|The A to Z of Scottish Places: Gazetteer G|
The A to Z of Scottish Places: G
G is for...
The largest city in Scotland although in the second half of the twentieth century Glasgow lost half its population to the new towns of Cumbernauld, East Kilbride and Livingston, as well as dormitory towns such as Bearsden and Newton Mearns. Once the second city of the British Empire Glasgow built its wealth on trade with new colonies in the 19th century, especially in tobacco. The city centre boasts many buildings of the Victorian era and streets such as Jamaica Street commemorate its past. Glasgow was little more than a village when the deepening of the Clyde and construction of multiple docks allowed rapid growth in the shipbuilding industry. Sadly this industry has all but vanished although the militant stand of many workers gaining the yards the nickname of red clydeside is perhaps partly to blame. The city has the most complete cathedral in Scotland, originally began in 1123. The University was founded in 1450, and was moved in the 19th century to its present site to escape the then bad air of the city centre. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses many important works of art as does the Burrell Collection, a recently added attraction.
When established as a new town in 1948, Glenrothes was designed as a modern mining centre, specifically to work a new seam discovered in the Fife coalfield. However when this seam proved unworkable, developers switched to attracting a diverse array of light industries to the town. This plan succeeded and with buildings such as St Columba's Church with its mural by artist Albert Morrocco and St Paul's Roman Catholic Church with an altarpiece by sculptor Benno Schotz, the town's emphasis was on the modern and new. Fifty years later Glenrothes is struggling a little with this concept and perhaps needs a new plan to take it onwards in the 21st century.
Another important Clyde shipbuilding town Greenock is famous as the birthplace of James Watt who made important refinements to the steam-engine technology of his day, and after whom the power unit the watt is named. Badly bombed in the second world war, Greenock has suffered the same decline in industry as Glasgow, although a few yards do still build and refit ships. The port is being redeveloped and many cruise liners are now stopping there including the clyde-built QE2. On Lyle Hill with a commanding view of neighbouring Greenock and the Clyde Basin stands a monument to the "free french" who fought and died at the Battle of Atlantic in World War II.