Glasgow (A Summertime Throwback)
After our short stay in Edinburgh, we traveled on in a westerly direction to Scotland’s largest city and 2014 Commonwealth Games host city, Glasgow. The journey was not long and took us through magnificent open countryside and even the gloomy weather didn’t manage to destroy the lovely views of bright rail-side flowers and views over the moors. Once we had arrived in Glasgow, we hopped in a taxi and were given a short ‘tour’ of the nearby streets until we arrived at our hotel (Hilton on William Street) on the edge of the city centre. As we arrived, we spotted an old friend of ours waiting in the lounge which was a very welcome sight. After checking in and depositing our bags in the room, we headed off with our friend for a spot of lunch around the corner and following on from that, began our ‘mystery’ tour around Glasgow. With our friend Ian acting as our guide, we began by walking up Bothwell Street, continuing up the hill to the Square where we were told the tale of Madeleine Smith, a young woman who in 1857 was tried for the murder of her lover Pierre Emile L’Angelier. Although the verdict was ‘not proven’, the story scandalized Scottish society, and is recounted in Jack House’s 1961 book Square Mile of Murder. Obviously part of Glaswegian folklore, the story of Madeleine Smith provided us all with something to think about and pointed to a major difference between the Scottish and English legal systems.
We then continued our walk as far as Sauchiehall Street, turned and made our way down to its junction with Buchanan Street where we were led through the Shopping Centre to the Coach Station. From there we were taken on to Cathedral Street and through the university quarter before reaching the Royal Infirmary and the area around the Cathedral. A short walk through the Cathedral Precinct and we were beside the main entrance. As one viewed the inside of the cathedral it impressed with its stained glass windows, the elevated choir, the crypt and the Blacader aisle. Also the fact that the building itself was composed of several levels made an impression.
Outside once again we turned to the left and looked up towards the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery said to house some fifty thousand bodies. Its position above the cathedral itself emphasised the size and importance of this ‘city of the dead’ in past times and invited interested parties to enter the grounds and examine the 3500 monuments to be found there. From the cathedral we crossed the Cathedral Precinct once again, noticing, as we had in the cathedral stained glass windows, the symbols of St Kentigern on the lamp posts – a tree, a bell, a bird and a fish – which now form the arms of Glasgow, to St Mungo’s Museum for a refreshment break and a welcome cup of coffee. (St Kentigem was the original name of St Mungo). It wasn’t long before we were on the move again but this time only just across the road to Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow, built in 1471. After an interesting tour we were a little wiser about the history of the house itself and of medieval Glasgow. Ian’s tour continued with a walk down High Street as far as Ingram Street where we turned and made our way back towards the city centre. At the end of the road stood the Gallery of Modern Art and Royal Exchange Square. Behind the Gallery, via Gordon Street, was Union Street and Glasgow Central Station. We had nearly come back full circle!
It was soon time to say our goodbyes to Ian, who if truth were told had probably survived the ‘Grand Tour’ better than us, and head back to the hotel for a welcome rest and a well-earned cup of tea. After we had had a suitable break, we made our way back into the city. We strolled around and re-visited Gordon Street and Royal Exchange Square then turned up Queen Street to George Square. The centre of the Square housed a marquee promoting items relating to the recently held Commonwealth Games but the main focus had to be the City Chambers at the east end. The Square was also the site of the Cenotaph, built to commemorate the fallen of WWI, an 80 ft column featuring Sir Walter Scott and statues of the young Queen Victoria, Robert Burns, James Watt and politicians William Gladstone and Robert Peel. Our first day in Glasgow had proved very interesting and we had seen the city ‘in a nutshell’. We were all looking forward to revisiting some areas and discovering a few new places the next day!