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Bishopbriggs Cross - - 409245.jpg
Bishopbriggs Cross
Grid reference: NS615705
Location: 55°54’29"N, 4°12’54"W
Population: 23,500
Post town: Glasgow
Postcode: G64
Dialling code: 0141
Local Government
Council: East Dunbartonshire
East Dunbartonshire

Bishopbriggs is a town in Lanarkshire. It forms part of the parish of Cadder, which lands were granted by King William the Lion to the Bishop of Glasgow, Jocelin, in 1180. Today, Bishopbriggs's close geographic proximity to Glasgow now effectively makes it a suburb and commuter town of the city.

Bishopbriggs grew from a small rural village on the old road from Glasgow to Kirkintilloch and Stirling during the 19th century, eventually growing to incorporate the adjacent villages of Auchinairn, Cadder, Jellyhill and Mavis Valley. It currently has a population of approximately 23,500 people.


The derivation of the name Bishopbriggs has caused some disagreement. The name is of Scots origin and the usual explanation is that it is 'the Bishop's Bridge', referring to that over the Callie Burn that runs through Bishopbriggs Park. Early 19c engraved maps show the settlement as 'Bishopbridges'. An alternative theory put about in recent years claims it is 'Bishop's Riggs', referring to the lands which the Bishop of Glasgow raised teinds from.


As early as 1568, reference is made to a path northwards from Glasgow as the 'common passage to Bischopis Briggis'.[1] Bishopbriggs was first documented in the Cadder Parish records of 1655, and was recorded to have had only eleven residents in the mid-18th century. Even more than a century later, after substantial growth, the village was still being referred to in the terms of the larger settlement of Cadder. Despite fears that the village would end up being swamped by the rapid expansion of nearby Glasgow it managed to avoid this, however 2,000 acres of the wider parish of Cadder were eventually absorbed by Glasgow Corporation in 1926, which would be used to construct the Milton peripheral housing scheme from the late 1940s.

By 1793, the introduction of new farming techniques had improved yields. While crops such as oats, barley, potatoes and flax flourished, Cadder's population fared less well; a decrease of around 600 from the mid-1760s was attributed to new agricultural methods which combined smaller farms or run rigs and swept away independent tenants, known as the Lowland Clearances. By 1836 there were 'almost no cotters' with the largest farms employing no more than ten people, and some of those only as maid servants. Land reclamation (through drainage) changed the landscape so that crops could grow, where once there was only marshland. Dairy farming was relied upon to cover ground rents.

19th-century development

The arms of the burgh

With the completion of the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1790, the area began to attract ironstone and coal mining industry. The Carron Company, became the areas's main employer, building the mining villages of Mavis Valley and Jellyhill to accommodate its workers. From there, the Forth and Clyde Canal formed a convenient and direct transport link with their famous ironworks near Falkirk. There were also freestone quarries established at Coltpark (Colston), Crowhill, Huntershill and Kenmure. Development during the 19th century was slow compared to the industrial-driven expansion of other nearby areas, such as Springburn. In 1836 Bishopbriggs population stood at 175, compared to neighbouring Auchinairn Village's 284. Bishopbriggs railway station on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, opened in 1842 however, underlining its status as the emerging focus of the local area, although expansion remained slow throughout the latter half of the 19th century. The population of Bishopbriggs was recorded as 658 in 1861 and 782 in 1871.[2] At the time, the village had also been known as 'Bishopbridges' and was so described in published maps up to the mid-1850s. The arrival of the railway heralded a change, although the first printed tickets called the station Bishopbridges, platform signage showed Bishopbriggs and it has remained so ever since.

The area continued to be a major centre for freestone quarrying during the 19th Century, supplying many major municipal building projects in Glasgow, such as Sir George Gilbert Scott's new University of Glasgow main building (the second largest Gothic Revival building in Britain). The blonde coloured Bishopbriggs Sandstone is from the Upper Limestone Formation of the Lower Carboniferous age. It was one of the most important Glasgow building stones, and was a major supplier of stone for Victorian Glasgow along with stone from quarries in other local areas such as Giffnock. Increasing demand for building stone and the emergence of the railways allowed for the additional transportation of red sandstone to Glasgow from quarries in Locharbriggs from the late 19th century onwards.

The blonde sandstone however was still considered to be of such value that in the 1850s when the depth of overburden became too great for opencast quarrying, it was mined using the traditional pillar and stall technique. Quarrying ceased in 1907 however after a fall at Huntershill killed several men.

20th-century development

The Glasgow tramway network was extended north from Springburn to Bishopbriggs in 1903, with a terminus originally at Kirkintilloch Road close to traffic lights at what is now the Triangle Shopping Centre. As all trams were required to switch tracks (and direction) at a central crossover this proved dangerous as the levels of traffic on the main road increased. The tracks were eventually relocated and a new crossover created in a short spur which required all trams to turn left and terminate at Kenmure Avenue, where they changed direction and returned southwards to Glasgow. The tram service ceased across Glasgow in 1962.

Bishopbriggs suffered an economic decline in the early decades of the 20th century. With the working out of the quarries at that time, what mines the area had closed systematically thereafter, throughout the 1920s.

Manufacturing in the town began to grow after the First World War, one of the manufacturers that located in Bishopbriggs at the time was a producer of Infant formula, Sister Lauras Food Supplement. There were also engineering firms and the Scottish Wire Rope Company factory at Crowhill, Trebor Bassett at Huntershill, and Blackie and Sons Publishers at Cadder amongst those providing alternative employment.

In 1929, a new 13-acre printing works for Blackie and Sons Publishers were erected on Kirkintilloch Road, retaining the name of their original Townhead works, 'The Villafield Press'. During the Second World War, Blackie & Son Ltd used part of their Bishopbriggs works for the manufacture of 3.45" shells for the Ministry of Supply. They also undertook some toolmaking for another Glasgow company, William Beardmore and Company; and, for a short time, produced aircraft radiators. By 1960 the publishing and administration section of the company also relocated from Townhead to join the printing section in Kirkintilloch Road, Bishopbriggs, and in 1971, new premises were occupied in Wester Cleddens Road, eventually becoming the headquarters of the company. The printworks were now no longer required and earmarked for demolition, following a demand for residential property in the area. The Villafield name was retained in the housing estate now on the site, opposite Cooper's Fine Fare supermarket (now Asda).[3]

The Robert McCarroll Plant Hire company was established at Crowhill in 1934 and continues to operate today.[4]

In 1932 the town saw the opening of its first (and only) cinema, The Kenmure. Located on Kirkintilloch Road it had an impressive towering facade and a single auditorium with capacity for 1000 patrons. Eventually the clientele dwindled after the arrival of television (in 1953) and by 1958 a decision was made to close it down. It lay derelict for a number of years, before being demolished to make way for the Churchill Way shopping centre which was constructed in 1962 (and subsequently demolished in 1993). The entrance to the cinema was where the Bishopbriggs Sub-Post Office is now located.

Proposals were also drawn up for the creation of a 3,000-acre "garden suburb" at Cadder by Patrick Abercrombie, under the instruction of Sir John Stirling-Maxwell in 1936 but by the 1950s just 26 art deco bungalows had been completed.

During the Second World War, the town was bombed by the Luftwaffe at around midnight on 7 April 1941, as part of a series of raids on the Greater Glasgow area during early 1941, which included the notorious Clydebank Blitz some three weeks earlier. Approximately five bombs were dropped in the vicinity of South Crosshill Road. One fell behind Cadder Church Hall, an annex building of Bishopbriggs School (now the library) housing the junior school, that had been converted into an ARP first-aid post, received a direct hit, killing five staff instantly, along with four civilian residents of South Crosshill Road. Three ARP staff were also injured in the blast and died of their injuries at Lennox Castle Hospital in Lennoxtown the next day. The only strategic targets in the area were the railway and RAF Bishopbriggs (now Low Moss Prison), a barrage balloon depot established at Cadder in 1939.[5]

After the war, an unprecedented boost to the town's population came about as a result of the large-scale building programmes of the fifties and sixties which eventually replaced Balmuildy, Cadder and Woodhill farmlands with private housing, effectively amalgamating the various villages in the area into a single town, centred on the village of Bishopbriggs, increasing the population from 5,272 in 1951 to 21,000 in the early 1970s. The significant increase in local population was at least partially influenced by the recommendations of the Bruce Report, which advocated the reduction of the population density of inner-city Glasgow and dispersal of its population to the outskirts and suburbs of the city.

Agriculture continued to diminish in importance throughout the 20th century as demand for residential development grew; in 1920 there were 31 working farms in the area, in 1948 that number had fallen to 24 and by 1989 there were only 13 left.

The town today and Bishopbriggs Cross

The town centre is known as 'The Village', 'Bishopbriggs Cross' or simply 'The Cross'. The principal retail areas are the Triangle Shopping Centre and the Cross Court.

The Triangle Shopping Centre was created by the demolition of older tenement housing stock and the Kenmure Church Hall on the eastern side of Kirkintilloch Road to facilitate the construction of new development called 'The Triangle' so called due to the shape of the available land.

In the Cross itself, tenement buildings dating from the Victorian era are still present on the western side of Bishopbriggs Cross.

In architectural terms, Bishopbriggs is notable for its superior Victorian villas, built after local landowners feued lands to the west of Kirkintilloch Road and Springfield Road from the 1850s, adjacent to the then recently completed Bishopbriggs Station on the Glasgow-to-Edinburgh Railway, its inter-war art deco 'Garden Suburb' on the former Kenmure Estate, and also for its large-scale post-war private housing developments, which has more recently also including housing developments in the neighbouring formerly rural area of Robroyston.


Cadder Parish Church

The original parish church was in Cadder, though the current church there is of the 1830s. The Kirk has several churches in the town and the neighbouring ecclesiastical parish of Robroyston has also been set up to accommodate the growing population on the outskirts of Bishopbriggs.

  • Church of Scotland:
    • Cadder
    • Kenmure
    • Springfield Cambridge
    • Colston Wellpark Church also serves the southern end of the town at the Glasgow boundary.
  • Evangelical: Bishopbriggs Community Church
  • Free Church of Scotland: church at Auchinairn Road
  • Roman Catholic:
    • St Matthew’s
    • St Dominic's


Cawder House, 1654

Bishopbriggs has a large sports centre, known as the 'Leisuredrome', opened in 1975.

  • Golf: three courses:
    • Bishopbriggs Golf Club, founded in 1906
    • Cawder Golf Club, established in 1933, whose clubhouse is Cadder House, built in 1654.
    • Littlehill Golf Course in Auchinairn, which was a donation to the district from Sir Hugh Reid of Springburn's North British Locomotive Company, opened in 1923

Transport links

Bishopbriggs is connected to the motorway network at Junction 2 of the M80 motorway at Robroyston.

The town is served by Bishopbriggs railway station, with trains to Glasgow Queen Street station.

The Bishopbriggs section of the Forth and Clyde Canal opened in 1775 and when completed, connected the River Clyde, at Dalmuir, to the River Forth, at Grangemouth.

Outside links