a road, and so the old section was re-named to avoid confusion (today, Cumbernauld Road is a main dual carriage way of sorts, whereas Smithycroft Road is a more narrow, residential road, now ending in the deadend created by the M8).

Finally, when you see some names such as Kaiser Street, it may be that in days past the name became unpopular for whatever reason, and so the residents wanted it changed.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby GreatCollapso » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:19 am

That's really handy, Bridie.

From my initial investigation into the top-end of present day Otago Street, I've found a lot of information regarding construction on Smith Street right up to the workshop/garage on the corner of Otago Street and Smith Street and I've also found some information about Smith Street.

Unsurprisingly, Smith Street was named for David Smith who was the architect of James Gibson's Hillhead estate as he looked to create an exclusive little suburb within the grounds of the estate. From what I can work out, at least part of Great Western Road was designed as part of his private thoroughfare. For those who are interested, David Smith built himself a little pile called Westbank which is where the name Westbank Quadrant comes from (and where Westbank Street came from) in the 1820s/30s. It's currently occupied by the Westbank Triangle which contains Offshore, Artisan Roast etc. The gushet block that contains Offshore was completed in the late 1870s, which gives you an idea of the rapid expansion of Glasgow which, I'm led to believe, barely reached Blythswood Square by 1820.

Moving further up Smith Street and looking down Otago Lane (as it is now), you'd have seen a riding school on the banks of the Kelvin which seems to have been part of a livery stable designed by Alexander "Greek" Thomson. Next to that, where the "new-build" flats are, there was a local bakery called Hubbard's.

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As you can see in this picture from 1967 which I "borrowed" from Canmore, the Horse Bazaar has long since been replaced by a modernised garage but the bakery building still stands. My research seems to suggest that it was demolished in 1988 before being replaced by the afore-mentioned flats. I believe the garage went at the same time. A few of the documents I've read suggest that when the garage was first built it would have been similar in design to the Botanic Gardens Garage across the road from Hillhead Bookclub. From the look of that photo, it looks like it fell victim to 60s' modernisation.

Perhaps the reason I'm able to provide such a passable picture of this end of Smith Street is that information actually exists about what was there. In addition to the tenements and bakery, there were three small villas which were built around 1840 as part of the original development of the Kelvin bank. These were known as Kelvinside Cottage, Rose Cottage and Janefield Cottage. Some of you will likely recognise Janefield Cottage as being the only one of these remaining to this day.

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On the other side of the road there's a merchant 'mansion' called Parkview. Some of you might recognise it as looking slightly out of place and run down among the tenements on the junction of Otago Street and Great George Street. This was the home of Dr C.A. Hepburn who co-founded Hepburn and Ross Whisky Blending.

Bear with me here.

On the old Otago Street, there is a large warehouse which is currently occupied by a rug store and CC Music in the basement. Known as Kelvin House in latter days, it was built for Hepburn's family furniture firm as a warehouse and also served as the offices of Hepburn and Ross who produced... Red Hackle Whisky.

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Many of you probably recognise the large advertisement on the gable of the building which is still visible (just) today.

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But alas, it's time to get down to brass tacks. Why's it called Otago Street now and why was Smith Street renamed?

It seems to have been as simple as the legacy of David Smith being lost to time. Otago was indeed the 'Scots' Colony' in New Zealand. A couple of differing accounts have the name of the shipping company operating out of Glasgow as being The Otago Shipping Company. I can't find any reference to this anywhere and my gut instinct is to take some of the information from Bridie's link and extrapolate it which subsequently places the name of the shipping company based in Glasgow as P. Henderson Co.

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[A Shipping Button of P. Henderson & Co.]

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[The House Flag of P. Henderson & Co.]

They ran a frequent service between Glasgow and Otago during a gold rush in the region between 1861 and 1865 (it had been renamed Albion Shipping by this point). An offshoot of the Free Church of Scotland was amongst the first to settle there, thus establishing a pretty rigid Scottish connection. Regarding what Bridie said about the street potentially having offices of the shipping company on them, I'm not sure it's too likely given that I've managed to come up with uses for most of the buildings on the street (although it's possible that the tenements opposite were built at a later date). Unfortunately, the only conceivable way I can see to find out the address of their offices is to get my hands on their complete shipping records which would hopefully have details of the company's registered address. Unfortunately it only seems to be available on microfiche from New Zealand. I'm not sure I'm that committed.

It seems that the extension of Otago Street into Smith Street was simply down to time. After a while it became less important that David Smith had been largely responsible for the area being as it is today and the name of the street was just merged for ease. Otago Lane was renamed from Ashfield Lane, presumably due to the ravages of time. The current tenements on Gibson Street were built on the previous site of the Ashfield "estate" built by James Gibson. I think the only reference to the former Laird and his architect was rechristening King Street as Gibson Street.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Bridie » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:58 pm

Brilliant post.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby SomeRandomBint » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:01 pm

I agree, Bridie. Cracking stuff, Greatcollapso - fascinating!

Janefield Cottage is my favourite house in the whole of Glasgow. Every time we do the Kelvin Walkway, Mr Bint and I fantasise about winning the lottery and buying it. It's just lovely.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Bridie » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:44 pm

SomeRandomBint wrote:I agree, Bridie. Cracking stuff, Greatcollapso - fascinating!

Janefield Cottage is my favourite house in the whole of Glasgow. Every time we do the Kelvin Walkway, Mr Bint and I fantasise about winning the lottery and buying it. It's just lovely.


I didn't even know it was there despite walking along those streets.

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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Lucky Poet » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:14 pm

Well you're nothing if not thorough, GreatCollapso. Thanks for posting all of that :)

(A ripple of applause for your user name too, by the way.)
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby GreatCollapso » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:13 pm

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Much appreciated. I'm going to try and pick apart the history of another street tonight (hopefully it'll throw up something useable).

If you've any requests for things you'd like dug into and spurious links drawn between then I'll happily give it a go. :)
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Seamey » Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:31 pm

And how come the Kiwis pronounce it OtAhgo when it should of course be OtAygo.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby GreatCollapso » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:34 pm

Do they? We should send them a letter. You know, like St Paul to the Corinthians only 'Weegies to the Kiwis'.
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Re: Renaming Glasgow's Streets

Postby Dot » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:19 pm

I am glad this thread was started and have now visited Janefield Cottage.
Never knew about it until I saw the lovely photos posted on here.
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