Glasgow (surveyed in 1857-8)


Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde, fourteen miles from the river mouth, in what was Lanarkshire at the time of the survey. Glasgow originally developed around a religious centre established in the British kingdom of Strathclyde in the late sixth century by the British missionary St Kentigern (otherwise known as St Mungo, which can be translated as 'dear one'). The original church was replaced by St Mungo's Cathedral, which dates from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after the foundation of the modern see in 1115. It became an archdiocese in 1488.

The settlement around the cathedral was established as a burgh of barony around 1180 by William the Lion. In 1450 it became a royal burgh and in the same year the University of Glasgow was founded. Both of these events stimulated a growth in the population and size of the town. However, the real expansion of Glasgow was from the development of trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The name Glasgow means 'place of the green hollow' or 'dear green place' derived from the Brythonic words glas meaning 'green' and cau meaning hollow'. In Gaelic it is Glaschu. According to Mackay (2000), some people believe that it should be interpreted as 'dear green place'. Brythonic was the language of the Britons who inhabited British kingdoms such as Strathclyde in the sixth century AD.

The population of Glasgow in 1851 was 329,096, a huge increase from the figure of 77,385 in 1801.

Town Planning

The oldest part of Glasgow lay north of the Clyde to the west of the nineteenth century centre and beside St Mungo's Cathedral (sheet vi.11.8). By the seventeenth century it had expanded slightly to extend between the cathedral and the River Clyde.

The nineteenth-century commercial centre (sheets vi.10.9-vi.10.10, vi.10.13-vi.10.15, vi.10.18-vi.10.20) can be seen as a grid pattern layout focussed on the river Clyde, just to the west of the docks.

Transport in various forms dominated the city, with the Clyde, the Forth-Clyde canal and railways from all sides bringing the raw materials of industry to the factories and other industrial works, which were concentrated in the east, the north east and the area around the Clyde.

Further away from the centre, by the mid-nineteenth century, there were areas of more spacious street layout such as Kelvingrove. There were also a number of earlier villages which were being enclosed by the growing town.


The medieval cathedral of St Mungo (sheet vi.11.8) was one of the few buildings to survive from the early burgh of Glasgow. The steeple of the 1627 Tolbooth and a fifteenth century hospital named Provand's House, also survived at this period.

As Glasgow increased in its industrial and manufacturing wealth a large number of notable public buildings were constructed. Among the most interesting were the Trades Hall, which had been built in 1794 to a design by Robert Adam (1728-92) in the Neo-Classical style, the Royal Exchange built in 1832 and the Customs House built in 1840. Some of the commercial buildings used new building materials and techniques; for example, the Gardners' Warehouse had been built in 1856, predominantly using cast iron and glass.


In the fifteenth century there seems to have been some trade in fish, especially salt herring, and in cloth. The real growth of the town's trade, however, came after the Act of Union in 1707 which re-opened the English ports to Scottish shipping and particularly gave access to the trade with America, which stimulated the growth of tobacco industry. When the tobacco industry failed due to the interruption of supplies during the American War of Independence, the Glasgow merchants moved to trade with the West and later the East Indies. By the time of this survey, Glasgow was trading with Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. From 1842 onwards there was also a considerable amount of shipping involved in emigration.

Historically the greatest drawback to Glasgow's position had been the shallow nature of the Clyde at this point. However, from 1759 onwards there were a series of Acts of Parliament which caused the river to be cleaned and deepened, allowing far larger ships to come up to Glasgow. In the first half of the nineteenth century, there were no docks and the ships were tied to quays, which were greatly increased in length along the riverbanks.


During the first half of the nineteenth century, cotton was probably the largest industry in Glasgow, with about 1/8 of the population between the ages of ten and forty being involved in the spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, printing or other related trades. A major factor in this development was the application of steam power to the mills, which meant that water power was no longer needed and the factories could be sited anywhere where they had access to coal. Glasgow, with its ample coal supplies nearby, was ideally situated. Many cotton and related factories were situated on the eastern side of the city (sheets vi.15.14, vi.16.12, vi.16.16, vi.16.21,x.3.5).

The cotton industry also supplied a stimulus to the chemical industry which, among other products, produced bleaches and dyes for textiles.

Iron works were throughout the city, producing the iron for machinery for other industries, and for the rapidly growing shipbuilding industry.

Other industries at this period included bottles and bottle glass, pottery, tanning, brewing and distilling.

Religious Life

Glasgow Cathedral, which had been restored in 1856, was the heart of the Established church in the city. There were also large congregations belonging to the Free Church, the United Presbyterians, the United Original Secession, the Episcopalians and other groups. Most notable was the high percentage of Roman Catholics, largely due to immigration from Ireland.


Glasgow University continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century. Anderson's College was established in the mid-1790s to educate tradesmen in scientific principles and the Normal Institution for teacher training was established in 1827. There were a large number of schools of all types but the principal schools were the High School or Grammar, which had originated in the medieval period, and the Glasgow Academy established in 1846.


The industrial and mercantile nature of the city had stimulated the establishment of many banks and insurance companies.

Culture and Society

There were no free libraries in Glasgow at this period. The Hunterian Museum was established in 1804. A number of learned societies were also established, including the Philosophical Society (formed in 1802), the Natural History Society of Glasgow (formed in 1851), the Geological Society (formed in 1858) and the Glasgow Archaeological Society (formed in 1856).

From the mid-eighteenth century there had been several short-lived theatres in Glasgow but at the time of the survey there was one in Dunlop Street, which had been rebuilt in 1839-40.