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Giffnock, East Renfrewshire. - - 429703.jpg
Giffnock main street
Grid reference: NS565585
Location: 55°47’54"N, 4°17’26"W
Population: 16,178  (2001)
Post town: Glasgow
Postcode: G46
Dialling code: 0141
Local Government
Council: East Renfrewshire
East Renfrewshire

Giffnock is an affluent suburban town in Renfrewshire, four miles east of Barrhead and six miles east of Paisley, at the southwest of the Glasgow conurbation. Giffnock is mentioned in documents as early as the seventeenth century as a scattered agricultural settlement.

The urbanisation and development of Giffnock began in the mid to late nineteenth century: several sandstone quarries opened, which brought the railway link with nearby Glasgow. Large-scale quarrying continued in Giffnock for almost a century, but ceased by the 1920s. An additional railway service began at the start of the twentieth century, closely followed by the arrival of Glasgow Corporation Tramways. Giffnock's relative closeness to Glasgow coupled with the local industry and good transports links helped it to develop into a suburban town, as many wealthy merchants chose to construct villas in its smog-free environs and commute daily to the city.

Heavy industry has gone but Giffnock has continued to grow as a commuter town, expanding from roughly 1,425 residents in the early twentieth century to 16,178 in 2001.

Giffnock's built environment is characterised by its mixture of nineteenth and twentieth century single and two story dwellings, most of which are semi-detached or terraced. Towards the south of Giffnock the properties are generally grander two story detached villas, commonly built with local sandstone, many of which are now listed buildings.


The name of Giffnock appears to come from the Old British language, or is partially British and partially Gaelic, from ‘'Cefn cnoc meaning “Ridge of the hill", the later element being common to Old Welsh and Gaelic. An alternative suggestion has it that the Gaelic diminutive suffix oc or og has been added to the British cefn.


The first written mention of Giffnock came in 1530, when James V presented Rockend (Ruken) Mill and the surrounding lands to Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton.[1]

The settlement of Giffnock first appeared as Gisnock, in an atlas created by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1654, the first atlas of Scotland.[2] Giffnock was primarily a scattered farming community until the late 1780s, when Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton was forced to partition the land into a number of small properties for sale to raise finances.[3]


In 1835, the first sandstone quarry in Giffnock opened. Before long, the town became known for this industry, and at its peak, there were four quarries in Giffnock, three surface quarries and one underground quarry, which together employed over 1,000 men.[1][4] The quarries produced two types of sandstone: "liver rock" and "moor rock". "Liver rock" was particularly popular with masons thanks to its lack of stratification, which made the stone easy to work with. In 1854, a coal mining firm managed by civil engineers Hugh Baird and Robert Stevenson took over the running of the quarries and by 1866 the Busby Railway was built, allowing them to transport the stone by rail.[4][5] Originally, a lower level line was laid from Giffnock railway station into the Orchard Quarry to facilitate the extraction of the stone.[6]

Sandstone from the Giffnock quarries was primarily used within the nearby city of Glasgow and can be found in older parts of the University of Glasgow and the interior of Kelvingrove Art Gallery.[4] A small amount of trade was done with Belfast, and some of the finer "liver rock" was even transported as far as America and South Africa to build both buildings and monuments.[6]

Quarrying in Giffnock continued until 1912 when, due to flooding and the high cost of extracting stone, work ceased. Numerous ventures tried to revitalise the quarries for other purposes, including the cultivation of mushrooms in the tunnels. As the pits began to fill with water, it became an issue that needed to be resolved. In the early 1930s, William Bearmore & Co began tipping slag from the production of steel into the Giffnock quarries.[7] The slag tipping continued until 1969, when Derek Crouch Limited began scrap metal extraction, which lasted until the late 1970s. Today the ground is a wasteland.[8]

Coal mining was also carried out in Giffnock, between 1850 and 1926. The coal produced was of a very poor quality and was of little value to householders. The main use of Giffnock coal was with commercial and industrial customers such as Busby Gas Works.[9]

Urbanisation and expansion

The opening of Giffnock railway station in 1866 allowed business people to build sandstone villas and commute daily to the city. At the time, it was much more desirable to live in Giffnock than to live in the smog-polluted city.[10] By the early 1890s, residential Giffnock began to grow around the railway station and Eastwood Toll,[11] and by 1892 gas was introduced to the area.[11] Gas street lamps were erected by Busby and District Gas Company in 1893; however, these were supported by a voluntary subscription that many households refused to pay, leaving many areas unlit. It was not until October 1896, when Eastwood Parish Council took over street lighting, that the area was consistently lit at night.[10]

In 1903, a second railway station was opened in Giffnock, Whitecraigs railway station. The station lay on the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway, originally built to provide a through route from the Lanarkshire coalfields to ports such as Ardrossan on the Ayrshire coast.[12]

The growth of Giffnock was furthered in 1905 by the arrival of the first Glasgow Corporation Tramways tram in the town.[11] The addition of this tram link and the nearby Whitecraigs railway station helped the popularity of Giffnock as a weekend destination and lead to the opening of Rouken Glen park in 1906 by Archibald Corbett (later Lord Rowallan), the M.P. for Tradeston.[11] The Giffnock tramline was one of Glasgow Corporation Tramways's most profitable routes; up to 15,000 travelled to Giffnock on a Sunday to visit Rouken Glen.[10]

During the great housing boom of the late 1930s, Giffnock began to grow rapidly. Between 1930 and 1940, as many as 3,000 dwellings were constructed, and the population rose dramatically, from 1,425 to 3,471 in 1939 and 9,144 in 1951.[13]

On 7 May 1941, during the Greenock Blitz of Second World War, the Luftwaffe dropped a group of bombs over Giffnock, but only two houses were destroyed.[1]

Proposals were put forward in 2008 to expand the town with the building of 178 houses on Braidbar Quarries next to Huntly Park, involving the Park closing for a period of two years. However, following 2,000 objections from local people and the opposition of the Scottish Government's reporter, East Renfrewshire Council abandoned the plans in October 2011.[14]


Until the end of the nineteenth century, Giffnock had no church buildings, and religious meetings took place in the waiting room of Giffnock Railway Station and, later, in the clubhouse at Eastwood Golf Course.[1]

Orchardhill Parish Church, designed by HE Clifford and completed in 1899, was the first church built within Giffnock.[1] Now a Category B listed building, the Church is built in a Gothic revival style of architecture and is built mainly of locally quarried stone.[1]

Also located in Giffnock is Giffnock Synagogue, founded in 1938 and home to the largest Jewish religious congregation in Scotland.[15]

About the town

In 1936 the Tudor Cinema was constructed in Giffnock by Alex Frutin. It opened in December as a "superb suburban cinema". The Tudor was an Art Deco style building and is considered Glasgow's first "entertainment complex", featuring a ballroom and restaurant as well as the 2,400-seat cinema.[13]

Giffnock has numerous parks, including Rouken Glen, Huntly Park and Eastwood Park, where the council offices are based.

There remains some ancient woodland in Giffnock, which could be as old as 8,000 years.[16]

The lands of Rouken Glen Park originally belonged to the Crown. Ownership shifted to the Earl of Eglinton when James V presented the land to Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton on the marriage of his son in 1530.[17] The area of the estate was farmed until the end of the 18th century and, in 1858, the estate was purchased by local merchant Walter Crum. Alexander Crum inherited the estate in 1879 and is responsible for the layout of Rouken Glen as it is today. On his sudden death in August 1893, the house passed into the hands of his brother, William Graham Crum, who later sold the estate to Archibald Cameron Corbett, MP (later Lord Rowallan) on 19 May 1905.[18] In 1906 the estate was given to the City of Glasgow by Lord Rowallan, with the provision that it be for the "citizens of Glasgow for all time".[18] Rouken Glen Park was officially opened on Saturday, 25 May 1906 by Lord Rowallan.[18]

Eastwood Park Leisure Centre has a 82-foot swimming pool, two additional smaller pools and two gyms. Activities in the leisure centre include casual swimming, swimming lessons, pool fun sessions, fitness classes, a sauna and gym sessions.[19]

Greenbank Garden, an 18th-century house and garden owned by the National Trust for Scotland, is located within Giffnock. The house has a 2.5 acre walled garden, sixteen rooms and barns and stables. This building is protected as a Category A listed building.[20]


  • Athletics: Giffnock North AAC, originally formed as a football club in 1943
  • Golf: Whitecraigs Golf Club, founded in 1905. The course was originally designed by Willie Fernie]], who was The Open Championship winner in 1883 and also designed the Ailsa course at Turnberry. Alterations to the course were made in the 1930s by James Braid, who won The Open Championship five times between 1901 and 1910.
  • Rugby: Whitecraigs Rugby Club

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Giffnock)


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CAA
  2. Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 2. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  3. Landscapes: Giffnock - British Broadcasting Corporation
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Quarries – Portal to the Past". Portal to the Past. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  5. "Busby Railway". RailBrit. RailBrit. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 5. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  7. Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 6. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  8. Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 7. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  9. Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 8. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 10. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Timeline – Giffnock". Portal to the past. East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  12. "Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway". RailBrit. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 15. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  14. "Braidbar quarry housing and remediation plans announcement". East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  15. "Synagogue membership in the UK". Synagogue membership in the UK. Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  16. "Broadleaved & Mixed Woodland [PDF"]. East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  17. "History of Rouken Glen". Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock.. [Eastwood]: Eastwood District Libraries. 1988. p. 22. ISBN 1-871215-00-5. 
  19. "Eastwood Park Leisure". East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  20. "Listed Building Report". 10 June 1971. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  • Eastwood District Libraries. (1988). Sandstone to suburbia : a history of Giffnock. ISBN 1-871215-00-5