Did You Know?
- Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Sauchiehall Street is Glasgow's most famous thoroughfare, partly because of its Scottish-sounding music-hall name, partly because it is such a popular street for shopping.
The name is derived from "saugh" the Scots word for a willow tree and "haugh" the word for a meadow (which was later corrupted into "hall"). Originally, it was a winding, narrow lane, with villas standing in gardens of about an acre or so. It was widened in 1846 and is now a mile-long, broad street, running in straight lines, from Buchanan Street in the east to Kelvingrove and the Museum and Art Galleries in the west.
Sauchiehall Street was always noted for its quality shops, with stores such as Pettigrew and Stephens, Copeland and Lye, Daly's, Hendersons - but Watt Bros is the only one to survive from these early days. When shops only opened for five and a half days a week, Sauchiehall Street always closed on Saturday afternoon. More "working class" customers did their shopping in the slightly more down-market Argyle Street, where the shops closed on Tuesday afternoons.
Sauchiehall Street always had a good number of tearooms for the benefit of thirsty shoppers and the most famous was Miss Cranston's "Willow Tea-Rooms" (matching the name of the street). The premises were designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. While the ground floor is now a jeweller's shop (selling "Mockintosh" souvenirs) the first-floor "Room de-Luxe" has been carefully restored and many of its original features remain.
Glasgow was a cinema-mad city at one time and Sauchiehall Street played its part in this, with the Regal, La Scala and Gaumont cinemas - the "Sound of Music" ran at the Gaumont for two and a half years. The Locarno Ballroom was also located on Sauchiehall Street and many a Glasgow romance started on the dance floor there.
Glasgow's first "skyscraper", the Art Deco style Beresford Hotel, was built further along Sauchiehall Street in 1938 for the Empire Exhibition. It is now a Hall of Residence for Strathclyde University. Its "modern" architecture was disliked when it was built and the original mustard-coloured stonework with red fins was rather unkindly described as "custard and rhubarb architecture".
Beyond Charing Cross, with its red sandstone mansions, Sauchiehall Street widens still further. Many of gracious houses of an earlier age, have now been converted into offices.
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