About The Society

Find out more about the North Parish Washing Green Society

The North Parish Washing Green Society was founded in 1792. Glasgow has changed out of all recognition since then. The society has had one common theme throughout its existence – helping those residents of the Northern Quarter of Glasgow to whom life has been less kind.

Today, the society pays quarterly grants to a number of elderly residents, arranges to have them visited annually and entertains them each spring. New members of the society are admitted as life members on payment of a subscription of one guinea (£1.05p) together with a donation which brings the total payment to £40. The Society holds its AGM each April in the City Chambers and members are encouraged to attend this and various social events. Subscriptions and the surplus from social events, together with the income from the society’s capital fund our benevolence. By joining the society, new members are helping the society to make a real difference to the beneficiaries’ lives.

But how did it all start? In 1792, Glasgow was beginning to grow into an industrial city. In common with most towns of the time, houses had no running water; the inhabitants drew water from a number of wells. The residents needed somewhere to wash their clothes. The Heritors (principal land owners) of the northern quarter of the city found a solution. They owned some land on the banks of the Molindinar burn near the cathedral. They laid out this land as a washing green and equipped it with hot water boilers, tubs, stools, ropes, pins etc.. The green was rented out to a tacksman (manager) and the rent was used to help the poor. The tacksman managed the green and ensured that the rules set out by the owners were obeyed. There was a scale of charges for using the various implements and this gave him his income

By the middle of the nineteenth century Glasgow had seen considerable growth and change. Three factors influenced the future of the washing green ; 1 The directors of The Merchants House of Glasgow laid out The Necropolis (burial ground) on the hill opposite the cathedral and constructed a bridge over the Molindinar. This rendered the washing green unfit for purpose. 2 The Loch Katrine water scheme enabled the residents of Glasgow to have access to running water. 3 The Trustees of the Royal Infirmary wished to extend their building. This last event enabled the directors to sell the ground occupied by the washing green. The green therefore ceased to exist but the income from the capital sum received for its sale enabled the tradition of helping the poor to continue.

Today’s members of the society are continuing a tradition started over 200 years ago. —- North Parish Washing Green Society is one of Glasgow’s best kept secrets. Then charity was founded in 1792 and 200 years later, they still distribute funds to the poor …. click here to read more

A list of current directors – click here. Preses and Treasurers – click here. The Steamie revisited – click here.