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Glasgow's Coat of Arms c.1866

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. Founded by its patron saint Kentigern (or Mungo) around 540 AD, it stands on both sides of the River Clyde.

The official motto of the city is Floreat Glasgua ("Let Glasgow Flourish"), a shortened version of the inscription on a bell that was made for the Tron Kirk on Trongate in 1637. The steeple still exists as part of the Tron Theatre. The inscription read: Lord, let Glasgow flovrichse throvgh the preaching of thy word and praising thy name. In 1663 the motto became: Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of thy word and in 1699 this was shortened to its current version.

The population of the city itself has declined from over a million inhabitants in the pre World War II era to around 600,000 today. However the population of the Greater Glasgow conurbation is approximately 2.3 million, roughly half the population of Scotland.

Inhabitants of Glasgow are called Glaswegians but are often referred to by other Scots as "Keelies" or "Weegies".


Glasgow has many fine public buildings, notably Glasgow Cathedral, a large Gothic edifice, the City Chambers, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Great Eastern Hotel, the University at Gilmorehill, the Armadillo designed by Norman Foster, the School of Art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Beresford Hotel, an art deco building on Sauchiehall St. The Beresford Hotel has now been converted to apartments having previously been a Bachelor Officer's Quarters for the US military during WWII, a second period as a hotel, the headquarters of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in Scotland and a student Hall of Residence (Baird Hall) for the University of Strathclyde. Among modern buildings the gallery for the Burrell Collection is well known.

Despite a long and proud industrial heritage Glasgow is studded with green spaces and recreation grounds (the name Glasgow comes from the Brythonic glas cau for "green hollow"). The slums of the industrial era have now been cleared and regenerated with many fine new dwellings and green spaces. Unfortunately a social experiment with high-rise blocks has created new slums, such as Easterhouse, which due to the destruction of traditional family structures and local businesses are some of the most deprived in Europe.

The poet Sir John Betjeman described Glasgow as the "finest Victorian city in the world."


The site of the founding of St Mungo's church by the Molendinar Burn, a stream which flows into the River Clyde, is now the site of Glasgow Cathedral.[1]

Glasgow and the River Clyde viewed looking east

Glasgow is famous for shipbuilding - the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Lusitania are just some of the famous vessels which were "Clyde-built". Other industries include whisky distilling.


Glasgow has three universities - the University of Glasgow founded in 1451, the University of Strathclyde, the former Royal College, which was raised to university status in 1964 and Glasgow Caledonian University, previously Glasgow College of Technology, which has been a "university" since 1992.

The People

Glasgow's population consists mainly of Lowland Scots, Gaels from the Highlands and Hebrides and the descendants of immigrants from Ireland. The early twentieth century saw arrivals from Italy, Russia, Lithuania and Poland. Some of these immigrants from Eastern Europe were Jews escaping pogroms but many came to work in the coalmines and steelworks in and around the city. The latter half of the twentieth century saw a new wave of immigration from India and Pakistan. With the recent accession of Poland to the European Union the city has played host to many young Poles seeking work in the city.

Sport and Religion

Football (soccer) and religion are normally seen as being inseparable in Glasgow. Scottish Football has for decades been dominated by two Glasgow clubs; Glasgow Rangers FC and Celtic FC (often erroneously called Glasgow Celtic). These are the two clubs with the strongest links to the religious community. Rangers predominantly draw their support, and until the 1980s their players, from members of the Protestant churches while Celtic historically draw their support from the Roman Catholic community. Due to the fixture scheduling of the Scottish Premier League the two teams meet each other at least 4 times a year.[2]


Due to its heavy working class culture and tradition of heavy industry Glasgow has always been associated with socialism and until the late 1940s was the heartland of the Independent Labour Party. The Communist Party of Great Britain also had a notable following in the city. All MPs currently returned to the UK Parliament represent the Labour Party. The last Conservative to represent a Parliamentary seat in Glasgow was Teddy (later Sir Teddy) Taylor who represented Glasgow Cathcart from 1964 to 1979 when he lost he seat to John Maxton. This was the only Conservative loss in the 1979 election and fore-shadowed the collapse in support of Conservatism throughout Scotland during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.

In the Scottish Parliament all 9 of the 10 Constituency MPs represent the Labour Party. The only non-Labour MSP is the Scottish National Party's Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Govan. The Proportionately Elected Regional List MPs for Glasgow comprise four from the Scottish National Party, one from the Liberal Democrats, one from the Green Party and the Conservative, Bill Aitken.[3]

These elections for the Scottish Parliament were held on 3 May 2007.

Customs, Leisure and Culture

The city has a number of fine museums and galleries, notably the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Burrell Collection in Pollok Park and the Museum of Religious Life which is situated in Provand's Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow.

The Theatre Royal in Hope Street is the home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has its home at the Royal Concert Hall in Buchanan Street. The Henry Wood Hall in Claremont Street is the base of the The Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Scottish Television and BBC Scotland both have studios on the south bank of the Clyde at Pacific Quay.

An annual event for the city is the Pride Scotia festival (colloquially called "Glasgay") organised by the city council for homosexuals, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transsexuals from Glasgow and farther afield. In 2006 it was the source of some controversy when several of the city's firefighters were disciplined for refusing to distribute fire safety leaflets to marchers in the event's parade.[4] Despite the concerns of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow the left leaning local media supported the actions of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the men's employers.


The official language is English although many of the city's inhabitants (traditionally the working class) employ the Glaswegian dialect which is a variant of Scots. This is sometimes colloquially known as the "Glesga Patter".

The ancient Celtic language Gaelic can often be heard in Glasgow, particularly in the West End where there is a sizable community from the Hebrides.

With the recent wave of immigration from eastern Europe it is not unusual to hear the Polish tongue being spoken around the city.

Famous Glaswegians