Urban remains: a necropolis and its vampire, a football club and a church

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

Caledonia Road Church, South Glasgow.

Caledonia Road Church, South Glasgow.

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

Statue of David

Statue of David

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.

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14 thoughts on “Urban remains: a necropolis and its vampire, a football club and a church

  1. Great collection of stories and photos here, I thought the old football ground was particularly interesting (you don’t see that very often do you?). Necropolis story was interesting as well, I can’t imagine seeing all those vampire hunters there, must have been quite a sight. But really, glad I wasn’t there for it! 😛

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  2. Thanks SI – old football grounds tend to be developed into housing or supermarkets but having said that there are a few current football grounds in Scotland that are so dilapidated they just seem abandoned….but are not. Usually have a good atmosphere when there is a match on. Glad you enjoyed!

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  3. Alex,Don’t believe your a Londoner at all.You know Glasgow and it’s people better than some Weggies.I’ve never ventured south of the river unless I had too😊

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    • Thanks Charlie – I think it’s an outsider’s fascinated eye. That old cliché about exploring foreign lands in rapture but knowing your home backyard less well or even taking it for granted. The Glaswegian good lady barely knows some of these places and is also reluctant to venture south of the river. Odd considering she lived south of the river in London and was annoyed by the negative perceptions!

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  4. An interesting post- the necropolis photos are a fine set. I was a child in the fifties and my uncle used to call me “horror comic”…I wonder if that was why 🙂 These necropolis developments…necropoli? always seem to have an atmosphere about them…it’s a few years since I went to the Glasgow one but it seemed heavy with neglect the last time I saw it. Quite depressing to see that nothing has happened with the Caledonia Road church, Thomson is definitely Glasgow’s lost architect. I too was suspicious of the “South” for a while after I had moved from Hillhead, but I did come to like it…there is a definite change of flavour though, south of the river.

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    • I think Caledonia Road church is now a preserved ruin and they are using the space a little for community projects but you never know with the Council or any suspicious bulldozing and fires that happen between Christmas and New Year when no-one is looking (eg Springfield Town Hall). Even the main Necropolis is a bit tattered despite it being a key tourist attraction. Maybe a bit of neglect and ruin is part of the charm and atmosphere.

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