A lunch hour cycle ride through south Glasgow exploring an abandoned football ground, a statue, a neglected necropolis and a ruined church. Not forgetting a 1950s moral panic about a vampire.
Remains of a football stadium
Third Lanark Athletic Club was a football club established by army volunteers in 1872. The club enjoyed early cup and league success and in 1954 Third Lanark recorded its highest attendance at home of 45,455. In the 1960-61 season Third Lanark scored over a 100 goals and finished third in Scotland’s top division behind Rangers and Kilmarnock, and ahead of Celtic and other famous names in Scottish football.
Within six years the club went bankrupt and disappeared in a way that defied simple explanation at the time. The end followed a period of poor results, relegation, power struggles and discontent.
The remains of the stadium are still evident in Cathkin Park with three sides of the terracing still in place. The large gap along the pitch is where the main stand once stood. Third Lanark has been reborn as an amateur team playing in the Greater Glasgow Amateur League and now plays at Cathin Park amongst the ghosts of its former glories.
A neglected Necropolis and a vampire with iron teeth
The Southern Necropolis was opened in 1840 and has a neglected air about it with worn-down or fallen gravestones and memorials covered by ivy and bramble.
For several nights in September 1954 the Necropolis was invaded by hundreds of children, some armed with sharp sticks and knifes. They were searching for the Gorbals vampire, a 7ft tall man with iron teeth, who they believed had kidnapped and eaten two boys. The incident caused a moral panic and was blamed on increasing popular American horror comics like Tales From The Crypt.
It did not matter that no creature featured in the comics fitted the description of the Gorbals Vampire or that one in the Bible did. The incident suited those hungry for a moral crusade. Action was demanded and action was taken: the government introduced the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 which banned the sale of horror magazines and comics.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. Daniel 7:7
One of the Necropolis’s notable internments is the influential architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson. Speaking of which…
Caledonia Road Church
Stranded between two busy roads the Caledonia Road Church was designed by Thomson. Fire ripped through it in 1965 and it has been derelict ever since although its interior seems to have recently become a community space. Thomson’s work in Glasgow sometimes has an unhappy history with the curse of his Egyptian Halls on Union Street.
Statue of David, warehouse land
Spotted overlooking the Southern Necropolis and hoisted high above a ceramics warehouse this statue of David is a reminder that dull looking roads can yield surreal surprises.