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Accompanying the “Obscure History Plaques”

Deep beneath the modern streets of the Merchant City lurks an obscure history.

placed in pavements of the area your quest is to uncover the Merchant City’s hidden history. From the tales of colourful characters to the grisly murder of a flea - the Merchant City vaults have been plundered for this leaflet. This leaflet accompanies “the Merchant City Visitor Guide” listing the various amenities and visitor attractions and “the Merchant City Architecture Trail” which celebrates the rich architecture of the area that you will pass by on your quest.

High Street, 19th century

Glasgow Cathedral, mid-17th century


In the Beginning... ...There was a monk called Kentigern who was visited by an angel, who told the monk to head west. So west the monk went. He found himself on a hill, gazing down a verdant valley and to the sparkling waters of a river. He said ‘Glaschu’ (what a dear green place) and decided to stay. The people who lived in the “dear green place” took a liking to the monk and nicknamed him Mungo, meaning "dear friend", they even made him their patron saint, and so the history of Glasgow began.... (or so legend has it). The Necropolis

1. Cathedral Missing Relics In 1560, the Reformation of the Church sent the Bishop Beaton fleeing to Paris. Before he fled he rescued a number of sacred items from the Cathedral. Amongst these relics were: pieces of the Cross of Christ, a casket containing some of the Virgin Mary’s hair, part of the girdle of the Virgin, a fragment of St. Bartholomew’s skin, a bone of St. Magdalene, milk from the Virgin, part of the manger in which Jesus was born and fluid which seeped from the tomb of St. Mungo.

2. Cathedral Precinct The precinct in front of the Cathedral was used for burning witches and heretics. Glasgow had it’s own Witch Finder General, the Reverend Cooper, who was so efficient at catching witches and gaining their confessions that he became known as “Burning Cooper”. Also within view of the Cathedral are:

3. The Necropolis In 1831 it was decided to turn an old pleasure ground into a garden cemetery. It was named Necropolis (City of the Dead) and is an impressive backdrop to the Cathedral. It was designed to be a place of peace and inspiration for the local populace. Today it is a

High Street Close, 19th century

St. Mungo

Mary, Queen of Scots

popular haunt for the Glasgow chapter of the Vampire Society. Open to the public from dawn ‘til dusk ...and best avoided after that!

4. Cathedral House Hotel 28/32 Cathedral Precinct Established in 1877 as a hostel for prisoners being discharged from Duke Street Prison. The prison stood where we now see a modern housing estate. Cathedral House was a hostel for both men and women for more than 80 years and contained murals painted by the ‘Glasgow Boys’. When it closed, so did the hostel and the murals were moved to the new prison, Barlinnie, where they were subsequently destroyed in a fire. Not surprisingly, this building is believed to be haunted.

The Magai by Peter Howson one of the new Glasgow Boys’.

5. Provand’s Lordship The Casket Letters The story goes that Mary Queen of Scots stayed here when visiting her husband, Darnley, who was ill with the pox. She and Darnley were far from happily married, in fact Mary was having an affair with the Earl of Bothwell.

Soon after her arrival in Glasgow she decided to dispatch the ailing Darnley to Edinburgh, he was murdered shortly afterwards. It is believed that whilst staying in the Provand’s Lordship she wrote the “Casket Letters” which revealed her affair with Bothwell and implicated her in the murder of her husband.

High Street The High Street is one of the oldest streets in the city. Continuing from Castle Street, High Street ambles down the hill towards Glasgow Cross, carrying with it tales of poetry, mercantile wealth, body snatching and squalor. Two fires in the 17th century almost completely destroyed this area, which cost a small fortune to rebuild. The new buildings inspired Daniel Defoe to write “the four principal streets... are the fairest for breadth and the finest built that I have ever seen... ‘tis one of the cleanest, most beautiful and best built cities in Great Britain.” Sadly this beauty did not survive. In 1853 Hugh MacDonald wrote “Sin and misery are indeed here to be seen in loathsome union.”

Glasgow University, 17th century

1822: The dingy Bookshop of Duncan McVean arrived here after a spell at 70 High Street. 1860: James Ballantyne operated his Pawnbrokers Shop from this site. 1880: Miss J Boyd’s Drapers and Milliners Shop. J & A Kay, Tobacconists and Newsagents.

6. Ye Mariners of England 215 High Street: (at the corner of Nicholas Street just south of the Old College Bar). On the north facing wall of this beautiful red sand-stone building (the old British Linen Bank building) is a plaque commemorating the poet Thomas Campbell. Campbell was born in July 1777, the youngest of 12 children. He was a boisterous lad, always in fights and prone to pranks and mischief. His chief works included “The Pleasures of Ope”,

Ramshorn Church

A. 175 High Street

“Gertrude of Wyoming”, “The Battle of the Baltic” and “Ye Mariners of England”. His friends were amongst the greatest writers of the age and included; Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Keats. Campbell has a statue in George Square and is buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster.

7. Raising the dead Travelling a little further down the High Street we come to College Street. College Street led from Albion Street to the gates of the old University on the High Street*. Like its neighbouring Schools of Anatomy, the University was involved in sensational anatomical experiments. In 1818 Professor Jeffrey publicly demonstrated the journey of electricity through the human body using the newly invented Galvanic Battery. For the experiment he used the body of a murderer, Matthew Clydesdale. Clydesdale’s corpse was placed in a chair and when the Galvanic Battery was switched on the body appeared (to a horrified audience) to come back to life. Legend has it that Mary Shelley was in the audience and this incident may have influenced her famous gothic horror book, Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

*The University sold this land to the City of Glasgow Union Railway Company in 1864 and after that date moved to it’s current location at Gilmore Hill.

who turned a rams head into stone on this spot. The burial ground attached to the church was a popular haunt for the “Resurrectionists” who made a living robbing graves.

B. 24 College Street

A Christian Leg? A leg is believed to be buried somewhere in the Ramshorn. The leg was found in the garden of a gentleman who lived on the Candleriggs. Unsure what to do with the leg, he thought to seek the advise of the minister at the Ramshorn Church. When the minister looked at the leg, he said that he couldn’t be sure that the leg was Christian, so it was buried without ceremony or epitaph to mark its plot.

1813: Medical Students would remove bodies from their graves to study the anatomy of the human form. The focus for these resurrections were the anatomy rooms of Mr Granville Sharp Pattison. Their actions were discovered on the 13th of December when half a jaw bone and the ring finger, believed to belong to Mrs McAllister, buried the previous day in the Ramshorn Churchyard, were found in Pattison’s rooms. Mr Pattison and 3 other stood trial for the felonious abstraction of the body of Mrs McAllister. All 4 were later released as it could not be proven that the body parts found were those of the deceased, Mrs McAllister.

8. Ramshorn Church From the High Street, turn left onto Ingram Street. Just beyond Albion Street is the University of Strathclyde’s Ramshorn Theatre, formerly the Ramshorn Church. There are many theories behind the origin of the name ‘Ramshorn’. One of the popular beliefs is that it originated from a miracle performed by St. Mungo,

The Battle of Culloden

A Grave Situation Beneath the Pavement Under the pavement outside the Ramshorn graveyard are the graves of the Foulis Brothers, appointed as printers to the University in 1743. As publishers they were responsible for the “Glasgow Courant” the predecessor of the Glasgow Herald. The Courant gave a first hand account of the Battle of Culloden when it was headline news.

Candleriggs Market

Virginian slaves, 18th century

9. The Candleriggs Across the road from the Ramshorn is the Candleriggs. This historic street extends from the Trongate to the site of the old candle makers, hence the name. If you take a walk down this pretty street, look at the pavement outside the City Halls, where you will find a poem carved in the paving slabs and a list of the fourteen Incorporated Trades of Glasgow. The City Halls line one side of the street and is attached to the old Candleriggs Market (now Merchant Square) and the Fruit Market. City Halls were used as a venue for music, exhibitions and entertainment. Amongst the celebrities who have appeared there are: Charles Dickens, Niccolo Paganini, Oscar Wilde (pictured below) and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Harriet Beecher Stowe was in Glasgow to gain support for the abolition of slavery. The people of Glasgow were so taken with her cause that they began a campaign on her behalf called “Uncle Tom’s Penny”, wherein a penny would be donated for every reading of the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.

C. 78 - 82 Candleriggs 1800: the Bowling Green could be accessed through a lane on Bell Street with an entry fee of one penny. The edges of The Green would often fill with stagnant water in which the local children would drown stray cats and dogs. 1817: the Bazaar was constructed to the design of Clelland. 1851: the Bazaar was occupied by 1 Cheesemonger, 8 Fruiterers, 9 vegetable dealers, 2 Onion Merchants, 1 Gardener, 4 Egg and Butter Merchants, 6 Ham Merchants, 3 Stocking Dealers, 1 Brush Maker, 3 Booksellers and 3 Boot and Shoe Manufactures. Slavery Records show that the payment for slaves go as far back as the early 1500’s. In the 1770’s a Mr. William Colquhoun wrote the following in a letter, “We shall sail tomorrow with a hundred and fifty slaves for Potuchan River in Virginia in a very fine vessel which I am chief mate is a very precious cargo as for me it is the first time... plenty of noise and stink.” It is horrifying to think of all those people, crammed together, many of whom died of suffocation and disease.

By the end of the 18th century, people were beginning to see slavery as a barbaric and evil practice and some personal slaves in Britain gained their freedom. One such slave, Joseph Knight, appealed to the Sheriff Court in Glasgow for his freedom. The case finally ended at the Court of Session where Joseph was declared a freeman and his master, an early abolitionist, told that he ..”Shall lose the property by the mere circumstance of his bringing the said Negro to Scotland.”

10. First Take-away Candleriggs boasted the first fast food shop in Glasgow set up in 1810, Granny Black's. The proprietors realised that after a few drinks the customers would have a craving for greasy food, so they started selling pies to carry out. Sadly Granny Black's 'fell down' a couple of years ago. Glasgow’s first restaurant was Sloan’s in the Argyll Arcade. The menu offered the discerning customer sheep’s brains and pig’s trotters. At the corner of Candleriggs, turn left into Bell Street.

City Halls

D. 4 Bell Street 1667: possibly the first Sugar Works in Scotland was founded here by Peter Gemmell, Frederick Hamilton, John Caldwell and Robert Cummings. c.1820: previously 90 Bell Street called the Herald Close. The second floor was occupied by the offices of the Glasgow Herald and Advertiser. The paper cost sixpence a copy. Glasgow’s second Police Office, overlooking Candleriggs and the Bowling Green occupied the first floor. John Gardener, Mathematical Instrument Maker, Measurer and Optician ran his shop from the ground floor.

E. City Halls 1847: Charles Dickens attends a ball at the City Halls opposite, after his opening speech at the new Athenaeum in Ingram Street. He commented that he had never been more heartily received anywhere as he had been in Glasgow. 1858: Charles Dickens returns to give 2 readings of his works, for which he was reportedly paid £600.00. 1882: Bell Street numbering reversed to allow continuation of Bell Street beyond High Street. Charles Dickens

The Tollbooth

F 2 Albion Street

G. 37 Bell Street

1855: the City of Glasgow Bank Building, designed by JT Rochead, who also designed the Wallace Monument in Stirling. 1878: the Bank fails spectacularly with debts of £6m due to fraud, embezzlement, and false book-keeping. The Bank was not a Limited Company and thousands of Glaswegians were left penniless. Of almost 2000 shareholders, only 250 were not bankrupted.

1820: Wallace Court, home to the shop of John Graham, Wine and Spirit Merchant who was charged 3 guineas as libel damages against a fellow and his lady friend for accusing them of stealing 2 bottles of Port. 1900: shop and office of William McEwan and Company, Tobacco and Snuff Manufacturers. 1921: office of James Robb, Agent to the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company.

11. First Electric Sign On the corner of High Street and Bell Street was Bow’s of Bell Street (now Bed Shed), the first shop to have an electric sign. A year later it was the first shop to receive electricity which was supplied to Glasgow in 1890. From the end of Bell Street, turn right, back onto High Street and head down to the Cross. Bell Street continues east of the High Street where the Plaques ‘g’ and ‘h’can be found:

H. 105 - 153 Bell Street 1882: built for the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company as the main storage warehouse for the recently constructed College Goods Yard, the creation of which caused the removal of the Medieval Blackfriars Church (also known as the College Church) and the 15th Century buildings of Glasgow University. c.1986: the warehouse was converted into apartments.

12. The Tollbooth The High Street ends at Glasgow Cross where the 17th century Tollbooth stands on an island in the middle of the traffic. The Tollbooth Steeple is all that survives of a much larger building that once housed the early City Chambers, courts and prison.

The Tron by Peter Howson

Bow’s, early 20th century

*The last public hanging attracted an audience of over 100,000 people in 1865. They had come to watch Dr. Pritchard swing for the murder of his wife and mother-in-law. There are still men who believe it was a miscarriage of justice.

Crime, Punishment & the Gallowgate Evidence of punishments meted out at the Cross are still visible on the walls of the Tollbooth Steeple, where metal rings survive to remind us that people were chained to the wall here as a punishment. Another reminder of this area’s grim past is the name Gallowgate, a street east of the Tollbooth, which means the way to the gallows. The punishment of criminals was a great source of public entertainment. It was once recorded in the Burgh records that the practice of lug-pinning (nailing a criminals ear to the Tollbooth door - as illustrated above) must be banned because it “corrupted community life, weavers will leave their looms and children play truant” in order to jeer-on the lug-pinned victim. Opposite the Tollbooth is the Third Step Gallery which showcases the work of world renowned artist Peter Howson and his arts collective of which many of his pictures are shown here. Nothing was better attended than a good execution*, but for all that it was the most popular amusement, the purveyor of justice himself was the city’s most vilified pariah. When the job was advertised in 1605, no-one would take the position, so the post was offered to a prisoner, John McClelland, in exchange for his life.

Until April 30th 1630 hanging was used to punish minor crimes whilst murderers suffered beheading. After this date hanging was introduced for murderers too. Between 1765 and 1850, 107 people were executed in the city, of which only 27 were murderers. The first Glasgow Police Force was instituted in 1778 with the appointment of an inspector who was paid £100 a year.

The Execution of a Bear In June 1880, a bear belonging to the visiting performer, Antonio Delore, was arrested and placed on trial for harassing a Bailie whilst he was going about the city for the “Guid” of the people. The bear was sentenced to death by musket and Antonio was forced to sit in the stocks with the skin of his beloved bear around his shoulders. It made such a pitiful scene that not one Glaswegian had the heart to demonstrate their approval with the usual jeers and rotten fruit. Continuing the line of the High Street from the Cross to the Clyde, is Saltmarket.

Lord Horatio Nelson

The Steamie

Saltmarket, 1930s

Glasgow Green Market, 1870s

Britannia Music Hall

13. Filth & ‘Nestiness’ (nastiness) on the Saltmarket There were no sewers before 1790. Instead, the waste would be thrown out of people’s window’s and left to flow down hill to the lowest part of the city where it would collect and form dung hills or ‘middens’. The midden of Glasgow was located in the Saltmarket and was recorded on one occasion to have grown to 15 feet in height and so wide it blocked the street of traffic. This mountain of effluent caused the city to be fined for ‘not attending to it’s middens’. It is believed that the midden was sold at auction to settle the debt, perhaps prompting the magistrates and town council to pass a statute against ‘nestiness’. Extract from the Burgh Records 16th January 1696

The magistrates and town council, taking to consideration the many complaints made by the inhabitants of this burgh of the growing and abounding nestiness and

filthiness of the place at present, doe therefore statute and ordain as follows; Imprimis, that no master or mistress or heads of families or their children or servants or others lodging or residing in their families shall at any time heiraftir cast out at their windows, aither upon fore or back street or in lanes or closes, any excrement, dirt or urine, or other filth or water, foul or clean, under the pain of fyve merks Scots money... To get away from all this filth, many people would take the fresh airs available at Glasgow Green, the main gates of which are on the Saltmarket.

14. Glasgow Green Glasgow Green is known as the site of a thousand battles. These battles were fought by the people. The battle for “one man one vote”, “one woman one vote”, “a fair days pay for a fair days work”, campaigns against poverty and the demon drink. The Green was also the site of the annual fair, festivals, entertainments and sport. In short, this ancient park is the heart and soul of the social history of Glasgow, a fact that is commemorated by the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens (Glasgow Green is open from dawn until dusk; People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is open Mon-Thur & Sat. 11-5pm Fri & Sun 11-5pm).

Entertainment The annual fair on Glasgow Green attracted travelling troupes and local talent who would entertain the crowds. Some entertainers would erect temporary theatres called ‘Geggies’. These Geggies would present all manner of entertainment, but melodramas and Shakespearean death scenes seemed to be the most popular! Sport Glasgow Green is the original home of both Rangers (1873) and Celtic (1888) football clubs, Glasgow golf club was founded here in the 18th century and whilst the wealthy putted, the washer women gossiped in the ‘steamie’ and pegged their linens out on the public washing lines.

conductors for the tall buildings of the city. The first lightning conductor had been erected on the old University Steeple on the High Street under the direction of Benjamin Franklin in 1772. Steam James Watt once wrote: “I had entered the Green by the gate at the foot of Charlotte Street and had passed the old washing house. I was thinking upon the engine* at the time and had gone as far as the herd’s house when the idea came into my mind that, as steam was an elastic body, it would rush into a vacuum and, if a communication were made between the cylinder and an exhausted vessel, it would rush into it and might be condensed without cooling the cylinder... I had not walked further than the golf house when the whole thing was arranged in my mind.” *Thomas Newcommen’s Industrial Steam engine

Nelson’s Monument The foundation stone for Nelson’s Monument was laid on Friday 1st August 1806. The needle-like monument cost £2075 to erect. Tragedy struck the huge column in August 1810 when, during a ferocious thunderstorm, a bolt of lightning struck the monument and the top 20ft of masonry collapsed. This storm highlighted the need for lightning

15. The Whistling Kirk On the North side of Glasgow Green is a lovely little Episcopalian church (now offices). Originally known as St. Andrews by the Green, this was the first church in Glasgow to use an organ since the Reformation and has been nicknamed the ‘Whistling Kirk’ or ‘Kist of Whistles’ since.

St. Andrews Square

Trongate, 1826, by John Knox

Bishop Boyd roundly harangued Cromwell from the pulpit. Boyd’s hatred of Cromwell incensed Cromwell’s secretary who suggested beheading the Bishop might cure his rudeness. Cromwell declined and instead invited the Bishop to dinner.

16. St. Andrew’s Square Around the corner from St. Andrews by the Green is St. Andrews Square, and a spectacular classical church. St. Andrews in the Square (recently converted into a venue for Scottish dance & music). Prior to the church being built, Vincent Lunardi amazed an audience by inflating a huge balloon in the square and flying over the city to finally land in Hawick in November 1785 (one of the first solo balloon flights in history). From St. Andrews Sq, St. Andrews Street leads west and back to the Saltmarket. On the north east side of Saltmarket is Parnie Street, which takes the wanderer from Saltmarket to the New Wynd via King Street.

I. 4 Parnie Street 1650: from this point, you would have been able to see Silvercraig’s land, the country residence of the Bishop. The Mansion sat opposite the mouth of the Bridgegait. In this year, Oliver Cromwell stayed in Silvercraig’s land during his time in Scotland. 1756: one of the first 2 front hat shops in Glasgow was opened nearby by John Blair. During Oliver Cromwell’s visit to the area, he attended a sermon at the Cathedral where the

Behind King Street

17. Paddy’s Market

Oliver Cromwell

J. 57 Parnie Street 1851: previously called 70 Princes Street, it was the premises of Mrs Jarvis, a Leather Merchant. 1895, the street was renamed and renumbered Parnie Street, Mrs Jarvis’s Shop still operated from the same premises. 1902: the Shop of J Jarvis & Son, Leather Merchants and Shoe Furnishers.

K. 83 King Street 1821: King Street was the market place for sheep, cattle and fish with dozens of permanent stalls set up along its length. Fleshers who worked in the King Street Beef Market included: Thomas Atkinson, William Flemming, Thomas Fleming, George Fleming, Robert Gilmour Jnr; William Kilpatrick John Patrick; James Kilpatrick; Matthew Kilpatrick; Robert Kilpatrick; James Neilson; Thomas Reid; John Scouller; John Sugar; Matthew Watson; James Watson; William Watson, 86 King Street, Mutton Market, 108 King Street, Fish Market.

Although these old markets are long since gone, Paddy’s Market (founded in the first half of the 19th century by Irish Immigrants) continues as Glasgow’s only daily (except Sundays) flea market. The traders sell their wares on the pavement and even though they had been offered more salubrious premises away from the street, the following week the traders were back in the old lane with their wares laid out in the traditional manner. Glasgow’s other surviving historic market is the Barras on London Road and Gallowgate.

They entered the session house where an open fire blazed. The gentlemen began to boast on how hot they could take the fires of hell. To prove their boast they built the fire up, fuelling it with benches, tables and whatever they could find, until the fire spilled out onto the wooden floor and set the whole building alight. The Hell-fire starters fled the scene of their crime and left Glasgow, never to return, in fear of retribution. James Adam designed the current building soon after.

18. Trongate King Street leads north from the Briggait to the Trongate. Facing east, towards the Cross you can see the Tron Steeple, which once housed the old weighing machine. The Tron Steeple is attached to the Tron Church, which has now been converted into a theatre, restaurant & bar. Hellfire The original Tron Church was burnt down in February 1793 by a gang of drunken gentlemen known as the Hellfire Club.

Bearded Ladies, Basement zoos and the great escape of the Himalayan bear. Just west of King Street stands the oldest music hall in the UK, the

Britannia Panopticon (113117 Trongate). It holds a veritable catalogue of bizarre and entertaining stories, from famous debuts like that of a sixteen year old Stan Laurel, to mermaids and bearded ladies in the attic and a zoological collection in the basement. The basement zoo was named Noah’s Ark and amongst the exhibits paced a Himalayan Bear. In 1911 the bear escaped onto the Trongate where it terrorised the populace until it was shot by it’s owner, A. E. Pickard.

L. 159 Trongate 1824: the Glasgow Coach Office of Messrs Lyon & Fraser Coaches. They operated a service from Paisley to Glasgow through Renfrew leaving Glasgow at 12 noon, 3, half past 3, 5, 6, 7 and half past 8. Lang Tam, a wandering imbecile beggar, would often wait for the coach to leave its Glasgow terminus and then set out walking for Paisley. He would generally be waiting for the coach to arrive where he would receive congratulations and coppers from the passengers. Tam was also known to run alongside the coaches of the wealthy, patting the front wheel and saying ‘guid wee wheel, guid wee wheel, big wheel canny catch up on ye’.

19. The Case of the Murdered Flea The Masons’ Arms (which once stood on the Trongate) advertised ‘S. Boverick and his Miniature Circus’. A huge crowd gathered to see this

John Glassford & Family

‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie

Hutcheson Hall

latest oddity. One lady in the crowd, however, was unaware of the nature of the performers she was about to see. When she entered the Inn, she saw a table which had upon it a number of miniature items including a small carriage, which appeared to be pulled by a flea. In her dismay, the lady crushed the parasite with her thumbnail. Mr. Boverick, the owner of the flea accused the woman of murdering the animal and demanded justice. The case, surprisingly, doesn’t appear to have made it to court.

M. 26 Hutcheson Street 1835: Jamie Begg’s was the leading Tavern of the period. The Proprietor was Alex Miller. Men of substance went there at night to discuss the topics of the day, or special subjects, as well as ‘Welsh Rabbits, Finnan Haddies and Rationals’.

20. Love at first sight The Trongate ends at Glassford Street. On the corner you will find two plaques commemorating a building that once stood on this site, the Shawfield Mansion.

In 1910 the Pen & Pencil Club mounted the first plaque announcing that this was where Prince Charles Edward Stewart stayed when he was in Glasgow. Although his stay was brief, it was enough time for him to fall for the charms of Clemintina Walkinshaw, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Clementina later joined Charles in exile and together they had a daughter, Charlotte, who was endowed with the title Duchess of Albany.

N. 2 Glassford Street 1711: site of Shawfield Mansion built by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield. 1725: following his vote for an extension of Malt Tax to Scotland, a mob descended on his house on the 24th of June and virtually demolished it. The following day, 2 companies of foot soldiers entered the City and in the ensuing riots, 7 were killed and 17 were injured. Campbell received £9,000 damages with which he bought the Islands of Isla and Jura. 1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed from the 26th December till 3rd of January, where he fell in love with Clementiana Walkinshaw. They later married in France. 1793: the House was removed for the creation of Great Glassford Street which continued the axis of Stockwell Street.

21. The Greatest Love Story Never Told

On the corner of Glassford Street and Argyle Street, stands Marks & Spencer on the site of the Black Bull Inn. The Black Bull is where Robert Burns stayed when he wrote to his lover, Agnes Mclehose. Because Agnes was a married lady, they feared their affair would be discovered, so to conceal their identities they signed the letters “Sylvander” and “Clarinda”. Before she died, Agnes wrote in her journal: “I parted with Burns in the year 1791, never more to meet in this world, may we meet in heaven.” This affair inspired Burns to write one of the most romantic poems in Scottish literature, ‘Ae Fond Kiss. The Burns Club has commemorated Burns stay at the Black Bull Inn with a plaque at the corner of Argyle Street and Virginia Street. The Pen & Pencil Club was one of many clubs in Glasgow. Others were: The Hodge Podge Club, The Hellfire Club, The Face Club,

42 Miller Street

Trades Hall

P. 191 Ingram Street

The Grog Club, The Pig Club, The Beefsteak or Tinkers’ Club, The What You Please Club, The Sma’ Weft Club

Another Burns plaque can be found in Virginia Street, which runs along the west side of Marks & Spencer on Argyle Street. It is recorded that Burns bought 15 yards of black silk from John McIndoe, Silk Merchant, of Horns Land off Virginia Street to give to Jean Armour for her wedding dress.

O. 2 Argyle Street 30th October 1821, Donald Davidson, a discharged Sergeant of the Rifle Brigade who had lost his left arm at the siege of Badajos under Wellington, fraudulently wrote a note for £90 while acting as Sir Thomas Maitland, an Admiral of the Royal Navy. He withdrew his money from the Cashier of the Ship Bank, Mr Michael Rowand. After noticing several spelling mistakes on the note, Davidson was later caught while making his way north on the Caledonian Canal. 1822: Davidson stood trial in April, was found guilty and sentenced to execution for fraud on 29 May 1822. Following the actions of Michael Rowand, Davidson received a respite from King George III and the sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

22. Trades Hall On Glassford Street is Trades Hall, the last building to be designed by Robert Adam. The Trades Hall was built to face the Merchants House which once stood at the top of Garth Street (and now stands on George Square). Trades Hall was built for the 14 Incorporated Trades of Glasgow and is open to the public.

23. Rab Ha The Glasgow Glutton ‘Rab Ha’ or Robert Hall was best known as the ‘Glesga Glutton’ he was forced from his home by his mother who could no longer afford to feed him, and made his living by winning eating competitions. He gained his reputation by beating an English glutton of great renown, the ‘Yorkshire Pudding’, in a pie eating contest at the Saracen’s Head Inn. The spirit of ‘Rab Ha’ is celebrated at a restaurant on the corner of Hutcheson Street and Garth Street.

24. Ingram Street Ingram Street travels from the High Street to Queen Street, the western boundary of the Merchant City. On the way to Queen Street we pass Virginia Street, named after the Virginian tobacco plantations. Beyond that is Miller Street where a couple of buildings survive to remind us of the area’s busy mercantile past.

Site of Virginia Mansions, built in the early 1700’s by George Buchanan. It was then taken over by his son, Andrew (after whom Buchanan Street is named), prior to residence by Colin Dunlop of Carmyle in 1796. 1842: Dunlop’s Mansion removed to make way for the Union Bank Buildings. 1876: the Ingram Street Façade was replaced and extended with 2 pairs of statues added to flank the existing 6, all by Glasgow Sculptor John Mossman. From left to right, the Statues represent Navigation and Commerce, Britannia, Wealth, Justice, Peace, Industry, Glasgow and Mechanics and Agriculture. The Scottish place names in each of the window arches are the places where the Union Bank had its main office.

R. 7 Miller Street 1840: Tobacconist’s Shop, owner George Baird. 1861: Workshop and Warehouse of T & J Stewart and Company, Rope and Sail Manufacturers. 1880, 5, 7 and 9 Miller Street, Robert W Cairns Outlet, Wine and Spirit Merchants. 1961: 5 - 15 Miller Street, R W Cairns Ltd, Wine Merchants.

Q. 48 Miller Street 1820: Offices of J & A Sandeman, Sugar Brokers; William Connal and Company, Brokers; Grierson Lockhart and Company; Manufacturers; R Anderson, Commission Merchant. 1860: home to Stirling’s Library, Librarian Thomas Mason. 1920: Offices and Works of Sands and Graham Ltd, Button Manufacturers and Factors, makers of Leader and Gem Buttons and covering machines. 1977: Wholesale Warehouse of William McReadie. Miller Street is named after Robert Miller, Maltman, who in the 1760’s, built 24 identical mansions on his lands, 12 on either side of the street. Number 42 remains with the date 1775 on its Apex.

The ‘Smoke’ Room

S. 194 Ingram Street 1796: the Assembly Rooms, opened at a cost of £4,800. The Robert Adam Building was funded by a subscription of £20 shares. 1847: it became the Athenaeum, opened by Charles Dickens. 1889: the building was removed to make way for the Post Office Buildings, the centrepiece being re-erected as the MacLennan Arch on Glasgow Green. 2002: the building is converted to apartments and offices.

Royal Exchange Square c.1880

Winston Churchill

Turning right onto Queen Street, a short walk brings you to George Square, originally laid out as a residential square.

26. George Square

T. 205 Ingram Street


W. 73 Queen Street

1886: Miss Cranston’s second Tea Room opened and operated at this address. The famous commissioning of C R Mackintosh came in 1900. 1920: the Tea Rooms stretched from 205 - 217 Ingram Street. The proprietress was Miss Drummond. 1940: Cooper’s Tea Room operated from this address, then 205 - 209 Ingram Street.

1778: the Town House of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, one of Glasgow’s 4 young men, was constructed at a reputed cost of £10,000. Cunninghame was a Merchant who made and lost his fortune with the expansion (after the Colonial Wars) of the Tobacco Trade with America. 1789: the whole building passed into the possession of William Stirling and Sons on the 3rd of November. 1817: the Royal Bank of Scotland bought the building and added an ornamental staircase on the east making the first floor the entrance level. 1827: sold to the Committee for forming a new exchange. The building was extended to the west with the Portico being added to the east. 1880: Edison Telephone Company set up in Exchange. 1915: Stuart Cranston opens a restaurant in the basement. 1949: Council buys the Exchange back from Shareholders for £105,000 as a home for the Stirlings Library (named after Walter Humphry Stirling who died in 1791, leaving 804 books and £1,000 for the upkeep and the constant existence of a Public Library for the citizens and inhabitants of Glasgow...). 1994: Library moves to Miller Street but returned in 2002.

1851: the shop of William Lang, Confectioner, Tea and Wine Merchant. 1920, Lang’s Confectionery Shop. It’s stylish 1930’s art deco frontage still surviving. A second shop selling wines and spirits operated from 79 Queen Street. 1962: Lang’s Ltd, this Self-Service Restaurant was the first of its kind in Glasgow. It operated an honour system of payment, wherein you declared what you had eaten and paid at the end of the meal. Prior to 1766, Queen Street was known as the Cow Loan. The Town Herdsmen would drive the cattle along Trongate and turn up Cow Loan on their way to the grazing land, known today as Cowcaddens.

U. 224 Ingram Street 1818: Mr William Angus, the author of a number of school books ran his school from this address. The building was a little dark, self-contained house of 2 storeys. 1839: Both Angus’ School and the neighbouring Gaelic Church were removed to make way for the British Linen Bank, as designed by David Hamilton. 1969: the bank was demolished to make way for the present office development.

25. GOMA At the end of Ingram Street can be seen the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), situated on Queen Street, built originally as a Tobacco Lords mansion house. The house was built so that Ingram Street would end at the front door.

Merchant’s House stands on the north west corner of George Square and is the home to the oldest Chamber of Commerce in the World (founded in 1783). The north side of the square is dominated by the Millennium Hotel, all that remains of the Georgian Terraces (built 1807-18). The Churchill suite and Hopkins Suite (Hopkins was the Secretary of Commerce and Special Advisor to President Roosevelt) commemorate the famous meeting between these two men, in the hotel, which resulted in the agreement that the USA would become directly involved in WWII.

27. City Chambers Encompassing the entire east side of the square is the magnificent City Chambers, regarded as one of the finest civic buildings in Britain.

Further up towards Argyle Street is another plaque at:

X. 48 Queen Street. 1802: office and works of Robert & James McNair, Sugar Merchants and refiners. 1941: 46 - 50 Queen Street, office of Wiggins, Teape and Alex Pirie (Sales) Ltd, Papermakers. They occupy the first floor. 1962: offices’ of the Standard Bullion Company and Werner, Jewellery and Bullion Merchants. City Chambers

The Last Supper by Peter Howson

AA. 31 John Street


1812: Workshop of James Bogie, Tallow Chandler. 1851: office and shop of Robert Oliphant, Printer and Stationery. 1883: removed for development of City Chambers to the designs of William Young.

Design by Cactus Text by Judith Bowers, Britannia Music Hall Trust. tel: 0141 553 0840

Y. 107 George Street 1835: William Motherwell, Poet, died of Apoplexy. Found dead on a Sunday morning. The previous afternoon, he had been one of a gay party and apparently, in the enjoyment of perfect health.

29. Hutcheson’s Hospital

Z. 151 George Street

30. The Star Inn

c.1820: formerly 183, the house of Stephen Miller, who was the wonderful wean of the Poem of that name, by his father, William Miller, author of the famous Wee Willie Winkie. 1851: House of Thomas Wylde of the manufacturing firm Roger Wylde and Son. 1957: John Player office development for their branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company.

28. John Street John Street takes us through the middle of the City Chambers and back to Ingram Street. John Street derives it's name from the number of Georgian notables who had the christian name John. The John’s of John Street

On the corner of John Street and Ingram Street is Hutcheson’s Hospital, founded in 1639 by two philanthropic brothers to give shelter to the destitute men of Glasgow. Just beyond Hutcheson’s Hospital is all that survives of the old “Star Inn”, which was licensed to Henry Hemmings. The Glasgow character Blind Alick once wrote of this establishment, “And first they gave me brandy, and then they gave me gin, here’s long life to the worthy waiters of Mr Hemmings’ Hotel and Inn.”

And so dear reader, that brings us to the end. So here’s long life to you, or as they say in Glasgow, “Lang may your Lum reek”. Translation “Long may you have enough money to pay for coal for your fire”.

Also, thanks to Ross Hunter and John Martina, Graven Images; Peter Howson and John Mullen, The Third Step Gallery; Steve Hosie and Jane Baker DRS, Glasgow City Council; Barbara Keenan, Culture and Sport Glasgow. Images: ©2005 Glasgow City Council (Museums) ©2005 Glasgow City Council (Archives and Special Collections) ©2005 Glasgow City Council (Development & Regeneration Services) © The Third Step Gallery

Large font version also available to obtain a copy either call Merchant City Initiative on 0141 552 6060 or visit the website at

All efforts have been made in the accuracy of the information contained in this leaflet. The funders are not responsible for any inaccuracies that may occur.

Obscure History Trail  

Obscure History Trail in and around Merchant City Glasgow

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