If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure whether a walk along Battlefield Road would work. I worked in the area for two years and it’s very familiar. There was a very real likelihood I would run into someone I knew en route. (I didn’t.) But I decided to give it a go anyway, since I knew I could spin this post into something a lot longer if I had to. I started from the Mount Florida end, passing the churches on the corner then a flooring showroom that was all glass on the outside, which seems to defeat the purpose. Under the railway bridge and up to the junction with Holmlea Road was all tenements, grey and red, non-descript Glasgow. I could be anywhere in the city. Then I turned the corner and the familiar skyline came into view, the chimney pots and the cupolas and spires of the old Victoria Infirmary, added to by the more recent angular outline of the Glasgow Clyde College. To the left was a line of food shops, separated by the Job Centre, currently up for sale as part of a Government cost-saving plan that has seen a local campaign start to save it, alas without success.
I soon came to the junction and stopped to look at the Battlefield Rest, probably the most elegant tram shelter in the city and now an Italian restaurant. There were plans afoot at one point to put an old tram car outside it to add to the dining experience but I think that might be too much personally.
Just behind the Battlefield Rest is the old Victoria Infirmary, now being redeveloped into luxury flats. I went on a tour last September, which I wrote about here. All the work seems to be internal just now so the building looks just the same as ever despite the boards on the outside advertising that they are now owned by Sanctuary Homes. The old Vicky still dominates the cityscape up and down Battlefield Road even while there is much less of a bustle now most of its operations have decamped to the new hospital in Govan.
On the left as I walked up the hill was Langside Library, where I worked for just over two years. Unfortunately by the rules of the Streets of Glasgow project, it is actually on Sinclair Drive as opposed to Battlefield Road so I couldn’t go in as I passed. Fortunately, though, the side of the building faces onto Battlefield Road so I can report that the garden was looking great and the building is now scaffolding-free after the issues with the cupola.
Beyond the library were quite a few Battlefield-named businesses, reflecting the wider area’s claim to fame as the scene of the Battle of Langside on 13th May 1568 between the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Earl of Moray over who ruled Scotland. It certainly wasn’t for Queen Mary as her forces got decisively gubbed. A lot of the streets around Battlefield Road have names relating to Mary, Queen of Scots and her life, including Dundrennan Road named after the Abbey where the Queen spent her last night in Scotland and Lochleven Road after the Castle where Mary abdicated. I walked up to the monument at the top of the hill, passing a blockish electricity substation apparently an example of the ‘Wrenaissance style favoured by Glasgow Corporation’, according to my Pevsner’s guide. I spent a fair bit of time looking at the details and flourishes of the obelisk from all angles around the roundabout. The monument was dedicated in 1887 and it shows judging by the style of the sculpture and most certainly its scale. Standing by the monument gave a great view down Battlefield Road towards the College and the Battlefield Rest but also the other way to the Church on the Hill restaurant, once Langside Hill Church, a fine classical structure with pillars. It, like the monument, was designed by Alexander Skirving.
Thinking on it later, this walk was a closer look into the familiar rather than yielding much fresh insight. It was nice to be there as a person rather than for work though being there as a blogger with a purpose outweighed the emotional attachment I would otherwise have felt to a place I spent two happy years. I’m quite sure I’ll be back, though, in one way or another.
Sources and further reading:
Glasgow City Council, Langside Heritage Trail, 2012, second revised edition, available at https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=32316&p=0
Searle, Adrian and Barbour, David, Look Up Glasgow, 2013, Glasgow: Freight Books
Williamson, Elizabeth, Riches, Anne and Higgs, Malcolm, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, 2005, New Haven, CT/London, Yale University Press
This is the seventh Streets of Glasgow post on Walking Talking. There are quite a few others to read, including the nearby Cathcart Road.