Welcome to the Gorbals, a historic part of Glasgow, Scotland. A reputation for social problems has been superseded and the Gorbals is now home to some fascinating urban architecture whilst maintaining links with a past stretching back to the 13th century.
Catswhiskerstours with a escorted walking tour and/or a driver-guided tour.
The following information is provided to assist guests in determining focus of a tour.
The Gorbals has a history dating back to at least 1285 AD when it was just a small village close to a bridge over the River Clyde. The name may mean either ‘rough village’ ( rough landscape) or ‘wide spacious place’. The village grew through the Middle Ages, was home to a leper hospital in the 14th century, then went on to gain a reputation for gun manufacture and was also active in trades such as weaving, skinning and metal working. From the 17th century through to the 19th century coal was mined in the area. During the 19th century the Gorbals area was heavily industrialised with construction of a canal and then a railway. However, industrial decline in the 20th century was the catalyst for high unemployment and subsequent depopulation. Living conditions in the Gorbals have substantially improved in tandem with replacement of the housing stock so that today the area is barely recognisable from that which existed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Social History: In the 19th century the Gorbals was one of the poorest parts of Glasgow and as such attracted thousands of, virtually penniless, Jewish refugees who had escaped the persecutions in Russia. After the first World War, Glasgow’s Jewish population reached about 19,000 the majority of which lived in the Gorbals. However, this population has prospered and moved on with virtually no trace remaining in the Gorbals.
Family History: The nearby Southern Necropolis contains the remains of about 250,000 people whilst there are further memorials in the central Rose Garden Cemetery. The Southern Necropolis is worthy of a visit as it contains the graves of merchants, traders, shipbuilders and architects, mainly from the 19th century. There is a Heritage Trail to guide visitors around this historic site.
Architecture: There are two aspects here. Firstly, There is a rich diversity of colourful and imaginative architecture which has transformed the housing stock, and no doubt quality of the residents lives. Examples can be found in this video clip and images shown on the right of this page. Secondly, there exists the remains of the Caledonia Road Free Church designed by Glasgow’s famous 19th century architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. Thomson has an imposing memorial in the Southern Necropolis whilst the ruined church is a cadidate to be the converted to a Greek Thomson themed visitor centre.
Proximity to central Glasgow: The Gorbals is within walking distance of Glasgow City. An interesting route is via nearby Glasgow Green along the banks of the River Clyde.
Here is a video clip of a central residential area.
We look forward to hearing from you!