Glasgow (surveyed in 1892-4)


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 1891 was 565,839. However, due to the Extension of Boundaries Act of 1891, the population of the extended area was 658,198.

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.

In 1866 the Act for City Improvement stimulated the destruction of many tenement areas and the building and widening of roads.

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, which were concentrated in the east, the north-east and the area around the Clyde.

Further away from the centre there were areas of more spacious street layout such as Kelvingrove.

The 1891 Extensions of Boundaries Act allowed Glasgow to annexe a number of suburbs, including Crosshill, Govanhill, East Pollokshields, Langside, Shawlands and part of Mount Florida. This was a de facto recognition that these communities were, by this time, physically part of Glasgow.


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. One major monument to civic pride built in the late nineteenth century was the City Chambers which had been built between 1883 and 1889 to a design by William Young (1843-1900).


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 there had been 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. The first dock, Kingston Dock (sheet vi.10.24), was built in 1867, the Queen's Dock (sheets vi.9.10, vi.10.11) was completed in 1880 and, at the time of the survey, the new Cessnock Dock was being completed (sheets vi.9.20,vi.10.16).


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 steampower to the mills, which meant that waterpower 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 stimulated 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 in 1891 included the manufacture of boots and shoes, boilers, machinery, soap, paint, oil, glass, bread and biscuits, fruit preserves, aerated water, furniture, pottery and tobacco.

Religious Life

The cathedral, which had been restored in 1856, was the heart of the Established church in Glasgow. 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; by 1891 there were twenty Roman Catholic churches in the town.


Glasgow University had been founded in 1450 and continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century, with new buildings opened from 1870. Queen Margaret's College provided a university education for women from 1884. The Glasgow Veterinary College was opened in 1861 and there were several medical colleges.

After the Education Act of 1872, there had been a rationalisation of schools, and by 1892 there were 114 schools providing places for over 94,000 children.


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

Culture and Society

The Hunterian Museum had been established in 1804 and the Kelvingrove Museum was opened in 1871. There were a number of learned societies 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).

This was a period when public entertainments were popular, the theatres included the Theatre Royal, the Gaiety Theatre, the Royalty Theatre, the Grand Theatre and the Princess's Theatre. There were also a number of music halls including the People's Palace.

Football was also becoming popular with the world's first Football International played in Glasgow in 1872 between Scotland and England – the result was a nil-nil draw!