My First Attempt At Being A Tour Guide :D
Glasgow Travel Blog› entry 8 of 9 › view all entries
I take my city for granted. Stuff has always just been there :D I've tried, for TB, to go round and and see what I think is interesting, I've met TB's and gone for a drink, but I've never had to go round and try and explain, what things are and why.
Brian ( Spocklogic) was planning a trip to Scotland, and I tried to add a few ideas of things for him to do while here. Glasgow isn't usually on people's itinerary of must see places, but he seemed keen to come through from Edinburgh, and we arranged to meet and I would show him around.
Used TB messaging, and arranged to meet, on Monday 10-15 at Queen Street Station, and we had no problems recognising each other.
It was a public holiday in Glasgow that day, September Weekend, so the place was quieter than usual, but meant I was off work 8). The weather wasn't great, and the forecast was worse, so I had tried to plan bits where we would at least be inside for a while.
Nowhere better to start than George Square, the heart of Glasgow, and right outside the station. Now I had to start and explain things. Not originally the central point, that was at Glasgow Cross, but as the city expanded westward the area was set aside as public space. Was just a muddy pond for many years and not until the later half of the 19th Century did they build around it.
In 1919 George Square became the last place. on the mainland, where troops were deployed against their own people. There was a strike in Glasgow, mainly in the shipyards, demanding a shorter working week, from 54 hours down to 40. The government at the time feared revolution, as had happened in Russia, and when police failed to restore order, the army were sent in. Soldiers from local regiments however were confined to barracks, for fear that they would join with the people, and troops from outside Glasgow were brought in. The workers eventually got a 47 hour working week, but many of the leaders were arrested and imprisoned, including Mannie Shinwell, who shortly afterwards was elected as an MP, and became a key figure in the Scottish Labour movement, and past of the first Labour government.
Took a short walk down Queen Street to see the Gallery Of Modern Art, though didn't go in as most locals, who have, question where the art actually is. It is the former Stirling Library, and in front of it there is a statue of the Duke Of Wellington, who by tradition always has to wear a traffic cone on his head. Explained that on weekend nights you will usually find police stationed here, not to protect the statue, as such, but to stop drunk people climbing up and injuring themselves falling off :D
Came back into George Square and along West George Street, where the church, St George's Tron, sits on a traffic island in the middle. The square around it used to be called Exchange Square, as it is where the Glasgow Stock Exchange is, but Glasgow was one of the first cities in the world to officially take up the cause of campaigning for Nelson Mandella's release in apartheid South Africa.
Across the street and down into Buchanan Street underground Station, where there is one of the old carriages on display in the station. Glasgow has the 3rd oldest underground system in the world, behind Budapest and London, but it is rubbish. Opened in 1896, it is just 15 station in a circle, designed really for getting workers out to the shipyards in Govan anad Partick, and it was never expanded.
Out the other side of the station and walked up Buchanan Street, where there is a statue of Donald Dewar, Scotland's first First Minister on the setting up of the devolved parliament in 1999.
At this point I had hoped to take my ''guests'' to the Tenement House, in Buccleuch Street, but having looked it was only open from 1-5.
Floated along to the Pavillion theatre, and the Conservitoire, where those with hopes of a career in acting or music go to college.
We headed along Sauchiehall Street, a corruption of the Gaelic 'saugh' meaning willow and haugh which is meadow. The significance of that was the next stop on the tour was the Willow Tearooms ( will do a seperate review) . Very quaint and olde worlde, and the work of Glasgow's most noted architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Could have gone two streets further up and seen my gran's old house, in Dalhousie Street, but didn't feel this was really that historic :D
We headed down Hope Street, and I pointed out TB Huibdos's favourite part of Glasgow - The Pot Still :D , a pub that has over 300 whiskies, a few that cost over £100 for a single shot :O.
From the bridge we cut across Union Street , and along Argyle Street . Just after the junction there is a bookshop, think it's a Waterstones, and the window display had Scottish cartoon Characters. One of the Scottish Sunday papers, the Sunday Post, runs two catoon strips, The Broons and Oor Wullie, and every year they bring out an annual in time for Christmas, and this was what it was for, even in September :O Used to be almost every kid got one of these books at Christmas.
Turned up the next street, Mitchell Street, and turned into the lane here, Mitchell Lane, that runs to Buchanan Street. Here you will find the former Glasgow Herald newspaper office. One of many surviving Rennie Mackintosh buildings, it is houses the Scottish Centre For Design And Architecture.
Came out and down Buchanan Street, and mentioned the Argyle Arcade, which wasn't on my list of things to do :D, but an arcade full of jeweller's shops proved to much of a temptation and we went in for a bit, viewing some of the stuff the cost up to £100k.
Back to Buchanan Street and down to St Enoch Square, where you find one of the Underground stations but there is still the original ticket office, although it is now used as a coffee shop. The run of the mill shopping centre beside it sits on the site of the former St Enoch Railway Station.
Carried on along Argyle Street and across, where it turns into Trongate. A Tron was, in medieval times, a wooden beam used for weighing goods entering the city, and what the tax was based on. Here you will find the Tron Church, which still has the 16th century clock tower , the rest of it is a bit newer :D. In Glasgow in the 18th Century there was a secret organisation, known as the Hellfire Club, where the wealthy engaged in whatever drinking and debauchery they felt like. In 1793 a drunken group of them set fire to the church, destroying all but the tower. The building is now used as a theatre. It does also have the ugliest cherub adorning a building I have ever seen.
Unmissibly, just along the road is the Tolbooth Steeple, at Glasgow Cross, the original heart of the city.
Turned down Saltmarket, and down past the City Mortuary and Glasgow's High Court to the River Clyde, which at this point is crossed by the Albert Bridge.
With that done we headed into Glasgow Green, the first public park in Glasgow, dating back to 1450. The Green was the site of the first public washhouse in 1732. For 3 months, from Christmas Day 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army camped here, on Fleshers' Haugh, following their retreat from England, before moving on to Culloden where they were finally defeated. Much more important, than ALL of that though, is the fact that, in 1872, 4 lads from the Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club formed a football team and played their first game here.
We entered the Green through the McLellan Arch, which was originally part of the Assembly Rooms in Ingram Street, but was moved here in 1922. Just behind that is the William Collins fountain, a memorial for a member of the 19th Century Temperance Movement. Straight along is, the rather obvious, Nelson Monument, commemerating Nelson's victory at the Battle Of Trafalgar. This was the first monument built to mark the battle, and Nelson's death, and was ereted the year after it, in 1806, and 30 years befor Nelson's Column in London.
Right in front of it though is the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world. Given to the city, by the Royal Doulton company, in 1888 as part of an exhibition, to mark Queen Victoria's reign, it was moved to the Green in 1890. Sadly it was allowed to fall into disrepair and in 2002 a renovation project was started, and the fountain was moved to it's current location in 2004. Interesting in that the skills needed for this kind of work were in such short supply, the council took on a team of apprentices, who all managed to serve their time during the works, so that it could be maintained in the future.
The fountain also has the city's coat of arms, and motto 'Let Glasgow Flourish' an abbreviated version of part of a sermon by St Mungo where he said 'Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word'.
Just a bit further up from the People's Palace is the Templeton Carpet Factory, which when it was being expanded had planning designs turned down twice, because Glasgow Green was seen as an important location. Eventually they got an architect who came up with this building, which is modelled on the Doge's Palace in Venice :O Not something you would expect in Glasgow :D
Came out of The Green at the top and up onto London Road.
It was then up the High Street, where the University originally was sited and on the right hand side as you walk up you notice the walls, that are all that remain of Duke Street Prison. We were headed up for Cathedral Square, which apart from the obvious, is also the location of Glasgow's oldest building, Provand's Lordship built in 1451.
The Cathedral was open though :) . Origins date back to around 550AD when a church was established here by St Mungo. The present Gothic building dates back to 1197, and is the only Cathedral on the mainland, of Scotland, to survive the 1560 reformation intact. As many of the churches at the time were abandoned, and lands sold off, Glasgow Council, unusually for the time, took on the responsibility of maintaining it, and it later became a Protestant church, taking the name of The High Kirk Of Glasgow.
Having seen enough, headed back down the High Street and cut along Bell Street and into the old Fruit Market. Still has the layout, but it now a glorified food court. Then we headed up onto Ingram Street and popped into the courtyard of the Italian Centre, and with that we were back where we started, over 6 hours earlier :O Had done almost all I could think of in the city centre, and if we had had time I would have headed west next, but by this time little would be open by the time we got there.
Between us we decided getting something to eat, and there are all sorts of restaurants around the centre, but the decision was made to go for something Scottish.
An interesting day for me, being able to regurgitate the useless stuff I know :D, and hopefully the others found it worthwhile as well. Made me realise, there is more to see here than I pehaps appreciated, and really would take at least a couple of days to see all of it.
Brian (Spocklogic) has done his own blog, with an outsiders perspective, that has a lot more ( and better :D) photos than mine http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/104989/Getting-Around-Glasgow-4 , which is well worth a look.
Think the experience will encourage me to promote Glasgow more to people visiting Scotland, as I've always tended to think of it almost entirely as an industrial town, without realising how much it does have to offer visitors.