I don’t always do research for these walks. I prefer to see what I find out along the way. Duke Street was an exception. I looked up Wikipedia and one of my architecture books and that sealed the deal for actually going ahead with it. I started from the High Street end, walking by the side of 220 High Street and looking across to the elegant red sandstone building that sits on the corner of High Street and Duke Street. The sign was written in cursive so I wasn’t sure but I thought a Thai massage and beauty place across the way was called Supaporn. (It actually is, I’ve checked.) This part of the walk featured tower blocks on the left, modern flats to the right. I soon came to the Ladywell Business Centre, once a school, now offices, which looked great in the cold February sunshine with an elegant tower, complete with finial, as well as carved heads on the frontage of the building. Atop one of the ends of the building were a whole load of pigeons, revelling in a structure without spikes.
Not far away was the Tennents Caledonian Brewery. I don’t like beer and I’m told that Tennants in particular is vile so I wasn’t going to bother with the tour. Tennents have an excellent PR department and the walls up and down the street were bedecked in old adverts for Tennents Lager, including the cans with the Lager Lovelies and another in Japanese. My favourite, though, was the one that boasted ‘Now in cans’ plus the pipes of the brewery which were painted to look like a pint. Brewing has taken place on the site since 1556, making it the oldest continually operating business in the city. Duke Street is also the longest continuous street in the UK, again according to Wikipedia, so that’s particularly appropriate. Across the way was a pub no longer in existence, though looking like something out of Still Game in its rough and readyness, and the old Sydney Place United Presbyterian Church, now defunct, which is stunning, designed in 1857 by Peddie and Kinnear in a Greek style.
I soon reached Dennistoun and was tickled by a shop at the junction with Bellgrove Street called African Embassy, which billed itself as the ‘Visa to Good Food’. They went al the way with it, which I liked it. Dennistoun isn’t an area I know well. I went last summer to find the Buffalo Bill statue in the area and I had an urge to go back anyway. As I crossed the road, two women crossed in the other direction saying ‘It’s freezing’. They were possibly scoffing at the fact I was wearing shorts at the time, on a cold day (4 degrees) in February, though in my defence it was part of my 30 Before 30 list. Like on Govan Road, there were a fair few businesses around with Duke in their name, two including Duke Sweet and Dukes Barber. Also on that row was a pound shop with lots of emojis on the front, which gave a conflicted sense of the business’s priorities. I liked a sign outside a pub nearby, though, which featured Betty Boop on a motorbike with the legend ‘Adventure Before Dementia’.
As I walked on, I was reminded of how split our city is in a footballing sense. Though I could see the cantilever of the Celtic Park stands, I was soon by two pubs, the Louden Tavern and the Bristol Bar, liberally festooned with Union flags, though some Saltires, leaving a casual passer-by in no doubt of their footballing loyalties. The 21st century resumed a little way away with a trendy chicken shop called Black Rooster Peri Peri. I also walked past a suitably no-nonsense pest control business, which declared ‘all types of pests dealt with’ and that they had ‘unmarked vehicles’, for those jobs requiring discretion. There was also a derelict nightclub building up the road nearer the Forge, which looked like it had seen its share of bother over the years. Being an architecture buff, though, I liked the angles of the railway bridges over my head as I came to the Forge.
The Govan Road walk ended at Paisley Road Toll, one of the most architecturally interesting corners of the city. Duke Street ends at Parkhead Cross, another stunning bit, with fine red sandstone buildings on each corner as Duke Street, Gallowgate, Tollcross Road and Westmuir Street joined. The one on the corner of Duke Street and Gallowgate looked rather like the one at the start, at Duke Street and High Street, a neat bookend for a rich and varied walk with some gorgeous buildings, bits I would rather have missed and many more I’m glad I saw, rewarded as ever by looking up and around when otherwise I would have passed by.
Sources and further reading –
‘Duke Street, Glasgow’, Wikipedia, available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Street,_Glasgow (accessed 9th February 2018)
Williamson, Elizabeth, Riches, Anne and Higgs, Malcolm, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, 2005, New Haven, CT/London, Yale University Press
This is the twenty fifth Streets of Glasgow post on Walking Talking. There are plenty of others to read, including High Street, which meets Duke Street at its western end. Near Duke Street in Dennistoun is Alexandra Parade, which I wrote about last summer. Posts on Gallowgate and Trongate will follow in the coming weeks.