Pollok shown within Glasgow
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||Glasgow City Council|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Glasgow South West|
|Scottish Parliament||Glasgow Pollok|
Pollok (Scottish Gaelic: Pollag meaning a pool) is a large district on the south-western side of the city of Glasgow, Scotland. There was until the 1950s a Pollok castle (demolished, with just a gatehouse remains), owned by descendants of the Pollok family ("people who lived by the pool"), who were vassals of the FitzAlan family who served David I of Scotland, and who became Stewards to the Royal House (and took the name Stewart) to eventually inherit the throne of Scotland, when Robert Stewart married the daughter of Robert the Bruce, to become King Robert II. The town of Pollokshields was built to house families from the overcrowded inner city. Housing 30,000, it was built from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Pollok was built by the old Glasgow Corporation and was the first of the big four peripheral housing schemes built to improve Glasgow's slum housing conditions in the inner city. The building of Old Pollok commenced in the 1930s but was interrupted by World War II. The urgent need for housing after the war along with budgetary constraints meant that the original plan to build a 'garden suburb' was abandoned in favour of higher density, lower quality housing.
Pollok suffered the same social problems that also emerged from the other large housing schemes. The slum clearance programme disrupted the network of the old communities and the extended family. There were few shops, no pubs, cinemas or leisure facilities. People lived far away from their places of work and there were very few employment opportunities locally.
The post-war tenement buildings were of poor quality and suffered from damp, condensation and lack of soundproofing. Glasgow Corporation (later Glasgow District Council) could not maintain the buildings in the face of budgetary cuts imposed by central Government. Local manufacturing jobs were outsourced to overseas countries and unemployment rates grew to unprecedented levels. Those who were able to left the area, the remaining population enduring poverty, lack of opportunities, ill-health and lower life expectancy.
In recent years there has been a sustained effort to improve the area. Most of the post-war tenement housing has been demolished or refurbished, and new private housing has also been built.
Pollok is an area south west of Glasgow, near Paisley. It is believed the name was adopted by some Breton knights in the retinue of Walter fitz Alan, Steward of Scotland to David I. Both families came via Shrewsbury, from Dol-de-Bretagne on the Brittany-Normandy border, around 1080, where Alan fitz Flaad was seneschal.
The founder of the dynasty was called Fulbert, a Norman name (in fact the same name as William the Conqueror's father in law, but not the same person). The name 'Pollock' is Celtic from Pollog, "people who live by a pool", and Robert de Steinton (Stenton in East Lothian) and his brother Peter appear to have been given land by the FitzAlan family in return for armed support, and perhaps changed their name and abode to Robert de Pollok, and Peter or Petrus de Pollok. They both have wax seals in the British Museum. Robert's shows a man on a horse with his hunting dog, and Peter's, a boar with an arrow in its left shoulder. Pollock tradition says it was granted by a king for saving his life hunting an old and wily boar that had unseated the king and was about to gore him to death. This boar has become a notable Pollock crest. These two seals are believed to be the earliest family seals (excepting kings and nobles) known in the UK as landed gentry—the Norman French "de" denotes their town of origin.
Most descendant Polloks from Scotland or Ireland (Pollocks of Newry), use this "Boar passant quarterly or and vert, pierced through the sinister shoulder with an arrow passant proper". The family moved from farming to growing flax and becoming merchants, and one branch moved to Northern Ireland around Newry, where Mountaintowns House is still owned by Polloks. Robert & Peter's names appear as witnesses to charters in Paisley Abbey, so they were men of wealth and importance in the area, vassals of the fitz Alans, precursors of the Dukes of Norfolk and Arundel, and of the royal family of the House of Stewart. Peter de Pollok was also recorded as builder of Rothes castle near Elgin in the Spey valley, before it became the Leslie Clan stronghold. This crest is believed to be the oldest yeoman (i.e. non noble family crest), denoting loyal followers from an early merchant class.
Pollok was later divided into Upper and Nether Pollok. It is believed that later Polloks had land confiscated and given to the Maxwell family for supporting Edward I's puppet "Scottish" king, Edward Balliol, against Robert the Bruce. A Pollock castle existed until it was destroyed by a fire at the start of the twentieth century. The little known "Pollok Tartan" (red, green, pale green and white) is similar to the Maxwell tartan and several Pollok daughters married Maxwell clansmen. There is a Clan Pollock Society in the United States, and the 11th President of the United States (1844–1849) was James Polk (1795–1849), descended from Pollok ancestors. A Democrat, Polk served only one term, but is considered to have been one of the more aggressively productive men ever to hold the office, and presided over the Mexican War.
The modern town of Pollok has two secondary schools, Rosshall Academy in the north and St. Paul's High School, which recently gained national coverage for its rise up the league tables. This was attributed to the highly controversial streaming of pupils, introduced by Headteacher Rod O'Donnell. St Paul's High School is recognised as one of the schools of ambition in Scotland. In 2009 Pollok lost its local primary school Bonnyholm Primary along with several other small school to combine and become part of Crookston Castle Primary School. There is also Pollokshields, an area built as a dormitory town for Glasgow.
Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) undertook work on the Pollok Castle site and history in 2000 and a summary is available at http://www.damstodarnley.org. The article has numerous references to "Pollock" however the correct spelling is "Pollok", without the "c". There are also some historical inaccuracies which are corrected below.
The castle was originally a tower dating from the 11th Century. The castle was demolished and rebuilt as a large stately house 1686by 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, incorporating some of the surviving elements of the earlier structure, by Mrs Ferguson Pollok of that Ilk.
It was finally abandoned in the 1940s and fell into ruin thereafter. Some of the ruins were dynamited in the 70s and a large prefabricated house erected on the castle foundations by Mr Greer who purchase Pollok Castle Estate from Glasgow council. The gate houses at each end of the estate were also rebuilt along with the gardener’s house and the castle stables and sold on as private residences.
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 by Alex Hewitt. Some of the original foundations and castle walls remain, on which the house has been built, notably a portion of the five metre high north moat wall still remains.
Pollok is home to the Silverburn Centre which opened in October 2007, replacing the old Pollok Centre. The centre, the largest of its kind in Scotland, has brought many hundreds of jobs to the area. Key stores include a 24-hour Tesco Extra adjoining the centre. This was the largest store in Scotland when it opened in July 2006. Other key anchor stores are M&S, Debenhams and Next. Altogether, the Centre houses 95 shopping units and 14 restaurants and cafés.
Next to the Silverburn centre are the recently renovated and extended Pollok Health Centre and the Pollok Library and Swimming Pool.