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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s



By Irene Maver

Lindsay House Cathcart, in Renfrewshire, was absorbed into Glasgow as part of the 1912 boundary extension. The community already had a long history, dating from the 12th century when the Cathcart family were established as landowners. By the 19th century Cathcart had developed an industrial profile because of its proximity to the White Cart River. Papermaking was a specialist local trade, notably connected with the Couper family who bequeathed the Couper Institute Hall and Library in 1887. Towards the end of the 19th century Glasgow commuters took up residence in Cathcart and the population grew. The Cathcart Circle, completed in 1894, provided a swift and accessible rail link with the city.

Royal Visit, 1917 Although papermaking on the Cart ceased in 1921, other industries became prominent. The Wallace-Scott Tailoring Institute was built beside the river in 1922 as a model garden factory. From 1886 the largest local employer was the engineering firm of J & G Weir & Co. During the First World War it was a major munitions supplier and the largest producer of military aircraft in the west of Scotland. The managing director, William Weir (1877-1959), later Viscount Weir of Eastwood, played a leading role in the government's Ministry of Munitions, with particular responsibility for aircraft. The Weir Company was also a centre of munitions production during the Second World War.

Granny Robertson's cottages Cathcart had a mixed architectural profile ranging from the tenements along Holmlea Road to the villas and terraces to the south and west of the district. Glasgow Corporation built flats during the inter-war period. The old village retained much of its picturesque riverside character, although in 1921 the decision of electors to prohibit public houses removed the historic landmark of the "Old Hoose" tavern. Up to the 1950s the community projected a quality of douce respectability and social life generally revolved around church activities. However, the presence of three cinemas – the Kingsway, the Rialto and the Toledo – suggests that Cathcart residents also had a taste for glamour and escapism.

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