Anonymous of the Cowcaddens Royalty asks:
Hi, I’m trying to find any pictures of the New City Road before it was ripped up and apart by the motorway developments. I’m particularly wondering what kind of reputation it had during the late Victorian/Edwardian eras. Was it considered ‘rough’ or a slum or working class respectable? Old photos of the district would help to gauge its standing, I think. Also when did the Normal School cease to be a teacher training institution?
First of all, let me tell you that Cowcaddens is an incredibly difficult area to look into. So much of the area was destroyed by the M8 development that it can be hard to even place the streets which have disappeared. Of course, given that this post will be buried under Doctor Who gifs I’ll give it a good ol’ try.
The first thing you have to realise about New City Road is that it has changed almost completely since the 60s’. Where many streets in Glasgow have been regenerated or degenerated by the winds of change, New City Road has been almost completely altered.
Whereas now it is little more than back street leading down to Cowcaddens Subway, it used to be one of the main thoroughfares linking the City Centre with the West End and Great Western Road/Maryhill Road. You can still see it in the way the road runs on Google Maps and if you take the M8 out of the equation, you can see why it was so important.
So in terms of it being rough, a slum or even respectable, it was probably a mixture of all three as any major road is. Think of it in terms of Great Western Road or Maryhill Road today and you might be getting closer to the truth of the matter.
To give you an idea of how busy this road would have been, there were seven pubs between the Normal School and St. George’s Cross in 1892. A 100 yard walk is hard work, after all.
The other interesting thing is that the building which houses Reardon’s Snooker Hall, a Chinese supermarket, restaurant, and ‘Outdoor World’ was once the Glasgow Hippodrome and, throughout its life has housed a circus, a zoo, a variety theatre, a skating rink, a dance hall, a menagerie, an exhibition hall, a cinema and a barracks. It was sold in 1919 to become a garage but the building you see today is the same one you can see in the last picture in the series from 1898.
As for the Normal School, its history is tied to Stow College as it was originally founded by David Stow as the Normal Training Seminary, the first purpose-built teacher training college in the UK. Stow College itself was Glasgow’s first purpose-built educational college. I don’t have an exact date as to when it ceased to have a connection to teaching but it looks likely to have been around the mid-Seventies, early-Eighties. What I can tell you is that it was an auxiliary fire station as late as 2004.
I hope that goes some way to giving you an idea of how completely New City Road has changed, going from being one of the most important gateways between the City Centre and West End to its current state. Traffic, eh? It’s got a lot to answer for.
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