For Local History Month we're taking a a look at the development of the King's Park, one of Scotland’s most important Victorian suburbs.
Constructed on part of the King’s Royal Park below Stirling Castle, Kings Park is one of Scotland’s most important Victorian suburbs, and was Stirling’s first significant expansion beyond the Royal Burgh’s walls. Today it has protected status as a Conservation Area. The development of the area started in the 1770s, with houses in Allan park and Pitt and Melville Terrace being built from 1812 onwards. Architect Alexander Bowie (d.1829) erected 14 of Allan Park’s 22 houses on land owned by the Spittal’s Hospital Trust. The suburb continued to slowly develop throughout the early 19th century, but the pace picked-up after 1848 when the Railway arrived in Stirling and the town began to rapidly expand. Advertised as a green and peaceful haven for commuters and their families to escape the smog of the city, suitable homes for these new middle-class residents had to be built.
In 1858, Stirling Bowling Club was established and by 1860 most of Albert Place had been built but the north side of Dumbarton Road remained undeveloped. In 1867, Allan Park Church was completed, and The Smith Institute, now The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum, was built in 1874. The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church followed in 1878. The Albert Halls, paid for by public subscription by the people of Stirling, was open for business in 1883, and one of its first performers was none other than Oscar Wilde.
The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum circa 1880, from their own collection.
Villas under construction in King's Park. Image taken by Sargeant W McKenzie, c.1900. Courtesy of The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum.
Postcard featuring a view of King's Knot and King's Park from Stirling Castle. Produced by Valentine & Sons, 1955. Courtesy of Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.
All this construction work presented opportunities for local architects, builders, and property developers. In 1877 John Wood Blakey, a local solicitor and property developer, appointed Stirling architect John Allan (1893-1911) to design Royal Gardens. Nestled beneath the Castle Rock and looking out over the Kings Knot, Allan designed a series of villas in the Italianate style. The same year, Allan also secured the feus for Lots 9 and 11 in Spittal’s Park, located on Dumbarton Road. On plot 9 he designed 32 and 34 Albert Place, with 32 becoming ‘Cliffbank’ and his own home. He never married and lived there with his sister Margaret until he died at home on 21st February 1922.
On plot 11 he designed 28 and 30 Albert Place, number 28 was occupied by Allan’s friend and local surgeon Dr John Drew and features the heads of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott on the front entrance. Next door at 1 Clarendon Road Allan included the heads of Shakespeare and Homer. In 1879 Allan designed 2 Park Avenue for Donald MacFadyen, and in 1887 he designed 2 and 4 Balmoral Place, which feature Greco-Egyptian details inside and out.
42 Albert Place and 1-9 Royal Gardens, Stirling designed by John Allan, built 1877. Photo by Jo Cound
28 Albert Place, designed by John Allan. Built 1878. Photo by Jo Cound
Aerial view of King's Park
The development of King's Park owes a great deal to John Allan, and many of the buildings Allan and his contemporaries designed are also Listed, highlighting their national as well as local significance. You can find out more about John Allan by visiting our online exhibition which celebrates his life and work: John Allan: A Man of Original Ideas. You can also download a digital copy of a publication on Allan produced with the support of Stirling Local History Society here: Publications. Physical copies are available for purchase from The Smith’s shop.