Glasgow History from the 600s to present day.
The city grew from around the area of Glasgow
Cathedral, spread south to the High Street and
Glasgow Cross, then west to the Merchant City,
further west to modern Glasgow centre, then west to
Glasgow's West End.
The city of Glasgow is about 10 miles across east
to west, and about 15 miles deep north to south.
The city centre is now regarded as George Square,
and about half of a mile in each direction around
Although there had been people living in the area
of present day Glasgow since prehistoric times, the
settlement there only became organized after the
arrival of St Mungo from Ireland in the late
St Mungo had a church built where Glasgow
Cathedral now stands. Religion was key to building a
city, as the citizens were encouraged to follow
Christian values, such as marriage, family life, live
by the law, and pay taxes.
Glasgow Cathedral was built from the late 1100s,
the oldest building in Glasgow today. The Provand's
Lordship museum is situated next to Glasgow
Cathedral. This is the oldest house to survive in
Glasgow, built in 1471.
The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 by
Bishop William Turnbull, with the first classes taken
in the Glasgow Cathedral buildings.
The university buildings expanded over the
following centuries, into a huge complex next to
Glasgow Cathedral and the High Street.
The present University of Glasgow building was
completed in 1870, on the west side of Glasgow.
Nothing of the Old University remains.
Large Image of this area in the
The Tolbooth was built in 1626 at Glasgow Cross,
about half of a mile south of Glasgow Cathedral. The
High Street runs from Glasgow Cathedral to the
The High Street is one of the oldest streets in
Scotland, although most buildings on the High Street
that can be seen now, were built around 1903. All
that remains of the Tolbooth is the tower in the
centre of Glasgow Cross, as seen right.
Glasgow Cross is where the modern City of Glasgow
grew from. The area 200 yards south, is where boats
would unload their cargo from the River Clyde, named
Until the River Clyde was dredged in the 1800s,
large ocean going vessels had to be unloaded at Port
Glasgow, about 15 miles west, then the cargo would be
transported up river in smaller boats.
The area just west of the cross, is where many
Glasgow businesses were located, that became known as
the Merchant City (Old Glasgow). The Tolbooth was
used to collect taxes for goods entering the Merchant
City. The Tolbooth was also where most of the public
hangings took place.
The last person to be hanged in public in Glasgow
was a Dr Edward Pritchard
that murdered his wife and his mother-in-law. He was
hanged on Glasgow Green a short walk south of the
Glasgow Cross in 1865.
The Union between Scotland and England in 1707,
led to Scottish merchants being allowed to trade
freely with America and the West Indies, leading to
great wealth for many companies, and the banks,
particularly through tobacco, sugar, and slavery.
Glasgow Cathedral, Provand's Lordship, Tolbooth
Steeple, and the Tron Church tower, are the only
buildings remaining in Glasgow from the 1600s, and
The Trongate is one of the oldest streets in
Glasgow's Merchant City. It runs from the Tolbooth at
Glasgow Cross, from where the image on the right was
taken, to about 300 yards west. This is the Merchant
City, about half of a mile north to south, and about
300 yards east to west.
The spire on the left is the Tron Church, now used
as the Tron Theatre. The building across the road is
the Trongate Town Hall.
The trongate was devastated by fire in 1652, which
led to strict building controls from then on.
The Merchant City today, has a large number of
resturants and bar diners.
On the west end of the Trongate, is the start of
Argyle Street, that in the 1700s, is where many
wealthy businessmen from the Merchant City began
building mansion houses.
Argyle Street was only just being developed
Some of the most notable Glasgow merchants were
William Glassford, that Glassford Street is named
after, William Cunninghame, whose town house is now
the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Buchanan's, that
Buchanan Street is named after.
The image right is from the west end of the
Trongate, looking down Argyle Street to the Central
Station Bridge, about 400 yards further west.
Argyle Street runs under Glasgow Central Train
Station, and on into the Kelvingrove area in the West
End, about 2 miles long.
It is this area of Argyle Street, between the
Trongate and Central Station, that the Glasgow
merchants began building their mansion houses. Today,
Argyle Street is a main shopping street.
Argyle Street was originally named Westergait, and
a few other names after that, but was re-named Argyle
Street in about 1760, after the 3rd Duke of
The name Westergait, was probably when this would
have been the western entrance into the Merchant
City, so there would probably have been a Tolbooth
here as well.
Buchanan Street was laid out in 1777 by Glasgow
Bankers, becoming the top street in Glasgow until
this day, running from Argyle Street in the south, to
Sauchiehall street in the north, just 300 yards west
of the Merchant City.
Over the next 130 years, most of the Glasgow
centre that can be seen today, was built around
This street was named after the Buchanan's who
were wealthy tobacco lords, with tobacco estates in
America. The Buchanan's had bought the land for
development of what would become modern Glasgow.
They lost their wealth during the American War of
Independence 1775-1783. This led to the Glasgow
Bankers taking over the development of the
The Buchanan's had a mansion house on Argyle
Street, where Buchanan Street connects to Arglye
George Square was laid out in 1781, and the City
Chambers, as seen in the image right, was completed
in 1888, on the east side of the square.
The Glasgow government departments then moved from
the Tolbooth at Glasgow Cross to George Square, where
the modern city of Glasgow was being developed around
the square, and to the west.
Also around the square, was built the General Post
Office building, Bank of Scotland building, and the
Merchants House, where the Glasgow Merchants run
their business to this day.
Most of the buildings around George Square, and
about 1 mile west, were built from the mid 1800s to
the early 1900s, most about 5 or 6 floors high, a
great collection of Victorian architecture, well
worth viewing. Only a small number were ever
demolished, to make way for more modern high rise
On the north side of George Square, the Millennium
Hotel was originally built in 1807, as three town
houses for wealthy merchants. Andrew Burrell,
founder of the Burrell Collection museum, lived in
The three houses were converted to hotels in about
1878, named The Queen's, The Royal, and The Crown.
The North British Railway converted the three hotels
into the Millennium Hotel in about 1908.
Queen Street Train Station opened in 1842, on the
west side of the Millennium Hotel, built by the
Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway company to operate
mainly to Edinburgh, and other towns north of
The Buchanan Street Train Station that opened in
1850, was situated a short distance northwest for
links to other northern towns.
That station closed in the 1960s, leading to Queen
Street becoming the main station connecting to the
Glasgow Central Train Station was completed for
the Caledonian Railway company in 1879, to serve
mainly towns south of Glasgow, and in England.
The Central Hotel, built around the station, was
completed in 1883. This is the largest of the two
train stations left in Glasgow, the other being Queen
The St Enoch railway station was completed for the
City of Glasgow Union Railway in 1876. The St Enoch
station was situated about 200 yards east of Central
That train station was closed in 1966, and
demolished in 1977, to make way for new buildings,
including the St Enoch Centre, a vast glass roofed
shopping centre, with over 100 shops.
The West End of Glasgow came about after country
estates began selling off ground for housing in the
The first prominent buildings in the area were the
Botanic Gardens opened in 1842, in Hillhead, the
Hilton Grosvenor hotel that opened in about 1850 on
Grosvenor Terrace, in Hillhead, next to the Botanic
Gardens, and the present University of Glasgow, that
was completed in the Kelvinside area, in 1870.
The area was promoted by developers as a greener
and cleaner place than the overcrowded city centre.
They built many high quality houses, designed by the
top architects from the area, attracting most of the
business people from the city.
Two streets overlooking Kelvingrove Park, named
Park Circus, and Park
Terrace, were modeled on architecture in the City
Glasgow had been expanding rapidly west at that
time, and took over the areas of Hillhead and
Kelvinside in 1891, with them then becoming the West
The main street in the West End is Byres Road,
with many bars and restaurants.
This street runs from just north of the University
of Glasgow, northeast to the Botanic Gardens. Byres
Road was originally named Victoria Street.
After the area was taken over by Glasgow, the name
had to be changed, as there was already a Victoria
Street in Glasgow.
Shipbuilding on the river Clyde began in 1712, but
really escalated after the Fairfield Shipbuilding
Company began operating in Govan from 1868, and John
Brown's of Clydebank began operating in 1899.
These two companies built many of the largest
passenger ships in the early 1900s, and some of the
largest warships, such as the liners Queen Elisabeth,
Queen Mary, and the QE2, and warships Hood, Duke of
York, and Howe.
The Govan areas population increased from 9,000 in
1864, to 95,000 by 1907. Today, with the decline in
shipbuilding, the population is about 66,000.
It is claimed that over 25,000 ships have been
built on the River Clyde since the first shipyard
opened in 1712.
Only one large shipyard is still operating, the
BAE Systems's shipyard at Scotstoun, 4 miles west of
Glasgow centre, building mostly navy vessels.
This shipyard used to be named the Yarrow
Scotstoun house and estate was owned by the Oswald
family, until shipbuilding took over the area in the
1860s. Clyde Build Ships.
Glasgow Rangers Football Club was set up in 1872,
with their first match played against Callander on
Glasgow Green, finnishing 0-0.
Rangers played at various grounds around Glasgow
before their stadium Ibrox Park, in the Govan area,
was completed in 1899.
Ibrox is the second largest club stadium in
Scotland, with a seating capacity of 51,082.
Most of the supporters originated from the
shipbuilding communities in the Govan area.
Both Rangers and Celtic, now attract supporters
from all over Scotland, Ireland, and around the
world. The matches between the two are claimed by
many, to be the most competitive, and exciting of any
derby football games around the world. www.rangers.co.uk
Celtic Football Club was set up in the East End of
Glasgow in 1887, with the intention of raising funds
for charity. They played their first game on the 28th
May 1888, beating Rangers 5-2.
The East End is situated east of Glasgow Cross,
and the High Street.
The population in the area grew dramatically in
the 1840s, after the potato famine in Ireland,
Scottish Western Isles, and the Highlands, forced
many people to relocate to cities.
The East End has retained a strong Irish
Celtic Football Club is now one of the largest
clubs in the UK, with its 60,355 seat stadium being
the third largest football club stadium in the UK,
after Manchester United's Old Traford, and Arsenal's
Emirates Stadium. www.celticfc.net
Since the 1980s, a number of large hotels have
been built in the city centre, such as the Hilton,
Radisson Blu, Apex, Hallmark, Holiday Inn, Marriot,
Novotel, Crowne Plaza, Hilton Garden Inn, and
Along with many hotels in older buildings, they
are really busy throughout the summer, between
business trips and the vast numbers of tourists
visiting the city. One of the largest hotels in
Scotland was built next to Central Train Station with
350 rooms for Motel One, completed in late 2017.
All Glasgow Hotels
Modern Buildings began showing in Glasgow in the
late 1900s, such as the Clyde Auditorium, or The
Armadillo, that opened in 1997. This building was
constructed next to the box shaped Scottish
Exhibition and Conference Centre that opened in 1983.
The SEC needed a larger entertainment venue, so the
Armadillo was built with 1100 seats.
The Glasgow Science Centre opened in 2001 with a
Science Mall, an IMAX Cinema, and the Glasgow Tower.
The 416ft high Glasgow Tower, was designed to give
360 degree views over the city of Glasgow.
RSS Information Page & Images
Cineworld Cinema - Glasgow Renfrew Street opened
in 2001, becoming the highest cinema in the world at
203 feet. The cinema is situated at the east end of
Renfrew Street, close to Buchanan Street Bus
Riverside Museum opened in 2011 to house the
Glasgow Museum of Transport. The museum is packed
full of Buses, Cars, Motorbikes, Trains, Trams, and
large models of famous ships built here on the River
RSS Information Page &
The SSE Hydro opened in 2013 to serve as the
largest purpose built entertainment venue in Glasgow,
seating 12,000. The SSE is part of the Scottish
Exhibition and Conference Centre, that also operates
the Armadillo with 1100 seats. The Armadillo is
situated next to the SSE, as can be seen in the image
on the right.
The Area west of Central Train Station, alongside
the River Clyde, has been almost completely rebuilt
since the 1980s, with metal and glass business
buildings such as the large circular BT building
being the most notable. There is about 5 miles of
scenic riverside walkway that gives many of the best
views over the city, used by many joggers. View the
River Walk Page for more skyline images.
Glasgow River Walk