A Brief History of Glasgow

Being the biggest city in Scotland, Glasgow is often in the limelight, whether it is to do with its ever-growing cultural side or the problems it has faced over the decades. But Glaswegians are never ones to sit back and let things happen to them, and in the last few years the city has regenerated itself to become a force to be reckoned with.

Built up around a 6th century church founded by St Mungo that later became the cathedral, Glasgow is on the banks of the River Clyde, a great asset to this colourful place. The University of Glasgow, established in 1451, has also been an important part of shaping the city into what we see today.

Despite its medieval past, virtually nothing from that era remains apart from the cathedral. However, it was during the 18th century that Glasgow really prospered, on wealth created by the tobacco trade between Europe and North America, much of which passed through its docks on the River Clyde.

This fortune continued into the 19th century with the trade of steel, coal, shipbuilding and heavy industry. In its heyday there was barely a ship on the seas that didn’t bear the mark of ‘Clyde-Built’. During the Victorian period, Glasgow was acknowledged as the ‘Second City of the British Empire’ such was its importance.

In the first half of the 20th century, the city was the centre of the munitions industry, supplying arms and ships for both world wars. But after World War II, the city’s fortunes declined due to lack of investment plus competition from overseas from countries like Germany and Japan, where innovation was rife.

By the early 1970s it seemed that Glasgow was in permanent decline. There was urban decay, huge unemployment and lack of good health. But Glaswegians bounce back, and with the news that the city had been awarded European City of Culture in 1990, this triggered a massive investment program into the area.

The award was in part due to the Burrell Collection opening in 1983, a treasure house of art and artefacts collected by wealthy industrialist Sir William Burrell and donated to the city in 1944. Glasgow’s most famous son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his quirky building designs, might also have something to do with it! He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and has left architectural legacies throughout the city, many of which are open to the public. In 1999 Glasgow was named UK City of Architecture and Design.

Today, with huge development along the waterfront, and as one of the top 20 financial centres in Europe, Glasgow has opened up again to the world. The opening of Glasgow Central Quay Business Park and Westpoint Business Park are case in point, with businesses vying for space.

Phase One of Central Quay was opened in 2000 on the northern side of the river in a landscaped setting that complements the surrounding area. So close is it to the city centre, that it is one of the first business parks truly be centre-based, covering an area of 3.6 hectares and providing high quality offices in Glasgow.

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