Saturday, 27 March 2021

Street of Many Windows

Street of Many Windows is the name of a poem by Herbert Henderson (died 1958)  He was the librarian at the Watt Library in Greenock for over forty years and the poem appears in his book "Greenock Verses and Others" published by James McKelvie & Sons of Greenock in 1930.  Brisbane Street was the street he was referring to - and perhaps this photograph shows why!

The poem unflatteringly describes Brisbane Street -

"You wouldn't call it narrow, you wouldn't call it wide;  A row of great high houses runs along on either side; And the houses are all windows ..."

It is actually a very nice street.  Running from Nelson Street west to Madeira Street, Brisbane Street has a wide range of different types housing - tenements with large bay windows as well as detached houses.  

Brisbane Street was named after Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860) of Largs.  He served in the Peninsular war under Wellington and was knighted in 1815.  He later became Governor of New South Wales.  He was fascinated by astronomy – establishing an observatory at Parramatta in 1821.  He also had an observatory at Brisbane Glen in Largs.  With that interest in astronomy came an interest in navigation and the nautical instruments used to guide ships.  Steps are now being taken to try to save Brisbane's Scottish observatory by the Brisbane Observatory Trust. If you go to their site you can download a very interesting paper on their work.

Perhaps librarian Henderson had a bad experience on Brisbane Street and that's why he wrote his rather awful poem.  Brisbane Street in Greenock is a fine street named after a very interesting man.

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