Every so often my inbox gets clogged with all the stuff I mean to write but never get round to. A fair bit of it this time relates to the city I call home, usually bits that might inspire adventures or rants here. I still have two articles from last year that I haven’t put words to yet, one an article from the Sunday Times talking about the air quality on the Subway and the other from the wonderful History Girls blog about murals in Possilpark Library, which I still haven’t seen.
Just yesterday I came across a post from the Glasgow City Archives Facebook page, which showed a map from 1938 during the Empire Exhibition. It was in fact a bus map showing visitors to the Exhibition how to get round Glasgow, with the reverse showing the tram routes. What was interesting was the emphasis on the city’s many parks, including Cardonald Park which I walk through every morning on my way to the bus stop, and also how many prominent streets and areas are very different as a result of development. The southside seems particularly intact, with the exception of the Gorbals, with the absence of the M8 and other big roads particularly evident. Each letter is carefully inked, the map brightly coloured with only the city centre inset in black and white, that at least not dissimilar from what is there today.
Another old Glasgow article I found recently featured archive footage and photographs of the M8, built between 1965 and 1980 with clear changes in the surroundings, particularly the big modern buildings in the city centre. One of the pictures, which appear on the BBC News website, was taken in 1973 and shows the M8 at Anderston entirely deserted, which it probably hasn’t been since. The difference in the cars is particularly noticeable, as is the scale of traffic. On my way home I’ve been caught up in traffic at least twice this week, which might not have been so much of a problem when the road was built. Indeed I can hear the faint, constant whir of cars on the motorway as I write this. The M8 has been cursed for cutting right through communities and being part of a wider plan to ruin Glasgow’s architecture but it is here and its history is worth considering.
Back to the present and the Glasgow Connectivity Commission recently released a report (article from the BBC News website) talking about ‘transport isolation’ and how many Glaswegians do not have adequate access to the city’s facilities due to the sheer number of cars and relative lack of public transport. I added the ‘relative’ since most of Glasgow’s public transport, certainly compared to the rest of the country, is superb. The commission, chaired by transport expert and good Hibee Professor David Begg, has recommended, amongst other things, making more of the city centre pedestrian friendly and using something called a smart grid to better segregate transport. Professor Begg has also talked about the decline of bus usage and how this should be addressed, with more modern buses and cheaper ticketing just two of the commission’s suggestions. I don’t think any of this is a bad thing. I like ideas. I wonder how all this can be put into practice. Glasgow city centre is big and busy and full of vehicles. Buchanan Street works well without cars now but the city authorities would need to think long and hard about how to expand that, particularly on how to convince those who drive not to. The case for better buses is not a bad one either. I live in a very well connected part of Glasgow. Others, particularly north of the river, are not as well served and it might be worth doing a study into the need for buses compared to the population and demand. It’s all interesting anyway and I’ll look forward to the next part of the commission’s report.
I think that’s my inbox a bit lighter than it was. Before I go, I’m starting to think about Streets of Glasgow walks for next year. The last one for 2018, Gorbals Street, appears here on Wednesday but I am currently considering ideas for the next batch. Great Western Road is one I haven’t got round to yet, St. Vincent Street, Berryknowes Road. Maybe looking at that 1938 map might give me a few ideas. If anyone has any suggestions of interesting streets in the city, do let me know.