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This article deals with the history of the city of Glasgowmarker, Scotlandmarker. See also Timeline of Glasgow history.

Founding of the city

The area around Glasgow has hosted communities for millennia, with the River Clyde providing a natural location for fishing. The Romans later built outposts in the area and, to keep Roman Britannia separate from the Celtic and Pictish Caledonia, constructed the Antonine Wallmarker, remains of which can still be seen in Glasgow today.

Glasgow itself was founded by the Christian missionary Saint Mungo in the 6th century. He established a church on the Molendinar Burn, where the present Glasgow Cathedralmarker stands, and in the following years Glasgow became a religious centre.

Glasgow Cathedral

George Square and Glasgow's City Chambers
By the 12th century Glasgow had been granted the status of what can now be called a city and the cathedral was the seat of the Bishops and Archbishops of Glasgow. While there may have been wooden buildings on the site, the first stone cathedral was consecrated in about 1136 and replaced by a larger one which was consecrated in 1197. Extensions and alterations to the cathedral buildings have continued ever since. The most recent addition being the Millennium Window unveiled on 3 June 1999 by Princess Anne.

University of Glasgow

In 1451 the University of Glasgowmarker was founded by papal bull and established in religious buildings in the precincts of Glasgow Cathedral. By the start of the 16th century, Glasgow had become an important religious and academic city and by the 17th century the university had moved from the cathedral precincts to its own building in the High Street.

Trade and the Industrial Revolution

Glasgow's City Chambers, mosaic ceiling of the ground floor Loggia
By the 16th century, the city's trades and craftsmen had begun to wield significant influence and the city had become an important trading centre with the Clyde providing access to the city and the rest of Scotland for merchant shipping. The access to the Atlantic Oceanmarker allowed the importation of American tobacco and cotton, and Caribbeanmarker sugar, which were then traded throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

The de-silting of the Clyde in the 1770s allowed bigger ships to move further up the river, thus laying the foundations for industry and shipbuilding in Glasgow during the 19th century.

The abundance of coal and iron in Lanarkshiremarker led to Glasgow becoming an industrial city. It became known as "the Second City of the Empire". Cotton factories and textile mills became large employers in Glasgow and the local region.

Trading allowed great wealth to be generated for some in the city. The merchants constructed spectacular buildings and monuments that can still be seen today, and reinvested their money in industrial development to help Glasgow grow further. In 1893 the burgh was constituted as the County of the City of Glasgow. Glasgow became one of the richest cities in the world, and a municipal public transport system, parks, museums and libraries were all opened during this period.

As the city's wealth increased, its centre expanded westwards as the lush Victorian architecture of what is now known as the Merchant City area began to spring up. New public buildings such as the City Chambersmarker on George Square, Trades Hall on Glassford Street, and the Mitchell Librarymarker in Charing Cross epitomised the wealth and riches of Glasgow in the late 19th century with their lavishly decorated interiors and intricately carved stonework. As this new development took place, the focus of Glasgow's central area moved away from its medieval origins at High Streetmarker, Trongatemarker, Saltmarket and Rottenrow, and these areas fell into partial dereliction, something which is in places still evident to the present day.

Decline of industry and the post-war period

Glasgow did not escape the effects of the Great Depression. The outbreak of the second world war in 1939 temporarily arrested the ongong decline, with the city's shipyards and heavy industries working at capacity to fuel the war effort, but this too came at a price - the intensive Luftwaffe bombing of Clydeside, the worst of this being the Clydebank Blitz, left tens of thousands of Glaswegians homeless and destruction of housing caused by the war would leave a lasting legacy for the city decades later. But the period after the war saw the greatest decline in its industrial base.

Although ships and trains were still being built on Clydeside, cheap labour abroad reduced the competitiveness of Glasgow's industries. By the 1960s, Glasgow had gone into economic decline. The major shipbuilders on the Clyde began to close down, but not before Clydebankmarker had built one of its last great ships, Cunard's 'Queen Elizabeth 2'. As of today, three major shipyards remain on the River Clyde, two of which are owned by BAE Systems Naval Ships; Govanmarker and Scotstounmarker, which focus principally upon the design and construction of technologically advanced warships for the Royal Navy and other navies. Glasgow's function as a port also diminished - the introduction of containerized freight spelled the end for the riverside's docks and wharves which had crumbled into dereliction by the late '60's.

The 1960s also heralded major social changes for the city, as politicians took radical steps to arrest the city's decline. The infamous tenement slums (many of which had been destroyed or badly damaged by wartime bombs) were replaced by a new generation of high rise housing and large suburban housing estates (known locally as "schemes"). Whilst the hundreds of new tower blocks changed the city's skyline forever, the high rise edifices broke up long established community relationships and social structures. Coupled to poor design and low quality construction, some of the blocks created as many problems as they solved and became magnets for crime and deprivation. Thousands more Glaswegians were rehoused in the new towns of Cumbernauldmarker and East Kilbridemarker. A ring road scheme was also built around the central area, the centrepiece of which was the M8 motorway, which decimated the Charing Cross and Anderston areas beyond recognition, with many historic Victorian buildings being destroyed to make way for its construction.

The 1970s and early 1980s were dark periods in the history of the city, as steelworks, coal mines, engine factories and other heavy industries went out of business. This led to mass unemployment and high levels of urban decay. Since the mid-80s however, the city has enjoyed an economic and cultural renaissance — a financial district consisting of a number of new, purpose built office buildings has rapidly developed in the western end of the city centre, and this has become home to many well-known banks, consultancy and IT firms, legal practices, and insurance companies. Glasgow's financial district is centred around its FTSE Stock Exchange and dealing floor, forming the heart of a thriving business capital. Between 1998 to 2001, the city’s burgeoning financial service sector grew at a rate of 30%.

In the suburbs, numerous leisure and retail developments have been built on the former sites of factories and heavy industries. Glasgow is the premier site for call-centres in Britainmarker. Critics argue that such new developments are relatively fragile and do not offer as many highly skilled long-term employment opportunities, owing to their dependence on the service sector rather than manufacturing.

While manufacturing has dwindled in its relative importance to the city's economy, there is still a strong manufacturing sector (the fourth largest in the UK, accounting for well over 60% of Scotland’s manufactured exports) particularly in the areas of engineering and shipbuilding, chemicals, food and drink, printing, publishing and textiles, as well as new growth sectors such as software and biotechnology, 20% of the UK’s biotechnology sector is based in and around Glasgow which forms the UK’s third Biotechnology centre after Cambridge and London. Glasgow also forms the western part of Silicon Glen which produces over 30% of Europe's PCs, 80% of its workstations, and 65% of its ATMs. A growing number of Blue Chip companies are basing major operations or headquarters in Glasgow, including BT, Abbey, National Australia Group Europe, Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, Scottish Power, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Lloyds TSB. Glasgow-based Scottish Power is one of three Scottish companies to be included on the Fortune Global 500 rankings. These names rub shoulders with the more well established firms, which represent traditional sectors of Glasgow's economy, including; Diageo, Allied Domecq, William Grant & Sons, A.G. Barr, Tennent Caledonian Breweries, Whyte and Mackay, House of Fraser, MacFarlane Group, HarperCollins, John Menzies, BAE Systemsmarker, Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, Imperial Chemical Industries, Weir Group, and Aggreko.

Modern Glasgow

Cineworld on Renfrew Street — The World's Tallest Cinema
Since the 1980s, Glasgow has been rebuilding both its image and its architecture. The City Council began a programme of sandblasting the decades of soot and grime from the city's many tenements and municipal buildings, revealing their magnificent Victorian stonework. Rather than demolish the tenement flats that had survived, they were instead extensively cleaned and refurbished to become desirable private housing. The western end of the central area was redeveloped into a new central business district which continues to attract financial firms from around the globe. In 1983, the 'Glasgow's Miles Better' campaign was followed by the considerable coup of the National Garden Festival being held in Glasgow in 1988 at the Prince’s Dock in Govan. Glasgow was then named European City of Culture in 1990, followed by City of Architecture and Design in 1999 and European Capital of Sport in 2003. Glasgow boasts the largest contemporary arts scene in the UK outside of London, which is centred around the annual 'Glasgow International' arts festival. Glasgow has been selected as host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and football events for the 2012 Olympic Games will be staged in the city..

The city's riverbank has been particularly transformed – from industrial dereliction caused by the decline of shipbuilding into to an entertainment and residential centrepiece. The banks of the Clyde have become a playground for property developers, with office blocks and high-rise luxury flats taking the place of the old shipyards, granaries, wharves and docks.

Glasgow is the capital of contemporary music in Scotland, and has many venues and clubs such as the Barrowlandsmarker, Barfly and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut that promote new bands and DJs. Additionally, it is home to some artists well known in the UK such as Franz Ferdinand and Belle & Sebastian.

Recent years have seen a regeneration of Glasgow's river banks.
Salmon have now returned to the Clyde
Redevelopment of residential areas, combined with the increased cultural activities, has contributed to a better environment. With this, the City Council has been successful in attracting tourists, conferences as well as major sporting events to the city. Public housing, previously administered by the Glasgow City Council, was transferred to the not-for-profit Glasgow Housing Association in 2003. This affected some 80,000 properties and created Britain's largest social landlord in an innovative tenant-led organisation. The new GHA has already begun the process of demolishing many of the infamous concrete housing estates and high-rise tower blocks which were built during the 1960s, in preparation for a new generation of public housing.

The local police force is Strathclyde Police. Its area covers Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute. Established in 1975, the force serves 2.2 million people and replaced the local county constabularies and the City of Glasgow Police, the UK's first police force.

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