Barrhead from the Fereneze Hills
Barrhead's origin is as a township within the parish of Neilston. Its name comes from the agricultural term Barr meaning long ploughed furrows for cultivation of crops. The original hamlet lay at the head of barrs and became known as Barrhead.
Barrhead today forms part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation.
Barrhead was formed when a series of small textile-producing villages (Barrhead, Arthurlie, Grahamston and Gateside) gradually grew into one another to form one contiguous town. According to local historian James McWhirter, the name "Barrhead" first appeared in 1750.
In 1851 an explosion at the Victoria Pit colliery in nearby Nitshill occurred, killing 63 men and boys who worked in the mine, many of whom lived in Barrhead. The victims were buried in a mass grave in the yard at St John's Church on Darnley Road, and although they were later exhumed to other cemeteries, some may still lie at St John's in an unmarked grave.
During the 19th and early 20th century, the town was a major centre for manufacturing, with industries including an iron foundry, tannery, and the Armitage Shanks porcelainware works, as well as Gaskell's carpet factory, employing generations of the town's residents. In the latter 20th century, the decline and closure of nearly all of these industries caused a fall in local population and employment. In recent years, Barrhead has found new life as a popular residential commuter town for nearby Paisley and Glasgow.
- Church of Scotland:
- Methodist: Barrhead Methodist Church
- Salvation Army
- Barrhead United Reformed Church
- Roman Catholic: St John the Evangelist
Major businesses within the town include Barrhead Travel, Kelburn Brewing Company, and JM Murdoch & Son, among others. The town's largest employer remains the local council and the public sector.
There is a very limited range of retail shops in Barrhead, and residents must rely on nearby Paisley and Glasgow for the bulk of their shopping. The town's main supermarket, Tesco, is outside the town centre.
Traditionally not strong in service businesses, the Glasgow Road corridor is being redeveloped into a dedicated business district which includes Crossmill Business Park, Blackbyres Court, and the former Bowerwalls housing area. There are four industrial estates: Robertson Street Industrial Estate, Levern Industrial Estate at Cogan Street, Muriel Street, and the Barrhead Cargo Centre and Shanks Industrial Park, located on the former site of the Armitage Shanks factory.
Barrhead is accessible via Junction 2 (Pollok) or Junction 3 (Darnley) of the M77 motorway.
At the beginning of the 20th century, several railway lines ran through Barrhead to accommodate the town's manufacturing industries. Evidence of the old lines can still be seen within the town, including two standalone sections of railway viaduct, one now carrying a footpath between Springhill Road and the Woodside Park in Upper Auchenback (known locally as the Jerries).
The Royal Shakespeare Company has staged full performances in Barrhead five times, most recently "The Canterbury Tales" in 2006, using a mobile performance venue set up in Barrhead Sports Centre.
There are several public houses in Barrhead. These include Cross Stobs, The Kelburn, The Arthurlie Inns, The Fereneze Inn, and The Brig Inn. The Cross Stobs dates back to at least 1695.