Glasgow

Explore Scotland's largest and most vibrant city on a private walking tour

Glasgow

Glasgow is Scotland's 'culture capital' and the largest city. When visiting Scotland share your time between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Importantly, please don't miss Glasgow. 

Glasgow is a vibrant city with its splendid Victorian architecture and industrial heritage, with galleries, museums, retail, fantastic food, and a great music scene. Drop-in when you're heading up to the highlands. Not only is it en-route but a worthy stop for any 'culture vulture' and it compliments a dynamic tour of Scotland.

Glasgow has some fabulous hotels and excellent road, rail and airport connections, making it easy to include on any itinerary. Take a private guided tour of Glasgow and be enlightened by the story of Scotland's great metropolis.

A brief History of Glasgow

The beginning
Early settlers arrived in the 6th century and founded a monastery on the tiny Molendinar Burn banks. In 1175, Richard the Lionheart gave the town its charter. During the mid-1400s a university was founded, the second in Scotland after St Andrews. From this, an Archbishopric was established, thus giving rise to city status.

Trade and manufacturing
During the 1850s engineers undertook a massive dredging operation, mainly by hand, to transform the Clyde into a large navigable river. As a result, the city became a major manufacturing, industrial and trading centre. Cargoes of tobacco arriving from Virginia in 1674 heralded a boom in trade with the colonies, accelerated by sugar and cotton shipments from the new world.  

The Industrial Revolution and the significant improvements to the steam engine's output and efficiency brought about by James Watts heralded the dawn of an engineering era that established Glasgow as the workshop to the world.

Powered by Coal
With abundant coal supplies and iron ore from the Lanarkshire coalfields provided the power for Glasgow's expansion, iron and steel engineering took off. Shipbuilding, locomotives, and bridges were among the many industries to emerge, changing the city's face.

Building the world's trains
By the end of the 1800s over half of Britain's shipping was being produced by Glasgow. – anything from tugs to liners. Glasgow was manufacturing over a quarter of the world's locomotives. In addition to heavy engineering, the city also became a significant producer of chemicals, textiles, carpets, food and drink, cigarette making, and printing.

Population growth
The population exploded. In 1801 some 77,000 lived in the city. By the end of the century, it had grown to nearly 800,000, and housing was a significant concern. Many were economic Irish emigrants drawn to the city by the prospect of work but enduring appalling housing conditions, often without access to running water or sanitation. This situation gave rise to social problems with people living in poorly maintained tenements in the city's East end. 

The Great Depression following the First World War dealt a hammer blow to Glasgow's industries and again after World War II. Emerging engineering competition from West Germany and Japan in the 1960s resulted in a lengthy period of decline and de-industrialisation. High unemployment and urban decay followed.

Throughout the '70s and '80s, the Government took on an ambitious regeneration programme. Such was the success it surpassed the dreams of even the most optimistic planners. Glasgow became dubbed as 'The Second City of the Empire' and, in 1999 named the European City of Culture. 

Today the city rivals Edinburgh in the arts with 'must-see' galleries such as the Kelvingrove and Burrell collection. Glasgow maintains its grit and much-admired character of its people.  

To see and do in Glasgow

Glasgow Cathedral
Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, it is the only complete medieval Cathedral in Scotland. It had the good fortune to escape destruction during the Scottish Reformation (pragmatically, it chose to support Protestant Worship!) Built on a chapel founded by St Mungo, it is on two levels with the crypt containing St Mungo's tomb and a magnificently carved rib-vaulted roof. 

Tenement House
The house is almost unchanged from the last resident to live here, a Miss Agnes Toward,  who lived in the house for nearly 55 years (1922 to '65) here and threw away very little. The house is a fascinating time capsule and is almost as if the owner popped out to the shops over 50 years ago and has yet to come back.

Museum of Transport
Located in Kelvin Hall, the museum features model ships, steam engines, cars, and motorcycles, recalling Glasgow's engineering past's supremacy.

Kelvingrove and Hunterian Art Galleries
Both are stunning art galleries. Kelvingrove has an impressive collection of 19th-century paintings, including works by Turner and Constable. Works from Charles Rennie Macintosh are also featured.

The Hunterian Gallery has Scotland's most extensive print collection and works by major European artists dating back to the 16th century. Its most famous collection is by the artist James McNeill Whistler.

Touring and accommodation
Glasgow can features in any tailored tour of Scotland. We suggest the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel is an excellent base from which to explore the city. Our driver-guides will be with you throughout your tour. We can personalise the tour to accommodate any special interests. Our Tour-Designers can tailor a tour of Scotland to include the special places relating to Scotland's history.

Glasgow has a decent choice of accommodation. We look for quality, service and our ability to include complimentary amenities. Stay in the elegant West-End of town at One Devonshire Gardens Hotel. Enjoy that 'Castle' experience and stay at Crossbasket Castle Hotel, Glasgow. Partake in fine dining and all rooms maintain their period features. There are many options we can discuss you with you. Please contact us for details.

Cultural Capital of Scotland

The Great Ship building City of the British Empire

  • Kelvingrove and Hunterian Art Galleries
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Tenement House Time Capsule
  • The Burrell Collection
  • The Restored Tall Ship