Place Names (J) Jackson Place - John Street
Jackson Place, Renton
This short street in New Cordale is a cul-de-sac on the west side of New Cordale Road, dating from the 1990's. It is named after one of Scotland's greatest football heroes, and son of Renton, Alex Jackson. Alex's clubs in the UK included Aberdeen and Huddersfield where he won all of his caps. Alex was not only a Wembley Wizard, playing in the 5-1 defeat of England in 1928, he also scored a hat trick that day. His international tally of 17 caps would have been much higher, but there was a ban on Anglos for a while, and then his career was cut short by contractual disputes.
He was killed in a car accident while serving in the Army in Egypt in 1946, aged 41. It seems a huge oversight that the Vale should have waited so long to name a street after him: If he'd scored that hat-trick in recent years, the whole boulevard from Glasgow to the Vale would have been named after him - now there's an idea.
Jail Rock, Loch Lomond
Jail Rock lies just to the southeast of Luss. Its proper name is Fraoch Eilean, or heather island in Gaelic, although occasionally it is referred to as Inchfreckland. It got its nickname for the obvious reason that perpetrators of minor misdemeanours in Luss (typically, being drunk) were marooned on it as punishment. It must have been for short periods because there is no shelter on it, or source of sustenance - other than water, which, admittedly, is in rather plentiful supply.
What became the village of Jamestown started out as a small collection of low cottages around where the track down to Balloch Ferry (now called Dalvait Road) branched off northwestwards from the Dumbarton – Stirling track, which had been made up to a military road about 1755. This hamlet had the name of Damhead, or more likely Damheid of Balloch.
The main features of the hamlet in the late 18th century were the grain mill, Mill of Balloch, which stood on the Carrochan Burn close to where Dalvait Road crosses it, and the dam which drove the mill, after which the hamlet was called. Unlike the dam which replaced it in the mid-19th century, and which was only drained and built on in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, this original dam was not in the middle of what became Jamestown, but was located where the Carrochan and Ballaghan Burns join. Even in the late 18th century, Damheid was not exactly an attractive name and about 1800 the name was changed to Jamestown, because, it is said, a number of the local residents had James as their Christian name.
By the time its named changed, Jamestown was already home to one of Bonhill Parish’s two parochial schools. This was built in 1772 and stood on the main road a few yards to the north of the present Jamestown Primary School. The hamlet would have regarded itself as a typical Scottish rural “wayside” clachan, but in fact the foundations of its industrial future and growth were already laid.
What became known as Milton Works (probably after Milton Farm onto whose lands it expanded after 1850) had started as a bleachfield in 1772, albeit on a very small scale, while in 1784 Levenbank Works had been started by a partnership called Watson, Arthur & Co from where the name Arthurston as in Road, Building etc was derived.
The oldest remaining building in Jamestown was built in 1843 at the north end of the hamlet as the Free Church School, just south of the bridge over the Carrochan Burn at the foot of Shandon Brae. The catalyst for dramatic change in the village happened a few years later when Archibald Orr Ewing left his brother’s employ at Alexandria Works and set up on his own with the acquisition, firstly of Levenbank Works in 1845 and Milton Works in 1850. It was under his ownership that these small enterprises were transformed in the 1850’s into the major brick-built factories, which dominated Jamestown for nearly 100 years.
Co-incidentally the 1850’s saw other changes in Jamestown. About 1856, the Primary School moved the short distance on to the site it now occupies, although it was substantially rebuilt in 1874 and thereafter to take on its present appearance. The Balloch – Stirling railway line came through in 1856 and Jamestown Railway station and goods yard handled passengers until 1934 and goods until 1964 when the line closed completely.
The expansion in employment at the Works meant that new housing was needed for the workers, and Archibald Orr Ewing addressed that need. In 1864 he started to build the Terraces from the railway station south along the main road to Bonhill. Ewing Terrace was first and it became part of Levenbank Terrace as it was extended. In 1867 Milton Terrace was built, while Napierston Terrace was completed in 1874. Like many parts of the Vale, the Terraces developed a very strong sense of community and many Vale families are proud to recall happy days living in the Terraces. However, by the 1960’s, Milton and Napierston Terraces probably no longer offered a high enough standard of accommodation, and they were both demolished in 1964. Levenbank Terrace was another matter. It could almost certainly have been renovated, as was by then being done in Glasgow to many red sandstone buildings. It did survive until 1974, when it too was demolished.
The expansion in the population in the second half of the 19th century meant that a new Jamestown Parish Church was opened in 1869, and village hall in 1884 (it later became the church hall). The population of Jamestown peaked about 1900 at just over 2,000 people, and new villas and replacement tenements as well as shops and pubs appeared in “Old Jamestown” at this time.
The early part of the 20th century saw little change to begin with, apart from the arrival of the trams, which ran from Alexandria Fountain to the railway station – the famous “Jimsun Caur” or “Jimsun Bogie”. The trams only lasted until 1928 when cars and buses replaced them. In Jamestown the buses included Joe Campbell’s, later Elliot’s Pioneer, which ran from Jamestown to the Fountain.
However, the signs of the down-turn in the fortunes of the Vale’s textile finishing industry were clear for all to see before the First World War raised even bigger issues. Production and employment at Milton Works was cut back in 1911, and the Works were completely shut by 1919. Levenbank struggled through the depressions of the 1920’s and 1930’s, but by the outbreak of the Second World War it was to all intents defunct.
Other uses were found for both Works. The site of Milton Works was cleared quite quickly, and by the late 1930’s, the upper part of the works was in use as Tommy Anderson’s sawmill. The site has been a wood yard / sawmill ever since, and to-day is owned by Gilmour & Aitken. Levenbank Works became an Admiralty victualling store during the war, and after it housed a number of small industrial units such as Franco Signs, Wallcraft Paints, Leddy & Glen Photography, and Wellowear, as well as a cattle market. Later business residents included Kunz Engineering and Jamestown Concrete. It is now a private housing estate.
The railway station and yard was redeveloped after 1964 as Jamestown Industrial Estate, which continues to prosper as a busy base for a number of car related businesses and small service companies.
The biggest pressure on the identity of Jamestown was the building of the Haldane estate from 1954 onwards, right on its northern and eastern doorstep. Additional housing estates such as Carrochan followed in the mid 1960’s, and at that time also the new St Kessogs Primary School was built on what had been the site of the Hostels.
Many other new private housing developments have been built in Jamestown since the 1980’s, and even if estate agents often don’t seem to know where Jamestown is, the locals certainly do.
Jessamine Lodge, Croftamie
Long forgotten, but still standing as a fine private house, although renamed long since, this house was another example of the philanthropy of William Ewing Gilmour. He built this house in 1898 as a holiday home for the girls who worked in the Croft, and named it after one of his daughters who had recently died.
It was well used in its hey day, when Croftamie was almost a day, and a world away, but gradually it got quieter during and after the First World War. It was sold as a private dwelling in 1924. It is still there, quite recognisable as the original building, adjacent to the former Croftamie school on its north side.
Jock’s Park in Alexandria was at the south east end of Victoria Street backing onto the railway line and facing west up Arthur Street. It is now mostly occupied by the town centre by-pass and its embankments, and a little bit by the parking lot for Woodyard Car salesroom. In fact Woodyard probably took its name from the Park, because it originally was the site of a firewood factory owned by John Miller and hence was locally referred to as “The Woodyard”. The “Jock” was after John Miller.
John Miller started his firewood business there in the 1890’s and ran it very successfully until the end of the WW1. He even brought a coal merchant and coal-ree onto the site at one stage. About the end of WW1, Jock changed his business completely and started a garage on the site. Some say that this was the first garage in the Vale, and if it was not actually the first, it was amongst the first. There is an excellent photograph on P51 of Jones & Hopner’s “On Leven’s Banks” showing the garage in 1922. It seems to have closed when Jock retired and certainly by the late 1930’s it was a vacant piece of ground, used as a playing field by the local children.
John Street, Alexandria
Now completely disappeared in the unfortunate 1970's town centre redevelopment, this street ran in a boomerang shape from Bank Street at the west side of the railway bridge to the bottom of Albert Street, more or less parallel to the railway line the whole way. It had many intersections - firstly Random Street (now also disappeared) joined it from the north, then Church Street from the west, while John Street cut across Bridge Street just to the west of the old railway bridge, still used by the railway above, but only by the jaikies below.
Nearly all of the old John Street is now either under empty town centre car parks or the line of the “Scotland's biggest roundabout” new road. John Street dated from about 1800 or perhaps a little earlier. History has not recorded after which John it was called, but there were plenty of candidates.
John Street, Renton
John Street was part of the southwards expansion of Renton in the early 1880's, which also saw the building of the adjoining Leven, Alexander and Lennox Streets. It became the “de facto” entrance road to Dalquhurn works via what is now called Dalquhurn Lane and although just an extension of John Street it is a good indication of what the entrance to Dalquhurn must have looked like for much of the 1800's.
The developers showed little imagination in the choice of street names, and while there are plenty of candidates we don't know after whom John Street was called. It will be interesting to see what changes the new Dalquhurn housing estate brings to John Street.