Glasgow University’s tower can be seen from much of the city. I see it at least once a day when I’m on my commute. It usually peeks between two tower blocks on the city skyline. With that in mind, I decided to make the next Streets of Glasgow walk along University Avenue, a street I knew would be architecturally and historically interesting. I woke up and it was snowing. A couple of weeks after the epic ‘Beast From The East’, a mini spell of cold, snow and ice came just when most of Scotland hoped winter was past us. Despite the snow flurries, I headed out anyway. I was gratified walking up towards Byres Road that I was handed a leaflet for a student offer in an Italian restaurant, despite pushing 30. Being an OU student, however, means I could actually take advantage of it.
I started from the junction with Highburgh Road and Byres Road, not quite sure what I could write about at this point. Plus it was absolutely baltic and I began to regret leaving the house without more layers. I looked up and there was the tower, plus the Boyd Orr building to the left. By the Medical School building was a row of blue traffic cones. Not sure if these are unique to the University or some private parking outfit. One of the housing blocks nearby had snow on the steps despite the pavements being completely clear. Beyond the Boyd Orr building was a gap which gave a view to the University Library and the smart offices of University Gardens. The cranes and diggers of the building site lay dormant with it being a Sunday.
The University had been in the news over the previous few weeks due to staff being on strike over cuts to their pensions. On a lamp post was an UCU poster explaining concisely why Glasgow staff and those of other institutions around the country were on strike and when the strike dates were.
By University Place is one of the University’s gates, called the Botany Gate. I wondered if that had anything to do with the nickname some Edinburgh academics have for Buccleuch Place, an outlying part of Edinburgh University sometimes referred to as Botany Bay, but it was soon explained by the Botany building just beyond. I was tickled by a nearby poster advertising a group called Balkanarama who had been playing a concert in Glasgow the previous night, with the promising slogan of ‘Hot Balkan Instrumental Orgy!’ None being forthcoming as I walked on, I was gratified to see daffodils and crocuses popping up through the snow.
Glasgow University has a fine looking campus though my favourite building on University Avenue is the Wellington Church, the splendidly Greek looking kirk across the way. The gate was open so I walked up the steps to pay closer attention to the pillars and elegant carvings and features around the doorways. The gatepost was an elegant fading sandstone, probably more carved originally but fine and fitting all the same. The elegant building next door with roof railings housed part of the University’s School of Engineering, all the better for it than being in one of the more functional 1960s affairs down the way.
As I reached the bottom of University Avenue, it became apparent that it went on a little more to the junction with Gibson Street rather than just stopping at Kelvin Way as I thought. That meant I could include the baronial-looking Glasgow University Union and the Sir Charles Wilson building, the latter an old church now belonging to the University. It was nice to be in the vicinity for a bit, particularly for the reassurances of the flowers that spring was still coming, despite the biting wind and snow hinting otherwise.
This is the twenty eighth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Quite a few other posts have been written. Some involving streets nearby are Byres Road, Queen Margaret Drive, Kelvin Way (which appears next week) and Addison Road.
The Streets of Glasgow series will be taking a break shortly, not sure for how long. The last one in the current series will be Addison Road, which will appear here on Sunday 27th May. I love writing Streets though I feel it is time to take a break to keep things fresh. Plus I have to study and live life and stuff too. I’m working on something different, though, to put in its place that will hopefully be just as interesting. Watch this space.