Glasgow Photo Library
- Tolbooth Steeple

Tolbooth Steeple

Glagow Cross used to be regarded as the centre of the city (a role now taken over by George Square, to the north-west, once the first railroad terminus had been built at Queen Street). Towering over the area wa the Tolbooth - a kind of combined town hall and prison (so called because it was originally a booth or stall where tolls and taxes were collected).

It was originally built in 1636. The jail, known as the Tontine, is mentioned in "Rob Roy" by Sir Walter Scott. When the town council moved from the Tolbooth by the end of the 1700s, it became a famous hotel and the terminus for the stagecoaches, including those to Edinburgh and London.

All that remains of Glasgow's Tolbooth is its seven-storey, 126 feet high steeple. Nowadays, the traffic which now streams through this junction of five roads, has to swerve round the building as it stands there like an ancient traffic policeman.

Opposite the Tolbooth is the Mercat Cross, marking the site of the first market in Glasgow, dating back to the 12th century. The structure standing there now is a 1929 replica of one which was erected in 1659.

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