This was an utterly spur-of-the-moment walk, a true derive in the psychogeographical tradition as I was walking up Argyle Street and decided to turn left. It was busy with folk using it as a shortcut to cross the city centre or to go to the various shops, offices and restaurants along its short length. The sole reason I knew Miller Street existed was because I knew it used to house Stirling’s Library, one of Glasgow’s other libraries, which is now known as the Library at GOMA, in the basement of the Gallery of Modern Art. The library had been founded in 1791 after a bequest from Walter Stirling, merchant, and was housed in his own home before eventually joining the city library system in 1912 and moving nearby to premises which used to be the Mitchell Library, now of course in North Street in Anderston. It’s a library thing, basically.
Miller Street was a blend of elegant mercantile buildings and street art for me. Of the former, my favourite was the Tobacco Merchant’s House, which was originally designed by the architect John Craig for himself in 1775 and much like many of the houses the Tobacco Lords built for themselves in the Merchant City. Pleasingly it is now the headquarters of the Scottish Civic Trust and the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust. We have the Scottish Civic Trust to thank for Doors Open Days here in Scotland. The street art couldn’t have been more different, a Banksy-type mural of a guy in a shellsuit with a Scottie dug on a lead. Nearer Argyle Street was a barbers called Safe Hands. On the side was the rather cheering tableau of a skull with a pair of scissors lodged in it. Might give them a bye myself.
Before I reached the end of the street, I had to stop and look at a sandwich shop called ‘Piece’, which is what many Scots call a sandwich, though they don’t necessarily refer to shops that sell them as ‘Gourmet Sandwichmongers’. At this point, I thought, as I often do on these walks, of an Edwin Morgan poem, this time ‘The Second Life’, with the noises of planes flying overhead. I came to the junction with Ingram Street and the walk came to an end, a splendid diversion with good architecture, art and reminders of the dangers of getting your hair cut.
Sources and further reading –
The Glasgow Story, ‘Stirling’s Library’, available at http://www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSA00860
Architecture Glasgow, ‘The Tobacco Merchant’s House’, available at http://www.architectureglasgow.co.uk/oldcity.millerstreet.html
Before I go, I have a recommendation to make. Manchester is one of my favourite English cities, a place I hope to get back to ere long. The Wednesday’s Child blog features a very nice post about walking along Oxford Road in Manchester. Go read it, it’s excellent.
This is the twenty first post in the Streets of Glasgow series here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets I’ve written about are Streets of Glasgow: Ingram Street, Streets of Glasgow: George Square and Streets of Glasgow: Queen Street.