Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

On Thursday 13th November 2014 at 7.30pm




71 people



Ms Petrina Cairns (President)



Ms Cairns welcomed members and visitors to the November meeting. Ms Cairns explained fire drill procedures, house keeping rules and requested that all mobile phones be switched to silent or off.


Ms Cairns also said that now the weather is changing that members and visitors should be thinking about contingency plans should there be adverse weather conditions. If you have any doubts about a meeting taking place, Ms Cairns said to phone Adelaides 0141 248 4970.

Should the Directors decide to stand down a meeting, Adelaides would be informed and there would also be a post on the Old Glasgow Club website and facebook page.



Brian Henderson, Ian Frame, Gordon Capie, Margaret Thom, Anna Forrest, Joe Marshall, Jim O'Kane and Grace McKay.



The minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 9th October were approved and proposed by Margaret Walker and seconded by Sallie Marshall. There were no amendments or matters arising.


Secretary's Report

Mrs McNae welcomed everyone and reminded them to take part in this evenings quiz if they hadn't already done so and to pick up any outstanding membership cards from Sam.


Mrs McNae asked members if they would like to pay £5 to go into their local church and were members aware of the entry charges to Glasgow Cathedral that Historic Scotland (who have the care of its fabric and maintenance) proposed to bring into force from 1st April 2015. The reason for such a move has been stated to be due to financial pressures on Historic Scotland and the need to make its properties pay.


Mrs McNae asked Glen Collie, Session Clerk at Glasgow Cathedral if he had any further updates for us.


Mr Collie stated that the Kirk Session were trying to come to an agreement with Historic Scotland to avoid entry charges.

Glasgow Cathedral has been serving its parish and city for over 800 years and has been freely open to all who wish to enter.

Mr Collie went on to say that "each day there are numerous people who use the Cathedral as a refuge and find the quiet opportunity for prayer and reflection of great benefit. One can always find patients, relatives, friends and staff from the Royal Infirmary (adjacent to Cathedral) in quiet corners of the building, like the Nurses Chapel. Each week the Clergy receive and respond to many hundred prayer requests left in the Prayer Chapel. The Kirk Session feels that, to charge a £5 admission fee to people with such a need is totally unreasonable.

Both Mr Collie and Mrs McNae told members about the on-line petition where you can agree with the principal that access should be free of charge to a building of such historic and religious significance can be signed. https://you. 38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-entry-charges-at-glasgow-cathedral.


Mrs McNae drew everyones attention to upcoming events in the coming weeks and months :


Glasgow Cathedral coffee morning on Saturday 29th November from 9.30am until 12.30pm.



peoplemakeglasgow.com  People Make Glasgow' has been the brand name for the City since June 2013 and the website has really useful information as to what is going on in the City, plus discounts and competitions like Freebie Friday.


www.glasgowlife.org.uk  information on all the current and upcoming events at Glasgow galleries. You can sign up to an e letter informing you of upcoming events like Alasdair Gray- From the Personal to the Universal at Kelvingrove until 22nd February 2015


As usual, lots going on in the Libraries and Museums. Information on www.glasgowlife.org/young- glasgow.


Glasgow Christmas Lights switch is this Sunday, 16th November.


And, finally, if you're feeling up to it there is the 'Santa Dash' taking place through the City Centre on Sunday 7th December at 9.30am.


President's Report

Ms Cairns said how much she had enjoyed last months talk given by Paul Sweeney and how pleased she was to see him at this meeting. Ms Cairns asked Mr Sweeney when the preferred design for the Winter Gardens was going to be announced, Mr Sweeney replied "the update will be tomorrow".


There have been several very interesting and poignant events at the Mitchell Library as part of the WWI centenary programme - called Glasgow’s War. Highlighted a wealth of papers and information held in the Mitchell’s Archive’s department on how WWI affected the City of Glasgow. There will be future talks and exhibitions on specific topics such as the effects of the War on the Shipyards, WWI and Radical Glasgow and the Scottish Women's Hospital. Check out the  website http://www.firstworldwarglasgow.co.uk or we will post info on our website or on FB.


Glasgow City Archives announced the launch of a new database yesterday;  the Scottish Regimental Histories Collection. It contains details of almost 2800 men who served in the 1st and 2nd Glasgow battalions of the Highland Light Infantry, also known as the Tramways Battalion and the Boys' Brigade Battalion.


I was working so couldn’t attend the events on the 11th in George Square, however someone has kindly posted the WWI Light Show Projection on You Tube. It looked like quite an experience if you were lucky enough to be there.


Central Station- tour organised for 13 people on 8th November. What an experience. Unfortunately we didn’t make it onto the roof because of the wet weather but the underground tunnels and Victorian platforms were something to behold. Paul Lyons, the tour guide was quite a character and really brought the tour to life. We have persuaded him to come to the Club and he promised to bring his archive photo collection. Hopefully we can pencil him in for the 2015-2016 lecture series.


Sallie and I popped into the Trades House Library recently and were pleased and surprised to find that our collection had been tidied up and books had been put back in order of our catalogue number. I would urge members of the Club to make use of the Library - very easy to book time in the room. Unfortunately books can’t be removed but the Glasgow collection would rival that of the Mitchell - in fact there may be more unusual articles there, such as guide books to exhibitions in Kelvingrove Art Galleries and Glasgow Archeological Society yearbooks. To book the room call 0141 552 2418 and just take your membership card along.


Facebook photographs. At the moment we will use archive photographs which do not show anyone’s face. In the future if any photographs are taken on outings we will ask permission of those involved before they appear on Facebook. We now have 170 followers on our OGC Facebook page.


Poppy Scotland - £155 was raised at October's meeting of the OGC.



Ms Cairns introduced tonights speaker, Adrian Searle, a History and History of Art graduate from the University of Edinburgh, journalist, writer and co-writer of 'Gutter', Scotland's leading literary magazine.

Mr Searle is the co-author of 'Look up Glasgow' - which exposes Glasgow's world class architecture that's hidden in plain sight. He has brought along copies of 'Look up Glasgow' and the newly published 'Look up Edinburgh', Both are on sale for £20 (normally £25).


Adrian thanks us very much for inviting him to speak and wonders if everyone can hear him.


I'm a publisher at Freight Books, the good thing about being a publisher is that you get to publish your own books, although, I would never publish my fiction!


"I was born in the North East of Scotland to a family, who on both sides, were East Coasters. Our gaze naturally turned east, into the wind, towards the North Sea. I spent 10 years as a child near Falkirk and visited Edinburgh many times. It

seems incredible to me now that I visited Glasgow only once, to take part in a school drawing contest at Kelvingrove. After all, the train journey took less than 30 minutes.


I studied in Edinburgh, then worked in Yorkshire, Belfast and back to Edinburgh, reaching my late 20s with no knowledge of the city that was Glasgow other than that handed down by popular culture and prejudice (it's a class thing between Edinburgh and Glasgow). Glasgow was dirty. Glasgow was ugly. Glasgow was scary".


When I accepted, with much trepidation, a job in Glasgow in the mid 1990s, a walk through the city centre streets was a revelation. As my fellow commuters hurried to work, heads down, I walked with my eyes raised. I was astounded at how beautiful, how lavish the architecture was. I studied History of Art at Edinburgh University, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I would never move back to, or indeed move anywhere else now.


"Glasgow couldn't be more different from Edinburgh. The exuberance of its Victorian architecture is brash, confident, demonstrative, equal to the city's collective personality. The 19th century's equivalent of skyscrapers give the city a fabulously vertiginous tilt. But, for me, most remarkable is the extraordinary abundance of sculpture and architectural decoration everywhere I look. Less so the proliferation of monuments and plinths in George Square and Kelvingrove Park; more the classical figures jostling with mythical colossi and biblical heroes together with reliefs and portraits of the great and the good that make Glasgow unlike any other city in the world. It was surprising, alarming but also somehow reassuring when I first realised just how many pairs of stone eyes were watching me from above".


I had various ideas of how I would like to share it and the ideas percolated for some years. And, then I fell into publishing at Freight Books. At first we published one or two books a year, this year we published 28 books. We've decided to publish high quality books about things that interest us.


I wanted to do a book for Glaswegians, wanted to share this passion I have for Glasgow's wonderful architecture and sculptures. Eventually, it was clear that a book with beautiful colour photographs was the the best way to draw attention to this neglected aspect of Glasgow's architectural heritage.


I had to find someone to collaborate with, I needed a photographer. I dabble, but I am not in the league of David Barbour, the photographer that I was introduced to. He taught me so much. I effectively took the dummy shots and he would go back and retake them, properly!


"This is a book to enjoy, pour over, to keep, to pass on to others, to follow like a map. We hope you find it a way to rediscover our world class architectural heritage, regardless of whether you're a local or a visitor to this great city. Most of all, we hope you hear the cry, Look Up Glasgow" !


Adrian then led us on a wonderful slide show tour of Glasgow's architecture and sculpture.


We wandered form the Mitchell Library and the allegorical figures of wisdom and literature, sculpted in 1909 by Johan Keller and John Claperton, across to Charing Cross Mansion and a beautifully carved clock face by William Birnie Rhind (1889-91). Surrounding the clock face are five pairs of figures depicting the seasons, commerce and industry.


From there we saw Albany Chambers and the magnificent statue of Britannia and associated armorial relief (sculptor unknown), past Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum with the two seated figures striking poses referencing characters on the Sistine Chapel ceiling by McGilvray & Ferris (1903-04).


Now wandering down West Regent Street. 98-104, what was originally designed by the Masons as a temple and meeting room and is rich in symbolism featuring John the Baptist dressed in a sheep's coat, holding a lamb, and St John the Evangelist, dressed in a toga, carrying a chalice. Both sculptures by J L Cowan (1895-96).


We now are in St Vincent Street. At No 200 is a larger than life St Andrew by sculptor Archibald Dawson from Mortimer, Wilson & Graham. No 190 with a classical sculpture of Justice, sculptor unknown. 78 St Vincent Place with its three large phoenixes, mythical beasts of rebirth by Broomsgrove Guild of Applied Arts.


West George Street. 100 and the beautiful cat hidden away over the lintel of the Royal Bank of Scotland by Callum Sinclair (1990). No 34 which has some of the city's most extravagant design, with portrait roundels, industrial scenes and associated decorative carving by James Young (1898-1900).


We see many more beautiful and interesting sculptures on Bothwell Street, Waterloo Street, St Enoch Square, Hope Street, St Vincent Place, George Square, Ingram Street, Glassford Street, John Street and Clyde Street. Each one as interesting as the one before.


Adrian tells us that how little the working man is represented in art is a major talking point, in the 19th century it was not deemed suitable for art. Glasgow, however did show and represent the mercantile aspect of the city. Whilst it may not be the actual man working in horrific conditions, there is a huge nod to it.


The book is divided into City Centre, Merchant City, Charing Cross, West End, East End, Govan and South Side. It took about 6 months for the book to be completed as we were working around other projects and full time jobs. Most of the photographs were taken in January / February 2013. The weather behaved itself and gave us wonderful blue skies.


Adrian thanked us for listening to him and invited questions to be asked.


Look Up Glasgow by Adrian Searle and David Barbour ISBN 978-1-908754-21-9


Q  I would like to know which is Glasgow's oldest statue ?


A  I would guess that it would be something on Glasgow Cathedral. From the book it would have to be sculptures at


    Glasgow University which date from 15th / 16th century. There may be sculptures on the flying buttresses at Glasgow


    Cathedral that are older.


Q  To get the best view of the Clydeport Building it is better to go over the road to Scottish Power, go upstairs and have a


     look from there.


A  Same for the Britannia Building, go to the building opposite it to have a look. Another great vantage point is the


    viewing platform at the Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane. A wee pair of binoculars are great for seeing things, I carry a pair


    about with me.


Q  There seemed to be a real golden era of sculptures in Glasgow. Why did that fall away, was it economics ?


A  As a student we learned that after WW1 there was economic catastrophe all over Europe. It can't be underestimated


    the effect and consequences that that WW1 had on everything. I think, maybe there was also a change of style and it


    was deemed to be old fashioned. They went for cleaner lines, like Bauhaus, Le Corbusier. It was also very, very 


    costly to commission sculptures like that.


Q I love the script on the front of your building, Jacobean Corsetry.


A  It's great isn't it. The tragedy of this is, just along the road from my office was the Virginia Galleries. Unfortunately, I


    didn't get a chance to visit them before they "had to be pulled down" due to Marks and Spencer expanding their


    store and disturbing the foundations. I do believe there was still an operational corsetry business there until the early




Q  Are there steps being taken to preserve these sculptures ?


A  One of the problems is that the focus is on preserving the building, which doesn't necessarily include the pieces of


    sculpture. It's all about the money. If you go on www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk/ you will see lots of examples of buildings


    on the decline which nobody has the money or want to develop them.



Vote of Thanks


Stewart Little said, Yas and the Plastic Population had a hit in the 80s with "The Only Way Is Up". We've had a fabulous tour, from Atlantines to Walruses. Thank you, Adrian for confirming what we already know, Glasgow is Miles Better. Although, we will need to brush up on our Classical Sculptures to find out what they really are all about. If you're going to look up, I do suggest that you watch out for the bollards.





There were only three entries for "Guess Where This Statue Is".


They were, Stock Exchange, Royal Infirmary and Trades House.


None of these were correct, it was The Bank of Scotland, 30 Bothwell Street.


Petrina says "that's the first time to my knowledge that we've had a rollover week"!





Paul Sweeney brought to our attention to a talk on Wednesday, 19th November, 7.00pm at Fairfields Heritage Centre. The talk is "The History of Shipbuilding in Govan up to 1885".


Anne White said that she had heard on the news that Bo'ness Railway Company had bought an old engine to restore from Turkey that had been built in Springburn around 70 years ago.



Next Directors Meeting -  22nd January 2015


Next Ordinary Meeting  -  11th December 2014



Ms Cairns wished all a safe journey home and hoped to see everyone in December for the annual Christmas raffle and eagerly awaited talk from Kenny Forbes - "Memories of the Glasgow Apollo"



                                                                                                                                                   Shona Crozer


                                                                                                                                                   Recording Secretary