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Tue Feb 22 7:49 pm  #1

My time in Govan as a wee boy.

Funny How Time Slips Away!
Hello my name is James and although I was born in Clydebank I was brought up in what used to be
a small fishing village situated on the river Clyde. But by the time I got there in 1948 Govan had
became an industrial powerhouse and one of Scotland’s independent burghs. Even today Govan
has retained a sense of pride and identity through the good times and the bad.

This is my Govan story and the story about my family and life in Govan. My thanks to other members
of my family from other parts of the United Kingdom and the World for their input and contents of
this website. Many thanks!

I was born at number 70. Crown Avenue, Clydebank, Scotland on the 11th of August 1948,
(a long time ago now) to James and Agnes Strang in the future know as Mum and Dad.

I don’t know why but the next place I had a bottle feed was at 6. McKechnie Street, Govan,
Glasgow and I guess my real story starts there?

My very first real memory was my first day at school. It was at Hills Trust Primary School Govan

but can’t remember my first teachers name. All I can remember of that day was Mum getting me
dressed in the morning and walking me to school. I can still remember her leaving me with the head
mistress, a grey haired rather plump but pleasing woman who gave me a big smile and welcomed me
to Hills Trust. She took me into a classroom where there were other children I had never seen in my
life before and I guess a little scary at first but I don’t remember being scared at all.

I will always remember the very first thing I did in that classroom. The teacher sat me at a dark brown
desk that looked like they had got it from a skip as it was all scratched and had an old musty wood
smell. She, (the teacher) gave me some small coloured sticks I guess you could call them, yellow, blue,
red, green and orange. About four inches long and square sided at about the same thickness as a
pencil. I was told to sit there and build something with them. Don't really know what she wanted me
to build? Maybe a replica of a ship being built at Fairfields.

I can remember thinking to myself, What am I supposed to build? I don’t know what to do! I wish
I was back home with Mum! I don’t remember any more about that, my first day at school.
OK! “get on with it! what’s next I can hear you saying?

Not too sure to be truthful as the rest of my days at Hills Trust are a bit patchy. I do remember one
teachers name though and I guess she reminds me of the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Her name was
Miss Spears. A black haired pail faced tall skinny woman who smelt like a toilet with bony fingers and
deep set eyes and a nose you could have skied down! It was when I went from the very young
children section of Hills Trust to the older children’s part. I think she was teaching us English by that
time. Here is a picture of my School Class at Hills Trust back in about 1953/54. It's a bit of a mess but
it has been a long time.

I mostly remember from my time at Hills Trust playing football in the playground on the very hard
concrete. I liked playing in goals and used to dive for the ball to save a goal even though the concrete
was rather tough on my clothes and body! I know this sounds daft but I can remember what my class
mates used to call me while playing in goal, “Superman because I always used to dive and save the
ball and just seemed to bounce off the concrete with no ill effects. This was me at Hills Trust.

Another vivid memory of Hills Trust was the boys toilets. Red bricked and very dingy with a sloping
roof and the smell..... well you can imagine!

Not long after going into the other part of the school I was hurt in an accident while I was playing on
McKechnie Street. I was climbing up on a very large lorry which was covered with a water-proof sheet
held down by ropes. While I was up on the top of this Lorry I tripped over a rope and fell onto the
pavement on the other side where I broke both my arms. The Left one two breaks and a fracture and
the right one just a break. Well I got up and the pain in my arms was real bad and can remember
trying very hard not to cry. (well after all I was a Govanite and Govan boys don’t cry! Yeah right!!)
Anyway, I walked back home and up the flights of stairs to the top of the tenement at 6. McKechnie

as the lorry was only parked just across the street from where I lived next to the Lyceum Cinema.
I used to sell papers outside the Lyceum whan I was a wee boy. "Times or Citizen Final" was the call.

Into the close at 6. McKechnie Street I went with its gas lamp burning in the evening light making
shadows dance across the walls as I walked under it.

I climbed the stairs, landing after landing with their white lines chalked around the edges. I remember
I had to go and get the blocks of chalk for Mum and then help her create the lines all round the
landing and stairs. Up I go all the way to the top to where our home was, (A flat type dwelling with
just a room and a kitchen) In through the door to see ma Big Granny, my Fathers Mother sitting at an
old wooden table. My Mother was there too at the sink washing some clothes, (by hand as we didn't
have a washing machine then) but my big Granny took me in her arms and even though I was still in
lots of pain for a wee boy I felt safe in her arms.

They looked at my arms and they looked funny as one arm was broken in one direction and the other
arm in the other direction. So they took me back down the stairs and across Govan Road to the
Doctors. He told my Mother to take me to the Southern General Hospital (no ambulance for me!)
which was along past the Elder Park. So we got onto a tramcar and went to the hospital.

This is an aerial view of the Southern General Hospital, c 1960. The clock tower of the original
building can be seen on the right of the complex.

The Southern General Hospital is the descendent of the hospital of the Govan Poorhouse,

Originally located in the old cavalry barracks in Eglinton Street. The new 240-bed general hospital and
a 180-patient lunatic asylum were built at the present site at Merryflats in Govan in 1872. Major
extensions completed in 1902-1905 provided 700 more beds. The hospital was transferred from the
management of the Govan Combination Parochial Board to Glasgow Parish Council in 1912 and
passed to Glasgow Corporation from 1930 until the creation of the National Health Service in 1948.
Upgrading of the hospital's facilities began in the 1950s and was capped with the opening of a new
Maternity Unit in 1970 and the completion of the Institute of Neurological Sciences in 1972.

Between 1948 and 1974 responsibility for the hospital rested with the Board of Management for
Glasgow South Western Hospitals and in 1974 it was transferred to the South Western District of the
Greater Glasgow Health Board. The Southern General Hospital NHS Trust was created in 1992. This
was replaced in 1999 by the Southern Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust.

When we arrived at the hospital we went into the accident department and a Doctor looked at my
arm, (the left one) and told Mum it would need surgery to repair it as it was very badly broken.
In two places and also fractured. Next thing I can remember was getting the premed before going
into the operating theatre. They put a mask oven my face and I fell asleep. I always remember that
smell, like a old dry cleaners. During the operation I woke and sat up and looked down at my arm
which the doctor was fixing. It was opened up and I could see the bones they were trying to put back
together with gold clips so the bones would fuse together. They must have given me more
anaesthetic because the next thing I remembered was waking up in the ward.

I was in hospital for ten days walking around the ward, taking people cups of tea, newspapers and
the like. Then I was released and let go home still with my left arm in plaster and nothing on my right.
(wait a moment, didn’t I say I broke both arms?) Well I did!

On the way home on the tramcar, it was getting near our stop at the Lyceum Pictures so we started
down the stairs from the upper deck on the tram. Suddenly the tram jerked to a stop and because my
Mother was holding my right hand, leading me down the stairs she jerked my hand/arm and I let out
a scream of pain.

Mum took me across the road to see our Doctor as his practice was only across the road from the
Lyceum. When he examined my arm he said to Mum, “Get that boy back to the Southern General as
his right arm is broken! They had not only let me walk about the hospital for ten days with a broken
arm, they also sent me home with my right arm broken.

Southern General Hospital

When we got back to the hospital and told them what had happened and what our Doctor said they
were all apologetic about it saying they had so much trouble with my left arm they missed the right one. And that was that, they just set the break there and then, put a plaster on and sent us home again. Now I had two arms in plaster. The left one had my arm shaped like a letter “L" and the right
one just plastered up to the elbow. So that was it, no more football for a while until I get these
stookies off.

After a while my arms began to itch and I used to borrow a knitting needle from my Mother to have a
good scratch. Oh the bliss of being able to get something under the stookie to have a good scratch.
When it was time to have them removed my Mother took me once again on the Tramcar along Govan
Road to the Sufferin' General Hospital (we used to call it that after they sent me home with a broken
arm) When I went in to have them removed the nurse got out what looked to me like a Black and
Decker circular saw. When she started it up and it was running at full speed making a noise like a
strangled cat. She put the blade onto the plaster and started cutting it away. Well, I let out a scream
and made her stop. She had to finish of cutting the stookie off my arms by a small hand saw. No more
with her Black and Decker.

It was great to get them off as now I could have a real good scratch. But before I could leave the
hospital again they also had to take out the sixteen stitches they put in while I was in the operating
Theatre having the bones put back together. They had to open up my arm as it was a real bad break,
(three places and a fracture. After they took them out and cleaned up the blood that was hard, brown
and stuck to my arm. I was then allowed back home again. Well that was me back to school and
playing football again too. Great! (for the football that is as I didn't like school much)

While I am writing this other memories of Govan come flooding back to me. Memories long ago
forgotten. I can remember building a boggy out of some old pram wheels and a plank of wood with
flattened tin cans to hold the axle of the pram wheels onto the plank.
Here's one “ Oor Wullie built! Remember the Broons?

Great fun getting pushed up and down McKechnie Street. I also remembered putting roller skate
wheels on a thinner plank of wood and an orange box at the front standing on end nailed to the
plank. That was our scooters. If you took the orange box off the plank and just left the skates
attached what do we have that lots of kids today get their Mums and Dads to buy for them?
Skateboards! So I guess we invented skateboards way back then.

One day while we were playing in the swing park at the bottom of McKechnie Street on the swings,

a Bumble Bee landed on my shirt and my Brother Edward asked me where I got the great badge
from? I looked at him quizzing him as to what he was on about. Edward, pointing to my shirt, I looked
down and saw this huge big black and yellow Bee quite happy to be sitting on my shirt. I grabbed it
quick and tossed it away but not before I got stung by it. Stupid Bee, didn't it know it would die now?

This swing park was the place where I first encountered sex, well nearly. One day a young girl of
about twelve came up to me and said her friend wanted to have sex with me. Ha! I looked at her
wondering what the hell she was on about. After all I was only about eleven or twelve myself and I
didn't have a clue about what to do. So what did I do? I acted like and hard man of Govan would do. I
said no thanks as I can't be bothered and carried on climbing the trees at the bottom of the park.
Phew! Lucky escape. When I was about sixteen and the hormones running riot I wished I had taken
her up on her offer.

At the bottom of the swing park was where the wee Govan ferry used to arrive.
Here is a picture of where it used to be along the railings. You can see the dock
just down to the right. If you look close you can see my name on the boards.

I can remember playing round the back ay McKechnie Street on a dirty wet muddy ground doing stupid
things like climbing up to the high back next to us. Also climbing over at the high back into an old
outbuilding I think was an old steamie used by the occupants of the Tenements. It had an old boiler in
it, the type you needed to heat with burning coal under it. I remember roon the back looked a bit like

When I was about twelve or thirteen my Brother and me used to go along Govan Road round the
backs of tenements and climbed onto the air raid shelters, (the Govan jumps) to take our lives in our
hands again by jumping from one shelter to the other.

Some were only about a eight foot jump across but others were ten to twelve feet gaps to traverse.
There was the big Charlie, the wee Charlie, the Devils Leap, and the motorbike which was a jump from
the big air raid shelter then a drop of about six or seven feet and a gap of about ten onto the top of a
brick build midden which had a concrete top and about twelve fee long. Well we would land on the
midden, and keep running along it and then jumping up to catch hold of the top of the next air raid
shelter. But you had to watch what you were doing because if you were running too fast the air raid
shelter wasn't gonna get out of the way and you would flatten you nose and face on its brickwork.

What Nutters we were. My poor Mother never knew what we were getting up to when we were out
playing after school or at the weekend. Once we found a lot of Razors down at the water level when
the tide had gone out on the Clyde. I guess they were tossed there by the Razor Gangs after a
rumble with some other Nutters. My Brother once found a Grenade and some bullets down there too.

We used to make Bows and Arrows and mess about with them in the park. The arrows were made
with the end of a dart and we used to fire them at the trees, (poor trees they didn't do us any harm
but we still shot them!) Once I pulled the bow string back too far and when I let go the dart head
stuck into my thumb. In one side and the point sticking out the other. Ouch!

So rather than tell my Mother my brother and I got on the tram and headed up to the Suffering
General. When I asked for a ticket the conductress nearly fainted as she could see the dart stuck
through my thumb. Hehehe you should have seen her face. Another time while throwing darts at the
Lyceum Cinema wooden door on McKechnie Street, one got stuck into my brothers head when he got
in the road of me throwing the darts at the door. He yelped but I didn't feel a thing.

So I had to pull it back out for him. When, later we saw my Mother the idiot said to her! “We weren't
throwing darts at the Lyceum doors and a man didn't pull one of the darts out for us because we
couldn't reach it and Jim didn't throw the dart and it didn't stick in my head! He thought that because
he was telling Mum that we didn't do it. She wouldn't know that had done it! What a dope... Well, he
was only six at the time!

When we got into the hospital the doctor looked at it, got hold of the dart and my hand and then just
pulled it out. I got nothing for the pain, (bad man! ) When I yelped he just smiled and said, “you won't
do that again in a hurry, will you?? “No! I replied" and left returning back home again. Once more my
idiot brother said to my Mother, "We weren't firing our bows and arrows and Jim didn't get a dart
stuck in his finger and we didn't go to the Suffering General and the doctor didn't pull it out!"

Shut up I shouted, your telling her..... He looked at me and said, "I'm not. I'm telling her we didn't do
it!" He didn't understand that he was telling her what we were doing. So my Mother used to say to
him after that, if she wanted to find out what we had been up to. "Edward, (my brother) what were
you and Jim not doing today?"

My Brother and me used to go round collecting empty bottles to take back to the off licence and pubs
because we got money back on the bottles. At a couple of pubs we could climb over into their back
yard and help ourselves to some empty's when we couldn't find any. A bit naughty but that was how
it was in Govan then. We needed the money so we could go to the ABC Minors at the Plaza Cinema on

We couldn't wait until Saturday came around so we could watch Flash Gordon or Roy Rodgers and
Trigger, the Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, the Loan Ranger, Tonto and Silver and many others.
The noise in the pictures was that loud from screaming kids we could hardly hear what was being said
on the big screen. Right noisy lot the kids of Govan.

I also mad a little money from my Mother by sitting on the window ledge on the top floor of the
Tenement to wash the windows with the only thing holding me and stopping me from falling quite a
long way down to the ground, was the window pushed down onto my legs.

Tenements in 1957

We also loved going along Govan Road to the Elder Park. We would walk along past the National
Commercial Bank, Cosmo Cafe and all the shops up past Fairfields Shipyard.

If you watch this video called The Bowler and the Bunnet you will see what I mean as it goes past
McKechnie Street and the Lyceum. Watch it here at the videos tab on

Onward to the Elder Park.

It was originally Fairfield Farm, the park was donated by Isabella Elder in memory of her husband
John Elder and his father David Elder.

And the part we loved the best, the Elder Park Pond!

One of the best times was when the men got their yachts out from the boat house and sailed them
on the pond.

There wasn't only yachts on the pond. Some men used to have electric driven model ships and also
some that had real little engines too, with smoke billowing out of their little funnels. Also some with
little speed boats.

One day while I was helping one of the men with his yacht I was running around the pond and ran
too fast and ended up falling into the pond. That wasn't the only time I fell into the Elderpark pond I
did it several times afterwards. They say your not a Govanite until you fall into the pond there at the
Elder Park. It was also good fun when the pond froze over and we could all mess about on it
making slides and getting wet everytime we fell over then too. There always seemed to be some sort
of adventure we all had at the Elder Park many moons ago.

Now Saturdays was the day we all looked forward to. 6d or a 1/- in our pockets, running down the
flights of stairs at 6. McKechnie Street. Out through the close, left round past the Lyceum Bar, along
Govan Road passing the shops on the way. On past The Pearce Institute down to Govan Cross and
there in front of us was..... Yes, you guessed it, "The Plaza Cinema!"

Saturday Minors at the Plaza to see Abbott and Costello, Flash Gordon, Roy Rodgers and Trigger,
The Lone Ranger and Silver -"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty
Hi O Silver!" Ha! Ha! Ha! Great times. And the noise in the cinema with all us screaming Govan kids
you could hardly hear the story! If you want to see some of the stuff we watched at the Plaza we
have it on the website at:-->ABC PLAZA. We used
to come out of the Plaza after the ABC's and act like the Lone Ranger and my brother as Tonto.
Shootin' all the baddies along Govan road on our way home again.

We always kept a couple of pence so we could get some cinder toffee at the sweet shop next to
Gilbraths the Grocers on the right of Govan Road just round from McKechnie Street. Used to get the
Plain Bread and butter there for my Mother. I do miss my plain bread now I am living down here in
England. But wee do load the car up with it and Rolls snd also a wee yellow cake that looked like it
was a sort of a shortcake cup with a Strawberry and cream inside covered with a bright yellow icing.

Don't remember what they were called so I just point now when I go home and tell the girl a dozen of
them too please. My Wife, Debbie and Daughter Leanne love them too and we scoff some on the drive
back to Manchester, England again.

Anyway, enough of that. There used to be an old Lady that lived on the ground floor at number six
McKechnie Street called... Wait for it! "Fanny" and I used to go round to the Off Licence for her half
bottle of Whisky and ten Players fags. I was only about 9 or 10 then, no chance of getting served
these days. I got 3d for going so I was always happy to go for her. I don't ever remember seeing
her out of the flat as she used to shout me from her ground floor window and when I returned I had
to tap the window to let her know I was back.

Another Picture House we used to go to was the Elder.

People used to call it the flee pit but I like the Elder with its small entrance up the steps and the little
window we got our tickets out of. Inside to the left was always an old, large couch type leather
settee. And it was always dark in there and hard to find our seats.

The last film I saw there was "D-Day the 6th of June" With Richard Todd and Robert Taylor.

Don't tell anyone this ok? Bur round the back of the Elder berween the Broo and the back of the
Lyceum, there was a drainpipe attached to the wall that went from the ground to the top of the Elder.
Just over half way up, about 15 to 20 feet. There was a very small door up there. About 18 inches
high and about 12 inches across coloured black. Well, me and our Edward used to climb up the
draipipe and in through the little door and explore the cinema when it was closed. We went round
behind the screen and all through the auditorium and up into the projector room.

We found some torches there once. I think there was five or six? So Edward and me borrowed two of
them, (forgot to take them back. Can't now as the cinema is gone!" Bit naughty but it was a real
adventure for us two Govan boys who had nothing much then, so it was great to have a torch that
worked. We used to use them in the dunnie, a dark part under the tenements we used it like a den.
That was where we first smoked our single fags bought from the Lyceum Cafe.

I know, real bad but we were a couple of tearaways from Govan, I bet some of you people reading
this had a sly fag now and then.

Don't know if anyone remembers this but we found that if you put an asprin into a bottle of coke then
you would get stonned? We used to climb on top of an outbuilding at the back of the Elder and drink
our Coke with asprin and a single fag. (Bad boys!) There were iron railings to one side of the
outbuilding and me, stupid! Slipped while climbing over them as we had to jump from standing on top
of them onto the outbuilding and when I lost my footing and slipped I went down onto the railings
with my bum. They were pointed and I still bear the scar today. Needless to say I didn't tell my Mother
but my idiot Brother told her we didn't do it again. AAarrrggghhhh!!!!

Looking down McKechnie Street.

26 McKechnie Street.

Looking up McKechnie Street from the wee
swing park at the bottom of the street.

McKechnie Street swing park.

Kids playing in McKechnie Street swing park. Sadly now it is gone
and replaced by modern housing. So sad!

We also went down to the water edge of the Clyde at low tide and used to find Razors that the
Govan Razor Gangs used to toss over into the Clyde after they had used them on some poor man
in a fight.

We used to get them from here to the right of this picture, just in front of the McKechnie Street
Swing Park.

That was normal for Govan back then. I saw two men fighting once outside a pub on Govan Road.
One had an axe and he hit this other man on the head with it. It stuck into to other mans head and
he still carried on fighting with the axe sticking out of his head. Now that's what you call a Govan

This is a picture of the Labour Exchange on McKechnie Street.
I used to see the men lining up there looking for work.

Some kids playing on Wardrop Street at the back of the Lyceum and Elder Cinemas.
The back of the Elder is directly behind the kids.

This was the old Barbers in Govan. My Mother used to have to buy me a dinky car to get me in there.
I hated the Barbers but loved my cars so I went in for a haircut.

This is Rathlin Street, looking down towards the
Elder Cinema right at bottom. I liked the Elder but many didn't
they used to call it the flea pit. All I can say to that is;
"They didn't have to go to the Elder!"

This is a picture of Last Govan Ferry at Yoker 1977.

You can see a video of what they are doing now
with ferry No8.... >

This last picture is of Govan Road Looking past the Lyceum Cinema towards McKechnir Street.
You can see the Bedroom window of my house at 6 McKechnie Street, top floor to the left near the Lyceum. It is more or less centre picture. Many a time I was sitting outside that window with the window pulled down onto my legs while I cleaned the outside of the window for my Mother. I would be sat on the window ledge. Talk about health and safety??

Here was McKechnie Street as I knew it with the garage on the left.

Number 6 McKechnie Street was my close and the picture you can see Fanny Devlins window next to the bricked up close. I used to get Fanny her wee tot of whisky from the off-licence when I was about 10 ro 12 - Don't think I'd get served today eh?

I am off for now as I need something to eat. So I will carry on with my chronicles of Govan again soon. Bye for now!

Last edited by Jimmy (Thu Nov 3 12:46 am)

Haste ye back.
             Jimmy. (

Wed Nov 2 7:23 pm  #2

Re: My time in Govan as a wee boy.

Hi jimmy
Thanks for getting me back into the site.

I have just read my time in govan, what a good read.

It remindes me of the times when I played in the wee park wihen I was round at my aunts there or round with my cousins from Howat street,
The Elder park, I kept falling in the pond and walking drookit back to Copland road.

Is there only Mirren and my self from copland road on my Govan?

Keep up the guid work.

Boltons' bo too bad when I log in to My Govan.




Thu Nov 3 1:07 am  #3

Re: My time in Govan as a wee boy.

Hi Charlie, Nice to hear from you again. Do you ever remember a football team from Govan called Benburb FC they play in the Scottish junior league and are sponsored at the moment by Govan Cross Market Centre and also The Brechin Bar on Govan road. I must admit I never remembered them even though my Aunt Ella lived on Craigton Road. The Bens as they are called are on Craigton Drive just off Craigton Road. Some more stuff about Govan I missed as a wee boy.

David who is also a member on here used to do the Benburb FC website but he was snowed under with work as he runs his own business and also does the Bens weekly Programme. So I offered to help out. Now I run the website for Benburb FC as well as a few others including our site here at I have been trying to find time to continue another site called 

Still not done it yet as like I said real busy for now. Anyway nice to hear from you again have a good one as always.

Haste ye back.
             Jimmy. (
     Thread Starter

Sat Feb 4 3:48 pm  #4

Re: My time in Govan as a wee boy.

hiya there, i was known in the 70s as marie brown, we stayed on 7 southcroft street and i went to copeland road primary school. Remember climbing the dykes at the bottom of our garden playing with johnny patterson and his brother alex sisters wendy and lynne, anyone remember the gallachers next door to me on southcroft street?? I was 8 years old when i left govan but have never had as much fun as i did out playing with friends in the docks, I'm 43 now anyone out there who was living on southcroft street in the 70s? gonny have a good long look into all the posts now and enjoy the photos (happy) (happy)

Last edited by marie brown (Sat Feb 4 3:52 pm)


Sun Feb 12 10:25 pm  #5

Re: My time in Govan as a wee boy.

Hello Marie, Thanks for joining us here on MyGovan I'm sure there will be one of our members that can answer your question. Hope to hear more from you.

Haste ye back.
             Jimmy. (
     Thread Starter

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