top of page

The Cityford Burn

© Rutherglen Heritage Society

Roys Map.jpg

Left, map showing the course of the Cityford Burn from William Roy's Military Survey of Scotland 1747-55. 

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

One of the 'seven burns' listed by W. Ross Shearer in Rutherglen Lore, the Cityford Burn runs from Cathkin Braes down to the Clyde through Rutherglen. Often hidden by undergrowth and disappearing into culverts, it makes its way north, largely unnoticed, through woods, housing estates, under roads and railway lines, passing many of the town's lost farms.


Here, with the aid of current photographs and historical maps, Bill MacLennan traces its course. 

The burn originates in the north slopes of Cathkin Braes but expansion of housing has obscured the course of the burn where it had been forced through artificial channels and underground pipes. 


The following notes describe a walk, in which an attempt was made to define the course of the burn up from the Rutherglen Bridge to the slopes of Cathkin Braes. 


Some parts of the burn are hidden behind buildings or driven through underground and, in these areas  some speculative assumptions have had to be made as to its course.

Right, map charting the course of the Cityford Burn from Cathkin to Bankhead, showing the locations referred to in the corresponding numbered text below.

Reproduced courtesy of Bing Maps

bill map 2 numbers.jpg
bill map 1 numbers.jpg

The Paddy 

 1   East of the bridge near the south end of Bankhead road, the Cityford Burn widened into a pond.  In the past, children enjoyed paddling in it, hence the nickname, ‘the Paddy Pond’. 


In 1974, there was widespread flooding around the burn leading to the local authority approving the creation of flood defences at various sections of the burn.  This interfered with the flow of water, so that the pond became stagnant and covered with vegetation.


Above, the Paddy Pond

The Paddy.jpg

Above, 1953 map showing Bankhead Pond (The Paddy), south of Bankhead Road. Crosshill Farm is shown to the west.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Audio clip of David Jackson recorded in 2018 recalling swimming in The Paddy in the 1950s

The PaddyDavid Jackson
00:00 / 01:46

 2   The burn followed south curves to the east round the back of Millrig Road and then turns south again to run under Landemer Drive. 


Above, the burn south of the Paddy......


......and behind Milrig Road

Right, Extract from Thomas Richardson's 'Map of the Town of Glasgow and Country Seven Miles Round' of 1795, showing the course of the Cityford Burn.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Thomas Richardson 1795 map.jpg

The Burn South of Bankhead

From Rutherglen Lore

William Ross Shearer, 1922

"There are seven burns mentioned on the Ordnance Survey Map, and there are seven other burns or names of burns familiar to Ruglonians that are not mentioned. In alphabetical order, they are known as: Bourtree Burn, Cityford Burn, Croftfoot Burn, Eastfield Burn, Jenny'sBurn, Mallsmyre Burn, Springhall Burn, Stonelaw Burn, Trinity Burn, West Burn, and Whitlaw Burn. As the sources of all these streams rise in the uplands of Cathkin, we shall take the poet's advice, and " gae farer up the burn "

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

 3   The burn can then be followed south under Landemer Drive and then, at right angles to this joins a long, stone lined culvert south of the houses on the south side of Landemer Drive. 


It re-joins the burn which is on a curve turning the burn around by 180 degrees at which point it runs through a pipe under Kings Park Ave and then under Kingsburn Drive to the south to turn east facing Mill Street, before it turns at right angles under Kingsburn Grove. 


From there it runs under the bridge supporting the railway line between Burnside and Croftfoot Stations.


Left, the burn on the south side of the bridge across Landemer Drive

Right, dry culvert south and parallel with Landemer Drive


Left, west end of culvert linking with burn which bends through an angle of 1800 to turn east

Right, the burn lying west to east between Kingsburn Drive and Kingsburn Grove


 4   South of the railway line, the burn initially is in a wooded area.


 5  The burn then passes the Spittal community centre.  This is on the site of the Spittal farm, which was surrounded by open fields.  In the early 1950s, the area was developed as a housing estate, dealing with overcrowding in the centre of Rutherglen.


Below, 1895 map showing the Cityford Burn passing to the east of Spittal Farm on its way to Bankhead. The farm buildings stood on what is now Bute Terrace, off Mill Street.

The letters 'B.S.' show the locations of boundary stones along the course of the burn which marked the Royalty Boundary.

1900 map Spittal Farm.jpg

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

 6  The burn approaches Croftfoot Road.


 7  The burn lies under the Spittal and Croftfoot Roads which are parallel to each other.  It then emerges to the west of St Bartholemew’s RC Church to enter woodland..

Spittal Bill text No. 7.jpg

Left, georeferenced 1895 map showing the burn passing to the west of Tormusk Road then under Spittal Road and Croftfoot Road at what was Croftfoot Farm.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Croftfoot farm.jpg

Above, drawing of Croftfoot Farm from Rutherglen Lore by WRS

 8  The burn then lies in woodland up a slope to the west of Fernhill Road.  It then disappears at a point to the north of Tormusk Road


 9  The burn emerges again next to a drain to the east of Ardencraig Road to the south of Ardencraig Drive in woodlands at the western edge of the old Blairbeth Golf Course, now Fernbrae Meadows urban park.


Below, 1895 map showing the burn draining into the sluice at Mill Farm from the culvert pictured at  11  below. Mill Farm lay to the east of what is now Ardencraig Road

1886 Mill Farm.jpg

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

From Rutherglen Lore

William Ross Shearer, 1922

" Mill Farm, where in early times a conduit was led to the water-wheel at the farm, which
originally belonged to the maternal grandfather of the famous Mongolian missionary, James Gilmour,
who was born at Cathkin in 1843."

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

 10 The burn continues through woodland.


 11  The burn is then linked to a very long culvert across open ground on the site of Blarbeth Golf Course, to the south of Fernbrae Avenue.


12  At the west end of the culvert it turns at a sharp angle to the south east to continue an ascent up towards Cathkin Road.


13  Further south, the burn is to be found to the east of houses in Cathkin, in forest within the bounds of Cathkin Braes Country Park .  .


 14 There is a short section where a length of piping lies on the bed of the burn.



 15 The origins of the burn start in woodland  a short distance south of Cathkin Road and still to the east of Cathkin. .  .


"In the centre and at the base of
the Big Wood—not far from the kennels, the spring called
" Queen Mary's Well " still bubbles forth its melodious


In the Dick Park proper, three other springs, with
drinking cups, supply the needs of thirsty travellers, and
similar other conveniences will be found further east, at
Mid Farm and towards Cathkin House. Some of these
springs are seen to converge at Mill Farm, where in early
times a conduit was led to the water-wheel at the farm,


Due east from this farm,
a pathway, thought to be a right-of-way, leads by Fernhill
to a little wooded enclosure on the main highway, known
as the Basaltic Rock, a colonnade of basalt pillars 30 feet
high and a foot and a half in diameter, which will be found
described in Ure's History. The surface water from the
Braes becomes quite voluminous here, and it is from this
point our survey of the burns commences.

After passing underneath the roadway, this rapid
runnelet enters the estate of Fernhill, and skirts the
garden-path of Burnside Farm, better knowm in schooltrip
days as " Butteryburn," ..The course of the
burn is now due west, along the margin of the Royalty,
boundary; and besides its song we have also the
companionship of the march stones, whose carved initials
remind us of those who placed them there, but whose
full names at this distance of time might even challenge

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

From Rutherglen Lore

William Ross Shearer, 1922

The Burn North of Bankhead

Below, 1898 map showing Queen Mary's Well, Mill Farm and Mid Farm

1896 map Cathkin Braes.jpg

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Burn North of Bankhead

The course of the burn, north of Bankhead Road is blocked by a concrete barrier. Buried under roads and buildings, the burn originally ran along the western boundary of Rutherglen to Mall’s Mire a boggy area to the east of Polmadie and thence to an outlet into the Clyde.


There is an unfounded tradition that, when Mary Queen of Scots fled from her defeat the Battle of Langside, her horse, Polma got entrapped in the Mire. Leaving it to its fate, she is reported as calling, ‘Polma dee for I must flee, for I must flee’.

"A large orchard and garden (at Bankhead), with lake and pretty waterfall

graces the southern boundary, and on the north of the

broad avenue an extensive plantation embraces an active

watercourse, known originally as the Cityford Burn, which

at one time was a source of much usefulness to the ancient


Making a circuitous bend west of the Lodge at the foot

of the avenue, the burn, which, according to the map, must

now be called " Cityford," leads into a delightful glade,

dear to the hearts of the boys reared in this rural quarter

of the town, and known to them as " Watty's Plantain."

This plantation was always a favourite bird-nesting place,

and, besides being an ideal bathing resort..

Leaving Bankhead under its new cognomen " Cityford,"

the burn, after passing through the bridge that leads to

Crosshill Farm, directs its course citywards."

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

From Rutherglen Lore

William Ross Shearer, 1922

Below, 1895 map showing the burn leaving the dam at Bankhead, turning north west, passing Crosshill Farm on its way to the Clyde. From its source at Cathkin down to Bankhead, the burn has no name on maps. Only when it leaves Bankhead is it shown as the Cityford Burn. 

1893  map.jpg

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Passing Blackfaulds Farm and Toryglen Farm to the west and Whites Chemical Company to the east, the 1898 map below shows the Cityford Burn being joined from the west by the Malls Myre Burn in brick works clay pits near Dixon's Govan Colliery Pit No. 5. Only a few miles from its rural beginnings, the Cityford Burn negotiates Victorian Shawfield's brutal industrial landscape as it nears the end of its journey.

1893 map Malls Myre confluence.jpg

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

'The united streams, after some playful manoeuvring with the

boiling-hot overflow that comes coursing down from No. 5

pit, turn in a north-easterly course, under the changed

title of " Polmadie Burn," but more commonly designated

at this point as " Jenny's Burn," which in its present condition

is a burn no more, but a dangerous open sewer,

stagnant and smelly, as it enters Richmond Park en route

for the Clyde…'

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

From Rutherglen Lore

William Ross Shearer, 1922

Jennys Burn Pit 51.jpg

Right, drawing of Dixon's No. 5 pit and Jenny's Burn

Audio clip of David Jackson recorded in 2018 talking about learning to swim in the brickwork claypits at Shawfield in the 1950s, collecting one brick from each of the 13 brickworks, trainspotting steam locomotives at Polmadie and remembering the homeless men using the heat from the brick kilns to keep themselves warm. 

Shawfield BrickworksDavid Jackson
00:00 / 03:35
Polmadie Burn.jpg

The Cityford burn is known as the Polmadie Burn or the West Burn in its final section. It is more popularly known as Jenny's Burn.

The 1895 map on the left shows the burn joining the Clyde to the west of what is now Richmond Park. The football ground to the west of the burn is now the site of housing at Haughview Terrace/Provost Way, Oatlands.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Cityford end 03.jpg

Left, Jenny's Burn flowing right to left just before it joins the Clyde below Provost Way, Oatlands.

Below, the burn emerging at the Clyde, photographed from Polmadie footbridge which joins Oatlands and Glasgow Green. Richmond Park is to the east of the burn, obscured by trees.

Jennys Burn.jpg

Below, Edwardian postcard showing Richmond Park from the Oatlands side of Jenny's Burn. The red brick buildings with chimneys beyond the park are the factories and foundries across the Clyde in Dalmarnock. 

Image Credit: Glasgow City Council.

Richmond Park from Jennys Burn.jpg

...and below, the same view today, largely obscured by trees.

Jennys Burn bridge crop.jpg
Jenny's Burn

Jenny's Burn

Play Video
Jennys screenshot.jpg

Left, a short video clip of Jenny's Burn joining the Clyde at Oatlands taken from the footbridge over to Richmond Park

Photographs and text by Bill MacLennan. Map captions and photographs and video of Jenny's Burn by Carrick McDonald.


Many thanks to David Jackson for his audio recollections.



Scotland's Places: Description of the Cityford Burn in the Ordnance Survey name book for Lanarkshire, 1856-61. Ordnance Survey name books provide information about place names on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps produced in the mid-19th century.

click on link

Submerged Sounds: A project to record the underwater sounds of Glasgow's lost burns. This is the page for recordings of the Cityford Burn:

click on link

From Benny: The Life And Times of a Fighting Legend by John Burrowes: Memories of training on Cathkin Braes in boxer Benny Lynch's biography. References to Rutherglen's burns including the Cityford, and to Queen Mary's Seat.

click on link

Herald article February 2019 about hexavalent chromium pollution in the Polmadie Burn caused by Whites Chemical Company.

click on link

Glasgow City Council YouTube video showing construction of the new Polmadie footbridge in 2018. The video has good aerial views of Jenny's Burn joining the Clyde just to the east of the bridge.

click on link

bottom of page