There are few districts which combine so much of the
attributes of country life with the bustle and stir
of manufacturers; for the soil is dotted at every little
distance with the villas of the aristocracy of Glasgow;
with tall chimneys of coal works, with belts of thriving
plantations and clumps of old wood, with orchards, grassy
holms, or waving grain, and with the homely farm steading
or lonely dwelling of the cotter…’
Ordinance Gazeteer of Scotland 1884.
Much of Greater Easterhouse is built on old farmland.
Several farms were either partially or completely taken
over by the housing schemes that were built in the 1950’s.
All that remains of most of them are their names, which
were given to the new streets. You might still find
clumps of trees which surrounded the farm houses today.
Farms on old maps include Easterhouse, Westerhouse,
Nether House, Dungeonhill, Rogerfield, Greenwells, Commonhead,
Wellhouse, Queenslie, Blackfriars, Provanhall, Lochwood
There was a farm in the grounds of Gartloch Hospital,
as it was believed mental patients benefited from the
theraputic effects of working there. It provided milk,
butter, oatmeal, eggs and meat form its own abattoir
to the hospital, and also later to the Royal Infirmary,
the Southern General, and Barlinnie and Low Moss prisons.
Over 100 years ago the best farms had a four-year crop
rotation. One year the farmer would grow potatoes, the
next turnips, the next oats and then the last, wheat.
Then the cycle would begin all over again.
Many of the farms owned livestock such as cattle or
poultry. Imagine how the farmers must have felt watching
the new housing estates creeping closer to their land?
One poor man in the 1960’s had 100 of his hens
stolen. They were found with their heads chopped off
in a field the next day.
Amid the modern houses, there are still people farming
the land in Greater Easterhouse today.
has been mined in Easterhouse for hundreds of years.
The monks of Newbattle Abbey were given much of the
land in what is now Greater Easterhouse in the 12th
Century by King Malcom IV. They were amongst the earliest
coal miners in Scotland.
250 years ago, coal ‘cropped out, or became exposed
here. It was because the coal seams were so close to
the surface that the district was one of the first to
mine coal in Scotland. At that time, miners would have
worked in cramped conditions in Bell Pits.
Mining became a major local industry in 1790 with the
opening of the Monkland Canal. It could then be sent
to Glasgow, rather than just catering for local needs.
Old maps show around 30 pits around Ballieston at that
time. Coal was also mined at Dungeonhill, Provanhall
and Bishop Loch. The industry brought a new population
to the district, many coming from Ireland to work in
In 1962, when the Corporation were building houses
in Westerhouse Road, they struck coal.
For 3 weeks people helped themselves!
Working conditions were very poor for the coal miners
working in Greater Easterhouse’s pits. Many of
the mines were difficult to work and were vulnerable
to dangerous flooding. Wages were low and families survived
on very basic staples as soup, potatoes, sour milk,
bread and porridge.
Before the introduction of motorised pulley systems,
pit ponies pulled the heavy coal trucks through the
mines. Many would live down the pit for fifty weeks
of the year, never seeing daylight.
Over two hundred years ago flax was grown in the area
for linen making. Some farms grew 20-30 acres of the
crop a year. Swinton, West Maryston and Ballieston were
thriving weaving villages.
At Wellhouse Farm, strips of linen were laid out to
bleach under the sun in the fields. The weavers would
then carry the heavy rolls of linen on their shoulders
Flax growing died out around 150 years ago, when cotton
became more common.
In 1769 magistrates in Glasgow had to find a way to
transport coal to the city from the East. They decided
to build a waterway. They allocated the job to James
Watt who invented the Steam Engine. Ten miles were constructed
when the company found itself in difficulty financially
and it sold out to William Stirling & Son who owned
Drumpeller Estate. They completed the waterway in 1790.
Barges carrying coal and steel were running daily into
the city. Its profits grew after 1825 when the great
iron works at Calder, Gartsherrie, Dundyvan and Langloan
The Killer Canal
The Monkland Canal became known as ‘The Killer
Canal’. Many people drowned there through the
years. This Certificate of Bravery was awarded to…
for his rescue of a child who had fallen in the water
In May 1964 work began filling in the canal at a cost
of £300,000. The canal is now part of the M8 motorway
which opened on June 1973.
In 1807 passengers were ferried along the canal in
boats drawn by horses. For over 160 years barges used
the canal. It was closed to shipping in 1952.
Image courtesy of Stenlake Publishing
People who worked on the trade boats on the Monkland
Canal would have used sack grabbers. They made heavy
bags easier to lift.
The Dairy Farms
This is a milk can. Children were sent from the villages
to the local farms to collect milk. If you had lived
in Easterhouse village, the ‘soor milk cairt’
would have delivered butter to you twice a week from
These are shuttles, which were traditionally used in
cloth weaving. Old accounts tell how many local people
as children had watched the weavers at work, fascinated
by the ‘clickety clack’ of the shuttles.