There are quite a few street names that Edinburgh and Glasgow have in common, naturally so since they grew and developed around the same sort of time. Of the 31 streets I’ve written about in this series so far, five have an equivalent in the capital, Buchanan Street (in Pilrig), Cumberland Street (New Town), Duke Street (Leith), the High Street (take a wild guess) and Dundas Street. Edinburgh’s Dundas Street is in the New Town, leading from the city centre to Canonmills. Glasgow’s is much shorter, split in two, going from Cathedral Street to West George Street. It is in the midst of redevelopment as Queen Street Station is being transformed into a glass-fronted transport hub as part of the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme. That means that Dundas Street is basically a building site and it is very narrow to accommodate the building works. The development means that it is possible to see through gaps to some of the city’s finer buildings, not least the City Chambers on one side and Buchanan Street on the other.
Dundas Street is also split by a narrow walkway leading from the shops to the railway station and Subway. It used to have an old sign which referred to Buchanan Street as being on the Underground, rather than the Subway. I like spotting things like that but it appears to have disappeared in the redevelopment of Queen Street. I had been at Queen Street a couple of days previously and in the midst of the works the Dundas Street entrance had moved again, this time to an even narrower gap by the entrance to the Low Level platforms. The barrier in front of the works meant that getting a good look at the buildings was difficult. As I am generally hurrying on Dundas Street, I wanted to look up there particularly. Above the temporary ticket office and Weir’s was an elegant building in red sandstone with a bay window on two of its levels. Next door, above Caffe Nero and RS McColls, was a more typical building for the city centre, still red sandstone but with lots of fussy details, some crests and a laddering-type effect between the windows.
My main impression of Dundas Street as I walked on this particular Sunday afternoon was the shops at the northern end of the street. Quite a few of them were shut but that revealed their shutters, quite a few of which were decorated such as the tattoo shop which had a pattern that I can’t quite place, be it pipes, leaves or human innards. Love Music was easier to figure out, the record shop featuring likenesses of various musicians around the door.
Dundas Street is one of the streets in this series that will change considerably in the coming years. By 2020, Queen Street station will be transformed into a glass-fronted transport hub. In the meantime it’s a bit of a riot but that’s okay. It’s interesting to document the change, to imagine what will come as well as what was once there. It’s always a lesson not to hurry by, that usually there’ll be another train soon if you just want to stop and look a bit.
The next Streets of Glasgow post, Waterloo Street, will follow in two weeks time. Next week will be a Loose Ends post featuring Linlithgow Palace.