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Bob Law: Old Glasgow and the Necropolis

The Royal Infirmary. Glasgow

The Royal Infirmary. Glasgow

Having lived all my life on the south side or west end of Glasgow I had never entered the Royal Infirmary until a few weeks ago. The original building on this site dates back to the early 1700s – it was replaced by the current building in 1914. Monumental in size and scale, it dominates the old quarter around the High Street/Castle Street district. It even manages to overshadow the magnificent medieval Glasgow Cathedral with its squat bulk and length. In the early 1970s a new wing section was added to the infirmary, making it even more formidable but fortunately I have never known anyone sick enough to merit a visit and it didn't seem appropriate to wander round for a tourist exploration.

However, if you wait long enough you get your reward. One advantage of age is that eventually things go wrong and I collected my golden ticket in the post, having to go there for my own medical treatment. Result!

Sunshine After Rain. Glasgow Necropolis

Sunshine After Rain. Glasgow Necropolis

I took my camera in the car driving over as it was a lovely sunny and I intended to hobble around the district afterwards. A sunny day in Scotland is not to be wasted and an optimistic person with painkillers seizes any opportunity available. Edinburgh may have the attractive skyline of old architecture, ancient volcano, Calton Hill and Edinburgh Castle but this part of Glasgow has its attractions as well.  Namely, the collection of ancient buildings at the top of the High Street with car parking and tourist interest in a tight cluster.

Provand's Lordship. The Oldest House in Glasgow

Provand's Lordship. The Oldest House in Glasgow

The Provand's Lordship, Glasgow's oldest house dating from 1471, the nearby Glasgow Cathedral and the tasteful reconstruction of the Bishop's Palace; (now the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art).  The Glasgow Necropolis is impressive – rising over a hillside it has splendid views over most of the city. The High Street down to the Tron Steeple and Cross past the excellent new mural on a gable end tenement are all within walking distance. And it's much cheaper than many of Edinburgh's attractions... which is always a plus for a tight wallet tour.

Glasgow Necropolis Entrance Gates

Glasgow Necropolis Entrance Gates

The Royal Infirmary held one major surprise for me, which was a long linking tunnel one floor down in the basement that seemed to run from Castle Street all the way under the building until it reached the new extension.  Hospital visitors, patients, staff and small internal delivery vehicles motored up and down this wide underground thoroughfare that seemed to stretch into infinity and beyond.  I was really taken with it but I'd draw the line at declaring it was worth getting ill for.  Still every new event is an opportunity and afterwards I managed a shuffle around the sights  and then climbed to the summit of the Necropolis for a magnificent view over the city. A grand day out as you can see from the photographs.

Necropolis Summit in Winter Sunshine

Necropolis Summit in Winter Sunshine

Glasgow Necropolis

Glasgow Necropolis

Mural on High Street. Glasgow

Mural on High Street. Glasgow

View over Glasgow and the Gorbals

View over Glasgow and the Gorbals

Bob Law: blog and photographs – Millport and Great Cumbrae
Bob Law's blog and photography: Public Art in Scotland
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Avatar of PatByrne

Publisher of Pat’s Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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