I was very much looking forward to introducing Mark to Glasgow as I had a very happy sojourn there about twelve years ago when I did some teaching and research at the University of Strathclyde and really enjoyed staying there.
We stayed in an apartment on St Andrews Square and it proved to be a really convenient location. We were easily able to walk to the People’ Palace, which was a really interesting place to visit and a beautiful building to boot.
I loved all the social commentary that this museum contains, and it gave us a real insight into what Glasgow used to be like as a city and as a place to live. Entry to this museum is free, which is such a bonus as we’ve spent a fortune on admission to various attractions.
The back of the museum has an enormous conservatory but it was closed for renovation when we were there.
I did take a lot of photographs, but will just share this wonderful piece of embroidery with you.
The Doulton Fountain was also of great interest. This is the largest surviving terracotta fountain in the world. I was a bit astonished that it is terracotta, which tends to get brittle, but this is in perfect condition, having been recently restored. It is very detailed and celebrates the Empire, with four allegorical groups representing Canada, South Africa, Australia and India.
Also conveniently located is the Fabric Bazaar, which I did enjoy looking round but didn’t buy anything – hurrah!
I really wanted to visit the Necropolis and Cathedral, so we walked there and found that there is a whole precinct containing some beautiful buildings.
The necropolis is rather fabulous with enormous monuments to the great of Glasgow.
I was going to say monuments to the great and good, but on reflection I thought about what Glasgow was like at the time and there was a huge amount of poverty. How much better would it have been to have provided better housing, better education and fairer wages to the working population and perhaps having smaller monuments to people who no longer care. We have to remember that many of these people would have been using slave labour to build their empires.
One tombstone that did give me pause was this one. I saw the words “laureate of the nursery” and found myself wondering if this was a gardener of some sort, but no, it’s William Miller, the author of Wee Willie Winkie! I only every knew the English version but I’ve since looked up the Scots version and it’s wonderful!
We walked over to the Cathedral and I had to stop and admire this coffee shop, which has to be one of the smallest coffee shops I’ve ever seen!
Glasgow Cathedral is a wonderful building
It is part of a precinct containing many wonderful buildings.
Inside is awe inspiring but I really liked these three tapestries.
This is the oldest house in Glasgow and was built in 1471 for the Bishop of Glasgow. It’s a large house and was probably very comfortable for its time. Most of the rooms are furnished as they were back in the day, so a good idea can be had of how people lived in this house. I took photos but won’t include them all.
I had a private tour of the Art School when I was previously in Glasgow and was very much looking forward to showing it to Mark. However, as we all know, it burned down in 2014 and is currently being restored. This is what the outside currently looks like. I’ve never seen such extensive scaffolding in my life!
Apparently they’ve been recreating the furniture and have learned a great deal about the construction techniques employed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM). I hope they get documented somewhere.
I knew that Mark would love the Willow Tearooms, every element of which was designed by CRM. The outside gives an indication of the delights that await within.
This historic building is the only tea room where Mackintosh was in control of the outside and the inside and his design of the internal spaces and the furniture are quite unique. It is the only surviving tearoom designed in its entirety by CRM. The building is in Sauchiehall Street and was bought by the Willow Tea Rooms Trust in 2014 to prevent the sale of the building and dispersement of its contents. It is a truly wonderful representation of the work of Mackintosh.
Screens are heavily employed to define spaces, and that blend of Art Nouveau and European Symbolism is magnificent.
CRM designed every part of these tearooms, including the light fittings and furniture.
There is another Willow Tearooms in Buchanan Street which are modelled on some tearooms from the early 1900s, so we had to try them as well.
These tearooms are sufficiently different to make it a worthwhile visit. The chairbacks are really high and are really comfortable.
I was very happy!
We had read that the Kelvingrove Museum had a lot of work by Mackintosh, so we walked over there (it took nearly an hour just to get there, such is our dedication) and we were not disappointed. We discovered that all public spaces in Glasgow are free. This includes museums and art galleries. These spaces were filled with school children learning about their cultural heritage, and we enjoyed their comments as we walked round.
These gesso panels at the top of the photo are extraordinary and apparently took a long time to complete. CRM did them with his wife, Margaret. This area was set up as the dining room with a separating panel with stained glass.
Imagine the amount of work this panel required. Its beauty brings tears to my eyes.
Mackintosh was famous for his chairs and there are several examples scattered around this section of the museum.
We both fell in love with this beautifully crafted writing desk.
There was so much more to see at Kelvingrove, including this Salvatore Dali painting. Although the subject matter isn’t to everyone’s tastes, the imagery and light is pretty sensational. Note the fishing boats at the bottom of the painting.
Glasgow is such an interesting place. Down a little alley I saw these two pieces of street art which made me smile.
Speaking of street art, there’s an awful lot in Glasgow and there’s an art walking trail which we had fully intended to do, but we ran out of time.
I noticed this building and was quite thrilled that a building would be so named. Shame that not every university contains one of these!
We loved the railway station which has not been fiddled with too much and all the additions are totally in keeping with the original design of the building.
So many glorious buildings. This arcade was almost exclusively jewellery shops. Mark bustled through it very quickly indeed!
Some buildings had beautiful adornments
Some represented their era rather stunningly and even the modern shops on the ground floor couldn’t spoil their beauty.
And a couple of Georgian crescents à la Bath!
We visited Glasgow University, which is yet another spectacular building
And didn’t even have to trespass to walk around it. I loved this vaulted ceiling
and a quad to equal those of Oxford and Cambridge.
The university has its own museum – The Huntrian, which has free entry, of course.
I hadn’t realised the connection between Glasgow University and McGill University in Montréal.
There is a wonderful museum down by the river (free entry, of course) and it is a must do in Glasgow.
When the king or queen was in town breakfast for them was prepared at the Palace Hotel, placed in this box and wheeled over a special footbridge to the railway platform.
The pilot train for the royal carriages.
Everywhere you look there are fascinating exhibits, particularly if you like mechanical things.
This is a “street” in the museum, with shops and a lot going on, including a horse-drawn hearse.
I can only think of Mr Bean when I see a three wheeler car, but this is called a “Wee Bluey” and seems to have endeared itself to Glaswegians.
A whole wall of motorbikes representing every type and era.
Looking down on a small section. Many of the exhibits had videos of people talking about their memories of these vehicles. They were highly entertaining.
This is allegedly the world’s first bicycle. The pedals didn’t go round but pumped forwards and backwards to achieve propulsion.
Some things couldn’t be there in reality, but were represented in picture form. This poster made me determined to do some rail travel through Scotland at some point.
The outside of the building. The museum itself won a European award for Best Museum.
There is also a sailing ship tied up at the dock, which we visited, and which was also fascinating.
I hadn’t realised that The Two Fat Ladies had a restaurant in Glasgow. The food lived up to its reputation.
There is a Gallery of Modern Art in the middle of the city, which was housed in a mansion built in 1778. This void in the middle with the surrounding balconies is the centrepiece.
Many of the merchants of Glasgow built their wealth on tobacco and sugar, doing none of us any good, and slavery, which brought misery and shame. However, Glasgow has risen above all this as a centre for art and culture, and everyone we spoke to was inordinately proud of this. There is a saying appearing everywhere which says “people make Glasgow” and the city certainly embodies this.
When we were in Leeds we saw that some wag had painted wellies on the Duke of Wellington, and Judith told me that he permanently wore a traffic cone in Glasgow. I saw it with my own eyes! It is outside the Gallery of Modern Art.
We managed to see a lot in our short time in Glasgow. Inevitably we missed a bit, but that’s just an excuse to go back. This is the church of St Andrews in the Square which was in front of where we stayed. It’s an 18th-century former church which is considered one of the finest classical churches in Scotland, and is now Glasgow’s Centre for Scottish Culture, promoting Scottish music, song and dance. Sadly we never saw it open.
Glasgow more than lived up to our expectations and is our last stop in Scotland. The next time I write we shall be back in England.