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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Buildings and Cityscape


By Charles McKean

Shawfield Mansion Glasgow surged out of its mediaeval bounds after the demolition of its West Port in 1751. In the suburbs – in Charlotte Street, along the river bank, west along Argyle Street and up some of the new streets such as Queen Street and Buchanan Street the wealthiest of the elite, usually tobacco lords, built themselves opulent, classically-pedimented free-standing mansions. These were probably inspired by James Smith's 1711 house for Daniel Campbell of Shawfield that faced magisterially down Stockwell Street.

Old College In the rebuilding of parts of the High Street, the Trongate and the Merchant City, housing remained of the old European pattern: tenemented flats above commercial premises in a modern form designed by fine architects. John Jaffrey's enormous ten bay classical flats in Shuttle Street, opposite the University in the High Street, had three principal floors of flats above the shops and below the cornice and attic storey. James Adam's more sophisticated designs included the Professors' Lodgings (1793) in the High Street in which the Hunterian Museum was first founded. Even its attic apartment had four bedrooms, a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, larder, servant's bedroom and two closets; and five garret bedrooms as well. Adam also designed an entire square just downhill for John Stirling – two storeys above large glazed warehouses (1792), of which Babbity Bowster's, Blackfriars Street, may be a survivor.

Adam tenements Most of the Merchant City developed as tenement flats above business premises. In Garth and Glassford Streets there were two storeys of flats above arcaded shops. Between 1760 and 1820 it was in flats such as these that the city's mercantile and intellectual elite lived. Here flourished the Glasgow Clubs prior to the city's withdrawal westwards to the more fashionable houses in George Square and up Blythswood Hill. Intriguingly, while Robert and James Adam were designing the great squares of separate houses on the English model in Edinburgh, they were also designing a modernised form of the old Scots/European living pattern of flats above commerce in Glasgow.

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