Streets of Glasgow: Gallowgate

This walk began immediately after the Duke Street one featured here last week, at Parkhead Cross. To my left was the very fine Glasgow Savings Bank building, designed by Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh in 1908. Glasgow has many fine crossroads and Parkhead Cross is probably the most striking I’ve seen so far with an elegant uniformity to all of the buildings. The light striking and low as the time passed 3, I liked the silhouette of the church to my left as I neared the other side of the Forge. It was also the right perspective for the Eastern Necropolis with Celtic Park’s cantilever span silhouetted behind. Having walked along Edmiston Drive in this series already, I felt it only right in the interests of balance to be in the heart of Celtic territory, as I very much was nearer the Barrowlands with the various Celtic pubs with the tricolour flying outside the door.

For much of the route, the Gallowgate was an interesting mixture of the old and the new, the concrete of the retail park and the smart classical gates of the old meat market. There was an old school house that looked like it had been cut in half with the joins clearly visible at the back as I passed. The Gallowgate was also a place where Glaswegian archetypes abounded, with a pub genuinely called the Wee Mans Bar in the Calton plus of course the Barras market and the Barrowland Ballroom just up the road. It felt like a Billy Connolly routine, with the sight of the Saracen’s Head Inn a reminder of the classic Glasgow Crucifixion sketch not far from the Rachel Maclean mural of the Big Yin, which I wrote about a few months ago, the most visually striking of the three murals dotted around the city centre. As I came to Glasgow Cross, one of the pubs had been done up with a Tennents mural, a fitting reminder of the history and interest of the area.

Throughout this walk there was some great street art and even the local Morrisons got in on the act with some interesting coloured panels on the side depicting local scenes of industry.

Like on Duke Street, the views either side were interesting, with the southern side looking towards the Cathkin Braes. Nearer the city centre, at that end of the Gallowgate there was a cracking view across some waste ground towards the city skyline, of the Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and the Tennents brewery I had seen not long before on Duke Street.

Most of these walks involve food smells at some point. Some, like West Regent Street, are more refined but Gallowgate was more traditionally Scottish, fish and chips more than once along the way tempting me as I passed. One of the chippies, near the Forge Retail Park, had a notice saying that a particular meal deal wasn’t available on match days, probably due to the high demand from some of the 60,000 folks heading to Parkhead. Another had a lorry parked outside it with huge sacks of potatoes being conveyed in ready for the suppers ahead over the weekend. The retail park had a fair few food shops though the architecture there was more utilitarian, more huts than just Pizza Hut.

As I neared Glasgow Cross, I stopped for a moment near the Billy Connolly mural and looked across at the railway arches and beyond to the city skyline. The eastern side of the city centre is unjustly maligned though for my money it has some incredible buildings, some once warehouses, others with finials and sculptures galore. Gallowgate isn’t always bonny, let’s say, and there were a few bits of this walk when I quickened my pace a bit. But I’ve always believed that in Glasgow, the best sights are always above your head and to quote Camille Pissarro, ‘blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places when others see nothing’. This walk was one of those when taking the time was rewarded and all of the flavours of this city were there, the elegance and the poverty, the blue, green and everything else. They are always the best ones.

Source and further reading –

Williamson, Elizabeth, Riches, Anne and Higgs, Malcolm, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, 2005, New Haven, CT/London, Yale University Press

This is the twenty sixth Streets of Glasgow post from Walking Talking. There are plenty of others available, including Duke Street, from last week, and also High Street, which meets Gallowgate at Glasgow Cross. Trongate follows next week. The Billy Connolly murals featured in a post from last year.

12 thoughts on “Streets of Glasgow: Gallowgate

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