Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Auchenshuggle Woods revived

It’s just over a couple of years since I accidentally discovered a little group of trees I have passed too many times to mention was actually a long-established wood, Achenshuggle Woods in fact.

The trees lie just to the south of London Road, at its T-junction with Causewayside Street, and partly behind an old sandstone wall. Some more of this wall can actually be found in the wooded area, lining what would have been an avenue leading to Fullarton House. Sadly, this is another of the great Glasgow mansion that once lay along the path of the River Clyde, and was lost some time before the 1930s. The shell of another, Belvidere, lies a few miles to the west, on the site of Belvidere Hospital, where it was the doctor’s house. It was stripped to bare stone, but not demolished, when a speculative development began, then stalled, on the razed grounds of the hospital, presumably intending, but failing, to attract interest on the back of the 2014 Commonwealth Shames.

Online at least, I’ve failed to dig up any useful info, pics, illustrations, on Fullarton House Glasgow, which is overshadowed by info on Fullarton House, Ayrshire. If anyone can offer anything on the Glasgow House, we’d really like to know more. What little we have gleaned so far has merely been guessed by looking at old maps of the area.

The montage below gives an idea of what eventually caught my attention back in 2010.

Auchenshuggle Woods

Auchenshuggle Woods – Click for bigger

First pair of pics shows the entrance at the east, just a swing gate in the wooden fence on London Road at the end of the sandstone wall. Notably, although there are some low stone plinths in the ground, there are not signs or similar to be found on them, or anywhere else in the woods – at that time, but see later pics.

The next pair of pics just shows that paths have been constructed, and there are further markers to be found while wandering along them, but the labels are long gone.

The last pair of pics shows a self-closing gate at the west end of the stone wall. This used to open into a field, but this land has since become an industrial estate.

The southern part of the woods is now apparently truncated by the M74 motorway, which marks that extent, and I’m sure the detractors of the extension would like to blame the motorway for this, but the reality is that the woods were long ago eaten into by the works and buildings of Clydebridge Steelworks, which extend into the woods, and appears to have a number of building hidden in the woods themselves. I’m sure better read historians than me probably know better, but I believe the buildings there were related to a fireclay works, indicated on old maps of the time – but don’t quote me, just in case.

The building have gone, but many of the foundations remain, and can be found in the woods, as can paths, steps, and one of my favourites: concrete lampposts!

Concrete lamppost and steps

Concrete lamppost and steps

Having been established as Glasgow’s first Community Nature Park, back in late 1982, this presumably explains the paths and plinths. But it looks as if the project eventually died off, which would explain the absence of signs and information.

As noted earlier, the Fullarton area became the property of the British Steel Corporation (BSC) as part of the large works established in the at Clyde Iron Works and Clydebridge. These are long gone, and cleared from the area. The Scottish Development Agency (SDA) acquired the land, then ownership was later transferred to the Glasgow Development Agency (GDA). The official title of Auchenshuggle Wood is said to have been bestowed by the SDA because of the wood’s proximity to the former Auchenshuggle tram terminus.

In the 1980s, it seems a construction firm was interested in building houses on the site, but this proposal was rejected after it was argued that the wood was a unique resource in the east end of Glasgow. It was next leased to the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, and then passed to Scottish Conservation Projects, its Scottish branch became independent in 1984.

Scottish Conservation Projects withered and died, eventually being dissolved in 2003, and with it any management and responsibility for Auchenshuggle Woods – unless you know better.

The woods seem to have found some friends again, in 2013.

This sign appeared adjacent to the east gate facing London Road:

Auchenshuggle sign

Auchenshuggle sign

While this identifies the body that has taken over the site, a search on the web fails to bring up any real information regarding plans for the site. However, it does bring up documents that shows the acquisition is something that has taken a number of years, and that the site now has an owner that wants it, and seems to be intent on looking after it.

To that end, as well as the sign the woods have gained a sneaky little visitor counter, fitted at the east en of the path, and will presumably be used to gauge the popularity of the area, whether or not visitors are being attracted, and maybe justify some grants and awards for its maintenance. They so seem to have made a start on this, with at least one hazard being fenced off with a wicker boundary when I was last there.

Auchenshuggle counter

Auchenshuggle counter

I’ll be back there for any updates regarding its recovery, but that will be later. At the moment it’s hard to believe that the weather was better back in January and February when I grabbed the above recent pics. While I was able to wander around the (bare) woods, it may not have been warm, but even today, in May, the real temperature (not the single sunny day that makes the news) is still struggling to break out of the 8-12°C range, and it’s WET! It’d also windy, and no fun walking about with the wind blowing rain where it shouldn’t really be.

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May 14, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | ,

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