Inside the Egyptian Halls: Alexander 'Greek' Thomson's proudest work in 16 pictures as the derelict building is listed for sale

The Egyptian Halls is one of Glasgow’s greatest buildings and as new hope emerges for the landmark - we wanted to take a look inside the Halls as they are today

The Egyptian Halls have sat derelict on Union Street for nearly 40 years - it has sat in a state of decay as the owners and Glasgow City Council have been locked into a decade-long stalemate over funding for its restoration - although for the first time in years there may be a new hope for the building.

Constructed in 1872 and first vacated in the early 80s, a lot of Glaswegians don’t realise the importance of this architectural gem - though it doesn’t help that the building has been shrouded in scaffolding for the last 15 years. Egyptian Halls were designed by one of Glasgow’s best and most famous architects, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, the man behind such works as St. Vincent Street Church, Great Western Terrace, and Holmwood House.

Of all these works, Thomson was most proud of the Egyptian Halls, writing to his brother George following its construction, he said: ”He [the client] is very proud of the building – a writer in The Architect says of it – this is probably the Architect's most successful effort, and we doubt if its equal, for originality, grandeur of treatment or imposing effect, could be found in any City, not excepting the Metropolis itself."

Originally the building was intended as a commercial space, which due to its city centre location, drew in crowds in the thousands in its day. The building is more than 150-years-old and despite being more classical Greek in design, it was named the Egyptian Halls.

The halls are considered by many to be the pinnacle of the work done by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson - upon construction they contained a lecture room, bazaar, and a large central hall where displays of paintings and antiquities were staged, including the display of the complete Egyptian tomb of Thebes.

The building has had a controversial history since falling into disrepair in the latter half of the 20th century - several different owners have had visions for the building, all of which have fallen through amidst battles for funding from the Council. A resolution may be in sight soon though, as the building was listed for sale last month, March 2024.

A look inside the Egyptian Halls amidst the latest developments around the buildings ownership is possible due pictures from Scott Abercrombie an architect at John Gilbert Architects. He’s also a director at the Alexander Thomson Society and conservation convenor for the Glasgow Institute of Architects. He visited the Egyptian Halls in 2019. The photographs are a fascinating glimpse of squandered potential in a Glasgow landmark.

You can take a digital tour of another of Glasgow’s endangered A-listed city centre buildings, the Lion Chambers on Hope Street, by clicking here.

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