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Glasgow, ‘Glas Cu' the ‘Dear Green Place' the very interpretation of the name would suggest that Glasgow then was very different from the place we now know.

Glasgow , although not the capital of Scotland is however its largest City. It is a sprawling Metropolis of just under 1,000,000 people who live and work there on a daily basis.

Glasgow has a history stretching back to earliest times. The banks of the River Clyde are steeped in history, and just waiting to be discovered. Stone Age canoes unearthed along the banking suggest early fishing communities lived on the banks of the then small river.

Glasgow Coat of Arms
It has been suggested that Celtic Druids were probably the first recognisable religious people to inhabit the place.
Finnieston Crane on the River Clyde Glasgow

Glasgow then would have been known by its ancient title, Cathures. This settling period would have been in approximately 80AD. So Glasgow has been in existence for a very long time.

The name Glasgow is famous all over the world for many different reasons. In more modern times it was because of the violence and crime associated with this huge place that brought it to the attention of the world. Shipbuilding and ‘Clyde Built' was the other side of the coin. Saint Kentigern/Mungo, James Watt, The Tobacco Lord, John MacLean, the Red Clydesiders, Alexander Fleming, Sir Alex Fergusson, Billy Connolly and of course their two most famous football teams, Glasgow Rangers and Celtic (who became the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967), made this city into one of the most vibrant in the world today.

The Roman legions visited Glasgow and would more than likely have traded there with the local merchants. In the year 143 AD the Romans erected the turf-built Antonine Wall stretching from the Clyde to the Forth to separate Caledonia to the north from Britannia to the south, but the wall was soon abandoned.

The first well-known Christian to visit the place was St. Ninian, in approximately 380 AD, and it would be another 160 years or more before the coming of St. Kentigern in the sixth century. Kentigern had been exiled from Culross where his miracle working had aroused jealousy and hatred among his monastic brothers.

He came to Glasgow and established a church on the banks of the Molendinar Burn, which is now the site of Glasgow cathedral. Kentigern was to have a change of name. The people of Glasgow who called him ‘Mungo' gave this new name to him. The meaning of Mungo was ‘Dear One'.

St Kentigern or Mungo was accredited with performing four miracles in the city, and these miracles are depicted in the City of Glasgow coat of arms. There is also a rhyme that goes with it.

Here's The Tree That Never Grew
Here's The Bird That Never Flew
Here's The Fish That Never Swam
Here's The Bell That Never Rang

Provands Lordship Glasgow's oldest house
Glasgow Cathedral
The illustration here is of an ornate lamppost, incorporating all the symbols of the coat of arms. It is located near Glasgow Cathedral - founded nearly 1500 years ago by St Mungo.

The Tree That Never Grew

The tree in the coat of arms is a now sturdy oak tree, but it started out as a branch of a hazel tree. The legend says that St Mungo was in charge of a holy fire in St Serf's Monastery and fell asleep. Some boys who were envious of his favoured position with St Serf put out the fire. But St Mungo broke off some frozen branches from a hazel tree and, by praying over them, caused them to burst into flames.

The Bird That Never Flew

This commemorates a wild robin which was tamed by St Serf and which was accidentally killed. St Mungo was blamed for the death but he is said to have taken the dead bird, prayed over it and it was restored to life.

Glasgow University

The Fish That Never Swam

The coat of arms always shows the fish with a ring held in its mouth. This is because a King of Strathclyde had given his wife a ring as a present. But the Queen gave it to a knight who promptly lost it. Some versions of the story say that the King took the ring while the knight was asleep and threw it in the river. The King then demanded to see the ring - threatening death to the Queen if she could not do so. The knight confessed to St Mungo who sent a monk to catch a fish in the river Clyde . When this was brought back (presumably catching salmon in the Clyde in those days was a lot easier then!) St Mungo cut open the fish and found the ring. When the Bishop of Glasgow was designing his own seal around 1271, he used the illustration of a salmon with a fish in its mouth and this has come down to us in today's coat of arms.

Art Galleries

The Bell That Never Rang

In 1450, John Stewart, the first Lord Provost of Glasgow , left an endowment so that a "St Mungo's Bell " could be made and tolled throughout the city so that the citizens would pray for his soul. The bell was still ringing out in 1578, as there is an entry in the City Treasurer's accounts two shillings (10p) "for one tong to St Mungo's Bell ." The magistrates purchased a new bell in 1641 and that bell is on display in the People's Palace museum near Glasgow Green.

When Mungo died on 13 January 603AD he was buried in his own church. Mungo's original church was destroyed by the wars, which swept the country in the years after his death. In the years between Mungo's death and Glasgow 's establishment as an Episcopal centre in 1145, there is very little information available about the history of the city. Today's Cathedral dates from the 12th Century and has been added to in the years that followed.

Provands Lordship the oldest house in Glasgow was built over 500 years ago for the Lord of Provan, an official of the Cathedral. The house still welcomes visitors today to view its proud history.

In 1451 Glasgow became a University City . Glasgow University was originally built in the High Street area of the city, but was moved to its present site in Glasgow 's West end in 1870.

Glasgow has also been the site of many battles. Bishop's Castle once stood on the site now occupied by Glasgow 's Royal Infirmary. Here, in 1300, William Wallace (of "Braveheart" fame) with 300 men defeated an army of 1000 English Knights who had taken possession of the castle under the English Bishop of Durham .

Central Bridge Glasgow

Two centuries later the castle was again the scene of battle when two opposing forces fought for control of the Crown of Scotland then in the possession of the baby, Mary Queen of Scots.

Glasgow was situated on a prime spot for developing the new markets that opened up worldwide. America was attainable from the port as was the West Indies and all other trade routes.

This was the age of the ‘Tobacco Lords' who made vast fortunes, from rum, sugar and of course tobacco. They built huge sprawling houses in the best areas of the city, and lived like kings. The poor of Glasgow however were being forgotten. Housing in that era was deplorable and most people lived in one-roomed houses known locally as ‘Single Ends' this was social deprivation at its worst. There was however a feeling of oneness, and belonging with the people who lived in these conditions and they went forward with an amazing community spirit.

It was soon discovered that Glasgow and the surrounding areas were a rich source for coal and ore and this opened up a whole new window of opportunity for the city. This discovery was to shape the way the city would progress for the next two or three hundred years.

Buchanan St

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, aided by technological advances designed by Clydeside inventors such as James Watt, Heavy Industry in the shape of Railway Locomotives and Shipbuilding flourished. Locomotives were exported throughout the world. "Clyde-Built" became synonymous with quality and reliability. The launch of the three " Queens " - luxury passenger liners - was the pinnacle of Glasgow 's shipbuilding achievement.

Sadly due to the economic crisis affecting today's world, shipbuilding on the banks of the Clyde has almost died out. There are still exceptions and a few companies still make a living doing the old trade but most of the really huge shipbuilding companies have long ceased to exist.

Glasgow as a City has developed well into the 21 st century. Towards the end of the 20 th century the face of Glasgow began to change. Out went the ‘No Mean City' look and in came a new modern, more tolerant place to live.

In 1989, Glasgow as given the Garden Festival and it was an amazingly spectacular success for the city which in the past had been known for its lack of culture among the people.

1990 saw the city adorned as the European City of Culture and in the year 1999 Glasgow hosted the Festival of Architecture and Design.

Today Glasgow , ‘the dear green place' welcomes and embraces tourists from all over the world. Glasgow 's art treasures are world-renowned and most of the city's museums and art galleries offer free entrance to view their treasures. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has just received a two-year facelift and is looking magnificent. The city has a wonderful Concert Hall, International Conference Centre, Science Centre, Sports Arena and shops rivalling the best in the land.

Glasgow now has everything, a friendly helpful population, who welcome visitors to their city and are proud to claim that they are Mungo's people, and true Glaswegians.

Glasgow 's current motto;

“Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name”

Often abbreviated to the more secular

“Let Glasgow flourish”

Is inspired from His original call to

"Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word".

Glasgow's museums include:

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (currently closed for refurbishment until January 2006)
  • The Burrell Collection
  • Fossil Grove
  • The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
  • McLellan Galleries
  • Museum of Transport
  • The People's Palace
  • Pollok House
  • Provand's Lordship
  • St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
  • Scotland Street School Museum
The Mitchell Library is the largest public reference library in Europe.
Scotland's leading cultural institutions, Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are based here and the city also has a longstanding and lively popular music scene based around venues such as the Barrowlands and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.

Glasgow has a number of theatres, includng:

  • Pavilion Theatre
  • Royal Concert Hall
  • Citizens Theatre
  • King's Theatre Glasgow
  • Tron Theatre
  • Theatre Royal
Science Centre
Transport Museum oldest underground in the world.

Amongst the city's parks are:

  • Bellahouston Park
  • Glasgow Green
  • Kelvingrove Park
  • Victoria Park
  • Maxwell Park
  • Pollok Country Park
  • Queen's Park
  • Rouken Glen
  • Glasgow Botanic Gardens
  • Alexandra Park
  • Linn Park
The city was host to the two Great Exhibitions of 1881 and 1901. More recently it was European Capital of Culture 1990, National City of Sport 1995-1999, UK City of Architecture and Design 1999 and European Capital of Sport 2003.

The Full List

  • The first official international football match was played at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick in 1872. It was between Scotland and England.
  • The splendid and spectacularly domed glasshouse the Kibble Palace ' (1873) located in the Botanic Gardens (1842) was originally the conservatory of John Kibble - a Victorian eccentric . In 1873 he made an agreement with the Royal Botanic Institution to have it transferred to the Botanic Gardens. Part of the agreement was that he could retain the use of the glasshouse for concerts and entertainment. For over 20 years it was the social focus of the West End gentry. (Great Western Road 0141 334 2422)
  • Partick has been in existence since at least 1136 at various times being known as Perdeyc, Perthic, Perthec and Partic. Until the mid-1880s Partick had a drummer who would beat his drum every day at 5am, to get everyone up for work, and at 9pm to signify that it was time to go back to bed. ( From '"The Story of Partick Vol 1"' Volume 1 by Bill Spalding)
  • There are only five Clyde built sailing-ships left afloat in the world - the SV 'Glenlee' is one of them and can be seen at close range at the Clyde Maritime Centre (Stobcross Quay, 100 Stobcross Road, Glasgow G3 8QQ Tel: 0141 339 0631 web: http://www.glenlee.co.uk ).
  • The largest collection of Clyde ship models in the world is housed in the Museum of Transport (1 Bunhouse Road 0141 287 2720 (Just at the back of the Kelvin Hall off Dumbarton Road).
  • The world's last sea-going paddle-steamer, the 'Waverley' was built on the banks of the River Kelvin by A & J Inglis in 1947. This was a replacement for an earlier Waverley, which had been sunk at Dunkirk. The 'new' Waverley is still in use - you can take a trip 'doon the watter' throughout the summer.
  • The first weekly service to North America sailed from Yorkhill Quay.
  • There is a widely held belief that Glasgow's Art Gallery and Museum was built back-to-front in anticipation of the main road being moved to what is now the back of the Gallery. I've recently discovered that, although the myth is untrue, the front of the building actually points away from the main road towards the River Kelvin and Glasgow University, whilst the back points to Dumbarton Road - the main thoroughfare.
  • In 1807 the Hunterian Art Gallery and Museum became the first public museum in Scotland .
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh was of course a Westender - staying at 78 Southpark Avenue. Alexander Greek Thomson built many famous buildings in the West End; notably Great Western Terrace ( Great Western Road ) which is easily the 'grandest terrace in Glasgow', also Westbourne Terrace, Northpark Terrace and part of Oakfield Avenue, where I used to live in a basement flat. ("Amazon.co.uk - Charles Rennie Mackintosh")
  • Both Glasgow's most famous architects Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander 'Greek' Thomson came from very large families - 11 and 20 children respectively. I suppose thats why they were fond of building such big houses.
  • Alexander 'Greek' Thomson never visited Greece - in fact he was not a noted traveller. He did, however, found the 'Thomson Travel Scholarship' that enabled Charles Rennie Mackintosh to make educational visits to Venice, Florence and Rome.
  • You may have heard that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was married to Margaret MacDonald but did you know that he had previously been the long time partner of Jessie Keppie the youngest sister of John Keppie (also a Westender and junior partner in Honeyman and Keppie where Mackintosh worked). Jessie and Margaret were part of the same group of art students at Glasgow School of Art. Apparently Jessie never got over her 'disappointment' - she never married. ( From 'The Life and Works of Rennie Mackintosh' by Nathaniel Harris)
  • You will find the world's largest collection of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery . (University Avenue - 0141 330 4221)
  • The University of Glasgow's Building is the second largest 'Gothic Revival' building in Britain (built 1867). When the architect Gilbert Scott was chosen to design it there was no competition. Alexander Thomson was displeased and showed his annoyance and disapproval by delivering a lecture damning its Gothic style and pointing to the fact that no Scottish architects were able to compete for the design.
  • The Glasgow underground or 'tube', which has stations in the West End at Kelvinbridge, Hillhead, Kelvin Hall and Partick was called the 'Clockwork Orange' by locals because ( I imagine ) of the colour of the carriages. Glasgow is the only city in Scotland which has an underground train service.
  • The original underground system was cable operated and is the oldest underground system in the world. Carriages from the original underground can be found in the Museum of Transport on Bunhouse Road (Tel: 0141 287 2720).
  • The Mitchell Library is Europe's largest public reference library with more than a million volumes. It also houses the world's largest Robert Burns Collection. Stephen Mitchell the libraries founder died in 1874 the same year the library came into existence. ( North Street 0141 287 2931)
  • People who live in the West End of Glasgow are reputedly called 'Wendys' (West End Trendies) by those who live outwith the area.
  • The West End is made up of a group of hills which were formed by the action of ice flows during the last ice age . Glasgow University sits on top of one of them: Gilmorehill.
  • The Western Baths - a private club - located in Cranworth Street is famed for the trapeze which spans the pool . It is also known for its occasional classical concerts held in the pool - when it has been emptied of water of course. Until the 1930 it had the biggest indoor pool in Scotland. Visitor memberships are available.
  • A statue of William Thomson, Lord Kelvin was put up in 1913 and is located in Kelvingrove Park. For 53 years William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) was Professor of Natural Philisophy at Glasgow University where he did research into marine instrumentation and thermo_electricity. The Kelvin temperature scale , which identifies -273 C as Absolute Zero, is named after him. I have been told by my friend David Donald - don't know if it's true or not - that the first refrigerators were called Kelvinators - again named in reference to Lord Kelvin.

    Here are some interesting facts about Lord Kelvin ( William Thomson) sent to me by the artist and writer Edward Chisnall.

  • An arm from one of the statues on the Kelvin Way Bridge, which had been detatched by the explosion of a 1914 bomb , lay in the mud of the river Kelvin until 1995 when a passer-by spotted and retrieved it. ( Thanks to 'Sculpture in Glasgow' by Ray McKenzie, Glasgow School of Art for this bit of information.)
  • The Kibble Palace, which is now located in the Botanic Gardens, was a gift from John Kibble - having been re-located from his home in Coulport in 1873. An enthusiastic amateur photographer he produced some of the largest photographs of his time ( no such thing as enlargements in those days). The negatives of some of his photographs were so big they had to be moved around in a horse-drawn camera!
  • On 24th January1914 twenty seven panes of glass from the Kibble Palace where broken by a bomb allegedly planted by militant suffragettes. A second explosion was narrowly avoided when the burning end of a lighted fuse was cut of by the night stoker. Evidence that it was the work of suffragettes included the impression of high-heeled ladies shoes in the soft ground and a lady's black silk scarf found nearby. ( From Kibble's Palace by Eric W Curtis)
Horse drawn Carriage
Images from the Transport Museum

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© Crann Tara 2006