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Scottish Towns-Cities / Writings · 18 December 2022

Scottish Towns-Cities.(Newton)

Newton Mearns (ScotsThe MearnsScottish GaelicBaile Ùr na Maoirne [ˈpalə ˈuːɾ nə ˈmɯːrˠɲə]) is a suburban town and the largest settlement in East RenfrewshireScotland. It lies 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Glasgow City Centre on the main road to Ayrshire, 410 feet (125 m) above sea level. It has a population of approximately 26,993, stretching from Whitecraigs and Kirkhill in the northeast to Maidenhill in the southeast, to Westacres and Greenlaw in the west and Capelrig/Patterton in the northwest.

It is part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation. Its name derives from being a new town of the Mearns (from Scottish Gaelic “a’ Mhaoirne” meaning a stewartry).

History

Until the 20th century, the land around Newton Mearns was primarily agricultural. Ownership passed from the Pollocks (whose name is perpetuated in the nearby Glasgow housing estate of Pollok) to the Maxwells of Caerlaverock around 1300. It then passed to the Maxwells of Nether Pollok in 1648 and then the Stewarts of Blackhall in 1660. A new turnpike road from Eastwood Toll, now the main Ayr Road, was constructed in 1832. By the end of the 18th century quarrying had developed and more importantly numerous textile mills and finishing works became established availing themselves of the numerous rivers and lochs for water supply. The 1893 ‘Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland’ describes it as “pleasantly situated on a rising ground 410 feet above sea-level”. It also reveals that it was a ‘burgh of barony‘ which bestowed the right to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs. However, the Gazetteer also describes the village as being only a “single street on the Glasgow and Kilmarnock highroad”.

From the early 20th century, with the introduction of improved roads and railways to the area, it gradually became a growing commuter suburb of Glasgow. In the 1930s, between speculative and local authority housing ventures, a further 6,000 houses were added to the area and after a lull during the war years, in the 1950s, house building began again in earnest. Unfortunately, the old core village suffered neglect during and after World War II and was all but derelict by the 1960s. It was purchased and turned into a shopping centre which was later to become ‘The Avenue at Mearns’ in 1990.

Historical buildings in the area include the 15th century Mearns Castle, Greenbank House owned by the National Trust for Scotland (just inside neighbouring Clarkston) and the 1813 Mearns Kirk.

Pollok Castle

Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) undertook work on the Pollok Castle site, and history in 2000.

Pollok Castle, built 2003

The castle appears to be noted by Pont’s sixteenth-century map. The castle was demolished and rebuilt as a large stately house 1686 by Sir Robert Pollok. It was completely destroyed by fire in 1882 (after remaining empty for some while) and then rebuilt again shortly after in the Scottish Baronial style. It was finally abandoned in the 1940s and fell into ruin. Some of the ruins were dynamited in the 1970s and a large prefabricated house erected on the castle foundations. The prefabricated house was removed and the site cleared in the early 1990s, and the castle was again rebuilt in 2003, in the Scottish Adam style. Some of the original foundations and castle walls remain.

Governance

At national level, Newton Mearns forms part of the Eastwood constituency (since renamed to its original name of East Renfrewshire), and historically, it was one of Scotland’s safest Conservative seats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. From the 1997 general election, when Barrhead and Neilston were added to the constituency, until 2015 the seat was held by Labour. In the 2015 election it was gained represented by the SNP‘s Kirsten Oswald, but in 2017 general election it was gained by the Conservative Paul Masterton. Oswald regained the seat in the 2019 general election.

Newton Mearns forms part of the Eastwood constituency in the Scottish Parliament. The seat was held by Labour’s Ken Macintosh from 1999, when the parliament reconvened, until 2016. In 2016, Jackson Carlaw MSP, won the seat for the Conservatives.

Following the breakup of Strathclyde Regional Council in 1996, Newton Mearns became part of the new East Renfrewshire Council area.

On more than one occasion, Glasgow City Council has applied to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland to have Newton Mearns re-allocated to its control.

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