Tag Archives: GLASGOW


Many many Glaswegians will have their own stories about the Glasgow School of Art, now in ruins, victim again of an unforgiving conflagration.

My stories are from my childhood in the 1930s into World War 2.  

From the age of four, for six yeats,  I passed the Glasgow Schoolof Art four times a day, going to and from Garnetbank Primary School.  Did I realise then that I was being exposed to  the masterpiece  hallmark icon of a building by  Charles Rennie MacIntosh?  No.  Nor was I even aware then of the structure’s purpose.  

But I have no doubt that. the style.  the swagger, the  unique designs were etched firmly then in my young brain. 

My second Glasgow School of Art story, again from childhood, is eerily related to the current tragedy.  

During World War 2, the government,  as part of preparation for attack by air, had built on vacant plots in cities, large steel tanks – as I recall, about forty feet long by fifteen feet wide.   Thry were filled with water to be used as auxiliary supplies against fire and had a wire net on top to try and prevent wee folk from falling in.  

One such structure was placed on a vacant lot just below the Glasgow School of Art, adjacent to the Regal Cinema (predecessor of the O2).  My best pal, Roderick Bruce, lived on the other side of the Art School, at the corner of Scott  and Renfrew Streets.  So the water tank was fair game for us.  We found pieces of wood and sailed these ‘boats’ in the smelly stagnant waters.  (A bonus from that wasteland was finding a film frame of Betty Grable in full technicolour discarded by a Regal projectionist.)

In retrospect, think of  that lonely tank of water when  you compare it with the need almost eighty years later to lay fire hose from  Renfrew Street all the way to the River Clyde – about 3/4 mile –  to attempt control of the 2018 Glasgow  Art School blaze.  

As an adult, I have boasted to all within hearing in various parts of the world, especially in the U.S.A.,  of the remarkable creations of Charles Rennie Macintosh and his partners, known as ‘The Four.’

Now I am in tears, and angry that not a wartime incendiary bomb but something  preventable has taken away a lifelong symbol of the Glasgow I grew up in and admired – no, loved.









  From now through January  31, 2016,  2,100 musicians will descend on  Glasgow, Scotland, my native city.  Pipers, drummers, singers, the Scottish National Orchestra, and minstrels of all types from near and distant parts will entertain.  They  will make and discuss music  with Connections to and from the Celtic world.  For details of the 300 events, check out http://www.celticconnections.com/Pages/default.aspx   Also and important to web folks, be sure to keep connected to the BBC coverage of the events.

In tribute to this major music event, I offer my work for string orchestra  and name it “The Celtic Connections Salute.”,   


Actually, this is strictly for people of a certain age from Glasgow – those who remember the tramcar, that beloved public transit vehicle.  Tramcars, or trolleys, are still in wide use across the globe.  But in the UK, they were deemed old fashioned and inefficient and in 1962, Glasgow’s fleet of over one thousand trams was the last system to be taken ‘offline’ in the country.  (Now, trams are making a comeback in  Edinburgh , at enormous expense.  Which just goes to show………)

Anyway, this is a bit of verse recollecting some of my own memories of that splendid ship of the lines, the Glasgow tramcar (with apologies for the misbehaving verse lines).


                                              Decimal points,             

                                                     Ration book points,

                                                     Are all very well for the file and the rank.

                                                     But the points loved best

                                              On the trams going west,

                                                     Switched them to Woodlands and Bank

                                                     Hand-changed points,

                                                     Automatic points,

                                                     It made no difference.  You see  

                                                     Just let the driver take a bearing

                                                     For the right turn at Charing,

                                                     From Sauchie and the Art Gallery.



                                                      All have their place in the firmament.

                                                      But the screech of the wheels

                                                      On the turns explains, Neil’s

                                                      Memories of points run to sentiment.

                                                      Neil MacCormick

                                                      c.  1980