The blog reverts to travelog mode again today as my work this week has taken me to Scotland’s largest city; Glasgow. I’ve been here before on a number of occasions, but always work-related, and so I feel I’ve never really got to know the city as well as its sister along the M8, Edinburgh. Those views that I did have always been overshadowed by a plethora of negative images that were the stereotypes of my developing years; militant shipyards, tribally internecine football violence, razor gangs and Rab C Nesbitt! There must be more to Glasgow.
Though my work is in the financial district, my home for the week is in the more bohemian West End of the city, at the far end of Sauchiehall Street, which at about a mile and a half is one of the longest in town.
The West End provides plenty of evidence of the riches generated by Glasgow following the industrial revolution, with street after street of impressively large townhouses. Sadly many of these are showing signs of their age as stonework crumbles, fences corrode, and woodwork rots. Hidden gardens which were once a place of beauty behind the great stone facades and now neglected and home to refuse bins. This is a consequence of the change of ownership over the decades.
Change has come to Glasgow in much the same way as it affected my home in North East England. I’ve come here to work with the staff of a financial services contact centre – which is how Sunderland tried to replace jobs lost in shipbuilding and mining.
The properties are no longer home to prosperous investors in shipping, mining, mills and industry; many are now student flats owned by landlords who will do the minimum to maintain them and so maximise their profit margin.
That is not to say that the area is completely run down for at its heart is a jewel. The great park that is Kelvingrove has much to offer, from its statuary and monuments, to its wildlife, and the opportunities it provides for recreation and relaxation. Like a miniature of New York’s Central Park it provides a home to a world-class museum and gallery, and it’s tree line is also punctuated by impressive surrounding architecture, for apart from the Kelvingrove Museum, the skyline is dominated by the impressive tracery of the spire towering over Glasgow University, and in the east by the Italianate campanile tower of Trinity College.
An hour’s walk had many rewards, and ended with one more. Just as I returned to my hotel I bumped into Ellie who is today’s portrait.
So have I changed my views of this monumental city? Largely yes, although I was awoken in my hotel by the rousing serenade of a passing drunk on my first night. Wonder if it was Rab?
- In praise of… Kelvingrove Park (glasgowsciencefestival.wordpress.com)