held at the Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St. Glasgow
Attendance: There were 61 OGC members and 11 visitors.
Chair: President Artie Trezise welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the 2022/23 session, and his first meeting as club president.
He reminded everyone of safety rules and requested that all mobile phones should be silenced or switched off.
President Trezise announced that it would be very appropriate in light of Queen Elizabeth II’s sad passing earlier today for us to reflect and have a minutes silence.
President Trezise thanked everyone for showing their respect, and said “long live the King”.
Apologies: There were apologies from Brian Henderson, Sharon Sannachan, Jane Collie, Glen Collie, Elizabeth Cassidy, Crawford Cassidy, Ann Maxwell.
Minutes: The minutes of the last ordinary meeting on the 14th April, 2022, were approved by Robin Muir and seconded by Ken Benjamin.
There were no amendments or matters arising.
President’s Report: President Trezise informed us that he would be giving us a wee anecdote at the start of every meeting.
Bearing in mind that tonight’s topic was tenements, Artie, had delved into the world of red sandstone, which a lot of Glasgow tenements are constructed from.
A lot of the red sandstone used came from Lochabriggs Quarry on the outskirts of Dumfries in South West Scotland, which has been operational since 1890.
Quarrying its distinctive red sandstone which has been used for buildings in towns and cities including Manchester, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The stone has also been exported further afield, including (allegedly) for the construction of the steps of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Lochabriggs Quarry is still in operation, albeit in a smaller scale than the 200 tonnes a year being produced at the height of production in the late 1800s, early 1900s.
Secretary’s Report: Club secretary, Joyce McNae, gave us a round up of the social happenings in and around Glasgow in the month of September.
From Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival on the 12th-18th, John Byrne exhibition at Kelvingrove, St Mungo Museum reopening September 14th, to lots of music and theatre events…with the highlight surely going to be our very own Old Glasgow Club Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament.
Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament, next Thursday, 15th September, 6.45pm for 7pm at Kelvingrove Bowling Greens.
This is a fun, free tournament, with an optional supper afterwards at Baffo, 1377 Argyle Street. This, unfortunately, isn’t free.
Please give details to Margaret, our treasurer, at the sign in desk.
Joyce also mentioned that each new member, or rejoining member, would be given three business cards. Each card will enable you to bring a guest to the meeting with you free of charge.
My Street: Past President, Stuart Little, confessed that his current address was not a street, it was gardens, but it really wasn’t gardens either, but a pedestrian lane at the front and an un-named service road at the back.
So, when thinking about Glasgow streets in general, and what was a commonplace item in them…..and the fact that trams disappeared from the city 60 years ago this month. Being the tram aficionado that he is, combining the two was too good an opportunity to miss!
Stuart took us on a pictorial journey through Glasgow that the last trams would have taken on their routes. We started at Glasgow Street West End, Glasgow Cross, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Bothwell Street, Ballieston Road, Queen’s Drive, Sauchiehall Street, Paisley Road West, Renfield Street, Trongate and finished at Dukes Road, Burnside.
Stuart recalled the very last tram on it’s last journey from a special ceremony at Clydebank on the 6th September 1962, and it being “flagged down” at Bridgeton Cross, thus carrying the last tram fare paying passenger in the city.
Stuart concluded by telling us that in case we were wondering, the street he was brought up in, Cardross Street, which was shown, and yes, it is still there.
Speaker: Artie introduced tonight’s guest speaker, John Burns, who is an associate at Holmes Miller Architects, and a graduate of Strathclyde University who previously worked in Shenzen, China, before returning to Glasgow.
Tonight’s talk is titles ‘Urban Palaces - The Glasgow Tenement’.
John thanked Artie for the introduction and told us that he has a real passion for Glasgow Tenements:
“The Tenement typology defines Glasgow not only in it’s urban character but also in its history and its own self-perception. Much has been written about the Glasgow tenement with its own unique character analysing it from a a social history or urban planning perspective but there isn’t a study which cohesively tells the story of the architectural evolution of the Glasgow tenement from it’s medieval beginnings right through to the social housing provision of today. Telling this story of the naturally evolving tenement will ultimately reveal the history of Glasgow itself. The changing form of each period reflects the standards, restrictions, aims, ambitions and even failings of the time they were built. The study will focus on the everyday tenements that form the large majority of the housing stock at Glasgow’s peak and still to this day”.
John took us on a visual architectural journey timeline of tenement styles by showing us traditional drawings of plans, elevations, sections, axonometrics and photographs gathered along the way when he was doing his research.
We were told that tenements didn’t originate in Glasgow, as a lot of people think, but in fortified cities like Edinburgh and Stirling.
‘The need for defensible wall cities such as Edinburgh and Stirling led to small compact cities with little scope to expand beyond the walls and produced a vertical form of housing”. Think Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh which was purchased by Thomas Gladstone in 1617. The cramped conditions meant that it could only be extended in depth and height. This was done with a view to renting out of the apartments.
17-21 High Street, Glasgow, around 1677 is the oldest stone tenement that John has plans for in Glasgow, with turnpike stairs and the timber struts being replaced with stone arches called piazzas. They were not very organised and the larger spaces were subdivided to get more and more families in.
John took us on a timeline tour of Glasgow during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when Glasgow was growing rapidly and tenement housing styles changed to accommodate the ever growing population due to the influx of workers.
We were shown how the traditional Scottish Vernacular Tenement with its turnpike staircases, smaller windows and subdivided living accommodation gave way to tenements that are considered to be built in Glasgow Style, typified by its larger bay windows and red or blond sandstone facades.
The change of building regulations in 1862 meant that backland tenements (tenements built behind street front buildings) were no longer allowed to be built, and new regulations meant that tenements building heights were restricted, usually four stories high and never taller than the width of the street. There was one front door which opened into a shared close where each individual flat could be accessed but they didn’t yet have indoor toilets. Between eight and ten families would live in one close.
We saw various styles of tenements, from townhouses built for wealthier people in Blythswood Square and Park Circus. Terraces that looked like townhouses but were really tenements, that had elements of Scottish Baronial, French Renaissance and Neoclassical styling, to what we have come to associate with the Glasgow Tenement, two bay windows either side of the centre.
John finished his talk by telling us that you know that you’re important in Glasgow when you have a pub named after you…….’Tenement Bar’, Dumbarton Road.
A lively session of questions and answers concluded this interesting and educational talk on tenements.
Vote of Thanks: Club director, Robin Muir, gave the vote of thanks and gift to tonight’s speaker, John Burns, for a splendid and a very engaging talk, which you can always tell by the amount of questions that are asked.
AOCB: The next ordinary meeting is on Thursday 13th October. The talk is being given by Kevin Scott on ‘Grahamston - Glasgow’s Forgotten Village’
Remember The Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament next Thursday, 15th September.
Close: There being no further business, Artie wished all a safe home.
held at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St. Glasgow
Attendance : 45 members including 16 visitors.
Mr Trezise welcomed everyone to our October meeting and reminded us of the safety exits etc in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Apologies for absence: Anna Forrest, Joyce McNae, Shona Crozer, Gaynor McKinnon, Brian D Henderson, Joan Whitelaw and Peter Mortimer.
Minutes: Mr Trezise asked if everyone had seen a copy of the Minutes of the Sept 2022 meeting, either by email or printed copy, and asked if there were any amendments.There were two amendments regarding the apologies for absence. The minutes were then passed on a proposal by Gavin McNae and seconded by Robin Muir.
TAPPIT HEN: Four intrepid “ bowlers” turned up at Kelvingrove to find that the booking had not been made. The restaurant suggested for an evening meal had closed down some time ago, so not our finest outdoor venture of the “summer”.
President's Report: Mr Trezise continued his “Artie’s Anecdote” showing slides of Glasgow Central Station’s “shell”, a well-known meeting place for generations of Glaswegians : the champagne bar above the station concourse, part of the Central Station Hotel, where superb views of the activities could be obtained, and in Gordon Street, the erstwhile Grosvenor Hotel a familiar venue for dances and dinners.
My Street : Ms Ann White expanded the theme with an illustrated presentation on Langside, an area which is very familiar to her. Moving to Millbrae Road in 1976 from Dennistoun, she recalled her “stay at home” housewife with anecdotes of life in a tenement flat and then included a brief history of Langside ( meaning Long Hill), a mention of prehistoric remains, a cup and ring, remains of a Roman Fort, and the “Battle of Langside” in 1598, which Ann informed us that was “short lived” because of the heat! Battlefield Rest , Sinclair Drive and Library and the now closed Victoria Infirmary were also mentioned. Her talk was somewhat curtailed by Mr Trezise due to lack of time. Ann was offered the chance to return at a future meeting to continue her presentation.
Mr Trezise announced that tonight’s Quiz ( The Co-op Building at Kingston was runner up in a competition to design a new City Chambers for Glasgow). The winner was Jean Jerrard .
Tonight’s speaker: Mr Kevin Scott : Grahamston Glasgow’s forgotten Village.
Based on the successful book by Norrie Gilliland, Kevin presented an illustrated account of the
Glasgow village of Grahamston which was situated between the present Union Street and Hope Street and subsumed by the Caledonian Railway’s expansion north of the River Clyde towards Gordon Street.
By 1700, the City was expanding westwards from The Glasgow Cross/ High Street area and the settlement of Grahamston was established with orchards, houses and work places as depicted in a 1680 map. One main street (Alston) ran from the now Argyle Street north and the village was basically built on either side rather like the settlements at Eaglesham. A population of just over 100 was recorded.
Expansion continued and the City’s First Theatre opened there in 1764 and ransacked eighteen years later! By the late 1800s, Glasgow had expanded on all sides and left the small district of Grahamston wedged between the main thoroughfares and unable to expand. The Railway extension put an end to the village as such and the remaining dwelling houses etc were demolished.
Kevin explained that despite the rumours that the Village still existed underneath the present station, there was only a few remaining buildings: The Grant Arms in Argyle Street at Union St, and the “Duncan’s Hotel” in Union Street (now the Rennie Macintosh budget Hotel) were the only survivors. However, the Raddison Blu Hotel and “The Alston Bar and Beef “ in Gordon Street had reminders of this lost part of the city centre.
Time for a few questions was possible and the vote of thanks was made by Gavin McNae.
There being no further business, Mr Trezise closed the meeting with a reminder of the next meeting on 10 November which would be about “Sulman’s Map” and wished everyone a good night and safe journey home.
Stuart Little ( for recording secretary).
held at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St. Glasgow
Attendance: 52 including 8 visitors
Club President, Mr Trezise welcomed everyone to our November ordinary meeting, issued safety instructions and requested mobiles to be silenced / turned off.
Apologies for absence: Robin Muir, Cilla Fisher, Shona Crozer, Crawford Cassidy, Elizabeth Cassidy and Marjorie Smiley.
Minutes: Mr Trezise asked if everyone had seen a copy of the Minutes of the October
2022 meeting, either by email or printed copy, and asked if there were any amendments. There being no amendments, the minutes were passed on a proposal by Stuart Little and seconded by Gavin McNae.
President’s Report: The November ordinary meeting was held in the church itself due to the non-availability of our usual room upstairs.
Mr Trezise expanded on his interesting monthly “Artie Anecdotes” by illustrating several
Glasgow Underground maps of various vintage, taken from the original Glasgow District Subway map circa 1896 up to the present-day map. Included were the famous “Pub Crawl” and “Grub Crawl”, which have become part of the Subway culture.
My Street: unfortunately tonight’s “my street” speaker, Mr Rab Noakes, was unable to attend due to ill health.
Tonight’s Speaker: Club member, Mr Steven Mcfarlane, introduced the ‘Sulman’s Map” as the basis of his talk.
The map is a panorama of 1864 Glasgow, which was first published by the London Illustrated News. Mr Sulman (1834-1900) was an architectural draughtsman, and produced aerial maps of many cities around the globe.
Mr Mcfarlane focused in on places which could be identified but were no longer part of the city: Elmbank Crescent, Duke Street prison, Bridge Street Station, Tennant Stalk, part of Tennant’s chemical complex at St Rollox, Townsend’s Chimney at Port Dundas, which was the tallest in the world before being demolished in 1890, among others. Glasgow Green could be seen with 30 feet high poles, believed to have been used by children as a climbing aid.
Some places remain in part: eg, Hutchenson’s Hospital, St Vincent Church, Ramshorn Kirk and St Andrews by the Green.
Places which remain but in different locations include the St George’s Tron Church, and the staircase at the original Glasgow University premises in High Street, which was rebuilt twice at the Gilmourhill site.
The fascinating and well illustrated talk concluded with Mr Mcfarlane reminding us of the “Gallus Glasgow” website and to “Google” Sulman Glasgow at the University for further information.
After Mr Mcfarlane kindly answered several questions from club members and visitors, club director Mr Ken Benjamin gave the vote of thanks.
Tonight’s Quiz: Q. Premises at 202 Bath Street were used by what organisation in 1922 ? There were three choices for an answer, and the correct one was successfully entered by Fraser Spiers.
A. The British Broadcasting Company set up their first radio studios at 202 Bath Street.
Close: There being no further business, Mr Trezise wished all a safe home, with a reminder of the next ordinary meeting on 8th December, “Who Cares for Glasgow’s Sculpture” being given by Stephanie de Roemer.
held at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St. Glasgow
held at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St. Glasgow
Welcome: Club President, Artie Trezise, wished everyone a Happy New Year and welcomed them to the January 2023 ordinary meeting. Mobile phone etiquette and safety rules / emergency exits were explained.
Apologies: Apologies were given from Gaynor McKinnon, Shona Crozer, Sallie Marshall, Joan Whitelaw, Irene Louden, Iain Henderson, Grant Lovell, Jane Collie and Glen Collie.
Minutes: Mr Trezise asked if everyone had seen a copy of the minutes from the December 2022 ordinary meeting, whether digitally or in print form. There being no amendments or matters arising, they were passed on proposal by Margaret Thom and seconded by Cilla Fisher.
President’s Report: Mr Trezise stated how delighted he was to get going with the first meeting of the year.
This month’s Artie’s Anecdote was a reminder of how Glasgow has played such an important role in the development of cinemas, circuses and theatres over the past 150 years.
One event that stood out was Buffalo Bill and his spectacular show in Dennistoun, which included Native Americans in some of the acts. The show ran for a year and attracted some 7,000 spectators.
We also heard that Bill Cody took part in a popular local pastime by going to watch a football match at Ibrox during his time in Glasgow.
The historical importance of this show was marked with a statue to honour Bill Cody near the site of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Whitehill Street, Dennistoun, 2006.
Tonight’s Talk: “The Story of Glasgow Pantomimes” by Ryan Moir
Mr Ryan Moir presented a humorous and entertaining evening on the history of the pantomime in Glasgow. Being a theatre producer and musical director, Ryan was well placed to recall the role that the city played from the first recorded pinto in 1814 (Aladdin) at the Theatre Royal in Queen Street.
Pantomime has always contained songs, jokes, dancing, and were based on fairy tales such as Mother Goose and Cinderella, to name a few.
Harry Lauder first sang “I Love a Lassie” in a 1905 production of Aladdin, and subsequently “Roamin in the Gloamin” before these songs were known worldwide.
Other stars of the era were mentioned: Harry Gordon, Dave Willis, Stanley Baxter and
Rikki Fulton. We were shown fascinating clips of interviews and performances by them.
Ryan also recalled the various theatres in the past. Queens Theatre in Gallowgate,
Alhambra in Waterloo Street, The Pavilion in Renfield Street and the Theatre Royal in Hope Street.
One feature which has remained in panto over the years in Glasgow is the audience participation of a final song whilst the stagehands prepared for a spectacular finale. The words were on a large sheet which was lowered (know as “bringing doon the clout). And, in true panto style, tonight, we were encouraged to tackle the “Parliamo Glasgow” words accompanied by Ryan at the piano.
The curtain had to come down on Ryan’s excellent presentation before questions and reminisces from the audience concluded the presentation.
Quiz: Question, “What is the oldest building in Glasgow”? Answer, Provan Hall, Easterhouse, Glasgow. The first correct answer drawn was given by John Jameson.
Vote of thanks: Club director, Robin Muir, thanked Ryan on behalf of the club for his very enjoyable and entertaining talk, which was so obviously enjoyed by all present.
Close: There being no other club business, Mr Trezise closed the meeting with a safe home and a reminder that the next ordinary meeting was on Thursday 9th February. The topic of the meeting is “Glasgow Trolleybuses - A Forgotten Folly”, and is being presented by club director Stuart Little.
For Recording Secretary
held at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow
Welcome: Club President, Artie Trezise welcomed everyone to our February ordinary meeting. Mobile phone etiquette, safety rules and emergency exits were explained.
*Weather Check - please remember to check the club website before you head out for the monthly meeting if we are experiencing adverse weather.
January Meeting Attendance: There were 65 people in attendance, 55 of which were members and 10 of which were visitors.
Apologies: There were apologies from Shona Crozer, Sallie Marshall, Colin McCormack, Anna Forrest and Jane Sheridan.
Minutes: Mr Trezise asked if everyone had seen a copy of the minutes from the January 2023 ordinary meeting, whether digitally or in print form.
There were two amendments to be made from the January minutes. One, spelling of the winner of the competition. It should read John Jamieson and not John Jameson. The second amendment was the addition of three apologies that hadn’t been added from Crawford Cassidy, Elizabeth Cassidy and Jane Sheridan.
The minutes were then passed on proposal by Brian D. Henderson, and seconded by Ken Benjamin.
President’s Report: Mr Trezise reminded the meeting of the excellent talk in January given by Ryan Moir on The Story of Glasgow Pantomimes by rendering a few verses of a well known Glasgow Panto song.
Obituaries: Joyce paid tribute to one of our oldest members, Janette Knox, born in the Gorbals in1925, whose career spanned many decades at Post Office telephones, first as a telephonist and then as a trainer. She travelled all over the world and her many interests included all kinds of sports, some as a participant and latterly as an armchair spectator. Janette became a member of the Old Glasgow Club in the early 2000’s and those of you that knew her will remember that she liked to sit in the first or second row at Adelaides and was always one of the first to sign up for the Old Glasgow Club Summer outing. She always wanted to reach the same age as her Mum who passed away at 93. Like so many things in her long life she achieved that and more.
Brian paid tribute to club member, Douglas Clar, who had died following an accident in Spain. Douglas was a well known member of many years standing and a regular at the ordinary meetings, AGMs and the Old Glasgow Club Summer outings over the years. His great interest was in all things pertaining to Glasgow’s West End history.
Janette and Douglas will be sadly missed.
My Street: This month Gaynor MacKinnon expanded the theme of “my street” with her presentation illustrating her happy upbringing in Auchinairn, which in her opinion is a much overlooked part of Glasgow that is situated just over the City Boundary, between its better known neighbours, Springburn, Bishopbriggs and Robroyston.
Gaynor showed slides of her family flat, situated at Number 1 Auchinairn Road. A happy place for Gaynor with her vivid imagination and imaginary friend, Car, where she spent many happy hours exploring the forbidden to visit waste ground and burn. She described her many daring escapades of a child brought up in the 70s, and described her journeys to school, and local landmarks. One of which is the Gulistan Indian Restaurant, perhaps the oldest Indian restaurant in Scotland.
Tonight’s Talk: “Glasgow’s Trolleybuses : A Forgotten Folly” by Stuart Little
Mr Stuart Little, a former President of the Club, presented an illustrated talk on the Glasgow Corporation Trolleybus system which operated from 1949 until 1967, the shortest duration of any of the city’s mode of public transport.
Whilst there had been battery powered cars, primitive looking single deck trolleybuses, known as “trackless cars”, which were in operation in Europe collecting the power from overhead wires at the beginning of the 20th century, Dundee was a pioneering city with a very short lived service alone a road between two tram terminals in 1912. It was doomed to fail due to the condition of the road.
Fortunately by the time Glasgow introduced trolleybuses in 1949, the last city in the UK to do so, smooth running, silent and comfortable buses were the modern equivalent. Stuart described the vehicles and the routes they served and showed several locations in the city, some of which were beyond recognition today!
Reasons for and against the trolleys existence in Glasgow were pointed out and it was left to the audience to decide whether they had been a “folly” or not.
A few anecdotes ended the presentation, which was followed by a few questions from the audience.
Club director, Robin Muir, gave the Vote of Thanks to Stuart tonight, with the members and visitors joining in with their appreciation.
Quiz: Ken Benjamin provided four illustrations off historical premises, one of which was connected to Lord Darnley’s family. Lord Darnley became the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The winner was Frank Lovering, who correctly identified the illustration of Crookston Castle.
Close: Mr Trezise closed the meeting with a safe home and a reminder of the next meeting, on Thursday 9th March, with Bruce Downie presenting his talk “No 99 Calder Street”, otherwise known as the location of Govanhill Swimming baths.
Stuart Little for Recording Secretary
to be held at Renfield Ctr, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow
to be held at Renfield Ctr, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow
Welcome: President Artie Trezise gave a warm welcome to members and visitors alike,
thanking them for coming along to the last meeting of the session. Artie suggested that
everyone should let their friends, workmates, even people they didn’t like much know
about the club and invite them along next session.
Mobile phone etiquette and safety / emergency procedures were explained.
“Weather Check” - please remember to check the club website before you head out
for the monthly meeting, or AGM, if we are experiencing adverse weather
April Meeting Attendance: There were 69 people in attendance, 13 of which were
Apologies: There were apologies for absence from Brian D. Henderson,
Gaynor MacKinnon, Joan Whitelaw, Crawford Cassidy, Elizabeth Cassidy and
Minutes: President Trezise asked if everyone had seen a copy of the March minutes,
either digitally or in print form and whether there were any amendments or matters arising
There being no amendments or matters arising, they were proposed by Anne White and
seconded by Cilla Fisher.
President Trezise reflected on the great talk in March that guest speaker, Brian Downie
had presented on “No 99 Calder Street - A History of Govanhill Baths and Washhouse”,
with a well documented history of the baths and the struggles they have had to get where
they are just now. Artie wished them well with the ongoing refurbishment.
Artie mentioned that club membership secretary, Colin, had brought up at the recent
directors meeting that club membership was down on pre Covid years but that it was
reassuring to see that meeting attendances were up. He reiterated that members should
bring guests and spread the word about the club and the great monthly talks.
Two Summer outings have been confirmed.
The first on Thursday 18th May with the Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament which will take
place at Kelvingrove Bowling Club with a 6.30pm start time. The emphasis is on fun and
players and non-players alike are welcome. This event is free.
Please give your name to club treasurer, Margaret, if you would like your name added to
The second outing is to Provan Hall on Saturday 3rd June, with a rare chance to take the
journey on a vintage bus and a peek at the ongoing renovations that have been taking
place at Provan Hall before it’s re-opening planned for later this year. There will be two
pick-up points. 11am at Mount Florida Bowling Club and a second pick-up at 11.30am on
Cochrane Street, Glasgow City Centre.
Please give your name to club treasurer, Margaret, if you would like to go. The cost of the
trip is £10 per person, which will go directly to the vintage bus provider. Please also bring
a packed lunch and refreshments with you as there’s no catering facilities at Provan Hall.
Artie told us that there would be no “my street” segment taking place this evening but Dr
Karen Mailley from the project “All Along Great Western Road”, which he mentioned last
month, is here tonight to tell us more about it and ask for some help with the project.
Dr Karen Mailley has an MA Joint (Hons) and an MLitt in Decorative Art & Design History
from the University of Glasgow. She is also a Scottish Graduate School of Arts &
Humanities ARCS funded PhD Researcher at the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow
School of Art, completing her studies in 2021.
Karen told us that she is currently working on “All Along Great Western Road” which is
essentially a social media project on a shoestring budget, celebrating the diverse, exciting
and sometimes eccentric history of Great Western Road.
We were told about previous projects that Karen had worked on, “Glasgow’s Gilded Age”
about designers who originally established the city’s reputation at the time of the
Aesthetic Movement and Mark Twain’s so called Gilded Age with Glasgow City Heritage
Trust and “Women, War and The West End”, which tells the stories of ordinary women
during the First World War, a Heritage Lottery Funded project, run in partnership with Four
Acres Charitable Trust, Friends of Glasgow West and The Scottish Graduate School of
Arts & Humanities.
Karen asked us for help gathering stories, photographs and information for the project
and would like to hear stories from you if you live / lived in the area, went to school or
university in the area, went to a rave or a tenement flat party, got married in a building in
the area, worked or own a business in the area, had building work done or renovated
property in the area to name a few examples.
The aim of the project is to gather and collect as many diverse, relevant stories as
Karen thanked us for listening tonight and should anyone wish to submit a story /
photographs that they could speak to her at the end of the meeting or contact her by
email at email@example.com
Tonight’s Talk: Peter Mortimer - “The Barras”
Tonight’s speaker, Mr Peter Mortimer, former president of the Old Glasgow Club, story
teller, regular speaker on the topic of Glasgow, author of books and leader of heritage
walks, was introduced to us by President Trezise.
Peter thanked Artie, and said how great it was to be back at the Old Glasgow Club and
talking about his current project, “The Barras”. A place where Peter thinks that everyone
in the audience would have been to at some point in their lives.
The centenary of the Barras was in 2021 but unfortunately planned celebrations were up
in the air because of covid restrictions.
Peter is currently working his way through vast files of information, photographs and
anything relating to The Barras which the McIver family have amassed over the years, all
of which is stored in a huge cupboard at the Barras offices. Whether there is enough
information to write a book about it has still to be decided.
Every major city in the world has a flea market, ours is the Barras. The story begins in the
middle of the 19th century when Glasgow was attracting mass economic migration from
Ireland. This was due to Glasgow’s booming economy and availability of jobs in ship
building, factories and weaving.
A thing that many would do when arriving by boat at the Broomielaw was to place a
blanket on the pavement and arrange their belongings on them to sell. This was at a time
when new clothing wasn’t readily available and there was a huge trade in second-hand
clothing. This was the start of what we came to know as Paddy’s Market. It had a few
places where it traded from but latterly it traded from Merchants Lane, just off the
The old Glasgow Corporation realised the demand and built a second hand clothes
market on the edge of Glasgow Green. The traders would rent a stall or pitch and sell
from this very busy market. Glasgow Corporation then decided that it wasn’t such a good
idea to have a market on Glasgow Green so they dismantled it and built The City Clothes
Market on Greendyke Street in 1875. This was a big substantial stone structure that
housed the clothes market until 1919/20 when a company took it over and decided to put
it to a different use.
The street traders had an issue and were now just setting up and trading from everywhere
and anywhere in that area. This caused congestion, local residents and car / lorry drivers
started complaining about the congestion. The police and Glasgow Corporation were
keen to clean the streets up so they started moving the hawkers and pedlars along. This
is where a remarkable woman becomes part of the story.
In 1902, fish hawker, Margaret Russell, originally from Galston, Ayrshire, married
James McIver, a fruit dealer, both were in their early twenties. They were an
entrepreneurial couple who worked very hard and long hours, running a shop by day and
hawking their produce at night to theatre queues. Maggie and James spotted an
opportunity which would not only benefit themselves but other traders too. The couple
leased a yard at Marshall Lane, off Gallowgate and began renting out pitches and barrows
to street traders. Over a short period of time they amassed a fleet of some 300 barrows.
In 1921 Maggie and James bought land at Kent Street, a piece of open ground where
they rented out pitches and barrows. At first it was a haphazard affair with people selling
from stalls, off barrows, things hanging from railings. In 1926, after six very rainy
weekends in a row with the traders unable to trade and make money, Maggie McIver
decided to build large shed like constructions which provided some shelter. Two years
after this the sheds were screened off, this made them weather proof and the market
started to resemble the Barras as we know it.
Maggie’s husband, James, contracted malaria when he was away fighting in the first
world war, he unfortunately died due to complications from malaria in 1930. Maggie was
left with real issues. She had to deal with the day to day running of the business, ongoing
maintenance of the business, and 9 children! She was an incredible woman.
Maggie was generous to the traders and would throw a do at St Mungo Halls, Moffatt
Street a couple of times a year, always serving the same menu that consisted of lentil
soup, steak pie and trifle, accompanied with beer and wine. The beer and wine became a
bit of an issue and it got pretty raucous at times, so much so that St Mungo Halls
eventually refused to take the bookings. Maggie came up with the solution of building a
function room for her own traders, imagining the first version of the Barrowland Ballroom
which opened in 1934. The upper floor being the function suite / ballroom, and the ground
floor a car showroom run by her son, Sam. By 1938 it had doubled in size due to its
popularity as a venue for dancing. It was perhaps a place where some of our parents and
1958 was a disastrous year for the McIvers. Not only did Maggie die in April but the
ballroom was totally destroyed by fire in August of that year. Sam McIver undertook the
rebuilding of the Barrowland, inviting the original company, Hunter & Clark, to build the
replacement. One of the stipulations was that as many workers from the east end of
Glasgow would be included in the building of the site.
The ballroom reopened only two years later in December 1960, with a new resident band,
Billy McGregor and the Gay Birds, a reinforced sprung dance floor and capacity for some
1800 people. With ballroom dancing on the way out, and discos on the way in in the
1970s, by the early 1980s the ballroom was very rarely used.
1983 was an important year with a couple of things happening that year. Firstly the
Glasgow group, Simple Minds were looking for a venue to film their song, Waterfront.
They asked Regular Music, who were their managers, to find them a venue and the
ballroom was suggested. The video was a huge success and made people think of using
the space as a concert venue. This was the start of the Barrowland in its new phase of
life, becoming one of the prime concert venues in the U.K. for groups to play and still one
of the venues that groups most love playing at.
Also, in September 1983, the iconic neon Barrowland sign was unveiled at the Maggie
McIver Festival which had been specifically organised for the unveiling. This sign is
reputedly the largest single neon sign in the U.K. at some 180 feet long and 20 feet high,
bigger than the neon signs at Piccadilly Circus. The light was switched on by Russ Abbot,
a popular tv star at the time.
The Barras in its heyday attracted crowds the size of football crowds, at times often 20
plus people deep at the stalls. It was not only a place where you could buy a vast array of
goods, “anything from a needle to an anchor”, and be entertained, it was also open on a
Sunday when nowhere else was, a place to come with the family for a day out.
It was often said that when you came to the Barras that you got street theatre. The market
traders were entertainers. There were memorable traders like Prince Abadou who
apparently came from darkest Africa and sold snake oil, which he claimed could cure all
ills, Londoner Dick Lee who traded as ‘Cockney Jock’, Curt Cook, the person to go to for
jewellery and Freddie Benedetti who sold crockery, cutlery, pots and pans.
Not only was the Barras market successful, the surrounding shops benefited from the
footfall that the market produced. Shops that are probably known to most of us here,
Glickmans sweetshop, Bill’s Tool Store, where most of us have bought a tool from and
Retta Fashions which has been selling clothing for over 70 years are some of the ones
that come to mind.
There were also many food shops and stalls that were forerunners of what we would now
call street food. They sold roasted chestnuts, deep fried donuts, mussels, whelks and
clappy-doos to name a few.
Peter showed us fantastic and evocative photographs to go with his talk. There were
photographs of migrants arriving at the Broomielaw, Paddy’s Market, Maggie McIver, St
Mungo Halls, the Barras Ballroom, Sam McIver outside his car showroom, scale of
charges, the various traders, the wee 1950s woman who sold tablet from her wooden
box, Barrowland Ballroom neon sign, the steel Barras arches and people and cars which
you could date by the styles of the clothing and the model of the cars.
If you go down to the Barras you will see various famous phrases on the edging of the
pavements which were done to mark the 100 year anniversary. “Get yer lucky knickers”,
“Come a wee bit closer madam, I don’t do mail order”, “Hurry, hurry Mrs Murray,” “ Work
hard and keep the head”, are some of the witty market catchphrases that traders could
be heard shouting over the years.
Peter finishes by saying that we can be proud of our incredible street market, the Barras,
more than 100 years old and still very much trading and evolving. He recited a wee poem
about the Barras, written by local Caltonian man, the Scottish folk singer Matt McGinn,
who was born in Ross Street a couple of streets over from the Barras
“For Christmas he bought her a wee golden ring, but later it made him embarrassed. He
forgot that the first thing to turn green in the Spring, is jewellery bought at the Barras”.
There followed an enthusiastic mixture of questions and many trips down memory lane
from members and visitors alike.
Vote of Thanks: Tonight’s vote of thanks was given by club director, Robin Muir, who
thanked Peter for the knowledge and passion he showed for tonight’s topic, The Barras,
which resulted in an entertaining and very enjoyable talk.
Quiz: The answer to tonight’s quiz was Pollok Toon Village (famous for the witch trial of
1677), which was demolished around 1790 and had stood on the opposite bank of the
River Cart to Pollok House.
Peter drew the winners for tonight’s competition, who were, Elaine and Hugh.
Close: There being no further business , President Trezise closed the meeting with a
reminder for members to bring along their membership cards for proof of entry to the
AGM at the Glasgow City Chambers on May 11th and to pick up their membership
paperwork from Colin before leaving tonight.
Artie wished all a safe home and looks forward to seeing members and friends at the
Tappit Hen Bowling in May, or the trip to Provan Hall in June.
to be held at Glasgow City Chambers