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Scottish Gaelic: Ceann a' Bhàrra
Scots: Baurheid

Barrhead from the Fereneze Hills
Barrhead is located in East Renfrewshire
 Barrhead shown within East Renfrewshire
Population 19,813 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference
Council area East Renfrewshire
Lieutenancy area Renfrewshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GLASGOW
Postcode district G78
Dialling code 0141
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament East Renfrewshire
Scottish Parliament Renfrewshire South
List of places

Barrhead (Scots: Baurheid,[1] Scottish Gaelic: Ceann a' Bhàrra)[2] is a town in East Renfrewshire, Scotland, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) south-west of Glasgow on the edge of the Gleniffer Braes. At the 2001 census its population was 19,813.

Historically, most of what is now Barrhead lay within the parish of Neilston, in the county of Renfrew. The name Barrhead comes from the agricultural term Barr meaning long ploughed furrows for cultivation of crops. The original homestead or hamlet lay at the head of barrs and became known as Barrhead.

In 2007, Readers Digest magazine voted East Renfrewshire the second best place in the United Kingdom to raise a family. The magazine visited and cited Barrhead in their decision.[3]


  • History 1
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
  • Economy 4
  • Transport 5
  • Education 6
  • Culture 7
  • Sports 8
  • Churches 9
  • Notable people 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Map of Barrhead in 1923

Barrhead was formed when a series of small textile-producing villages (Barrhead, Arthurlie, Grahamston and Gateside) gradually grew into one another to form one contiguous town. According to local historian James McWhirter, the name "Barrhead" first appeared in 1750.[4]

In 1851 an explosion at the Victoria Pit colliery in nearby Nitshill occurred, killing 63 men and boys who worked in the mine, many of whom lived in Barrhead. The victims were buried in a mass grave in the yard at St John's Church on Darnley Road, and although they were later exhumed to other cemeteries, some may still reside at St John's in an unmarked grave.[5]

In 1890, with a rapidly expanding population approaching 10,000, various local residents formed a Barrhead Burgh Formation Committee. The status of Police Burgh was granted in 1894 and William Shanks, proprietor of a local company, was elected as the first provost of Barrhead.[6]

During the 19th and early 20th century, the town was a major centre for manufacturing, with industries including an iron foundry, tannery, and the Armitage Shanks porcelainware works, as well as Gaskell's carpet factory, employing generations of the town's residents. In the latter 20th century, the decline and closure of nearly all of these industries caused a fall in local population and employment. In recent years, Barrhead has found new life as a popular residential commuter town for nearby Paisley and Glasgow.

During World War II, a handful of bombs fell on Barrhead from German planes headed towards Clydebank and Yoker.[7]


In 1894 Barrhead became a Burgh of Barony, meaning that it had its own town Council. This status was withdrawn in 1975 at the time of the institution of East Renfrewshire Council. Barrhead is a single council ward, electing 4 members to serve as part of East Renfrewshire Council.

Barrhead is part of the county constituency of East Renfrewshire, electing one MP to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom Parliament. Kirsten Oswald[8] of the SNP was elected as MP for East Renfrewshire in the 2015 General Election. For purposes of the Scottish Parliament, Barrhead forms part of the Renfrewshire South Constituency, represented by Hugh Henry of the Labour Party. In addition to this Barrhead is represented by seven regional MSPs from the West of Scotland electoral region.[9]


Barrhead forms part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation.


Major businesses within the town include Barrhead Travel, Kelburn Brewing Company, and JM Murdoch & Son, among others. The town's largest employer remains East Renfrewshire Council and the public sector. In 2002, part of the administration of East Renfrewshire Council relocated from Eastwood Park to Barrhead Main Street.

There is a limited range of retail goods available within Barrhead, and residents must rely on Paisley and the nearby Silverburn shopping mall in Glasgow for the bulk of their purchases. The town has two supermarkets. Tesco is located outside the town centre while Asda opened a store on Main Street in 2014.

There is also a lack of dedicated business space for service businesses. To address this, East Renfrewshire Council has committed nearly £100 million to a masterplan which will redevelop and modernise Barrhead's economy between 2007 and 2017. The Glasgow Road corridor is being redeveloped into a dedicated business district which includes Crossmill Business Park, Blackbyres Court, and the former Bowerwalls housing area.

There are four industrial estates: Robertson Street Industrial Estate, Levern Industrial Estate at Cogan Street, Muriel Street, and the Barrhead Cargo Centre and Shanks Industrial Park, located on the former site of the Armitage Shanks factory.

In 2005 local businesses created the Barrhead Business Forum, which liaises with East Renfrewshire Council, Barrhead Community Council, and East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

The administration and collection of business rates for Barrhead is undertaken by Renfrewshire Council. The national rate for business rates set by the Scottish Executive for 2007–2008 is 44.1p per pound.

East Renfrewshire Credit Union is based in Barrhead.

The town is part of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. The nearest A&E unit is located at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.


Barrhead is accessible via Junction 2 (Pollok) or Junction 3 (Darnley) of the M77 motorway.

Local bus services, McGills, travel from Barrhead to Glasgow, Paisley, Neilston, and Newton Mearns.

Barrhead railway station, which serves the town, is on the Glasgow South Western Line. Trains from Barrhead run north-east to Glasgow Central and south to Kilmarnock, Stranraer, and Carlisle.

At the beginning of the 20th century, several railway lines ran through Barrhead to accommodate the town's manufacturing industries: the Glasgow Barrhead and Neilston Direct Railway and the Glasgow and Kilmarnock Joint Railway, which merged to become the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway; the Glasgow and South Western Railway, which built Barrhead Central railway station as the terminus of its short-lived Barrhead branch; and the Caledonian Railway. Evidence of these lines can still be seen within the town, including two standalone sections of railway viaduct, one near the Tesco store and the other now carrying a footpath between Springhill Road and the Woodside Park in Upper Auchenback (known locally as the Jerries).


Barrhead has five primary schools: Carlibar Primary School, Cross Arthurlie Primary School, Springhill and Auchenback Primary School, St. John's Roman Catholic Primary School and St. Mark's Roman Catholic Primary School. In 2007, St. Mark's received an outstanding report from HM Inspectorate of Education with 11 "excellents" – the most ever recorded by HMIE – making St. Mark's officially the best school in Scotland.

The new Carlibar Primary School, opened in the autumn of 2006 to replace an outdated building, hosts a family centre, a pre-school assessment unit, community and adult learning services, and a state-of-the-art language and communication unit which serves nearly 50 children with autism from across East Renfrewshire.

The town has two secondary schools: St. Luke's High School and Barrhead High. St. Luke's High School was named a School of Ambition by the Scottish Executive.

A new further education unit, East Renfrewshire College, is planned for the town centre.[10]


The Arthurlie Stone or Cross in its setting of 1910 at Arthurlie House before it was moved to the housing scheme.[11]

The Royal Shakespeare Company has staged full performances in Barrhead five times, most recently "The Canterbury Tales" in 2006, using a mobile performance venue set up in Barrhead Sports Centre.

There are several public houses in Barrhead. These include Cross Stobs, The Kelburn, The Arthurlie Inns, The Fereneze Inn, and The Brig Inn. The Cross Stobs dates back to at least 1695.


An active Scottish Junior football team, Arthurlie, plays in Barrhead, with a previous club of the same name having played as a senior league side until 1929. The earlier team was renowned for its 4-2 defeat of Celtic in the 1897 Scottish Cup. Arthurlie's Johnny Kelly, went on to play for Celtic and Barnsley and won several caps for Scotland. The team won the Scottish Junior Cup in 1998. Alex McLeish, Scotland's most capped defender with 77 caps and national team coach, went to school in Barrhead.

Barrhead Boys Club founded in 1972 was recently renamed as Barrhead Youth Football club and caters for children as young as 6 years old up to 21 and also has adult and veteran teams, with 450 members it is one of the largest clubs in Scotland.

Barrhead is also home to the following bowling clubs: Barrhead, Arthurlie, Shanks, and St John's; and also the Fereneze Golf Club and Barrhead Community Tennis Club.

Barrhead Boxing Club has produced several contenders at Scottish Amateur level.

Also Douglas Muay Thai has produced many champions throughout the years such as :

  • John Douglas – Scottish and British champion and silver medalist at the world championships in Bangkok
  • Markus McDonald – Scottish and Celtic champion
  • John Paul Gallacher – British and Celtic champion and former Scottish champion


Major churches in Barrhead include St John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Aurs Road and the Church of Scotland parish churches at Bourock, Arthurlie and South & Levern.

There is also a Methodist church and several small evangelical churches. There is also a small Church of God in Barrhead.

Notable people


  1. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  2. ^ List of railway station names in English, Scots and Gaelic – NewsNetScotland
  3. ^ Best Places to raise a family| Magazines, Books, DVDs and CDs | Reader's Digest UK
  4. ^ "Mine Ain Grey Toon", by James McWhirter, available at Barrhead library.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hood, John (2011). Old Barrhead and Neilston. Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing. p. 3.  
  7. ^ Edgar, William (20 January 2006). "Barrhead bombing – Pub Landlord killed!". WW2 People's War. BBC. 
  8. ^ "Kirsten Oswald MP". United Kingdom Parliament. Retrieved 2015-06-22. 
  9. ^ "Regional MSPs". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ Pride, David (1910). A History of the Parish of Neilston. Pub. Alexander Gardner, Paisley. Facing p 166.

External links

  • Barrhead News
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