WElcome to Glasgow's Merchant City
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Historical Development
Pre 18th Century

During most of its pre-Reformation history, Glasgow had one High Street and two Crosses. The first stood at the earlier main crossing of what has come to be known as the upper town, close to the cathedral and castle. The second stood at the heart of the lower town where High Street met Trongate, Gallowgate and Saltmarket and can be dated to the late 12th or early 13th century. 1

The lower town initially hinged on the river crossing by the ford. Indeed, wheeled traffic crossed by the ford well into the 18th century. After the mid 14th century bridging of the Clyde downstream of the ford, tracks led towards the bridge also. These effectively enclosed open grazing land within Trongate, Saltmarket, and what became Bridge Street and Stockwell Street. The enclosed land came to be "traversed by a series of parallel north-south wynds soon to be densely packed with housing" 2

The association of the upper town with official residences connected with the cathedral, and the lower town with the river crossing, led by 1500 to the lower Cross assuming prominence as the business centre. The arrival of the University in 1540 was probably a factor in the increase in population from 1,500 to 4,500 in little over 100 years 3, and must have stimulated building in the expanding lower town.

Even so, the expansion of the lower town was slow. As late as 1777, although the movement from north (where "the most ancient part" stood) to south was well understood, it was estimated that the whole outward expansion of urban streets only amounted to 150 yards in the previous 100 years! 4 It seems also that the lower town of the 16th/17th centuries was less solidly built and more tightly packed, hence the ease with which it burned in two spectacular fires of the 17th century.

The initial outward development of Trongate is specifically associated with the Church of St Mary: "the most animated of the lower town's thoroughfares, the Trongate, reached the West Port after little more than 300 metres" 5. Its extension thus far had supposedly been in order to reach this collegiate church of 1485 which became a civic kirk a century later. It was destroyed by fire and replaced in 1793. The steeple of 1631 survives as the Tron Steeple, one of the historic landmarks of the modern city centre. Trongate looking east

A degree of conjecture surrounds the early burgh architecture of the lower town. Simple country cottages were gradually replaced in the drive to maximise profits by providing upper floors and developing the back lands or narrow gardens behind each property. Although much of the architecture of the principal streets came to be characterised by the narrow frontages and height such narrow plots dictated, a number of buildings did extend over several plots; in 1901, the oldest surviving house on Trongate, now long gone, was multi-storied, was dated 1591, and had sufficient continued façade to present three chimneyed gables to the street.

Trongate was particularly hard hit by the fire of 1652 which was said to have made 1,000 families homeless and may account for an apparent reduction in the population which, not helped by a further devastation of property by fire in 1677, did not seem to achieve its former level until the second decade of the 18th century.

A direct result of the fire was a level of planning control exercised over private building, at least as far as the front facades were concerned. These were to follow a rigid building line and, after the second fire, stone frontages were insisted upon. The backlands, however, continued a more ramshackle development. By the later 19th century, thatch and clay tiles were still evident as roofing materials.

The fires and the subsequent civic intervention ultimately resulted in the lower town supplanting the mansions of the upper town in architectural terms. The pattern of neat, well built but austere frontages was enlivened by assorted gables above. For Thomas Morer in 1689 (as similarly for Daniel Defoe in 1727), Glasgow became "the finest town in Scotland, not excepting Edinburgh ....... the two main streets (Trongate and Gallowgate) .... well paved and bounded with stately buildings, especially about the centre where they are mostly new piazzas under .... " 6

Morer's account emphasises the importance of the east/west axis, that these two streets were the most urban, and that around the Cross a number of buildings had arcade covered walkways or shops. All this clearly gave Trongate/Gallowgate a modern, European feel, its cohesive modernity arguably more appealing to contemporance than Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

The new Tollbooth, built in the 1620's, marked by its scale and flamboyance the importance of the civic administration and consolidate, by its presence facing onto Trongate, the importance of the street at the expense of High Street. An accident of the town's evolution had equipped Trongate/Gallowgate with the dominant visual continuity through the Cross. The standpoint of most 18th and early 19th century views tend to give corroboration; while Trongate was viewed through the Cross from Gallowgate, High Street was generally depicted as an individual element. Of the To
llbooth, only the steeple now survives, but "still pins the very spot from which the growth of Glasgow in modern terms may be said to begin" 7.

Early prints also display the highly urban, almost Florentine character of the Trongate. It is presumably from these tall, often crowstepped, buildings with many floors of accommodation (and their more rationally roof-scaped successors) that the later Glasgow tenement form gradually evolved under the continuous pressure of population density.

The architectural movement to classicism was evident at the end of Trongate with the building of the first Hutcheson's Hospital (1639-41), the form of which was developed by The Merchants' House of 1651 at the Briggait.

The Town Hall of 1737-40, a building of enormous sophistication and glamour by Allan Dreghorn, showed clear knowledge of developments in London and continued the use of arcades. Its cosmopolitan value was underscored by the late 18th century use of the area within the arcades in connection with the coffee house.

The Eighteenth Century and the "New Town"
The Cross remained central to Glasgow throughout the 18th century, through noxious industries in Gallowgate were making their influence felt on the eastern approach. Still, by the 1970's the Coffee House was a fashionable rendezvous and "Miss Dunlap's at the Cross" was evidently a respectable enough place to board young ladies from lesser gentry families 8.

Many buildings in Trongate were rebuilt to simple plain, classical designs, and 130-136 Trongate (Old Post Office Close) of c1790, which still survives, shows this character.

The containment of urban Glasgow within bounds which had little growth outwards but within which population density rose in a frightening way (the population of Glasgow rose during the 18th century from 12,000 to 83,000! 9) led to a cycle of subdivision and declining amenity, with increased development of backlands. Ross's 1773 plan of Glasgow makes this very clear. A large proprietor such as Glasgow College on High Street could develop backlands with skill adopting a high architectural quality and amenity; lesser owners were more dependent upon almost accidental interaction with their neighbours' development of narrow bordering strips of land for light, air and space. The result was a near sold mass of development penetrated by narrow access alleys or closes.

Early Georgian initiatives west of High Street were part private, part municipal. Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, the primus inter pares of Glasgow merchants, set a fashion for the future by building a Palladian mansion in 1711-12, design to close the view up Stockwell Street from Glasgow Bridge. It was the first in a particularly Glaswegian pattern, wherein streets provided vistas terminated by large, usually classical buildings. This entailed either a T-junction or a central approach to a square with the eye-catcher building in the centre. The core Merchant City area which was to develop in the late 18th century between High Street and Glassford Street would make full use of this design element (as opposed to the grid-iron arrangements of later developments).

Fuelled by the tobacco trade, its merchant's lairds built villas along Argyle Street's issue into the countryside from the termination of Trongate. These extended north into streets such as Miller Street, where both architectural (no "corbie steps") and residential (no shops or industry) regulations protected amenity. Today, a single villa from the 1770s survives (in Miller Street).

Much closer to High Street, the civic powers had been active. Candleriggs had previously been driven through the Lang Croft to create a straight street linking with Bell's Wynd to High Street, forming a large urban block penetrated by narrow wynds to the north of Trongate. In the 1720's, municipal money laid out King Street to align with Candleriggs. In those two streets were to be relocated, in a number of enclosed courts, the various city markets. The first Ramshorn church significantly terminated the view up Candleriggs as, today, does its successor. "The public buildings in these two streets", it was noted in 1797, "as well as the expenses bestowed on their formation, together with the north west church built on the Ramshorn grounds in the year 1722, show the early predilection of our magistrates, on a well formed plan, for carrying the buildings on the increase of Glasgow to the westward" 10.

But between the municipal rationalisation of Candleriggs and the rich private streets west from Virginia Street, lay an open middleground. By the 1780's Ingram Street's line was re-adjusted to a formal arrangement with High Street and the ground thus enclosed was clearly ripe for development. This sector was breached, in the first instance, by the demolition of the first Hutcheson's Hospital on Trongate (which eventually re-located in 1802 to the top of the new Hutcheson Street which its long backlands permitted to be developed). This was the stimulant to the opening of Brunswick and Wilson Streets after a deal between the Council and a developer, Robert Smith, who was interested in developing tenements and by 1790, a year after acquiring the property, he had completed the first. In the end, Wilson Street was built "broader than any other street in the area, and dignified by the most architecturally splendid of all New Towns tenements" 11. Further deals led, in 1792, to Glassford Street being laid out, with The Trades Hall design by Robert Adam under construction and (as was now the habit) closing the view down the new Garth Street. In contrast with this pattern, Wilson Street narrowed its ends with fine tenements.

This inner portion of the Merchant City - which corresponds exactly with the area of this study - will henceforth be referred to as the Merchant City core. Its character was decidedly urban from its initial development, with tenements, terraced houses and warehouses (as opposed to the more up-market unified terraces gradually extending north-west and west). But to what extent was it planned as a single design? The Buildings of Scotland team for Glasgow were dubious: "Those streets have been dubbed Glasgow's First New Town which conjures up the picture of a planned extension similar to Edinburgh's New Town. Nothing could be more different from the speculative piecemeal development of the streets south of Ingram Street". They also considered that the Trades House " set the fashion for the opportunistic siting of major buildings .... " 12.

This view, however, is open to some amendment since development between Candleriggs and Glassford Street was effectively managed by a consortium set up with major Council involvement and was clearly intended to complement recent and concurrent developments with which it is linked. The RIAS guide to Glasgow 13, published in 1989, had already identified the Glasgow pattern of closing street vistas as one of considerable sophistication and evident in public buildings in the siting of the first Ramshorn Church in 1722, long before the building of the Trades House. Therefore, the use of this design element had a longstanding precedent in Glasgow that appears to have been deliberately continued. Nor can it be coincidence that the Adam office was approached for most of the set piece buildings. Nor, possibly, may it be mere coincidence that the Adam building proposals all included glazed "arcades" to their ground floors, and other new buildings or streets contained arcading, suggesting a deliberate picking-up of a Glaswegian motif. Although Glasgow's New Town clearly was not controlled by a unified design to the extent that Edinburgh's was, it was not without some measure of governing design control.

The post 1782 New Town linked in, through Candleriggs with the Old Town. This was to be brought into the equation by a number of imposing new buildings, all co-incidentally (?) designed by the Adam office. The city authorities managed to build the Infirmary but not the Corn Exchange in the upper town; the University built the magnificent Professors' Lodgings on High Street; and private enterprise attempted the Stirling Street and Square development of 1792. This last was ultimately built to a debased version of its initial proposals due to the failure of the developer to acquire a key property. Nonetheless, its prestigious style with large ground floor windows (Babbity Bowster on Blackfriars Street is its sole remnant) suggests that the New Town did not instantly make the Old a down-market address. This is supported by the fact that opposite the Stirling development stood Fiddler's Close, dating from the 17th century. It was still a fashionable shopping street in the 1780's, although it became an irredeemable slum by the 1850's and was demolished in 1878.

Victorian Development

The Trongate in 1849

Neither High Street nor Trongate lost their appeal as an immediate consequence of the new extensions of the urban area. Continuous redevelopment in those streets had retained their viability so that in a William Simpson view of Trongate in 1849, the buildings shown are to a great extent of recent (late Georgian) character, rising through five floors.

The malaise which began to affect the older streets was however certainly evident from the 1830's due to the evergrowing density of population and pollution from badly placed industries (which did not so seriously affect the westward expansion due to prevailing winds). Worse was the cycle of profit that accrued from renting out ever more subdivided accommodation in the old town areas and did not encourage expenditure on amenity or improvements.

As far as Trongate and the adjacent Merchant City core are concerned, the rampantly baronial structure of the 1850's opposite the Tron Steeple (at 42-70 Trongate and designed by J T Rochead to be in sympathy with nearby buildings of antiquarian interest) marked not only continued interest in major development in this street but also the changing direction: this provided "business chambers", not housing, and its bulk tended to redefine the new edge of the business and retail city centre, separating it from the proletarian residential area beyond. By 1842, Edwin Chadwick claimed that "on the whole .... both the structural arrangements and the condition of the population .... was the worst .... in any part of Britain!. The Rochhead Building 60 Trongate

Even so, degradation of the old town did not at all exclude visitors such as the young Miss Parker who, in 1863, testified to the astonishing comparative cleanliness of the West End (or "Kelvyn's Grove"), going on to tour High Street and Trongate, "looking up every few yards into black alleys, which looked marvellously airtight and vile .... meeting dozens of factory girls .... and their bare feet .... in the mud .... and out through some of the best streets (to George Square)" 14. Her drawing of her "first impression of Glasgow" as an industrial hell of smog and factory chimneys is certainly convincingly unappetising. Her description makes it clear that while the main old town streets were filthy for all to see, the backlands had now become another country to people of Miss Parker's class.

As the merchant classes relocated further westward, the core Merchant City area did not really become an extension of working class housing areas. Instead, the warehouse element became increasingly more pronounced, as did the complexes of the new County Buildings (1844, extended to Ingram Street in 1871; now known as the former Sheriff Court) to which the administration symbolically decanted from the Trongate, and the City Halls (1817, 1840 1852, 1885, 1907, etc) incorporating the Fruit Market which, "until the early 1970's dominated the entire Merchant City (in the same way as Covent Garden in London". "As a residential quarter, the New Town lasted barely two decades. Fashionable merchants were sucked west .... Banks, markets and warehouses - and, above all, the cotton industry - swarmed into these houses from early as 1820. By the mid-century .... it became a wholesale area ...." 15. The Britannia Music Hall

Much altered examples of warehouses from c1790 survives at 1-15 and 4-69 Candleriggs. The trend continued on an ever grander scale into the Victorian period and beyond, most obviously with the inter-war steel framed warehouse on the Candleriggs/Wilson Street corner. The growth of the City Halls and County Buildings street blocks altered forever the nature of this area of town, imposing a grand but monolithic impediment to normal street life, the Council Buildings created the climax to an imposing civic space ornamented by the most elegant of the New Town's tenements. How long these particular tenements remained residential is not known.

In the Merchant City core, warehouses appear to have been almost exclusively "trade", wholesale or storage. On Trongate, as far east as the Tron, on the other hand, a series of retail warehouses at 137 -139 by James Sellars, and the 1857 Britannia Panopticon building, which was originally begun as a warehouse to designs by Gildard & MacFarlane). In these, different "merchants" rented floors for direct sales to the public. They were effectively the predecessors of the more comprehensive departmental stores.

Tackling the Old Town Slums
The eastern end of Trongate and the backlands reaching towards the south were, with the High Street and its interface with the Merchants City core, a different matter, "Although the population had increased fivefold between 1801 and 1860 .... there was in the centre of this rapidly expanding conurbation a medieval city covering about 100 acres with narrow winding ill paved streets which were quite unsuited to the requirements of an industrial city. The central business district, including the new City Chambers (ie County Building) had moved west, leaving the declining areas to the poorest classes. Virtually no demolition took place, and .... former middle-class gardens were filled with jerry-built back tenements" 16.

The Corporation's own minute tools (18 November 1875) confirmed that, by the 1860's between 500 to well over 1,000 persons occupied each square acre. In 1871, it was revealed that there were some 200 houses of ill-fame and 150 oshebeens within the small area around Trongate, Saltmarket and Bridgegate 17.

From the 1840s the Police Acts allowed the municipal authority some power to intervene to improve sanitation, control overcrowding and to demolish decayed buildings, but it was not until 1866 that the City of Glasgow Improvements Act made Glasgow the first British Council Authority to plan slum clearance on such a scale as that proposed. It was intended to be "the largest and most comprehensive single undertaking of this kind in the 19th century ten years before Birmingham on an area twice as big" 18 By 1874, 77 acres had been bought at a cost of £1,317,700 and the homes of 15,425 people destroyed. By 1876, 25375 people had been displaced into significantly better homes 19. The death rate fell dramatically during the 1870's. Such was the effect of the Glasgow Bank crash that most of the 1880s resulted in little activity in the Old Town centre since improvement was tied in to private developers who sensed a dangerously narrow profit margin. However, between 1889 and 1902, the Improvements Trust completed the work of the 1866 Act by acting as its own developer with spectacular success. There was concern from the private sector over unfair competition. However, in view of the reluctance of the private sector in the 1880s, the move was understandable. The effect was to stimulate investment in the old area and, in commercial terms, prevent the area from degrading its neighbours.

Both the Improvements Trust and the forces of commercial progress (not least the railway interests which of course demolished the Old College) came under fire for the loss of antique buildings; but cholera and plague had provided the incentive to replace what "The Builder" in 1862 called "old crazy, dilapidated and dangerous". Buchanan, Glasgow's historian, thundered nevertheless against the lack of romance of "modern architecture and utilitarianism" 20 The end result was "hardly a scrap of building to remind Glaswegians of their great pre-19th century trading, commercial and academic heritage. Had there not been direct intervention (the Trust was seen as an organ of local government), the centre of Glasgow would still be laid out in much the same pattern of narrow streets and lanes as it was in 1800". On the other hand, what was done marked the recognition "that a free market, private philanthropy and public health regulations could not provide an adequate solution",

The effect of the improvements on the character of the subject area of this study was mainly felt on Eastern Trongate and High Street where new model tenements and warehouses made their appearance, principally in the hectic building spree of the late 19th century. A B McDonald's Frenchfield cream sandstone tenements of 1891-1900 (3-39 Trongate) and his Baronial 1895-1900 tenements "respectable" - they contained some large flats - and hence appealing to the renting market; and perhaps also out of civic concern to bolster the frontier area this had become.

Trongate had, even in 1870's a superficial respectability, its working class catered to by the Britannia Music Hall (115 Trongate), Fell's Waxworks at 101 Trongate, and MacLeod's Waxworks at 151 Trongate. Towards the Cross the "Tontine" and former Town Hall remained until 1911, its arcade converted to shop fronts and its upper floors a working men's club. But it was the narrow alleys and wynds of Trongate which were home to the real misery, and the new buildings there and likewise on High Street celebrated the demise of the old slums as much as their own arrival in the real terms of rising property values. Trongate looking West at the turn of the last century

The Failed Redesign of Glasgow Cross
The failed (or rather partially completed) attempt to re-create Glasgow Cross on a monumental scale took the form of Beaux Arts classical buildings set around the Tollbooth Steeple, the remainder of the Tollbooth having been demolished in 1921 as a preliminary to work commencing. The result would have provided a focus for the monolithic treatment of the street blocks immediately to the west of the cross, but completion only of the swing into High Street from Trongate *from 1922, by A Graham Henderson) and of the isolated Mercat Building (Henderson, 1925-8) to the east of the cross is spectacularly unhappy in effect, since the highly formal, ceremonial design looks manifestly incomplete.

Glasgow Cross The removal in more recent decades of a large building to the east of the cross has further weakened the context, as has the removal of the 1897 J J Brunet station in the centre of the Trongate, which helped to provide a foreground to the Cross, when seen from Trongate. Its removal has added to the disipation of urban cohesion at the crucial point where Trongate flows its wide course into the now somewhat wasted townscape beyond. Its removal also, in more practical terms, underlined that the Cross can now be seen as a crossing place for through motor traffic as much (if not more than) a pedestrian rendezvous.

Post-Industrial Malaise
While warehouse development continued to some extent within the core Merchant City area during the inter-war years, the gradual decline of Glasgow's industrial and trading base (which intensified after the Second World War) was not conductive to further development. Thus, the physical pattern largely set by the late 19th century (in particular, in terms of the lower density of occupation of housing and the consolidation of the warehouse and wholesale function within the core Merchant City area) was ill-adapted for change. The use of the County Buildings as the Sheriff Court and the conversion of City Halls to provide a concert hall helped preserve these structures, but blight brought by roads proposals and scheduling for comprehensive re-development did not help investment in the area as a whole. Indeed (until the late Eighties) new-build, particularly in Trongate, was of a generally unimpressive architectural quality.

In 1960, it was clear from published figures 21 that rateable values in Trongate and the core Merchant City were almost uniformly excluded from the higher value still achieved by the late Victorian and Edwardian centre which extended in sporadic bursts from Argyll street to Sauchiehall Street. Although retail streets as a whole in central Glasgow have survived as still viable, the gradual trend towards large scale complexes has led to the creation of the St Enoch Centre and the Galleries (still in construction), tending to concentrate shopping patterns away from Trongate. Nevertheless. Trongate has managed to retain several departments' stores in its western section and the appearance of specialist shopping in the Merchant City core has helped to link the Trongate as a whole with other shopping routes. The successful presence of a number of important retail chain (eg Marks & Spencers, Tesco and Debenhams) in Argyle Street before its merge into Trongate is a particularly positive consideration.

The late Victorians had been eager to reduce the overcrowding of the old town and in this they had been wholly successful. When C M Allan described this process in 1965 as "the genesis of British urban development with special reference to Glasgow", he cannot but have had the then current interest in a new clean sweep in mind. Although by the Seventies, comprehensive redevelopment on the scale initially proposed for the city centre seemed impractical by the Seventies, comprehensive redevelopment on the scale initially proposed for the city centre seemed impractical and increasingly undesirable, the adjacent residential areas of Hutchesontown, Gorbals and Townhead and much of the East End had seen their population reduced and dispersed to the new housing estates. This, more than the earlier rationalisation of the old town, undermined its social character, The pertinent lament of one elderly Glasgow lady - "Tell me where in the whole of Jamaica Street I can buy sausages? 22 - was considerably more than bathos. The city centre population, unsupported by adjoining populations linked in by pedestrian friendly tenemental streets, was not advisable at its then level. Even as stonecleaning and a new confidence fanned out from George Square, even as a new realisation occurred that Glasgow's Victorian heritage was worth seeing, the centre was revealed as unusually deserted after office hours.

Merchant City Renewal
The problem associated with the core Merchant City area, with its many warehouses, was symbolised as late as 1991 by small trees still growing in a Georgian façade in Candleriggs. But by that date, the Merchant City was already seen as an opportunity (rather than a threat to civic dignity), for the conversion of warehouse to housing to re-introduce population to the heart of the city was underway.

The mechanism which permitted this latest "municipal" intervention involved tackling problems similar to those faced by the Improvements Trust a century earlier: "the market, left to its own devices, could not secure the desired results, so subsidy was introduced.... so with the combination of District Council improvement grants and Scottish Development Agency help (chiefly through the application of repayable LEGUP grants), residential flats were created, wine bars and fashion shops opened ...." 23 By the mid-1980's, the momentum was established.

As "an experiment in inner-city living" 24, the regeneration proved spectacularly successful, not least to young professionals who wanted to live close to the perceived "action" as the City Centre's cultural life as a whole was seen to revive and its night life expand. The social composition was, under the circumstances, broader than might have been hoped and there was a healthy demand for such accommodation.

Meanwhile, new tenemental streets in the old Gorbals, together with the development of St Andrews Square and the forthcoming Homes for the Future facing Glasgow Green, give renewed confidence and suggest that one day the surrounding residential suburbs may be linked in by a less hostile townscape.

In 1989, the Merchant City was awarded the converted Medal of Honour by Europa Nostra. With the much postponed plan to bring an intrusive road system down the line of High Street now in remission, there is considerable faith in the newly re-captured city and demand for an increased population at its heart. Today, the mood is still deceptively buoyant, but much more work remains to be done.

Elder & Canon's Brunswick HotelWarehouse conversions were the fuel of regeneration. Alterations to existing streetscape were minimised; a case of civilising the city, to use a Nineties tag, rather than creating a new "New Town". Such sensitivity informed important new architecture, notably the Wilson Street/Brunswick Street corner where Elder and Cannon's 1984-9 Ingram Square development provided a new corner block, towered and linking in style with adjacent Deco style warehouses, but with astragalled windows and brick detailing providing a human scale. It is one of the few Glasgow buildings of recent times to exploit the design qualities of brick, rather than to employ it as a poor man's stone. Although the tower flourish was out of context with the T-junction vista-stopped new town rationale of past development, it was an entirely forgivable gesture made at a time when gestures were particularly important.

The reconstruction of Babbity Bowster (1984-5) to the designs of Nicholas Groves-Raines showed both concern with history and design quality. Less successful were brick new-build flats in Albion Street which affected traditionalising features with a lack of conviction.

In the last 400 years, the symbolic and administrative centre has moved from Glasgow Cross to George Square; not a great distance in view of the growth in size of Glasgow. More worrying is the dramatic movement of population concentrations and leading retail facilities away from the historic core area so that it now stands, even after recent successful re-introductions of residents and of stylish shops, on the edge of the City Centre.

An evolving history has bequeathed to Glasgow the medieval line of Trongate and High Street and the highly unusual street plan (with its emphasis on buildings terminating views up streets) of a New Town of the late 18th century of which a number of imposing buildings survive. It has also brought some few precious buildings older than the 18th century, as well as many examples of fine Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Recent renewal has begun to heal some of the wounds inflicted on the streetscape since the last war, and a few good buildings have made a major contribution to enhancement and public perceptions.

A recurrent feature in Glasgow's development has been the role of official interventions. Repeatedly, the municipal or civic authorities, latterly assisted by the SDA/GDA, have played a major part in the rational development of the inner city. At first this role was entirely prescriptive, as in the regulations to control development after the 17th century fires. From the 1720s however, municipal authorities become involved in proactive developments and, in the 1790s, collaborated with private developers. In the late 19th century and in the late 20th century, public bodies stimulated quality development which private developers could not have undertaken unassisted.

The Merchant City core area has of late been returned to a residential area to great acclaim. With largely middle-class outlook, and a "young", modern lifestyle, the new population is resilient. However, this has been an area of fluctuating fortune and of sweeping change over the centuries, and the historical threats to Glasgow's inner city populations in the 20th century suggest that the continued viability of a fashionable address depends upon continued amenity and confidence, and upon its surroundings; in short, upon things more solid than fashion itself.

Trongate is a street of considerable architectural excitement, incorporating some of the oldest surviving structures in Glasgow and occupying a key position through which the influence of Merchant City initiative might percolate. While the Merchant City core area has begun to establish itself as a well presented area, deriving much of its prestige from an understanding and appreciation of its history, Trongate has not. Neither area commands major transport centres; High Street and Argyll Street stations being located beyond the north and east edge, and the most recent retail development - the Galleries - is likely to pull the centre of shopping gravity further away from the Old Town. The next four years may not be as significant as the last 400, but they are likely to be full of challenges to the Merchant City and Trongate, emphasising that on the regeneration game, crucial areas of the city cannot afford to simply mark time.

143 Trongate former Art Deco cafe

1. F A Walker in P Reid (ed), Glasgow: the forming of the city, 1993.
2. Ibid.
3. J Cleland, Statistical tables relative to the City of Glasgow, 1823.
4. Gibson, 1777.
5. F A Walker, op.cit.
6. T Morer, A short account of Scotland ...., (written 1689) 1702, reprinted in H Brown, Early travellers in Scotland, 1973.
7. F A Walker, op cit.
8. Poltalloch papers, Argyll & Bute Council Archives.
9. J Cleland, op cit.
10. 1797.
11. F A Walker, op cit.
12. E Williamson et al, The buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, 1990.
13 C McKean et al, Central Glasgow: an illustrated architectural guide, 1989.
14 M Parker, Tour of Scotland, 1863 (reprinted 1984).
15 C McKean, et al, op cit.
16 C M Allan, The genesis of British urban redevelopment with special reference to Glasgow, in Economic History Review, December 1965.
17 E King, Trongate (2 page article), nd.
18 C M Allan, op cit.
19 Ibid.
20 Buchanan, Glasgow 1850.
21 A J Jury (City Architect), Glasgow Corporation development plan, quinquenial review report, 1960.
22 Remark by Beatrice Taylor to an Amenity Liaison Meeting (Glasgow District Planning Department, Conservative Section), c 1988.
23 M Keating, The City that refused to die; Glasgow, the politics of regeneration, 1988.
24 Ibid.

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