10 Morsels of Trivia About Glasgow, Scotland
Here we will take a look at 10 bits of trivia that are linked by the city of Glasgow, Scotland. Sometimes in history, it is the small bits of trivia that really give away the truth about how life must have been!
In this day and age, animal welfare is very important, but that was not always the case. Thomas Lipton, famed Glasgow tea tycoon, ran a shop in Stobcross Street, in the Anderston area of Glasgow. Every single day, a couple of pigs were walked up from the docks at the Clyde to Lipton’s shop. The pigs wore a banner that read: “I’m on my way to Liptons – The Best Place in Town for Bacon.”.
From the 1960’s onwards it was common for Glasgow gangs (of which there are many) to graffiti any wall they could find. One common phrase that could be seen was ‘Ya Bas’. Fear not, that is not an abbreviated bit of bad language. Ironically, considering the average intellect of one who graffiti’s, the phrase is actually a derivation of the Gaelic war cry ‘Aigh bas’. Loosely translated, it means ‘Battle and Die’ – quite apt then for the many Glasgow gangs.
The origin of buskers (or indeed beggars) using a hat to collect the coinage could be traced back to a common practice on the backstreets of Glasgow. In times gone past, it was quite common for people to throw red-hot coins out the tenement windows to the busker below. Much hilarity, no doubt, watching the busker burn their fingers trying to pick it up – the buskers soon got wise and started collecting the coins with their hat.
A wealthy 19th century bachelor called Robert Dreghorn could not find a mate, despite his wealth. He was, allegedly, the most ugly person in Glasgow. Famed writer, Margaret Thomson Davis, described Dreghorn as being ‘tall and gaunt, an inward bend in his back and enormous head with one blind eye and one squint eye’. At least his mother still loved him!
In the first couple of decades of the 19th century Scottish judges could order the body of an executed criminal to be dissected for the benefit of medical students. One strange incident happened in 1818 after a criminal had been hung on Glasgow Green. His body was taken to the University of Glasgow where a professor decided to run an experiment. The professor applied a galvanic shock to the deceased; it caused the dead man to sit up. Acting rather quickly, and wanting to avoid too many unnecessary questions, the professor took a scalpel and cut the ‘patients’ throat.
Glasgow in the late 19th century was a city of industry, because of which, it was very noisy. There was so much clattering and banging going on that it was hard to hear anything. One thing that was heard, and certainly felt, was the Sampson Hammer at Beardmore’s Parkhead Forge Buildings. Such a clatter was made when the great steam hammer dropped onto the steel slabs that local buildings began to crack.
Umbrellas were first introduced to Glasgow in the 1870’s by a Dr Jamieson; he had bought it in Paris. In 1888, Wilson Mathieson, noteworthy umbrella manufacturer based in Glasgow, constructed the then largest umbrella in the world. It measured 21 feet in diameter and was used to provide shade for an African King and 30 of his guests.
Many tourists to Glasgow often ask ‘Where’s the castle?’. Despite Glasgow being known for its cultural, historical and architectural delights it is actually a ‘new town’ – it isn’t old enough to have a castle!
There is an area of Glasgow Green called Flesher’s Haugh which is most famous for two things. Firstly, it was the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie reviewed his troops during the ’45 uprising. Secondly (and some say more importantly) it was the same place where Glasgow Rangers first played a game of football.
During the 19th century, inmates at Barnhill Poorhouse had to work extremely hard for their daily food. Every able-bodied inmate had to make up to 350 bundles of firewood or break up five hundredweight of stone every single day to get a decent meal. Failure to do so would leave the inmate having just bread and water in solitary.