Coal, Cottages and Canals is a community history project at Lambhill Stables, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
With the support of the Open Museum, the community outreach team of Glasgow Museums, and community archaeology charity Northlight Heritage, the Lambhill Stables History and Heritage Group has been gathering clues from the past in order to illuminate aspects of Glasgow’s changing landscape that future generations can appreciate and enjoy.
Focussing on the stretch of canal between Lambhill and Bishopbriggs, the group has studied maps, photos, documents and artefacts held in the Stables’ own archive and researched parish and census records. The group has created a picture of the rapid population growth in the 19th century, seen in the new settlements along the canal, gaining insight into the lives of the people who travelled here to work in the booming new mining and manufacturing industries.
Coal, Cottages and Canals aims to contribute to the understanding of the Forth and Clyde Canal as it evolves from a disused relic of Scotland’s industrial past to the vibrant green space that exists today and to present the history of the area to visitors to the Stables and to a wider audience. A selection of the work of Lambhill Stables History & Heritage Group is presented in these pages – to read more, follow the headings in the Lambhill’s History menu above – or better still, come and visit us!
Glasgow’s lost mining communities
Prior to the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal at the end of the 18th century, the area around Lambhill in the north of Glasgow was predominantly agricultural and sparsely populated.
Around the middle of the 19th century, rows of miners’ cottages sprang up along the canal to house a sudden influx of people migrating to the area from across Scotland and beyond.
Between 1850 and 1930 the rows at Mavis Valley, Lochfauld, Laigh Possil and Kenmure grew in parallel with the expansion of the mines they were built to service, driven by the increasing demand for coal and ironstone brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Barely big enough to be considered as villages in their own right, the rows were constructed hastily with the cheapest materials. Single-roomed houses contained two hole-in-the-wall beds; in larger houses, one room would be a kitchen. Life was difficult, often desperate, and conditions in the cottages were primitive. Things we take for granted now, such as electricity and running water, were non-existent.
Now, virtually nothing remains of the cottages themselves, but their names live on as part of the fabric of local folklore.
Poor Law records dating from 1860 describe a bleak picture of life on the edge of poverty and hardship. Three kinds of relief were available to struggling families: a limited period of financial assistance from local government; institutional care (asylum) for people who were dealing with physical or mental illness; or, in cases of extreme hardship, admission to the Poor House – often refused because of perceived social stigma.
Coal, Cottages and Canals exhibition and accompanying artwork and publication can be found at Lambhill Stables, 11 Canal Bank North G22 6RD.
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