Sauchiehall Street - every Glaswegian will have fond memories of being dragged along the thoroughfare with their granny as a child, or of later messy nights out as an adolescent, the street holds a special place in our hearts.
The crown of Glasgow City Council’s ‘golden Z’ - the street has saw some major albeit steady decline in the last few decades - but what can we attribute this to? Just how far has Sauchiehall Street fallen? How great was it in the first place?
These are the questions we want to answer today in this article, from the inception of the street in 1810’s right up until the modern era of 2023 - and even looking forward to the future of the street with current plans.
Here’s the 200-year-old history of Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street in 15 pictures.
1. Sauchiehall Street on a crisp autumnal day
For all its flaws, Sauchiehall Street is still a beautiful, historic part of Glasgow. This is illustrated no better than in William English’s winning entry to McCarthy Stone’s photography contest in 2021: ‘Sauchiehall Street on a crisp autumnal day’ Photo: submitted
2. Sauchiehall street (1895)
A view of Sauchiehall Street in the Victorian era. The first buildings on what we now know as Sauchiehall Street were villas built on Saughie-haugh Road around 1810 - a meandering path through the willows from Glasgow towards Partick. William Harley was the first major developer of the villas, which evolved into a fully fledged street in the 1840s when the road was widened, attracting more villas, tenement housing, and by the 1860’s, shops and offices.
3. The first theatres open on Sauchiehall Street
The wealthy merchants living in villas along Sauchiehall Street needed some entertainment - and by the 1870’s theatres began to spring up. The Royalty Theatre, Glasgow (later the Lyric Theatre) was one of the first built on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Renfield Street in 1879. The Royalty staged plays, opera, and musical comedy and later became home to repertory theatre until it became the Lyric Theatre in 1914 when it was sold to the YMCA. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1953 but was demolished in 1959, and replaced by St. Andrew House, a large concrete office block, which is now a hotel.
4. A look along Sauchiehall Street in 1970.
Sauchiehall Street was truly at its height from the 1880s to the 1970’s - the street was packed with shops, department stores, theatres, and dancehalls. Nowadays you won’t catch a lot of people shopping on Sauchiehall Street, with most shoppers preferring Buchanan Street, the St Enoch Centre, and Argyle Street.