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Alex Glass

Glasgow City Chambers



The City Chambers

Introduction

In the very heart of Glasgow stands one of the city’s most important and prestigious buildings – the City Chambers.

A grand and imposing edifice overlooking George Square, the City Chambers is an impressive symbol of Glasgow’s political strength and historical wealth. Completed in 1888, the City Chambers has for over a hundred years been the headquarters of successive councils serving the City of Glasgow.

A Brief History
From Trongate to George Square
In the 15th century, the town council met in a tollbooth at the corner of High Street and Trongate. The building served the city in many ways – it was also a prison, a burgh court and housed booths for rent collection.

As the council continued to grow, the need for more spacious and functional premises eventually led to the development of the Trongate site in 1735.

In 1814, the Tollbooth was sold, with the exception of the steeple – which still remains – and the council moved to Jail Square, Glasgow Green, site of the present Justiciary Court House.

Subsequent moves were made to larger sites in Wilson Street and Ingram Street before finally settling in George Square where the foundation stone for a showpiece City Chambers was laid by the Lord Provost, John Ure, in 1883.

The Design and Construction
In the early 1880’s, City Architect John Carrick was asked to propose a site for purpose-built Council offices. Carrick recommended the east side of George Square which was then bought.

The actual design of the City Chambers was the result of two competitions which attracted hundreds of submissions. The winning, grandiose design by William Young – a London based architect, born in Paisley and trained in Glasgow – was given a budget of £150,000.

On 6 October, 1883, 600,000 spectators watched a trades march of skilled workers from the city’s heavy industries and a civic-masonic procession converged in George Square for the laying of the foundation stone by the Lord Provost.

Four years later, the topmost stone, the apex of the central tower – was laid and on 22 August, 1888, Queen Victoria performed the inauguration ceremony.

The design of the pediment – the ornate, triangular gable crowing the front of the main building – was changed in 1897 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Original proposals illustrated the Clyde and the city’s manufacturing going to all parts of the world. The design was changed to show Queen Victoria enthroned and surrounded by figures of Scotland, Ireland and Wales “receiving homage and congratulations of her subjects from all parts of the world.” Above the pediment are representations of Truth, Riches and Honour.

In 1923, an extension to the east side of the building in John Street was opened and in 1984 Exchange House in George Street was completed. The whole City Chambers complex now covers an area of 14,000 square metres.

Facts
The City Chambers building cost £552,028. Including furnishings, the whole project cost £578,232.

The original building covered 5016 square metres. With extensions, now 14,000 square metres.

The concrete foundations are in excess of a metre thick and the sand subsoil reaches to a depth of more than 12 metres.

10 million bricks, 9905 cubic metres of stone and 537.7 cubic metres of granite were used.

Stone moulding machinery was used for the first time in Glasgow.

In 1889, a 10-day public viewing attracted 400,000 people.

The first four to six feet of the external wall are of red Aberdeen granite. The rest is faced with Polmaise on the north and west fronts and Dunmore stone on the south and east.

The first Council meeting was held in the building on 10 October, 1889.

The Ground Floor
Visitors enter from George Square into a covered gallery – loggia and immediately discover that the interior is even more sumptuous than the exterior. Architect Young had visited the historical arch of Constantine in Rome and the entrance reflects this. He sought to bring a touch of Italy to Glasgow.

The first notable feature is a “Keramic mosaic” of the city’s Coat of Arms in its original 1866 design. The mosaic style is found throughout the original building and copied on the floors of several others in the city, built around the same time.

The ceilings too are decorated with mosaic tiles. It is estimated more than 1.5 million tiles were laid by hand in the vaulted ceilings and domes.

The pillars are, from the base, gray Aberdeen granite, hand polished Scottish granite and topped with dark green marble on Ionic style.

In 1983, the loggia was refurbished and the tapestry that hangs opposite the entrance reflects Glasgow’s past and present.

From the loggia, to the left and right, there are stair accesses to the first and second floor. The staircase to the left is made of Carrara marble; the one to the right, of freestone. Both have alabaster balusters. The wall panels, also of alabaster, were placed one after the other in cutting order.

Climbing the freestone staircase, a gold ornamented ceiling can be noted which is highlighted by the stained glass dome above.

The Councillors’ Corridor
The Councillors’ Corridor lies on the second floor, above working offices. Its domed roof is decorated in yellow, blue and white coloured faience – an Italian form of glazed and decorated pottery.

The Committee rooms, where more formal Council business is conducted, can be accessed from the Corridor. It also leads to an impressive library with 11 feet high walnut bookcases.

From the Councillors’ Corridor you pass through Queen’s Square into the Council Chamber.

The Council Chamber
The Council meets formally in one of the most impressive rooms of the City Chambers.

Each of the 79 councillors has a designated seat facing a platform where the Lord Provost, Depute Lord Provost and Chief Executive sit behind the mace. The Lord Provost sits in a seat gifted by Queen Victoria.

Behind the councillors, there is an area called the “bed recess” – a reference to an architectural feature of old Glasgow tenements. Council Officials sit here as well as the Lord Dean of Guild representing the Merchants House and the Deacon Convenor of the Trades House, the city’s second and third citizens.

Looking down on the Chamber is the public gallery. Council meetings are by law open to the public. At the side there is a small gallery for journalists to report the proceedings of the Council.

The decoration is primarily Spanish mahogany wood with two massive chimney pieces. The windows are of Venetian stained glass.

The Banqueting Hall
Kings, queens and presidents have been highly impressed as they passed through the door of this impressive hall. Some have described it as “magnificent”. Not only has the Banqueting Hall been used for civic functions but also for presentation ceremonies – Nelson Mandela received his Freedom of the City award here in 1993 and Sir Alex Ferguson in 1999. As well as formal civic events, the Banqueting Hall has housed charitable events, children’s parties, youth celebrations and fashion shows. It is 33.5 metres long, 14.6 metres wide and 15.8 metres high. It is usually carpeted with four sections which are rotated regularly to prevent wear. The design of the carpet reflects the ornate roof pattern.

Much of the decoration on the walls is in the form of huge murals depicting some of the history of the city. They were painted by artists from the famous Glasgow School including Sir John Lavery, Alexander Roche and George Henry and overseen by William Leiper, RSA. The mural at the rear of the stage represents the granting of the city’s charter by William the Lion of Scotland, c1175. Those on the south wall depict some of the city’s history and culture while the four above the entrance doors represent the four principal rivers of Scotland – the Tay, the Forth, the Clyde and the Tweed. The small panels immediately above are of various Virtues. The central window of leaded Venetian glass on the north side commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

The three central chandeliers – “electroliers” – have their own story to tell. In 1885, the council decided that the Hall should have electric lighting, an innovative decision for that time. Messrs. A. Clark, of nearby Buchanan Street, designed these magnificent features, and a generator was installed in the basement to power them. Today, the same “electroliers” are still working – although one or two bulbs have been changed! Innovation also had a part to play in additional access to the Banqueting Hall which was by way of a hydraulic lift. An American elevator was installed operated by hydraulic pressure, another technological development of the time.

Upper Gallery
No tour of the City Chambers would be complete without a visit to the Upper Gallery on the third floor. From here you can see the detail on the beautiful dome which is visible from the other floors. Also on view in the Upper Gallery are the portraits of former Lord Provosts of the City of Glasgow.

Tours
Curatorial Staff conduct tours of the City Chambers most weekdays at 10.30 in the morning and 2.30 in the afternoon. All tours are open to the public and there is no charge.

The Armorial Insignia of the City of Glasgow
The armorial bearings of the City of Glasgow date back to 1866 when patent was first granted by The Lord Lyon. The emblems which appear in the official bearings refer to legends about Glasgow’s patron saint, St Mungo.

The first to appear was the fish, on the seal of Bishop William Wyschard in 1270, to be joined by the bird in 1271, on the seal of Bishop Robert Wyschard.

On a later seal of the prelate the tree is shown along with the fish and bird. The bell first appeared in 1321 on the privy seal of the Chapter of Glasgow where all the emblems were first used together, between 1488-1540. In 1647, they appeared in a combination similar to today’s armorial bearings, prompting the famous verse:
Here’s the Bird that never flew
Here’s the Tree that never grew
Here’s the Bell that never rang
Here’s the Fish that never swam.

With each reorganisation o local government a new patent was granted, the latest being in April 1996 when the thistle coronet, patented in 1075, was changed to the current mural coronet representing the city.

The city motto ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’ is a shorter version of the text inscribed on the bell of the Tron Church cast in 1631.
‘Lord let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy word and praising Thy name.’
Alex Glass

Some photos in no particular order.

The Banqueting Hall



The mural above the stage in the Banqueting Hall



The Satinwood Room



The Octagonal Room



The Shipbuilding Mural



The Glasgow Fair Mural



The St Mungo and the Fish Mural

cybers

What a cracking read there Alex... Still Inspired by how passionate you were about the City Chambers and the knowledge you had to share was amazing. Thanks again.

The Glasgow Lion


Across the Banqueting hall Floor


Across the Gallery


Marble Staircase Arches


The Civic Mace ... ISO 1600  


Committee No 3


A fantastic Ballustrade in the Gallery


Something Newer ... The spiral service staircase for the lift  
LowLight

Brilliant read there Alex. I've only been in the Chambers once years ago when I was wee and I had no idea there was a tour. I'll be down there soon.
smiscandlon

A wee outsidey shot taken a while back:

Alex Glass

Cybers your photos are fantastic and do the City Chambers justice in their presentation.

The text above is available in a booklet which is freely available in the City Chambers.

Some of it is also HERE

Thanks to everyone who accompanied me on the private tour. Maybe we will be able to do it again next year Any one else who would like to see the City Chambers just let me know.
HollowHorn

My favourite 'Glasgow' statue:


Alex Glass

Some of the features which you should look out for if you are in the City Chambers.









As well as the two staircases





And the paint work



Unh@ppyb@st@rd

this is definatly now one of my favorite buildings. As somebody pionted out i could have quite happily taken pictures all day, wish i had had an empty card  



cybers

With what you turned out UHB it would have been wonderful to see what you could have acheived with a tripod.

I would have loved a wee superwide lens and a tripod meself... Put me down for next year....
Well it cant hurt to book early  
Unh@ppyb@st@rd

i had superwide but nae tripod   i'm up for more visits lol
LowLight

I'm well up for a visit so put my name down too.
Alex Glass

Happy to take the three of you on a tour early next year if you are all available at the same time

Will sort out a date with you soon.
Unh@ppyb@st@rd

cheers Alex, i'll be available  
poodiecat

HollowHorn wrote:
My favourite 'Glasgow' statue:




As your friend I need to ask you - do you feel this is a healthy relationship you have developed there? I mean, you asked me to touch her and tell you how wonderful she is ....  
LowLight

That would be great Alex, thanks for that.
Unh@ppyb@st@rd

cybers

I remember you taking this pic...
Wow it turned out superb...
James

Aye, that's a belter. Well worth the hassle of sticking yer camera on the ground.  



James H
Unh@ppyb@st@rd

yip that was pic, i straightned it as much as i could, much more i'd lost the domes & wanted them included.
Alex Glass

Unh@ppyb@st@rd wrote:


Wow  

This is phenomenal  Well done UHB and well worth the effort.
Digitographer

Fantastic pictures and what an amazing building!
harky2402

Cracking set of pictures there.  Well worth a visit some day I reckon.
Alex Glass

If you let me know when you are available I will give you a tour Harky
harky2402

Will do Alex, appreciated...

Available just about any time, since not working.  Will drop you a line some time after the hols.
BenCooper

For your amusement, this is what it looks like from above:

LowLight

Excellent shot Ben. Keep them coming.
Stuball

lol, were you meant to be up there?
BenCooper

Don't be silly  
Alex Glass

BenCooper wrote:
For your amusement, this is what it looks like from above:



Wow Ben

Great photo

Do you have any more from that location
Stuball

Alex, I too would love a return visit.... this time when I'm more awake and got my other lens :)










BenCooper

Alex Glass wrote:
Do you have any more from that location


I've got a whole set of pictures from there:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cycleologist/sets/72157611766033892/

Ben  
Alex Glass

BenCooper wrote:
Alex Glass wrote:
Do you have any more from that location


I've got a whole set of pictures from there:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cycleologist/sets/72157611766033892/

Ben  


Great photos Ben

I notice they have taken down the cover  I wonder what they are going to do with it.
BenCooper

The entire advertising sign is off? I'll have to go get some pictures of it naked...

(The building would be naked, not me)
Stuball

BenCooper wrote:
(The building would be naked, not me)


Well we know what happens when you willy wave!!!!
Alex Glass

Stu

Ant time you want a return visit I am happy to take you on another tour But it would need to ne at lunch time one day if that is ok
Alex Glass

John

Cracker Alex
Alex Glass

Thanks Scary

You still haven't made a visit

Maybe soon
mrsam

Can any old repribate get A vist, was on a tour for a doors open day but never got any pics.....

What a place

Mr Sam
Alex Glass

You've Got Mail
mrsam

Thanks will check diaries and get back to you
Alex Glass

Ok
Alex Glass

Alex Glass

mrsam

Visit Thanks to the very kind efforts of Mr Glass (A Fine Gent )


Book


Tiled Dome


Tiled Wall


Ribbed Knob


'Committe No 3'


Part of a Portrait


Knotwork Mosaic


Stairs


Guilded Capitol


Grisail Glass Window


Mosaic Floor


Alcove

More Here

and posted here

Mr Sam
Alex Glass

Great group of photos Sam

They definitely show some of the key features that can be seen throughout the Chambers.
LowLight

Good shots. I'm still waiting on my tour.  

Alex Glass

Lowlight if I could access the motions I would have covered this post with red faces.

I am truly sorry I haven't arranged for you to come to the Chambers yet.

Will pm you later to fix something up.
LowLight

 No problem Alex. Thanks.
Stuball



sputnik

stunning pics there stu,i doff my cap to you.
wee minx

You are using the starburst fliter to excellent effect there...crackers  
Alex Glass

Parts the public don't get to see.









Alex Glass

One more

cybers

That last spiral staircase is a cracker Alex...
Any chance you might have you tripod in there for a nce long exposure ?
Alex Glass

Next time you are in I could try and get you access Cybers
Marti

Hi alex,

This is one building i have never stepped foot in, how do you go about visiting it...??
Alex Glass

PM Marti
LowLight

<<<<<<<<<<<Still haven't had a visit.          
Marti

Alex Glass wrote:
PM Marti


Replied alex,  
Alex Glass

LowLight wrote:
<<<<<<<<<<<Still haven't had a visit.          


PM Lowlight

Response sent Marti
Marti

Alex Glass wrote:
LowLight wrote:
<<<<<<<<<<<Still haven't had a visit.          


PM Lowlight

Response sent Marti


Ditto alex...
John

     Am greeting an ah don`t know wit am greetin for ?  
Alex Glass

Any time you have free Scary  
cybers

Make sure he leaves the wrecking ball at the door Alex  
John

In keeping with the recent trend

PM sent Alex  
Alex Glass

And back at you Scary
wee minx

 I would love to see in there, I'll need to get an anti dazzle filter for my camera though...PM sent
Alex Glass

and right back to you Minx
John

And right back at you Alex  
cybers

Mind ask to see The Lion minxy  
Alex is wasted as a cooncilor he should be the blinking tour guide as he is a wealth of information.
Enjoy yourselves guys.
Alex Glass

cybers wrote:
Mind ask to see The Lion minxy  
Alex is wasted as a cooncilor he should be the blinking tour guide as he is a wealth of information.
Enjoy yourselves guys.


THANK YOU

The Tour Guide
 



I think

James




James H
Alex Glass

Beauty James

I took a couple of photos of the interior today. I will get round to posting them soon. Hope to have some time to get more of the interior tomorrow
fastnet

Not got many pics of the chambers.........but here is a couple i have.

i will need to sort out a tour soon.



Alex Glass

Great photos Fastnet

You will need to do the special Urban Glasgow Tour of the City Chambers
fastnet

I will hold you to that Alex.......
Alex Glass

Alex Glass wrote:


THANK YOU

The Tour Guide
 



I think



Any time Fastnet
Marti

Having had not one but two tours in as many weeks, i would like to thank Alex for his time and effort in giving me a tour of, what is quite simply a stunning Glasgow Building.

Cheers again alex...  

Here are a some pics from today...








...and lunch was excellent...
Alex Glass

Some features of the City Chambers

Wood carvings











Light fittings







Ceramics





Ceramic and Wood

Doorstop

Yep .. just so.

Lovely.
fastnet

Let's bomb the chambers..............

Alex Glass

George Square



cybers

Spot of Granduer Just wish i would remember to take my bloody tripod to shoot the oxblood marble stair
Thanks to the Cooncillor for a fantastic day with wonderful hospitality shown to my wife.


cybers

Council Chambers
Alex Glass

Speechless Cybers

                   
Lone Groover

Alex Glass wrote:
Speechless Cybers




Well, get on and get one written then !  
hillmanimp

Cybers

They are stunning!

I've never been inside  the Chambers so didn't know what it looked like.

Imp
Doorstop

Absolutely fantastic.  
Jock58

Wow Cybers
Stunning one of the staircase
I took some photos when i was there but they did not turn out 1/2 as good as those.
 

Jock58
Doog Doog

Cracking pics Cybers  
fastnet

Great scoop cybers.

Is that a dodgy cooncillor taking a bung in the 1st pic ?    

Sorry Alex.......    
sputnik

thon pics would make good jigsaw puzzles cybers,well done you.    
cybers

fastnet wrote:
Great scoop cybers.

Is that a dodgy cooncillor taking a bung in the 1st pic ?    

Sorry Alex.......    


Dunno bout that as i know for one thing it was not Alex he was 3ft to my left.
Alex Glass

Well spoted Fastnet  I had to look twice to see what you were talking about.

Totally agree with Sputnik they would make good jigsaws. They are doing an offer at Jessops. Maybe you could give them as Christmas Presents.
cybers

Shucks  
LowLight

Cybers, they are amazing mate. Well done.
Stuball


Untitled by stuballscramble, on Flickr


Door 28 by stuballscramble, on Flickr
cybers

Wow that arch came out well  

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