-the nineteenth century
-houses, shops and public services

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


The wealth of the Victorian middle class was generally reflected in the large houses built in the West End and in some enclaves in the Southside such as Pollokshields.

In addition, the large disposable income of the well-off led to the development of bustling shopping areas such as Buchanan Street where substantial warehouses (the forerunners of today`s department stores) were established. Consumerism isn`t a recent phenomenon in Glasgow! The best example of this type of shop still exists at 45 Buchanan Street (1883-5) but elsewhere in the city centre there are fine examples of exuberant Victorian architecture which represent the confidence and flamboyance of the city`s main retailers in the late nineteenth century.

The best-known architects of the city`s schools were Hugh and David Barclay, partly because they built so many schools for the Govan School Board whose area covered parts of the West End as well as Govan itself. The best-known individual school of the Victorian period is the very grand Glasgow High School (1846-7, Charles Wilson) on Elmbank Street. Charles Rennie Mackintosh`s Scotland Street School (1904-6) was built only sixty years later but it is radically different from not only Wilson`s building but also the more usual school designs such as Woodlands Public School.

Other public institutions such as hospitals were sometimes afforded the luxury of fine buildings; both the Royal Infirmary and the Western Infirmary still have vestiges of older buildings but these are now dwarfed by their more modern counterparts.

Just outside the city, the surrounding burghs benefitted greatly from the city`s manufacturing successes and they erected large public buildings, such as Govan Town Hall (1879-1901), which were intended as statements of the wealth and independence of the local people. However, the independence often didn`t last very long and between 1846 and 1912 many populous outlying districts were annexed by Glasgow, giving the city a population which peaked at over 1,100,000 just before the Second World War.

This article is based on the guidebook "The Glasgow Guide".

A. Gardner & Son`s Warehouse in Jamaica Street was built as a very "high-tech" structure in the 1850s. Its steel members supported both the internal and external walls and this allowed the architect to give it huge windows, all the better for showing off the shop`s wares.
This is a good example of how the local architects used the city`s expertise in steelwork (as developed in the shipbuilding industry) to explore innovative building techniques.
Next architecture article:
The early twentieth century
Previous architecture article:
The nineteenth century: public sculpture
List of architecture articles:
Architecture of Glasgow

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