I slept in. A big day trip and I fall back asleep. A new ticket and a new plan swiftly arranged, I found myself with time to kill in the centre of Glasgow at 7 on a Saturday morning when the sun wasn’t even up. Naturally my thought was to do a Streets of Glasgow walk. The problem I had as I walked out of Central onto Gordon Street was thinking of which street in the vicinity I hadn’t done before. I thought about Royal Bank Place, which leads from Buchanan Street to Queen Street. Then I remembered Mitchell Street, not just a street I hadn’t written about but I had never actually been down. Obviously the time was then, 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning. As I headed along Gordon Street, the city was getting geared up, including the workers in the nearby Pret A Manger. Above a bright video advert for Adidas beamed away, not failing to catch my attention. I turned right and as well as the Lighthouse, my first sight was a set of black iron railings above the Co-op Bank, an affectation rather than a necessity in all likelihood.
The Lighthouse is a Rennie Mackintosh building, once where the Herald was printed. I have never actually been, though I will very soon, so I can only comment on the outside, which is red sandstone, typically Glaswegian with the usual Rennie Mac stylings and flourishes suitably rendered. Across the way is a multi-storey car park. It was designed by Frank Gehry, though, looking like a dancing couple–no, of course it wasn’t. What it did have was a mural on the side depicting a girl blowing dandelion seeds which were in the shape of wind turbines, a neat environmental message plus a reminder of why it’s good to embrace our inner child. My inner child was tickled by Mitchell Street’s street art, including a big mural on a gable end showing a girl with a magnifying glass and another smaller one shrouded in scaffolding which depicted someone taking a picture of a flying taxi. Another unexpected pleasure was a ghost sign, this one for Wylie and Lochhead, good Scottish names both, cabinet makers and upholsterers.
My abiding impression as I walked down Mitchell Street was that it was like an alley Superman would duck down to get changed in. Every city needs a back street or six though even early on a Saturday, this one had people in it, folks huddling over their fags in doorways outside hotels and their work before they start. The street narrowed until it eventually came out and I suddenly knew where I was. I was now on Argyle Street, between an arcade and the Celtic shop. I looked back and saw the aforementioned mural of the girl with the magnifying glass. I had long admired it but had never ventured up close. Even in the half-light, it was worth it.
Even on the sunniest day, I don’t suppose Mitchell Street gets a whole lot of light, the narrowest of narrow streets even by Glasgow standards. Glasgow standards, though, are high and even back streets here are worth a look, preferably when the sun has come up a bit more.
This is the twenty fourth Streets of Glasgow post to appear on Walking Talking. There are quite a few others available, twenty three of them, funnily enough. Mitchell Street joins onto West Nile Street, which I wrote about last autumn, and Gordon Street, which I wrote about last summer. Last week’s was West Regent Street, elsewhere in the city centre.
The big day trip I was heading for was London, which I wrote about here.
Since I wrote this post, I visited the Lighthouse, which is excellent. A very fine building it certainly is, especially the view from the top. Here’s Mitchell Street from the Lighthouse.