A special post today.  It is my 900th after all, and posted on the day the Commonwealth turns its eyes to Glasgow, a mere 26 miles from my home.  Just in case you’re like me with a zero interest in sport, or you’re in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games and need a change of activity, here’s an alternative guide to the city and its environs.  

A is for art, architecture and Ayewrite (Glasgow’s Literary Festival).

B is for the Burrell Collection. A fabulous museum donated to the city by Sir William Burrell.  The Degas paintings and the medieval tapestries are exquisite.

C is for the River Clyde – not the prettiest of rivers but the waterway that enabled Glasgow to grow rich in days gone by.

The Doulton Fountain

D is for the Doulton Fountain, an ornate reminder of the city’s Victorian heyday and that

E is for Empire. Glasgow was once known as the second city of the Empire. The 19th century population was double that of today.

F is for the Finneston Crane – a giant disused cantilever crane to that stands testimony to Glagow’s great engineering heritage.

G is for Glasgow, From the Gaelic Glaschu meaning dear, green place, hence Glasgow Green, a huge green space, right in the city centre on the banks of the Clyde; George Square, the formal centrepiece of the city centre.

H is for the Hunterian, the oldest museum in Scotland.  The art gallery houses an impressive collection of Whistlers (including his mother) and this Chardin, which I have been known to stare at for hours.  The rising steam fascinates me.

I is for Ingram Street, the place for upmarket shoppers. For more suggestions, see S.

J is for Jamaica Street, its name a reminder of the sugar cane, tobacco and slave trading past.

K is for Kelvingrove Museum.  Another fantastic municipal collection ranging from stuffed animals, a fully operational organ from 1901 (time your visit to coincide with the free recital), and a comprehensive display of paintings by The Glasgow Boys.  Pride of place belongs to Dali’s Crucifixion.  This museum also houses a fine selection of furniture designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. My favourite exhibit pictured below.

Kelvingrove’s Hanging Heads


However, if you prefer plants to historical artifacts, visit the Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens.

L is for Laidlaw – William McIllvanney’s fictional detective, the sire of tartan noir.

M is for Charles Rennie Mackintosh, arguably Glasgow’s most famous son.  Tragically the library at the Glasgow School of Art was lost to a fire earlier this year but there are plenty of other Mackintosh sites to visit.  (Hill House in Helensborough, the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian, Scotland Street School to name just three.)


The Hill House (technically not in Glasgow but so worth the 40 minute train ride ) 

M is also for Madeleine Smitha Victorian socialite sensationally tried for murder by arsenic poisoning  in 1857.  (Every Victorian city must have an arsenic murder!) Her case one which inspired Dorothy Sayers’ Strong Poison (1930).

N is for the Necropolis, situated beside Glasgow Cathedral – a Victorian graveyard, Glasgow’s answer to Highgate Cemetery in London.

O is for Oran Mor – a former church, now night club and restaurant complex, stunningly decorated by Glaswegian author and painter, Alasdair Gray.

P is for the People’s Palace, situated on Glasgow which tells the story of the people and city of Glasgow from 1750 to the end of the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the socialism of the working classes.

Q as in IQ – needed if you’re ever to work out the Glasgow bus route map!

R is for rejuvenation.  Glasgow is a city seeking to do just that and was planning to demonstrate rejuvenation in action during the opening ceremony, by demolishing two huge blocks of flats on Red Road.  Fortunately sanity has prevailed and that idea has – er – bit the dust.

Argyll Arcade

S is for shopping.  You can spend lots of money in Glasgow. Buchanan Street, Sauciehall Street, Argyle Street, Ingram Street in the Merchant City.  Take your pick and pick your budget!   If you are seeking jewellery, go to the  Argyll Arcade, Scotland’s oldest covered mall. My favourite place is Princes Square just off Buchanan Street.

T is for tenement.  Traditional Glaswegian housing.  You can visit an original tenement flat, preserved by the National Trust of Scotland.  The modesty of these dwellings contrasts starkly with the Victorian splendour displayed in the public buildings of Alexander Thomson.  T is also for traffic cone – walk by the Gallery of Modern Art to find a traffic cone, where you never thought to see one!  By the way, the building was originally the townhouse of wealthy tobacco lord, William Cunninghame.

These cones get everywhere!

U is for the Ubiquitous Chip, arguably the best named restaurant in Europe and another decor executed by Alasdair Gray.

V is for Voltaire and Rousseau, the legendary secondhand bookshop named after its owner’s cats.  The most idiosyncratic bookshop you will ever visit.  Words cannot describe it.  Perhaps these pictures can.

W is for the Willow Tea Rooms.  You must have tea with Miss Cranston in the teashop designed and decorated by Rennie Macintosh.  Though if you prefer something stronger, why not try the local whiskey, distilled by White and MacKay.

X, Y, Z – Three wildcards, which I will use to highlight my 3 favourite places in the city.

3 IMO the best champagne afternoon tea is to be had at The Butterfly and Pig on Bath Street.


Crockery at the Butterfly and Pig


2 The Mitchell Library.  I’ve written many words about this – for obvious reasons.

1 The West brewery on Glasgow Green.  All beers brewed to the requirements of the German purity laws and a Jägerschnitzel to die for!  



Source materials: 

a) Personal meanderings and pitstops

b) Glasgow and Edinburgh – Robert Crawford (ISBN 978-0-674-04881) p 179-316

c) Look Up Glasgow – Adrian Searle and David Barbour (ISBN 978-1-908754219) / Look Up Glasgow Pocket Guide (ISBN 978-1-908754-76-9)

 © Lizzy’s Literary Life (2007-2014)