Having done a few of these walks, it has reached the point when I can sum them up in a couple of words. West Regent Street’s are ‘food smells’. Walking up to Blythswood Square, I got the distinct whiff of fish, maybe salmon, maybe a fishcake, but something fishy nevertheless and not altogether unpleasant, as it happens. At the end, near West Nile Street, it was charred meat, from the BBQ place on the corner, plus I could also smell curry from the street food place up the road.
I started this walk at the junction with Holland Street. To the right was the back of the Strathclyde Police Headquarters, which occupies a whole block. Some of the old police posters were still up outside, despite the various Scottish police forces having merged nearly five years ago. As I walked past, I imagined the cast of Taggart cutting about, DCI Burke, Jackie and Robbie solving the inevitable murderrr. Randomly, I had just walked past an office block called Madeline Smith House, which I recognised as being named after an alleged murderer of the 19th century. No Mean City, indeed. Even the street signs joined in the dramatic theme, in the manner of a soap opera saying that West Regent Street continued after Blythswood Square. Not much happened in between, I can assure you, except the fish smell.
At that end there are also a few hotels, including one of the Dakota chain. Whoever designs them is quite firmly of the ‘middle finger’ school of architecture, particularly those near the Forth Bridges and on the M8 at Eurocentral, though the West Regent Street branch is slightly less shite, though still black all over. Thankfully, the architecture got better including a building on the corner at Blythswood Square which looked like it would fit snugly into Edinburgh’s New Town. I don’t know Blythswood that well but it felt very much like the New Town, complete with the concentric grid pattern. The buildings were like that for much of the walk, eventually getting more typically Glaswegian in red sandstone by Hope Street and Renfield Street then just tall and glass-fronted towards West Nile Street. A notable exception was Sovereign House, belonging to the Keppie design partnership, which I gather was once the home to the Institute for the Adult Deaf and Dumb and the John Ross Memorial Church to the Deaf, with a lot of Gothic touches designed by Robert Duncan. I’m not always a fan of Gothic stylings though it managed to sort-of blend in with the rest of the street.
It was late on a Friday afternoon and so the street grew busier with commuters the closer I got into town, even while the end nearest Holland Street was rather quiet. I hadn’t quite realised before I moved here just how Glasgow city centre is built on a hill, particularly to the west, though thankfully West Regent Street is quite gradual, at least the way I did it, an incline then a decline, much like life, I suppose.
Source and further reading –
Williamson, Elizabeth, Riches, Anne and Higgs, Malcolm, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, 2005, New Haven, CT/London, Yale University Press
Since this post was written, plans have been announced to demolish a particularly dilapidated building at 141/143 West Regent Street to replace it with flats. I remember walking past the building in question thinking nothing more than it was a bit run down. There’s more about it in this report from the Evening Times.
This is the twenty third post in this Streets of Glasgow series on Walking Talking. There are plenty of others to check out, including three streets which cut across West Regent Street at some point, namely Streets of Glasgow: West Nile Street, Streets of Glasgow: Renfield Street and Streets of Glasgow: Hope Street. Last week’s post, undertaken about an hour before this walk, was Queen Margaret Drive.