Streets

For about three years I’ve been doing a series called Streets of Glasgow, which involves a psychogeographic walk along a street in the city I call home. 81 streets have featured so far and they tend to be popular posts, which is cool. My process is generally to walk along the street, paying close attention to what interests me, what I hear, see, smell, taking pictures along the way. Sometimes I do research, sometimes not. I have done many of the walks on the spur of the moment, which I prefer, really, with the longer walks invariably involving planning. Some of the streets have changed since I wrote the post about it – Cathedral Street, for example, which has seen extensive redevelopment with new college and university buildings having sprung up. Businesses have closed and opened, plus of course there’s been a global pandemic with all that has entailed. I’m hoping to do more Streets walks when the current restrictions change, hopefully in the spring. I have done walks in all seasons though spring is the best season to walk in, as there is more light and trees and flowers coming into bloom.

Parkhead Cross: a tall building with a cupola to its left. On the middle of the building are the words ‘Glasgow Savings Bank’.​
Parkhead Cross: a tall building with a cupola to its left. On the middle of the building are the words ‘Glasgow Savings Bank’.

The longest walks have generally been my favourites, though I particularly liked Govan Road and Miller Street, which I did on the same day, if memory serves. Cumberland Street was another highlight, due to the statues. Any street with statues or art tends to be a winner, like Mitchell Street early one morning to kill time before a train. Alexandra Parade was an interesting one too. Some of the walks have taken me into unfamiliar territory, particularly in the East End like Alexandra Parade, London Road and Duke Street, which are varied in all sorts of ways.

Great Western Road: a city street with a church with a tall spire to the right.​
Great Western Road: a city street with a church with a tall spire to the right.

Every so often I make a list of streets I’ve still to do and they are spread right across the city, usually the longer roads that lead out, like Edinburgh Road, Dumbarton Road and Maryhill Road. A lot of us have become more aware of our local authority boundaries lately though in planning a long walk I usually have to find where some of those roads cross a boundary into another council area, since this is a Glasgow series after all. Great Western Road continues into West Dunbartonshire and then up the A82 right up to Inverness. I started the Paisley Road West walk right by the boundary with Renfrewshire, which cuts across the road diagonally. Google Street View is useful, as is figuring out how to get to or from wherever the boundary is.

In doing some of the walks this past summer, I often thought about how Covid and the Black Lives Matter movement have changed how our streets are, the perception of their past and the reality of the present. Glasgow is a city with a complicated past and exploring it in the present necessitates dealing with that past in some way. I often bring an outsider’s perspective, having grown up in the east of Scotland, which means usually I learn something new, either on the walk or after when I do some more reading.

I never stop learning about Glasgow. I still go to new places, most recently the Aldi car park which sits above the shop and Paisley Road West, and that’s pretty decent. I’ve lived in Glasgow for nearly eight years and walking its streets helps me figure it out, though I reckon I’m a long way from completing that particular process.

Incidentally, a full list of the Street of Glasgow walks, all 81 of them, can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page. Please also feel free to share any suggestions for when it is possible to do some more.

Streets of Glasgow: Langside Avenue

Langside Avenue: a street sign on a golden sandstone building with the pole from a zebra crossing to the right of the sign.​
Langside Avenue: a street sign on a golden sandstone building with the pole from a zebra crossing to the right of the sign.
Langside Avenue: an elaborate church with pillars to the left, red sandstone buildings in the centre, trees to the right.​
Langside Avenue: an elaborate church with pillars to the left, red sandstone buildings in the centre, trees to the right.

Langside Avenue was the second Streets of Glasgow walk of the afternoon, soon after a wee sojourn to see the Andrew Watson and Pele murals in Shawlands. It leads from Shawlands to Battlefield, hugging the edge of Queen’s Park. As a result it is particularly leafy, and popular as I seemed to spend much of this walk keeping right by the road to let other folk pass. Despite knowing the area quite well, I hadn’t really looked up close at Langside Halls before and it’s a handsome building with pillars, ornate sculptures and a coat of arms over the central part. The junction has been smartened up with new steps and seats as well as the perennial taxi rank. The Shed and the Corona were shut though the Corona, run by the Butterfly and the Pig people last time I was there, may open as part of Tier 3 as one of those pubs not actually selling drink. The park was looking particularly autumnal with leaves covering the grass. Runners regularly passed me, enjoying the pleasant October afternoon. A particularly fine tenement building curved on a corner and its bottom rose as the road rose towards the Church on the Hill, also shut though adorned with an Oor Wullie sculpture from last year’s trail, and the Battlefield Monument, where Langside Avenue concluded. I came back that way a little way later just to make sure I got the customary street sign picture, though this time it was quieter, helped no doubt by the rain shower in between. The forecast said it would be nice all day but of course that’s Glasgow.

Thank you for reading. This is the eighty first Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured here include Battlefield Road, Sinclair Drive and Minard Road, which was here last week.

This walk was undertaken in October 2020 before Glasgow entered Level 4 restrictions.

Streets of Glasgow: Candleriggs

a street sign stating Candleriggs and Merchant City on a brown wall. Next to the sign is a security alarm box.
Candleriggs: a street sign stating Candleriggs and Merchant City on a brown wall. Next to the sign is a security alarm box.
looking up a city street with hoardings on the left and smart red and cream buildings to the right, looking towards a tall church at the street's head.
Candleriggs: looking up a city street with hoardings on the left and smart red and cream buildings to the right, looking towards a tall church at the street’s head.

I wrote in the notes for this one that Candleriggs was ‘interesting but not much to write about’. Candleriggs is one of my favourite Glasgow street names – uniquely Glasgow – possibly linked to a local trade like Shuttle Street. It has a few bars and restaurants and it was busy not not mobbed, folk out for meals or to the pub that Friday teatime. The Ramshorn Theatre dominated the skyline as I started from Ingram Street, looking around to the City Halls and the Scottish Music Centre – still closed – with the word ‘Everyone’ written on an office window opposite without further comment. A plaque to the memory of John Maclean stood outside the City Halls and on the pavement were reminders, like on nearby Hutcheson Street, of the trades of the city over time. The buildings were a mix of old and relatively new, a white building between two tall red ones at one point. Beyond the junction were lots of posters, versions of classic paintings with face masks, posters of upcoming events hopefully still upcoming, lyrics from Oasis songs, Billy Connolly in the 1970 and photographs of people hugging trees with the caption ‘Missing hugs’. I wrote about physical intimacy in the Saturday Saunter recently – there will be a lot of people feeling like that right now. When I reached Argyle Street, I looked back and Candleriggs is handsome, a hotchpotch of old and new, certainly, but strangely enough it works.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy ninth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets included here previously include Ingram Street, Wilson Street, Trongate, Bell Street, Argyle Street and Albion Street. The Streets of Glasgow page features all the posts in the series so far.

Streets of Glasgow: Shuttle Street

a street sign stating Shuttle Street and Merchant City on a brown wall.
Shuttle Street: a street sign stating Shuttle Street and Merchant City on a brown wall.
looking up a street towards an angular building with scaffolding on its left, narrower end. A lamppost is on the nearer side of the road. At the top of the street is a mural in black depicting a satellite and a large telescope.
Shuttle Street: looking up a street towards an angular building with scaffolding on its left, narrower end. A lamppost is on the nearer side of the road. At the top of the street is a mural in black depicting a satellite and an oval building.

Shuttle Street was picked because of its name. It’s between the Merchant City and Strathclyde University; indeed Strathclyde has buildings along most of its length. I wondered if it was like Shuttle Street in Paisley, which is named like Silk Street and Gauze Street there for the textile mills that once dominated. People could be forgiven for thinking the Glaswegian version was named after the space shuttle, with the space and science murals nearby on George Street. I passed the Greyfriars Garden, a stalled space with poetic words on a fence, and faced a grand university building that looked like it would be at home by the Albert Dock in Liverpool. A carpet hung out of the window as I turned my head to a gap to Albion Street and the old Herald building. Soon I came to Ingram Street, a neon-fronted Italian restaurant on the corner, and it was the end of another street, one I had seen but didn’t know the name of until a chance glance at a map.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy eighth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets included here previously include Ingram Street, High Street, North Portland Street and George Street. The Streets of Glasgow page has a list of all the walks so far.

Streets of Glasgow: North Portland Street

a sign on a lamppost which states North Portland Street. There are tree branches and leaves behind.
North Portland Street: a sign on a lamppost which states North Portland Street. There are tree branches and leaves behind.
looking down a street towards tall, square office buildings with a city skyline visible between them in the middle.
North Portland Street: looking down a street towards tall, square office buildings with a city skyline visible between them in the middle.
looking across a road towards various square office buildings. On the walls are illustrations of a person skateboarding, a woman walking down the hill and people sat in a lecture hall watching a lecture.
North Portland Street: looking across a road towards various square office buildings. On the walls are illustrations of a person skateboarding, a woman walking down the hill and people sat in a lecture hall watching a lecture.

In recent weeks, I’ve covered two of the streets in the Strathclyde University campus, Rottenrow and Montrose Street, and what they have in common is that construction work continues apace. Most of North Portland Street is closed off for that reason, colourful hoardings declaring Strathclyde to be ‘the place of useful learning’. What I learned pretty swiftly was to stand back to get a photo down the street towards the hills without getting a fence in the road. A new university building was nearly done, one of the sharp-angled, pointy, glass school of architecture. I passed students as I descended, one saying they had only walked in the adjacent Rottenrow Gardens the previous day. Thankfully North Portland Street is less steep than Montrose Street. A poster extolling the virtues of electric vehicles had been graffitied over though I could still clearly see the murals across the street, a skateboarder, a girl walking towards George Street, some weird acrobats and students in a lecture hall with a staring guy in blue that I couldn’t unsee. I also couldn’t unsmell the distinct scent of urine nearer George Street, all part of life’s rich tapestry as North Portland Street undoubtedly is, just with new pointy buildings and the street art which adorns their neighbours.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy seventh Streets of Glasgow post on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured here previously include George Street, Albion Street, Rottenrow, Montrose Street and Shuttle Street, which appears here next week. The Streets of Glasgow page has a list of all the walks so far.

Incidentally, yesterday the Glasgow Women’s Library posted a virtual version of its Merchant City walk, which was partly in this area.

Streets of Glasgow: Montrose Street

looking at a wall with a street sign on it and a large, modernist building behind. A flagpole sits above the wall.
Montrose Street: looking at a wall with a street sign on it and a large, modernist building behind. A flagpole sits above the wall.
looking over the prow of a hill towards city buildings and towards hills.
Montrose Street: looking over the prow of a hill towards city buildings and towards hills.
a gradient road sign indicating a slope with a 15% gradient
Montrose Street: a gradient road sign indicating a slope with a 13% gradient

Montrose Street was the fourth Streets of Glasgow walk that hot August day and it came right after Rottenrow. I walked over the crest of the hill to its junction with Allan Glen Place and Cathedral Street and started from there, passing an anchor hitched right by the Henry Dyer building of Strathclyde University. I liked the anchor immensely, reminding me of the sea. I couldn’t see the sea, even that high up, only wind turbines on Eaglesham Moor miles away across the city. The crest of the hill yielded this view as well as a look right the way down towards Ingram Street, Townhead giving way to the Merchant City. Huge, monolith university buildings were to the right, one with a tall tower reminding me of the Cambridge University Library, even if a smart book sculpture was nowhere to be seen. I could hear folk exercising in the gardens and soon saw them in a circle, impeccably socially distant. The 13% gradient made me thankful I was walking down and not up, as a boy with a scooter was doing. Three flagpoles stood further down, one a saltire, the middle one empty, the third the flag of the European Union, which fluttered in the breeze. I was curious about the middle flagpole. Perhaps it flew the flag of Strathclyde University? Answers on a postcard for that one.

The City Council had automated the pedestrian crossing at George Street as part of their efforts to make Glasgow’s streets accessible during the pandemic. I crossed pretty swiftly and came into a more traditionally posh Glasgow streetscape, ornate architecture though some more modern with protruding windows like something Frank Gehry would design. Flowers were on balconies and people sat outside Tinderbox on the corner with Ingram Street, the whole scene feeling more typical than it might have been of late.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy fourth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include Cathedral Street, Rottenrow and Ingram Street. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Streets of Glasgow: Rottenrow

It’s always amused me that Glasgow’s maternity hospital used to be on Rottenrow. Bairns, or weans as they are usually known here, are now born mostly at the Queen Elizabeth or the Princess Royal at the Royal Infirmary, but for a long time new life came into the world on Rottenrow, only changing in 2001. I had been in the area a few weeks before, walking for the first time in the city centre in many months, and found myself there again on a sunny August afternoon, ready for another Streets of Glasgow walk. There isn’t much left of the old hospital, largely been converted into a garden, part of the campus of Strathclyde University. A sculpture of a nappy pin stands in the garden, with the edifice of the old hospital shown in a doorway and a pillared entrance. By the pillars was a ghost sign, saying that only ambulances could park there.

Today Rottenrow is being developed again, part of wider redevelopment efforts by Strathclyde University. I liked that the Nourish @ Urban Bean Cafe stood on Rottenrow, a modern name on a street that sounds like something out of Dickens. The psychedelic-coloured hoardings stood out too. I walked through a garden past trees dedicated to former students, including one to someone who was ‘truly a big man’, a great complement in Glasgow. Soon I came up some steps and realised that I had reached the end of Rottenrow, Rottenrow East beginning nearby by a smart, Paoluzzi-esque metal sculpture. A lot had changed in Rottenrow, an university having absorbed an old hospital and even older tenements, and it was interesting to be there to see it change again.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy third Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include Cathedral Street, High Street, George Street and Montrose Street, which follows next week. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Streets of Glasgow: Hutcheson Street

Hutcheson Street: a golden building on the corner of a street with Hutcheson Street on a sign. Trades sculpture: a sculpture of a bucket with tools sticking out of it. It is between two tall city buildings.

This post could be subtitled ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’, the title of the recent album by Bombay Bicycle Club. A poster peeled off a hoarding on Hutcheson Street and it just seemed apposite for the times, prescient maybe. Posters advertised events whose dates had passed but nothing would have transpired due to the pandemic. I’ve noticed that in recent weeks. Advertising won’t have been changed on buses, bus stops or city streets so everything has stood still, films advertised as coming out at the cinema in March. The world had changed. There was hand sanitiser outside Brewdog to prove it, a graffiti argument on a wall, other words against the police. A development towards the Trongate looked like it had resumed after a long pause, diggers silent since it was Sunday rather than for any other reason. A plane flew overhead, shimmering in the bright August sunshine. A man and boy sat on a bench, others parked their car prepared for an afternoon in the big city. A sculpture, a circular blob with two holes, sat in a window near Ingram Street; a bigger piece, a pot of craft tools, promoted the history of tradespeople in the city. The old blended with the modern, the buttresses jutting above the modern glass roof leading to the Scottish Youth Theatre and a bar with its red T lit.

I couldn’t remember who the street had been named after. I sensed there might be a slavery link, like much of the Merchant City, and wondered if one day soon it might have a new name. I had been wandering looking in a different way, not just through the prism of the pandemic. As far as I can make out, Hutcheson Street is named after the founders of the hospital, who don’t seem to have been involved in the slave trade. I did wonder if it had been named after Francis Hutcheson, philosopher during the Scottish Enlightenment, who argued against slavery, but the hospital founders would be more likely. Their old hospital, now a restaurant, stands at the top of a very varied city street.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy second Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include Ingram Street, Trongate, Argyle Street, Wilson Street, Virginia Street and Glassford Street. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Streets of Glasgow: Hanover Street

Hanover Street: looking up at an ornate building with pillars and an arched window with a street sign in the centre of the building.
Hanover Street: looking up at an ornate building with pillars and an arched window with a street sign in the centre of the building.
Hanover Street: looking down a street with tall, city buildings on either side. Older buildings on the left, newer, glass-fronted buildings on the right.
Hanover Street: looking down a street with tall, city buildings on either side. Older buildings on the left, newer, glass-fronted buildings on the right.

It’s fair to say that Glasgow’s streets have changed quite a bit since my last Streets of Glasgow post, back in May last year. The history hasn’t, only the context. I wouldn’t have imagined, for instance, hand sanitising stations or carrying a face mask in my hoodie pocket. How history is seen has changed too, with Glasgow’s links to slavery considered like never before. In the coming weeks, I will be chronicling some more walks down Glasgow’s streets, considering what I encounter in more dimensions than before, hopefully.

The first four of this new tranche of Streets of Glasgow was undertaken on a warm August Sunday, beginning on Hanover Street.

Hanover Street is one of the shorter streets in Glasgow city centre, leading off George Square to Ingram Street and onto Miller Street. It reminded me of its namesake in Edinburgh, both named for the ruling dynasty of Britain in the 18th century at the peak of the city’s powers. I had time to kill one sunny Sunday morning and decided to do a bit of psychogeography for the first time in a while, certainly the first for a while on a city street, and set off from George Square, finishing a few minutes later on Ingram Street. It was a blend of the old and modern, cash machines set into an old bank building, a pigeon walking on the road, flowers in an office window. In these socially distanced times, I wondered if the offices were occupied once more. The talk on the cash machine screen of remortgaging was a reminder of how the world had changed since I had spent much time in the city centre. A hair salon promised a fresh take on blonde and through the window folk were in, everyone in sight done up in PPE. Emporio Armani stood behind scaffolding with bars on the window surrounding the posh clothes. I cheerfully passed on, wondering merely where to next?

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy first Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include George Square, Ingram Street, Miller Street and Queen Street. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Odds and ends

Hello there,

Another selection of random stuff from my inbox since I didn’t get it cleared properly last week.

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Lyceum – the edifice of an old cinema with a billboard on the right and a covering over the curved frontage.

For the last few years, I’ve been writing a series here called Streets of Glasgow. It involves walking along a Glasgow street and writing about what I encounter there. So far I’ve done seventy of them. The last one was Buccleuch Street, over in Garnethill, which I did around a year ago. Some of the streets have changed significantly since I wrote about them. Sauchiehall Street has been ravaged by fire twice. Cathedral Street has buildings where cranes stood. University Avenue is still a construction site. Anyway, planning permission has been granted for the old Lyceum cinema on Govan Road (Streets post here) for a cinema and conference facilities. Glasgow once had more cinemas per head of population than anywhere else though like everywhere else, it has its share of multiplexes, even if we can’t visit any picture house at the moment. Cinema in the community is definitely a good thing, particularly in that part of Govan and hopefully, once all this is finished, the Lyceum will be open again.

There have been quite a few exhibitions moving online, including the Hunterian Art Gallery’s fine exhibition about Edwin Morgan and Joan Eardley, the Museum of London’s Clash display and the BP Portrait Award from the National Portrait Gallery. I spent a wee while looking around the BP Portrait Award exhibition the other day and can confirm that some of the artworks looked better in context, looking generally rather than zooming in, which is often the case in physical spaces, to be fair. I would also urge looking on a bigger screen rather than a phone, just for the best effect.

I’ve written here before about my love of maps. Thankfully there are a whole lot of maps online, as well as physical maps we can devour and savour. I have seen a few virtual adventures happening, including in this excellent Guardian article about travelling by map through Wales. I have the OS Maps app on my iPad and spent a nice morning a couple of weeks ago traversing my part of the world. I used to have the OS Landranger map for Duns, Dunbar and Eyemouth on my bedroom wall and lost quite a lot of time looking across its folds.

Anyway, that’s my inbox a bit emptier now. I should be back on Saturday with another Saturday Saunter and Loose Ends Redux on Wednesday, which is in Edinburgh. Hope everyone is okay. Cheers just now.