search Menu

A History of 2 Queen’s Crescent

Last week we announced our plan to regenerate 2 Queen’s Crescent, Visibility Scotland’s office in Glasgow. We will shortly be launching a survey for both local residents and people living with a visual impairment in Glasgow (and beyond) to share their views on the redevelopment of the building. We want to create an inclusive space that meets the needs of the community, so your ideas and suggestions for developing the building are very important to us. Look out for further details of how to take part on our website and social media channels over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime we wanted to share some history of the building. 2 Queen’s Crescent was designed by John Bryce and built in 1840. It is part of a classical curved terrace built around a D-shaped garden. Read on to find out more about the early residents of the area.

The “particularly charming” residencies…

Among the first residents of Queen’s Crescent, at Number 3, was William Balfour. He had been born in the countryside of Perth at the end of the last century in 1796, and his wife, Susan, had grown up in Kent. His employment as a merchant had drawn him to the city of Glasgow and there they had six children. Queen’s Crescent was perfect, his own retreat yet close to the city.

Not long after the Balfours had moved in, Number 2 Queen’s Crescent became the home of John Robeson, from Cupar in Fife, and his wife and two young sons. The previous years had been a time of religious turmoil in Scotland, ever since the walkout of the General Assembly in 1843 and the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland. Not long afterwards, in 1847, a third church was founded, that of the United Presbyterians.  William Balfour’s new neighbour was to be the new minister of Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church.

William Balfour, however, had more to concern himself with than religious debate. His daughters were not yet married, nor was his son James, although there was still time enough for him. William started thinking thoughts of retirement.

He could not, however, adjust to retired life in the city. Although a park had recently been laid out at nearby Kelvingrove and the gardens had not been completed at Queen’s Crescent, at 74 years of age, he longed to see Perthshire again. William Balfour and his wife closed up number three and went to the country.

The Minister in number 2 turned to his neighbour in Number 1 for theological discussion. Margaret Patterson had spent most of her life in the British Colonies of the West Indies as a missionary, teaching the newly emancipated slaves. Her daughter, Louise, also a teacher, was born in Trinidad in 1842. They had left the British West Indies shortly after Britain’s abandonment of sugar protection in 1854. Jamaica had been hit hard, the number of sugar estates halved and the Plantation Owners blamed both the British Government and the now freed slaves, who were working on their own smallholdings. Tension was mounting between them, and Margaret decided to return to Scotland for her daughter’s safety.

By 1871, Number 3 passed to James Balfour. He was now a widower and lived there with an unmarried brother and sister. James was himself sixty years of age and had spent all his adult life in the Crescent, watching families come and go, now he was to lose his neighbour and friend John Robeson. However, James was soon to be quite happy again, for he was to remarry, and enjoy the company of a new young wife, Joan.

Image of Natasha Johnston
Written by: Natasha Johnston

Posted on the: August 27, 2021
Share this story
Donate Skip to content