Along Great Western Road by Gordon R. Urquhart is an illustrated history of the West End of Glasgow: the architecture; the famous residents; the institutions and the development; and later destruction of parts of it's picturesque townscape.
I have to admit - right up front - that I am biased towards liking this book - (excuse me but I have a copy signed by the author within reading distance) so I won't pull the wool over your eyes by pretending I will be giving it the full critical treatment. No all I can give is straight forward, no-holds-barred praise. And it's worth it. Eight years of research, 65,000 words, over 300 historic photographs, and all beautifully presented. A joy to behold even if you never read a word!
Gordon tells the story of the West End from earliest times to the present day providing a tremendous amount of information. From the landowners of the twelth century and the improvements to Great Western Road, which kick-started the Victorian 'boom years', to the destruction in the late 60s and early 70s as Glasgow University expanded it's footprint. People, places, pictures, stories, maps, exhibitions, churches, schools, industry, leisure, construction, destruction, shopfronts, adverts from yesteryear and cast iron street lamps - it's all there.
Surprisingly it is the first book to tell the story of Scotland's grandest Victorian suburb's architectural and social development. Other books have concentrated on small local neighbourhoods, J B M Fleming's 'Kelvinside' (1894), H B Morton's 'A Hillhead Album' (1973), and Ann Laird's 1997 work, 'Hyndland: Edwardian Glasgow Tenement Suburb' ( all great books which you should buy) but none have chronicled the West End as a whole.
Gordon's enthusiasm and knowledge of the area is apparent in the attention to detail he displays throughout the book. Going back to original sources to de-bunk some local myths and to confirm others. ( No I won't wheel out that old myth about the Kelvingrove Art Gallery just to prove my point)
With a particular interest in the architecture of the West End he displays an intimate knowledge of who built what, who owned it, what it was used for, what it turned into and - unfortunately for many of the West End's beautifull buildings, when they were demolished. If architecture is food and drink this a feast - and because it's in hard back and you can take it with you it's a moveable feast.
For a change - do take my word for it - buy it, own it, read it, thank Gordon for writing it!
Review by Jim Byrne ( Jim@glasgowwestend.co.uk
Along Great Western Road
An Illustrated History of Glasgow's West End
Author: Gordon R. Urquhart
ISBN 1 84033 1151
200pp approx 300+ illus.
Gordon R. Urquharts own Web site: http://www.urqs.demon.co.uk/GWR.htm
Stenlake Publishing: http://www.stenlake.co.uk/
West End Conservation Trust: http://users.colloquium.co.uk/~GLASGOWWEST/history.htm