It boded well that as soon as I stepped onto Hope Street a suitcase ended up bashed against the back of my legs. I was stood outside one of Central Station’s many side entrances, trying to get a photo of a Hope Street sign, as is traditional, and despite trying to keep out of everyone’s road, I failed dismally at being invisible. Damn. As I walked on, I looked across to the Solid Rock Cafe, which has a mural above the door in memory of the late Lemmy of Motorhead, who died around two years ago. Also above the door was that the Solid Rock Cafe had been established in 1987. I get annoyed at the branches of Tesco, thankfully not including the one on Hope Street, which state they were established in 2015 or whatever. 30 years, I suppose, is long enough to note in some way.
Hope Street has the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted streets in Scotland, according to the most recent figures. There is an air monitoring station which sits starkly in the middle of the pavement near Central Station. It is a green box with some stickers and part of a tourism advert on one side. On another side were the words ‘La Street C’est Chic’. Included in the chicness of Hope Street, though, on that bright, cloudy Sunday lunchtime were fish and chip boxes abandoned from the night before plus some pavement pizza that may have resulted from the fried goods once therein. What was more poignant as I continued to pass Central Station was some chalked words on the wall in tribute to a fallen friend.
There is a whole lot of red sandstone on Hope Street, looking very Glaswegian and how I imagine a lot of the city centre being at one point in the mists of time. There were a fair few finials, including on the corner of St. Vincent Street on a particularly fine building which had a tower, railings above ground level and a feast of visual details at every turn. On another building across the street were waves carved into the white walls. Carvings were ten aplenty on this walk, with one even netted off on a slightly ramshackle building nearer Sauchiehall Street. Hope Street is probably second only to Ingram Street in how much of the walk I spent with my head high in the air. The cricked neck is a small price to pay, mind.
Getting run over isn’t, however, part of the fun. I was standing waiting to cross the road when two guys stepped out into the road, narrowly missing a taxi. The two guys were suited, one wearing a bunnet possibly to offset the fact he was follicly challenged, and the string of abuse that followed the taxi driver on his merry way included that he was a ‘pure rebel, man’, that rebellious act of course having the temerity to drive along a public highway and not having to swerve and avoid a pedestrian. I was of course minding my own business, being all psychogeographical and looking up at finials, all the while mentally shaking my head in disbelief. That was also the case a few yards later as I passed a pub, which was celebrating its 6th year of operation by touting various whiskies. I idly mused on how being 6 years old is neither old enough to drink nor to be a decent malt and walked on.
As I reached Sauchiehall Street, the Theatre Royal, Royal Conservatoire and the National Piping Centre came into view. To the left, a row of grand tenements led to Cowcaddens Road, bearing the city crest and noting that they were built in 1907. There was an abrupt gable end, though, with the Royal Conservatoire behind, one to be chalked up to Glasgow’s atrocious urban planning in decades past, rendering our city centre a great hotch-potch of old, new and not gracefully aging concrete. At ground level was a restaurant with the curious name of Ardnamurchan. I assume it serves Scottish cuisine, cranachan, haggis and stuff, though the name puzzled me since Ardnamurchan is a very isolated peninsula sticking out into the Atlantic quite a bit north and west of here. Across the road, the Theatre Royal was modern but suitably sweeping, looking all theatrical in white on Hope Street before lapsing into modern glass on the corner with Cowcaddens Road.
Of the three parallel streets that lead vertically through Glasgow city centre, I would have to say Hope Street is my favourite. Architecturally, certainly; it is more open and less claustrophobic, despite its considerable problem with air pollution. This walk was undertaken on a cool, bright Sunday December lunchtime, a great time to be able to take my time and look up, even if suitcases bashed my legs and taxis had to take evasive action.
This is the fifteenth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured in this series so far include Gordon Street, Sauchiehall Street and West Regent Street as well as Bath Street and Waterloo Street, which are forthcoming.