A Travellerspoint blog

Glasgow's other historic heart.

The area around Glasgow Cross.

While the area around Glasgow Cathedral is correctly thought of as the historic heart of Glasgow, a second historic centre also developed where High Street, Gallowgate, London Road, the Saltmarket and the Trongate intersect. This area is known as Glasgow Cross. It is the old market cross area of Glasgow.

Glasgow Cross.

Glasgow Cross.

Most old British towns have a market cross or in Scottish Mercat Cross which marks the site where markets can be held. It normally takes the form of a stone obelisk which might be a cross or might be topped by an animal. The one in Glasgow is topped with a unicorn's head. The Mercat Cross dates from 1929. Behind it stands the Mercat Building which dates from 1928.

Mercat Cross and the Mercat Building.

Mercat Cross and the Mercat Building.

One of the most noticeable landmarks of Glasgow Cross is the Tollbooth Steeple. The Tollbooth Steeple dates from 1627. Along with Glasgow's original Tolbooth it was used to house the Town Clerk’s office, the council chamber and the city jail. It was sold in 1814 and then became the premises of John A. Bowman who was an auctioneer and valuator. It was demolished in 1921, leaving only the steeple which is still there in the present day. The Tolbooth Steeple was once the site of public hangings.

The Tolbooth Steeple.

The Tolbooth Steeple.

One of the roads intersecting at Market Cross is the Trongate. The name Trongate comes from a sixteenth century weighbeam, where all goods
brought in from the Clyde were weighed and taxed. Tron is an old Scots word of Norman origin meaning weighing scales. The Tron Kirk with its distinctive steeple and clock, located at 63 Trongate, is this street's most famous landmark. It dates from 1793. Its steeple dates from 1631 and it is one of the oldest buildings in the Merchant City. The Tron Kirk was redeveloped in 1999 at a cost of five million pounds. Nowadays the main body of the old church is the new Tron Theatre.

The Tron Kirk.

The Tron Kirk.

Not too far from this bustling historic area, lies another much quieter historical place - Glasgow Green. Glasgow Green is the oldest park in the city of Glasgow. It is located on the north banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow's East End. Edwin Morgan wrote a famous poem about it. It starts like this:

'Clammy midnight, moonless mist.
A cigarette glows and fades on a cough.
Methmen mutter on benches,
pawed by river Fog.'

King James II gave the land that became Glasgow Green to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of Glasgow in 1450. At that time the Green was divided by the Camlachie and Molendinar Burns. The green was used as a grazing area, an area to wash and bleach linen and an area to dry fishing nets. Glasgow's first steamie, called The Washhouse, opened on Glasgow Green on the banks of the Camlachie Burn in 1732. Over the years Glasgow Green has been the site of protests, marches, celebrations and much, much more.

Glasgow Green.

Glasgow Green.

The McLennan Arch was originally part of Glasgow's Assembly Rooms which were built in 1796 on the north side of Ingram Street. These Rooms were a gathering place for dances and music. In 1847 the Assembly Rooms became the Atheneum Club. These rooms were demolished in 1892 to make way for the new General Post Office, but their central arch was kept and moved to Glasgow Green in 1922. It looks like a triumphal arch in the style of the Arc de Triomphe. Near the arch stands the Collins Fountain which commemorates William Collins, owner of the Collins Publishing Firm, Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1877 to 1880 and a leading member of the Temperance Movement.

The McLennan Arch.

The McLennan Arch.

The Nelson Monument on Glasgow Green is a 43.5 m high column. It was built in 1806, less than a year after Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson was born on the 29th of September 1758. He was most famous for fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. After his death there was a massive public outpouring of grief. He was given a state funeral before being buried in St Paul's Cathedral. A number of monuments and memorials were constructed across the United Kingdom to honour his memory. The one on Glasgow Green was the earliest of these.

Nelson's Column

Nelson's Column

The main reason people go to Glasgow Green is probably to visit the People's Palace. The People's Palace was opened on the 22nd of January, 1898 by the Earl of Rosebery. The People's Palace is a free admission museum about life in Glasgow. On the ground floor it has a gift shop, free and clean toilets, a cafe and a very pleasant Winter Garden enclosed in a glass house. Upstairs there are models of a steamie, an old shop, a wartime Anderson shelter, a prison cell and a kitchen. There are also exhibits on tenement life, dancing at the Barrowland Ballroom, going 'Doon the Watter' to Rothesay and much much more. At the back of the People's Palace there is a large glass conservatory called the Winter Garden. It is a pleasant place to sit and relax, maybe read a book or consult your mobile phone. It is also possible to enjoy some refreshments from its cafe. The gardens contain a wide variety of flowers and plants.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The Doulton Fountain was designed by Arthur Edward Pearce to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. It now stands in front of the People's Palace on Glasgow Green, but was originally displayed at the 1888 International Exhibition in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. The fountain is 46 feet high. The Doulton Fountain celebrates the former British Empire. At the top is a statue of Queen Victoria which was sculpted by John Broad. One level down there are four kneeling maidens emptying pitchers. Down one more level and there are sentries representing Scottish, English and Irish regiments, and a sailor representing the Royal Navy. Below this there are scenes representing Canada, South Africa, Australia and India. The Doulton Fountain is the largest terracota fountain in the world.

Off to one side of the People's Palace on Glasgow Green there is a statue of a little boy playing a pan pipe. At his feet there are two squirrels obviously entranced by the music. This statue is officially called Springtime, though it is affectionately known as Peter Pan. Springtime was designed by Thomas J Clapperton, a sculptor who lived from 1879 until 1962. Clapperton also sculpted the statue of Robert the Bruce outside Edinburgh Castle and the statue of Learning which adorns the top of the Mitchell Library. That statue is affectionately known as Mrs Mitchell. Clapperton was born in Galashiels.

Springtime.

Springtime.

To one side of the People's Palace there is a statue of James Watt. For years this stood on Dassie Green, Bridgeton. It was in a rundown state and had even lost its head. It has been restored and relocated to Glasgow Green where it could do with a bit of demossing, but at least it is intact. James Watt was born in Greenock on the 18th of January 1736. His father was a wealthy shipwright. James Watt was fascinated with steam engines from an early age. These were around when he was born, but they were hopelessly inefficient. One Sabbath Day while Watt was wandering across Glasgow Green, pondering the inefficiencies of steam engines, he hit upon the idea of condensing the steam in a separate vessel. This idea is credited with kick starting the industrial revolution. The place where inspiration struck Watt is marked by an inscribed stone. It is near the Nelson Monument. We missed it as it was being set up for a fair when we visited. It is called the James Watt Boulder. Its inscription reads: "Near this spot in 1765 James Watt conceived the idea for the separate condenser for the steam engine." Watt worked on engines for many years. By 1790, he was rich. In 1800 he retired and devoted himself entirely to research work. He patented several important inventions such as: the rotary engine, the double action engine and the steam indicator. He died on the 19th of August 1819. A unit of measurement of electrical and mechanical power the
watt is named in his honour.

James Watt statue.

James Watt statue.

Just across from Glasgow Green stands the Templeton Carpet Factory. James Templeton from Cambletown was a business man who originally owned a shawl factory in Paisley. However, he went on to patent a process by which he could manufacture densely patterned and richly coloured carpets. He soon became one of the most successful carpet manufacturers in Britain and produced carpets for state occasions, grand estate houses and even the Titanic. Templeton commissioned Scottish architect, William Leiper, to design his carpet factory on the edge of Glasgow Green. The design for the factory was inspired by the Doge's Palace in Venice. The colourful glazed brick exterior relates to the rich Oriental patterns of the carpets the factory produced. Work on the factory began in 1888 and was completed in 1892. However, during construction there was a terrible accident. On the 1st of November 1889, part of the factory's wall collapsed during high winds, trapping over 100 women working in the weaving sheds underneath. Twenty-nine of these women were killed. The People's Palace has exhibits on the factory.

The Templeton  Carpet Factory.

The Templeton Carpet Factory.

Another old building near Glasgow Green is the impressive looking Justiciary Courthouse which is located just across the road from the McLennan Arch. This building is one of the earliest and finest examples of a Greek revival building in Glasgow. It was designed by the architect, William Stark. It was built between 1807 and 1814. It Initially acted as a courtroom, offices and a gaol, but later became courthouses only. Between 1814 and 1865 public executions were carried out in Jocelyn Square located nearby on Glasgow Green, facing the Nelson Monument. 67 men and 4 women were hanged there.

The Justiciary Courthouse.

The Justiciary Courthouse.

There are several lovely bridges near or leading to Glasgow Green. I really liked St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

Glasgow Green has several lovely fountains. The most famous and ornate is the Doulton Fountain mentioned above. However, next to Glasgow Green there is also a lovely fountain in memory of Glasgow Bailie, James Martin. James Martin was born in 1815 and died in 1892. In a long and distinguished career he was a Town Councillor, the Town's Master of Works, a member of the Clyde Navigation Trust, a Justice of the Peace and a Police Judge. His fountain was erected by public subscription after his death. It is made of cast iron and dates from 1894.

The James Martin Fountain.

The James Martin Fountain.

A simpler but equally pretty fountain is the Hugh MacDonald Fountain at Glasgow Green near the people's Palace. Hugh MacDonald was born in 1817 and died in 1860. He was a poet and writer. He was best known for 'Rambles Round Glasgow' in which he recorded his walks around the city. This fountain nicknamed the "Bonnie Wee Well" was designed by John Mossman.

The Hugh MacDonald Fountain.

The Hugh MacDonald Fountain.

Posted by irenevt 07:58 Archived in Scotland

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

I've never been to Glasgow, but when I do visit there I will certainly have a look at Glasgow Green. Fine photos and texts!

by Nemorino

Thank you for visiting my blog, Don. It's a nice place for a walk on a sunny day.

by irenevt

Hi Irene, Enjoyed your page, nice to know about the "market cross". We had 7 days near St Andrews back in 1993, and one day drove to Glascow, do not remember much about the city, except parking was hard to find!

by Mikebb

Thank you for visiting, Mike. Parking has not improved much I'm afraid.

by irenevt

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login