Pat’s Guide to the Buildings, Architecture and History in Glasgow’s West End

St Georges Cross Mansions photograph by Jim Byrne Up until the 1840s Glasgow’s West End consisted of open countryside, isolated farmhouses and the country dwellings of Glasgows most wealthy citizens. The completion of the Great Western Road and the re-location of the Botanic Gardens to the Kelvinside Estate in the early 1840s was the catalyst for rapid change to the character of the area.

Terraced and detached houses built by speculative developers began to appear – eager to attract the growing mercantile class away from the overcrowding and polluted city to the ‘fresh air and hilltop views’ of Glasgow’s West End. The re-location of Glasgow University to Gilmorehill in 1870 added the academic elite to the West End’s social mix.

Houses where of the highest quality; designed by talented architects such as Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, Charles Wilson, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, James Sellars and J.T. Rochead. Classical villas, attractive terraces and superior tenements are to be found throughout the West End – gardens, trees and cast-iron railings complement the buildings and add further character to the area.

Photo: River Kelvin.Buildings generally are constructed in cream, red or occasionally pink sandstone – most of which was locally sourced. Some of the best tenemental buildings can be found in Hyndland, Woodlands, and Hillhead. Superior terraces/crescents and villas in Park Circus, Kelvinside, Dowanhill and running parallel to Great Western Road west of Kelvin Bridge.

City of Architecture

It was a great and well deserved honour for Glasgow when it received the award of City of Architecture in the UK in 1999 – the city certainly has its fair share of great buildings. On the Web site we have highlighted some of the most historically interesting buildings in the West End. However, with the construction of the new Homeopathic Hospital next to Hyndland Station in the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital we have something new to shout about and many further developments and at the start of the Millennium there are many further developments under way.

Glasgow’s new Homeopathic Hospital

The new hospital opened in 1999 – it was designed by Maclachlan Monaghan Architects, who were selected for the job after winning a national competition. The aim was to create a building in keeping with homeopathic idealogy linking harmony with healing.

The architects have achieved a look which is both contemporary and welcoming with lots of light and space. Inside the colours are soft and clear and Jane Kelly the artist has worked closely with the architects to create a very attractive interior with lots of natural materials, comfortable seating and beautiful plants. The final landscaping phase is now underway.

Some of the major architectural projects and developments in recent years

Photo: New Grosvenor Cinema.Many interesting projects and major refurbishment programmes have been completed in Glasgow’s West End over the past decade.


Buildings of Interest

Glasgow UniversityGlasgow University

By George Gilbert Scott (1866 ) – built on Gilmorehill and entered from University Avenue – was described by Frank Wordsdall in ‘Victorian City’ as ‘sham mediavalism’. It was intensely disliked by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thompson – as much due perhaps to the fact that no Scottish architect was allowed to bid for the project as for its Gothic style. There is no doubt however that it is an extremely impressive building – the second largest Gothic revival building in Britain and well worth your time and attention.

The University has a Visitor Centre, shop and cafe and there are guided tours to satisfy the more curious visitor. In the shop I recommend you purchase a couple of extremely cheap little booklets which outline walks you can take around the campus. The first is called ‘An Architectural Trail” and needs no explanation other than to say there are some hidden gems for you to find. The second is one who’s title escapes me at the moment but is all about the history and types of stone to be found in the buildings throughout the campus – an unusal but interesting topic to form the basis for a walk.

Inside the Kibble PalaceKibble Palace

Now in Queen Margaret Drive, the Kibble started life as a conservatory at Coulport House near Loch Long in the 1860s. John Kibble a noted eccentric arranged with the Royal Botanic Institution to have it re-built in the Botanic Gardens, where it was used as a dance and concert hall by West End society folks until 1891 when it was converted into the winter gardens.

Eric Curtis has recently published a book about the history of John Kibble and his extraordinary glasshouse called not surprisingly ‘Kibble’s Palace’. In the book you can find out about – among other things – the orchestra chamber which was built under one of the many ponds within the palace – the idea being that music would float up mysteriously for the delight of the visitors and guests.

Glasgow City Council have approved a ?8m restoration of Kibble Palace, in order to add an underground lecture theatre and increase visitor numbers by 50% to 600,000 a year. This work commenced in 2003.

Great Western Terrace

-(1869) built by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who many say has had more influence on the architecture and look of the city of Glasgow than any other architect.

Park Circus Marriage SuitesThe Park Terrace/Park Circus

Area is situated on top of Woodlands Hill and overlooks the area occupied by the University, Kelvingrove Park, the Art Galleries and beyond to Yorkhill, Meadowside and Govan – which constitutes an impressive view. This area has been described as the ‘finest piece of architectural planning of the Mid-Nineteenth century’. Some of the most outstanding buildings were designed by the architect Charles Wilson.


Kirklee Terrace

Built in 1845 on Great Western Road this was one of earliest buildings on the Kelvinside Estate although it was not completed until 1864. Built by Charles Wilson in a Florentine Renaissance style, it is a lovely Terrace to have a walk along on a summers day. Set back from Great Western Road – with the trees and garden blocking any view of the road you feel like it is set in the middle of a park rather than 30 yards from a main road.

Western Baths Western Baths

(1878) in 12 Cranworth Street is built in a style reminiscent of the East – perhaps as a refernce to its use as a Turkish Baths. Built by Clarke and Bell the interiors are noted for their brightly coloured tiles. I took a trip around the inside during Glasgow’s ‘Open Doors’ day and by the time I had seen it all I wanted to join.

Claremont Terrace

(1842-50) another Renaissance style terrace built by John Baird with impressive columns and wrought iron balconies.

Botanic Gardens GarageBotanic Garage

(1911). Attractive green and cream tiled building by D.V. Wyllie. One of the earliest garages in the city. I have always liked the look of this building – it doesn’t shout ‘look at me’ but just sits there looking unassumingly attractive and quietly representing a particular age and style.


Sunlight Cottages

Photo: Cottage.Built in the Kelvingrove Park for the 1901 International Exhibition as a reproduction of a Cheshire home. The architect of the Sunlight Cottages was James Miller. They are highly unusual and perhaps the most out-of-place buildings in the West End.

Kelvinside Academy

(1873) iIn Bellshaugh Road, built as a private school for Hillhead and Kelvinside secondary students and is definitely one of the best looking schools in the city. The Architect was James Sellars a follower of Alexander Thompson who was responsible for many of the West Ends impressive buildings. Another of Sellar’s buildings is the Mitchell Library Extension.

Kelvinside and Hillhead Parish ChurchKelvinside and Hillhead Parish Church

-(1877 – 8) Saltoun Street – another good looking building by James Sellars . Inspired by the 13th century Sainte Chapelle in Paris.

interesting architecture on the South Bank with lots to do and see.

Find out more about Glasgow’s history and architecture

Statues in Kibble Palace


Information about Glasgow Architects



This section: Architecture

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Avatar of JimByrne West End based web Developer, writer, songwriter and musician. And the person who takes lots of photos for the Glasgow West End website.

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