nursery slopes


Bearsden is a town in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It lies on the northwestern fringe of Greater Glasgow, and is effectively a suburb of Glasgow. It is approximately from Glasgow City Centre, on the site of the Roman Antonine Wall.



Bearsden was first known as New Kilpatrick and the town's official Gaelic name is Cille Phàdraig Ùr. Following this it came to be called New Kirk. While not confuse the issue, Bearsden in Ghadlig is uaimh na maithain.

While it is accepted that the current name Bearsden originated from the railway station built in 1863, the origin of the name itself is unresolved. It was taken from a house near the station site, but also appears to have been a name for the immediate area. A common explanation is that the sons of a local laird once kept a pet bear in a den there, but there is no evidence to support this. Indeed, as Dr James McCardel pointed out in his "History of New Kilpatrick", captive bears do not live in dens, but in pits.

Bearsden is pronounced Bears-Den' [ˌbe:rzˈdɛn] - with either the emphasis on the second syllable, or equal emphasis on both.

The Scots motto on the Bearsden coat of arms is "Bear the Gree", which means 'to take first place'.


The first known settlement on the site of present-day Bearsden was a 2.5 acre (10,000 m²) Roman fort in the second century AD. Between 142 and 144 AD, under Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Romans built a stone and turf fortification, called the Antonine Wall, between the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth. They also built the Military Way, a road that ran parallel to the south of the wall. They built the aforementioned fort at the intersection of the Military Way, and the north-south road from Glasgow to Loch Lomond. In 164 AD, after only 20 years, the Romans withdrew to Hadrian's Wall.

Little of the fort remains to be seen today. However, close to the fort was a Roman bath-house, built in approximately 142–143 AD. The bath-house's remains were discovered by builders digging foundations for a housing development in 1973. The site was donated to the government, and today the remains lie well-preserved 150 metres from the town centre. Furthermore, two stretches of the Antonine Wall's stone base can be seen in the New Kilpatrick cemetery on Boclair Road.


Modern Bearsden began in an agricultural area as a small hamlet called New Kirk, or, perhaps, Chapelton. Close landmarks included Canniesburn Toll, a water mill at Garscube, and the New Kilpatrick Parish Church, which was first built in 1649. The present-day church was built in 1808. The settlement grew in the middle of the nineteenth century when Glaswegian businessmen built houses at a short distance from the city. As a result, the town centre is mainly Victorian and also lies in the Old Bearsden Conservation Area. In 1863, the Glasgow and Milngavie Junction Railway opened, with a station at New Kirk called Bearsden. This soon became the name of the community.

The Bearsden Amateur Football Club was constituted in 1890 and its founders were drawn mainly from the employees of the staging post, originally situated at Bearsden Cross. Their first ground was in Drymen road, now the site of the public hall and All Saints church and when the ground was re-developed the club moved on to Station Road where they played until the club disbanded on the outbreak of war in 1914.

In 1919 the club reformed and played for the first time on their present ground at Thorn Park.

The club won the Scottish Amateur Cup in 1961-62, beating Pencaitland 1-0 at Hampden Park. Presently they participate in the Caledonian Amateur Football League.

In 1906, many buildings were built at Bearsden Cross by Mathew Henderson (he also tried, unsuccessfully, to develop another commuter suburb at Drumchapel). Bearsden continued to expand in the twentieth century as residents built large independently-designed villas, estates of bungalows, and other types of houses. Few sites are now left unoccupied. In 1898 the first Boys' Brigade company in Bearsden (1st Bearsden BB Company) was formed. In 1908 the first Scout group in Bearsden, the 24th Glasgow Scout Group, was formed. In 1958, Bearsden became a Burgh. Then, in 1975, it became part of Bearsden & Milngavie District Council. Since 1996, it is one of the five towns of East Dunbartonshire Council.

Transport links and physical layout

Bearsden can be accessed by rail from Bearsden, Westerton or Hillfoot stations.

It can also be accessed by road, of which the main routes are:

Road Starting point Ending point Common names
A739 Craigton Canniesburn Toll Bearsden Road, Switchback Road
A809 Canniesburn Toll Drymen Drymen Road, Stockiemuir Road.
A808 Bearsden Cross Hillfoot station Roman Road, Roman Drive
A81 Centre of Glasgow Callander Milngavie Road

This aerial photo of Bearsden Cross may be useful when reading the following paragraph. The photo looks south, and the main road running in the vertical direction is Drymen Road. The single (very straight) road which intersects Drymen Road near the centre of the picture is Roman Road.

The town centre is located at the intersection of the A809 (Drymen Road) and A808 (Roman Road). It is known as Bearsden Cross, and, as of December 2005, its surrounding roads were being upgraded by East Dunbartonshire council. Bearsden Primary School, the Burgh Hall, Bearsden North Parish Church, and All Saints Episcopal Church are all located immediately next to the town centre. A quarter of a mile east along the A808 (Roman Road), there is a Roman bath-house (see 'History', below). North, along the A809 (Drymen Road), there is New Kilpatrick Parish Church, Brookwood Library, and Bearsden Ski Club.


Bearsden is primarily a middle-class commuter suburb, with its residents travelling into Glasgow each day to work or study. The majority of its housing stock is detached. According to the 2001 census of Scotland, the area comprises 10,417 households, with a total population of 27,967. This is an increase of 0.6% (or 161 people) since 1991, when the population stood at 27,806 (there are an average of 2.64 people per household). Of these, 8,306 are over 55 years old, 17,700 are in social class ABC1, and 6,052 are in social class C2DE. 73% of residents surveyed travel to work by car, 16% by train or bus, 5% by other methods, and 6% work mainly at home. Many of the west of Scotland's most expensive houses are in the Old Bearsden Outstanding Conservation Area - Bearsden's postcode (G61) was ranked 7th richest in the UK by a 2005 survey, with an estimated 176 millionaires living there.

Notable people

Leisure Activities

Bearsden Ski Club

Bearsden Ski Club was formed circa 1964 by a small band of enthusiasts. Located in the middle of Bearsden the club quickly grew to be recognised as one of the major influencers in Scottish ski-ing, producing many world class skiers including Olympian Lesley Beck.

40 years on, the club is based at the West of Scotland Snowsports Centre in the town, and has a membership of about 1200 skiers, boarders and social members. Following the proud traditions of the club a number of skiers are now in the fulltime British Team.

Having spent circa £1million in 2005-06, the club now provides dry slope facilities, incorporating Main alpine slope, two nursery slopes and the freestyle slope. This freestyle slope is the home of the Legion Snowboard who cover the freestyle scene in and around Scotland. However, Legion are independent of the ski club.

1st Bearsden Company of the Boys' Brigade

Founded in 1898, the 1st Bearsden Company of the Boys' Brigade has been a central part of the Bearsden community for over 100 years. In its centenary year they moved into a custom built new hall with excellent facilities. The Company has three sections - Anchor Boys, Junior Section and Company Section (which includes 'Seniors'), catering for Boys and young men from ages 6 to 18. The Company is an active member of the community and has participated in international camps in locations as far afield as Denmark and the USA.

183rd Glasgow Scout Group

Formed in 1947 by the Home Guard the 183rd Glasgow Scout Group meets in Bearsden. It has two Beaver Colonies, two Cub Packs, one Scout Troop and an Explorer Unit. It currently has over 140 members.

24th Glasgow Scout Group

The 24th Glasgow Scout Group, based in Bearsden, is one of the largest Groups in Glasgow with five Beaver Colonies, six Cub Packs, two Scout Troops and an Explorer Unit. It was formed in January 1908, and there is a published history of the group.


External links

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