Place Names (O) O'Hare - Overton/Overtoun
In spite of being the most northerly estate and nearest to the rest of Bonhill, O'Hare wasn't built until the early 1970's. It is named after one of the outstanding Vale personalities of the 20th century - Dan O'Hare. Dan was born in the Canon Row Bonhill in 1887, the son of a couple from County Armagh and was a man of many parts: a tool-maker who was black-listed for his trade union and political activities (he was a Communist); fruiterer who had a barrow and then a shop in Main Street Alexandria, flautist (definitely not of the concert hall variety) who led his own Dan O'Hare's Flute Band which took to the streets as the occasion demanded; an outstanding public speaker, raconteur and wit. He was a charismatic figure, of whom few had a bad word.
He was a Communist councillor for the Braehead Ward of Bonhill, firstly on the old Bonhill Parish Council from 1922 onwards, and from 1925 on Dunbarton County as well. He was at the forefront of the struggles on behalf of the underdog for the whole of his political life and the causes he embraced included increased poor relief, better housing, improved public health and improved working conditions. There were more than enough of these issues to keep him busy for nearly 30 years.
Ill health forced Dan to stand down from the Council in 1949 by which time he was wheelchair-bound. He lived on for another 7 years dying in 1956 aged 69 at home in Tontine, Renton where he had been looked after by his wife Effie (who had originally been a nurse) for a number of years. Given his contribution to the improvements in the Vale, particularly housing, it was appropriate that not just a street but a whole Estate was named after him. Like all of the other council-built estates on the hillside, it has no street names, each house being numbered and called O'Hare. Dan would have found the appropriate words for this arrangement.
O'Neill Terrace, Alexandria
This cul-de-sac lies between the bottom (i.e. east end of) Albert Street and Bridge Street. It consists of private terraced houses and was built in the early 1990's. It is named after Pat O'Neill, a Dumbarton Labour Councillor, who was the last Provost of the old Dumbarton District Council, and the first of the new West Dunbartonshire Council when it came into being in 1996. He has the distinction of being the only Dumbarton-based councillor to have had a road named after him in the Vale.
Oakburn Walk / Avenue, Jamestown
These streets are in the new Turnberry Homes development, called Ferry Field, at Sandbank. They take their names from Oakburn Cottage which goes back more than 150 years and still stands just off Auchencarroch Road beyond the north-east boundary of the Ferry Field Estate.
Old Luss Road, Balloch
Before the opening of the Alexandria bypass and the realignment of the road between what was then the new Stoneymollan Roundabout and Arden, this was the old A82, and before that the Inverary - Dumbarton military road. It now starts at the Balloch roundabout and runs north for about half a mile before becoming a dead-end, although you can continue to walk or cycle on what then becomes the pavement of the A82. MacDonalds and the Princess Rose stand on it, as does one of the original lodges to Tullichewan Castle.
Stoneymollan heads due west from the Road en route to Cardross over the hill. On the east side of the road are a collection of bungalows and an imposing villa. The houses were built for the management of the almost adjoining Silk Factory. The villa housed the managing director, who for many years was Mr Hofstedder (“Hoffie”) who doubled up as the Swiss consul in the west of Scotland. After that it was the North Church Manse for years.
Further up the road was Cameron Brae, which was also a bad corner, on which there were many accidents, including a number of fatalities. Just before the present road ends there is a detached house in which in the early 1960's David Attenborough stayed for many months while preparing one of this wildlife programs.
Cameron Brae was a most un-military road like feature, and indeed the original road went much closer to the Loch, partly on what is now the driveway of Cameron House. Since it passed right in front of the Smollett's front door, they paid to get the road re-aligned, and that re-alignment introduced Cameron Brae. So it really isn't “Old” Luss Road - that was the original military road. Maybe “middle-aged” is a better description.
Old Oak Tree, the, Alexandria
This tree was the centre of the old Grocery from time immemorial until it was cut down on 3rd October 1865. It was centuries old and cut down only because it had started to die and was in a dangerous condition. The Old Oak Tree was the Vale's rallying spot for religious, political and social meetings and speeches from the early days of Alexandria, until it was cut down. The Fountain, erected in 1870, stands just a few feet to the south of where the Old Oak Tree stood.
Our Lady & Saint Mark's Church, North Street, Alexandria
When this Church was built in North Street Alexandria in 1859 to serve the growing Roman Catholic population, most of whom but not all, were Irish immigrants, it was the first Roman Catholic Church to have been built in the Vale since the Reformation. Mind you, until the 1830's, not many others had been built either.
Perhaps its most famous visitor was the Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, who drove down from Tarbet Hotel where he was staying to attend church on Sunday at Our Lady & Saint Mark's. The North Street Church was replaced in 1926 by the one, which presently stands on the former site of Ferryfield Works.
Overtoun or Overton Farm, Road & Street, Alexandria
The Farm is a very old one and appears on Pont's map of 1654 as Over Toun. The change to Overton was made about 1870, at about the same time as Overton Street and Road were being laid out on what up until then was the track up to the Farm. Until that time, the track was known as Wattie's Loan, after the farmer Wattie Gardiner who farmed Middleton Farm, which stood about half way up the hill.
Overton Street ran between Main Street and Middleton Street, and between Middleton Street and the Farm it was called Overton Road. Now it is all Overton Road. The first new house on it was the Parish Church manse, built about 1850, and shortly after that, tenement houses in Overton Street were added. The opening of the new cemetery in 1880 made Overton Road much busier and the red sandstone villas began to appear on it in the 1880's and 90's.