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For other uses, see Glasgow (disambiguation)

Glasgow is Scotland's largest city, located on the River Clyde in West Central Scotland.

It is also one of 32 unitary council regions in Scotland, officially known as City of Glasgow and, like many west of Scotland councils is effectively a Labour fiefdom, having been run by the party for well over 30 years. Glasgow had a population of 577,869 at the time of the 2001 census, while approximately 1.2 million people live in the city's greater metropolitan area. The name comes from the Brythonic glas cu (compare modern Gaelic Glaschu), meaning green hollow, and usually romantically translated as "the dear green place". It is popularly referred to as "Glesga" by Glaswegians who are known as "keelies" or "weegies" by other Scots. Scots from the Scottish Highlands and the Western Isles are known as "teuchters" by the keelies.

The map coordinates of the centre of the city are approximately 55°52' N, 4°15' W.

Table of contents
1 Coat of arms
2 History
3 Art and architecture
4 Culture
5 Sport
6 Religious rivalry
7 Politics
8 People
9 Dialect
10 Education
11 Media
12 Transport
13 Suburbs and surrounding district
14 Famous Glasgwegians
15 Twinned cities
16 External links

Coat of arms

The coat of arms shows Glasgow's patron saint, Saint Kentigern also known as Saint Mungo, and includes four emblems - the bird, tree, bell, and fish. The emblems represent miracles Saint Mungo was supposed to have performed. The motto of the city is "Let Glasgow Flourish" and this is part of the arms. The motto is derived from Saint Mungo's original sermon: "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word". Children are taught to remember the arms using the following verse:

Here's the bird that never flew
Here's the tree that never grew
Here's the bell that never rang
Here's the fish that never swam


Founding of the City

The site of present day Glasgow has been found to have hosted communities for centuries, with the River Clyde provided a natural location for fishing. The Romans later built outposts in the area, and constructed the Antonine Wall, remains of which can still be seen in Glasgow today, to keep Roman Britannia separate from the Celt and Picts Caledonia.

Glasgow itself was founded by the Christian missionary Saint Mungo (also known as Saint Kentigern) in 6th CE. He established a Church where the present Cathedral stands, and in the following years Glasgow became a religious centre. The miracles that Saint Mungo performed now adorn the city's Coat of Arms.

The Cathedral City

The history of Glasgow is vague until the creation of the cathedral in Glasgow. By the 12th century CE Glasgow had been granted the status of what can now be called a city. The construction of a cathedral was commenced.

In 1451 the University of Glasgow was founded by Papal decree. By the start of the 16th century CE, Glasgow had become an important religious and academic city.

Trade & The Industrial Revolution

By the 16th century CE, the city's trades and craftsmen had begun to weild significant power, at the expense of the church. Glasgow became an ideal trading centre - the Clyde provided an ideal location for the movement of goods throughout the world through ships. The city was also a gateway to Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland, and natural resources could be moved around the world through the city's docks.

Scotland's position as near the centre of the British Empire allowed Glasgow to become a focal point of trading with the colonies. The easy access to the Atlantic allowed the importation of American tobacco which was then resold onto Europe. Trade with the Caribbean allowed sugar to be imported into the country.

The de-silting of the River in the 1770s allowed bigger ships to move further down the river, thus laying the foundations for industry and shipbuilding in Glasgow during the 19th century CE.

The abundance of coal and iron in Lanarkshire allowed Glasgow to become a industrial city - eventually being termed 'The Second City of the Empire'. Cotton factories and textiles became a large employer in Glasgow.

Immigration also expanded the Glasgow workforce allowing cheap labour. People for the Highlands, Irish as well as other European workers all migrated to Glasgow attracted by its growing importance. Unfortunately, the Irish also brought with them their religious differences, something which still haunts the city to the present day in the form of the intense rivalry between the football teams Rangers and Celtic. (see Religious Rivalry below).

Industrial improvement allowed Glasgow to become a major base for ship- and train- building.

Trading allowed great wealth to be generated for some in the city. The merchants constructed spectacular building and monuments, which can still be seen in the city today. Furthermore they reinvested their money into industrial development to help Glasgow grow further. Glasgow became one of the richest cities in the world and parks, museums and libraries were all set up during this period.

Decline of Industry & the Post-War Period

After the First World War, serious economic hardship occurred in the world, and this did not escape Glasgow. Although ships and trains were still being built on the Clyde, cheap labour abroad reduced the competitiveness of Glasgow's industries. By the 1960s Glasgow had gone into economic decline. The major shipbuilders in Glasgow began to close down, but not before building the last great ships of the Clyde such as Cunard's 'Queen Elizabeth 2'. By the turn of the millenium, only two shipyards remained on the Clyde, both of them relying on Government defence contracts to remain in business.

The 1970s and early 1980s were dark periods in the city, as steelworks, coal mines, engine factories and other heavy industries went bust. This lead to mass unemployment and epidemic levels of urban decay. The ruthless policies of successive Conservative governments in London had little sympathy for Glasgow's plight and the city continued to slide downhill. Since the mid-80s however, the city has slowly undergone a painful rebirth - a "financial district" made up from a raft of swish new office buildings has sprung up in the western end of the city centre, and this has become home to many well-known banks, consultancy firms, I.T, legal practices, and insurance companies. In the suburbs, numerous leisure and retail developments have been built on the former sites of factories and heavy industries. Critics argue however, that the sustainability such new developments is fragile, owing to their dependence on the service sector, rather than manufacturing.

Modern Glasgow

In the 1990s Glasgow has rebuilt itself and tried to move away from the industries that it was once famous for. It was awarded the European City of Culture in 1990, which was followed by the award of City of Architecture and Design in 1999. It has also been the European Capital of Sport in 2003.

Redevlopment of residential areas, combined with the increased cultural activities, have contributed to a better environment in Glasgow. With this the City Council has been successful in attracting tourists, conferences as well as major sporting events to the city.

Art and architecture

Unlike Edinburgh, very little of medieval Glasgow remains, the two main landmarks from this period being confined to the 14th century Provand's Lordship and Glasgow Cathedral. The vast majority of the city as it is seen today dates from the 19th century, and as a result, Glasgow has an impressive heritage of Victorian architecture; examples of which include the Glasgow City Chambers, the main building of the University of Glasgow, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, being outstanding examples. Another architect who has had a great and enduring impact on the city's appearance was Alexander Thomson, who produced a distinctive architecture based on fundamentalist classicism that gave him the nickname "Greek". He was described as a "quiet, stay-at-home Victorian behind whose buttoned-up facade there seethed a kind of stylistic corsair who plundered the past for the greater glory of the present".

The buildings reflect the wealth and self confidence of the residents of the "second city of the Empire". There is even a building facing Glasgow Green, originally Templeton's carpet factory, which was designed as a replica of the Doge's Palace in Venice. It doesn't look out of place in Glasgow. The wealth came from the industries that developed from the Industrial Revolution. The shipyards, marine engineering, steel making, and heavy industry all contributed to the growth of the city. At one time the expression "Clyde-built" was synonymous with quality and engineering excellence.

Of course, there was another side to the picture. The beautiful buildings were built with red or gold sandstone but after a few years those colours had disappeared under a pervasive black layer of soot and pollutants from the furnaces. There were other buildings. Tenements were built to house the workers who migrated from Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, the islands and the country areas to feed the insatiable need for labour. The tenements were often overcrowded and insanitary, and many developed into the infamous Glasgow slums, the Gorbals area being one of the most infamous.

In recent years many of these buildings have been cleaned and restored to their original appearance. Others were demolished to make way for large, barrack-like housing estates, and high-rise flats. The latter were built in large numbers during the 1960s and early 1970s, and indeed, Glasgow has a higher concentration of high-rise buildings than any other city in the UK. The Red Road flats in the north of the city, at 32 storeys were for many years the highest residential buildings in Europe.

Many people feel that this has been less than successful as many of the "schemes" were heartless dormitories well away from the centre of the city with no amenities, and which split up long established community relationships. Many of the high-rise developments were poorly designed, cheaply built and became a magnet for crime. Over time many have become as bad as the slum areas that they replaced. Today the city council has begun a programme of demolishing the high-rises which are in most need of disposal.

Modern buildings in Glasgow include the Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Along the banks of the Clyde is the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, and shopping centres include the Buchanan Galleries, the glass pyramid of the St Enoch Centre, and the upmarket Princes Square.

While the concrete high-rise housing edifices of the 1960s attracted little endorsement from architectural critics, Glasgow has taken the seemingly retrograde step of relaxing its height restrictions on city centre buildings. In the new millenium, plans for 30 and 40-story office towers have been proposed in the city's financial district. Plush new housing developments are also taking place along the Clyde; the "Glasgow Harbour" project is an attempt to emulate London's Docklands area, with new houses and office developments rising from the ashes of the former shipyards.


The city is blessed with amenities which cover a wide range of cultural activities, from curling to opera and from football to art appreciation.

Glasgow boasts a fine selection of museums that include those devoted to transport, religion, and modern art. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (currently undergoing major renovation) has an excellent collection of paintings including many old masters, French Impressionists etc, and is reputedly the second most visited museum in the United Kingdom. The Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University has the best collection of Whistler paintings in the world. The Burrell Collection is an eclectic collection of art and antiquities donated to the city by William Burrell (although sometimes acquired by him in dubious title, in colonial times). It is housed in a museum situated in the Pollock Country Park. The People's Palace museum reflects the history of the city and its people.

The Mitchell Library is the largest public reference library in Europe.

The Scottish Opera is based at the Theatre Royal.

Glasgow has a number of parks and open spaces that give the city places to "breathe". Among these are:

The city was host to the two Great Exhibitions of 1881 and 1901. More recently it was European Capital of Culture 1990, National City of Sport 1995-1999, UK City of Architecture and Design 1999 and European Capital of Sport 2003


Glasgow has a proud sporting history, with the world's first international football match being held at the West of Scotland Cricket Club's Hamilton Crescent ground in the Partick area of Glasgow. The match, held in 1872, was between Scotland and England; the game resulted in a 0-0 draw.

Glasgow is home to Scotland's largest football stadiums: Celtic Park (60,000+); Ibrox Stadium (50,000+); and Hampden Park (50,000+), which is Scotland's national football stadium. Glasgow has four senior football clubs: Rangers and Celtic, who together make the Old Firm, and are the most famous Scottish football teams; Partick Thistle; and Queen's Park. Clyde and Third Lanark used to be two other senior football clubs in the city.

The history of football in the city, as well as the status of the Old Firm, has made Glasgow a famous footballing city throughout the world, and football competitions attract many visitors to the city throughout the year. The stadia also have attracted the European football governing body UEFA to hold the final of the prestigious Champions League competition at Hampden Park three times. Glasgow itself is where the Scottish Football Association, the national governing body, and the Scottish Football Museum are located.

There are major international sporting arenas, such as Kelvin Hall (which has held many international contests) and Scotstoun Sports Centres. In 2003 the National Academy for Badminton was completed in Scotstoun. In 2003 Glasgow was also given the title of European Capital of Sport.

There are also smaller sporting facilities in Glasgow. There is an abundance of small outdoor football pitches, as well as golf clubs and artificial ski slopes. Glasgow even has its own American football team, the Scottish Claymores.

Religious rivalry

Strong sectarian rivalry still exists in certain sectors of the population, largely as a result of mass immigration to the city from Ireland in the 19th Century. The sporting rivalry between the supporters of Celtic and Rangers has an underlying religious basis for some people. Large numbers of Celtic Supporters are drawn from the Irish and Roman Catholic communities, while Rangers supporters are almost exclusively non-Catholics. This division dates from Rangers' policy to not sign Catholics as players after John Ure Primrose took over as Chairman of the club. Primrose was a noted Unionist politician and has been described as a "bigot". This practice continued at the club for 76 years until 1988. Celtic never adopted such a policy, hence a somewhat more diverse support.

At Celtic Park, the national Flag of Ireland has a place of honour and at Ibrox Stadium, it is the Union Jack. The Orangemen of Glasgow (members of the Protestant Orange Lodges), parade through the city around the historic 12th July, playing flutes and drums and singing songs. Most people view this as an irrelevant throwback to more intolerant times and less liberal views, and the size of these parades seems to be dwindling over the years. While these these parades are nowhere near as passionate or as emotionally charged as those seen in Northern Ireland, they do cause much offence to Catholics and are often exploited by religious bigots and anti-Irish racists.

Glasgow has constantly had a ferment of new incoming religious groups, Jews, Highlanders, Irish Catholics, and more recently asylum seekers from a multiplicity of faiths. More enlightened young people see this as an enrichment and revitalising of the city, and regard bigotry as a dark but distant part of this vibrant and modern city's history. However, Glasgow has a long way to go in accepting other religions and faiths, and for many first and second generation immigrants, particularly Irish Catholics who suffered much oppression over the years, Glasgow remains a relatively intolerant city. This situation is greatly aggravated by an apparent disinclination on the parts of both immigrants and natives to seek integration, resulting in self-segregating communities.


Glasgow is famous as a hotbed of socialism. As mentioned above, the city has been controlled by the Labour party for 30 years, but its socialist roots are far-reaching, from the city's days as a working-class dominated industrial powerhouse. In the 1920s and 1930s the city's strikes and revolutionary fever caused serious alarm at Westminster, with one uprising causing tanks to be sent on to the city's streets. Later, strikes at the shipyards gave rise to the Red Clydeside tag.


Glasgow currently has the largest number of citizens under the poverty line in the UK, and the divide between the city's leafy and wealthy areas and their nearby deprived neighbours can be startling.

This poverty is compounded by the city's severe health situation, with some of the worst incidence of heart disease and cancer in Scotland, which as a whole has the worst levels in Western Europe. Statistics show that living in Glasgow reduces life expectancy by up to 10 years. This is largely attributed to the native diet, which tends to be fatty.

Many social initiatives aimed at reversing the situation, including free fruit and free access to sport centres for schoolchildren, are being put in place.


Glasgow people have a unique sense of humour, and strong loyalty to their own city. The Glasgow Patter is a brand of local humorous Scots dialect which is hilarious to those who understand it, usually only natives of the city.

Billy Connolly has done a lot to make Glaswegian humour accessible to the rest of the world but, inevitably, it loses something in translation. In fact Glaswegian is a rich and vital living dialect which gives a true reflection of the city with all its virtues and its unattractive features. It is more than an alternative pronunciation; words also change their meaning eg "away" can mean "leaving" as in "A'm awa", an instruction to stop being a nuisance as in "awa wi ye", or drunk as in "he's awa wi it". "Canna" means "can't", "Canny" means "careful". "Pieces" refers to "snacks", normally slices of bread. Then there are words that appear to have no obvious relationship to standard English, words like "coupin" which means "face".

An example of the dialect which comes from an anonymous lament by a housing scheme resident for the remembered joys of life in the city before being rehoused in one of the "deserts with windows" that were the schemes:

whaur's the weans that yince played in the street,
wi a jaurie, a peerie an gird wi a cleat,
can they still codge a hudgie or dreep aff the dyke,
play haunch cuddy haunch, kick the can an the like?

The TV series Chewin' the Fat and Rab C. Nesbitt capture the humour of the Glaswegian patois and sensibilities.


Glasgow is also a major education centre with four Universities within ten miles of the city centre, universities such as Glasgow University (which has one of the highest ratios of students who continue living at home), University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian University, teacher training colleges, teaching hospitals, and a range of technical colleges.


Glasgow is also home to large sections of the Scottish national media. It hosts:




A number of major Scottish newspapers are published in the city:
As well as Scottish editions of:



Glasgow has two main airports; Glasgow International (Abbotsinch) is the larger of the two and handles the majority of Glasgow's air traffic, including shuttle flights to and from London and the rest of the UK, and transatlantic links to Chicago and New York. Glasgow Prestwick is located 29 miles south west of the city, and caters mainly for charter flights, low-cost airlines, and freight traffic. Links:

There are also two small airfields in the nearby towns of Cumbernauld, and Strathaven, near East Kilbride.

Railway stations

The city has two main line railway stations. Queen Street station, located on the northern periphery of the city centre connects Glasgow to the North of Scotland, and Edinburgh. Central Station, located on Argyle Street is the northern terminus of the West Coast Main Line, and connects Glasgow with the South, and is the rail gateway to England and the rest of the UK.

Major roads

Glasgow has a less congested road network than
Edinburgh, and the argument for congestion charging has not been as great. The city is linked to the rest of the country by the following main roads.

The grid-like layout of the city centre makes it relatively car friendly, despite the numerous and confusing one-way systems.

Urban transport

Glasgow is the only British city other than London to have an underground metro system. The Glasgow Underground (or Subway), was built in 1896 and substantially modernised in 1977. There is also a suburban above ground rail system, centred on Central Station. The rail based urban and suburban systems are run by Strathclyde Passenger Transport.

The bus network is deregulated and there are several competing companies.

Suburbs and surrounding district

The City of Glasgow outgrew its borders; many areas officially within surrounding Local Authority Areas are therefore considered part of the city. Areas of Glasgow include:

North of the river: Dalmuir,
Clydebank, Knightswood, Bearsden, Milngavie, Jordanhill, Summerston, Maryhill, Partick, Bishopbriggs, Balornock, Millerston, Lenzie, Chryston, Gartcosh, Dennistoun, Riddrie, Shettleston, Easterhouse, Tollcross, Ballieston, Birkenshaw, Uddingston and Woodlands.

South of the river: Braehead, Cardonald, Pollok, Nitshill, Thornliebank, Govan, Gorbals, Govanhill, Pollokshields, Pollokshaws, Cathcart, Newlands, Giffnock, Rutherglen, Castlemilk, Bothwell and Cambuslang.

See also:
Glasgow City Chambers

Famous Glasgwegians

Twinned cities

Glasgow has been twinned with various cities around the world including:

External links