Glasgow’s Crosses

by Chris Jones on May 28, 2016

In the course of collecting old photographs and postcards of Glasgow, I learned that the City has a good many Crosses; key intersections and road junctions which, because of their importance, were given the special title of Cross and named after their location. I thought it would be useful to compile an illustrated list. Most of the photographs here depict scenes from the first two decades of the 20th Century and the catalogue is by no means complete. There are many Crosses for which I don’t have suitable images yet and there may be others within the City boundary of which I am still unaware. Pride of place in the list is given to Glasgow Cross, as it is the earliest, and thereafter the list continues in alphabetical order.

Soon after this report was filed, a correspondent wrote in about the Victoria Cross along Byers Road and this prompted further research, resulting in the finding of not one but two Victoria Crosses and a host of others to add to the list which now numbers 34 in total, plus Paisley Road Toll. For much of this additional information, I am indebted to William Barr’s excellent book “Ghosts of Glasgow”. A few of the locations no longer exist because of redevelopment.

Glasgow Cross

In the period leading up to the Reformation, Glasgow Cross was known as Mercat ( Market ) Cross after the market that was held there in the wide open space where the four streets met. These were the Tronegait to the west, named after the trone or balance that was installed there for weighing goods, Gallowgait to the east, Street from Mercat Cross to the Metropolitan Church to the north, and Walkergait to the south, the latter named after the waulkers who bleached cloth. Later, the street to the north would be renamed the High Street after the High Kirk and Walkergait would become the Salt Market, after the salmon curing. Glasgow has never been a walled city and the term “gait”, also spelled “gate”, does not refer to a gated entry but instead is an old Scottish word meaning “the way to”. Hence the Briggait is the way to the bridge, in this case the Old Bridge or Brig, Bishop Rae’s Bridge, which was the first major bridge across the Clyde in Glasgow. As Glasgow Cross grew in commercial importance, particularly from the 16th Century onwards, its development surpassed that of the area surrounding the Cathedral. The ingress of London Road, originally called London Street, came much later, in 1824, and opened into the Saltmarket, connecting Glasgow Cross with Great Hamilton Street.

Glasgow Cross 2

Glasgow Cross 1

Albert Cross – Located at the junction of Albert Drive and Kenmure Street.

Alexandra Cross – Located at the junction of Duke Street with Cumbernauld Road and East Miller Street.

Anderston Cross

Anderston Cross, Glasgow

Anderston Cross was characterized by this very unique, asymmetric building, the left-hand part of which served as entrance and exit for the Caledonian Railway’s Anderston Cross Station, the first station west of Glasgow Central Low Level. The road to the left of the building is Stobcross Street which continues on to Queen’s Dock and Stobcross, as does the railway which runs directly under the street. To the right of the building is Main Street which soon changes into Dumbarton Road.

Anniesland Cross

Anniesland Cross

This view probably dates from the early 1930’s and shows Anniesland Mansions which were built at Anniesland Cross between 1907 and 1913 and occupy the corner of Great Western Road and Crow Road.

Baillieston Cross

Bridgeton Cross

Bridgeton Cross came into being in the early 1870’s as part of the slum clearance program. Before then, it was the location of the Barrowfield Toll, probably established to help recoup the costs of building the Barrowfield Bridge over the Camlachie Burn. The burn was covered over when Bridgeton Cross was developed. Further information on the history of the area may be obtained at http://www.glasgowhistory.co.uk/Books/Bridgeton/BridgetonChapters/BridgetonCross.htm

Early Bridgeton Cross, Glasgow

This classic photograph was probably taken soon after the 50 feet high cast-iron Bridgeton Pavilion and Clock Tower was opened at Bridgeton Cross on March 3, 1875. This structure, which came to be known as the Bridgeton Umbrella, has recently been superbly restored. In this scene, the background is occupied by the Caledonian Railway Goods & Parcels Office. It would not be until much later that the Olympia Theatre would be built there, opening its doors in 1911.

Bridgeton Cross, Glasgow

This photograph of Bridgeton Cross, taken around 1912, shows the famous Brigton or Bridgeton Umbrella, with the recently opened Olympia Theatre in the background.

Bridgeton Cross 1

Broomhill Cross

Broomhill Cross is located at the junction of Crow Road with Broomhill Drive.

Broomhill Cross, Glasgow

Here, we are looking directly along Broomhill Drive, circa 1911, and the tramcar on the right is coming up from Crow Road. The fine red sandstone tenements in view are relatively new and incorporate a row of commercial premies on the ground floor. The structure with the large gas lantern on top, visible on the far right of the photograph, is a police call box, and Glasgow has the distinction of being the first city in the kingdom to install them, beginning in 1891. The hexagonal structure was made of cast iron and the gas lantern could be activated remotely from the police station, alerting an officer on the beat to call in. The tower in view on the left is actually part of the residence on the other side of Broomhill Gardens from the church. Perhaps it was the manse. It is interesting to note that around 15 years earlier, Broomhill did not exist. This was all open space.

Cessnock Cross – Located at the corner of Edwin Street and Paisley Road West.

Charing Cross

In searching for the origin of the name Charing Cross, I found in reference to the London location that Charing is derived from the Old English word “cierring”, referring in this case to a pronounced bend in the River Thames, and the Cross in the London version refers to the original location of the Eleanor Cross, a Mediaeval cross in the hamlet of Charing. I have yet to find any reference to the origin of Glasgow’s Charing Cross except to say that it was named after the one in London. Glasgow’s Charing Cross is much further from the River Clyde, where there is a modest bend, than the London version is from the River Thames, where there is a pronounced bend. Perhaps Glasgow’s Charing derives from the marked bend in Sauchiehall Street at that location and the Cross comes from the fact that there is a major junction with St. George’s Road, and also secondary junctions with North Street and Newton Street.

Charing Cross, Glasgow

Charing Cross, Glasgow 1

Finnieston Cross

Finnieston Cross

Garscube Cross

Garscube Cross was known locally as the Round Toll or Garscube Toll.

Garscube Toll, Glasgow

In this view, circa 1913/14, Garscube Road is on the left and Possil Road on the right. St. George’s Road enters on the far left and Fleming Street on the far right, but both are off camera. The tram in view will be going across the Toll behind the island and will probably turn down St. George’s Road, which had the unique distinction of connecting three of Glasgow’s busiest crosses; Charing Cross, St. George’s Cross, and Garscube Cross.

Gorbals Cross

Gorbals Cross

Govan Cross

Govan Cross is situated on the river side of Govan Road between the junctions with Greenhaugh Street and Water Row.

Govan Cross, Glasgow

Here, we are looking westward across the “square” at Govan Cross, bounded by Govan Road, Water Row and a lane. In the distance is the statue of Sir William Pearce and the Lyceum Theatre. This photograph was taken around 1913 and there are several groups of working men to be seen as well as some children. Perhaps it was around midday or during the school holidays and the men were either on a break from work or waiting to see if they would be hired. Similar scenes have been recorded at Glasgow Cross and Bridgeton Cross where large numbers of men would gather.

The very fine building on the right has been preserved, as has the Aitken Water Fountain on the far right of the picture. This has recently been superbly restored and is the sole surviving example of the highly decorative, cast iron drinking fountains manufactured by Cruikshank & Co. at their Denny foundry in Stirlingshire. The fountain honours the memory of a local GP, Dr. John Aitken, who is said to have died from overwork, attending to the medical needs of the poor people of Govan.

Govan Cross, Glasgow 2

In this scene, dating from 1903, the photographer is standing outside the very fine building at the head of Water Row and looking eastward across the “square” to the United Free Church and Hall on the other side. The Aitken Fountain can just be made out beyond the iron railings. Note the horse on the left, quenching its thirst from the trough.

King’s Cross I

King’s Cross in the East End of the City was located at the junction of Duke Street with Bellgrove Street and Westercraigs.

King’s Cross II

King’s Cross, south of the River Clyde, is located in Govanhill.

King's Cross

A view of King’s Cross, Govanhill, in the first decade of the 20th Century. This may be one of Glasgow’s forgotten crosses. I only learned of its existence from the description on the postcard. The cross is not indicated on the Ordnance Survey map of the period.

The location has now been positively identified as the intersection of Bankhall Street with Cathcart Road in Govanhill. George Ligertwood’s fish, grocery, and poultry shop is on the right at 577 Cathcart Road and Alex Gillespie, the baker and confectioner, is across the road at number 568. We are looking north along Cathcart Road and the next intersection is with Calder Street. The tram approaching is en route from Paisley Road Toll to Mount Florida.

Maryhill Cross – Inscribed on a fine tenement building just off Main Street, Maryhill, now long gone.

Queen’s Cross

Queen's Cross

Paisley Road Toll

Paisley Road Toll, Glasgow

Parkhead Cross

Parkhead Cross, Glasgow

Parkhead Cross, Glasgow 1

Partick Cross

Partick Cross, Glasgow

In this view, we are looking west along Dumbarton Road towards Partick Cross, circa 1910. The distinctive dome of Partick Cross Mansions indicates the location of the Cross and Byers Road enters on the near side.

Possil Cross

St. Andrew’s Cross

The principal cross at this location is in the form of a saltire, which is probably why it was named after St. Andrew.

St. Andrew's Cross, Glasgow

St. Andrew’s Cross was formed by the intersection of Pollokshaws Road with Victoria Road and the latter’s continuation into Eglinton Street. Once the separating fence was constructed in 1946, the Cross was no longer operational and the location became more familiarly known as Eglinton Toll.

St. George’s Cross

St. George's Cross Aerial, Glasgow

The location of St. George’s Cross is identified in this aerial view as the V shape in the upper part of the photograph. To the left of the V is Great Western Road and to the right is New City Road which was subsequently renamed Maryhill Road. New City Road also continues below St. George’s Cross. Crossing the base of the V from left to right is St. George’s Road, which we saw earlier connecting with Sauchiehall Street at Charing Cross.

St. George's Cross, Glasgow

This photograph was probably taken very soon after the tramway system was electrified at this location in 1901/02 and late Victorian fashion is still very much on display as the two ladies in the foreground stride confidently across this wide intersection. The street on the left is Great Western Road and on the right is New City Road.

St. George's Cross, Glasgow 1

St. George's Cross, Glasgow 2

St. James Cross – Located at the junction of St. James Road and Stirling Road.

Saracen Cross – Located at the junction of Bardowie Street and Saracen Street.

Shawlands Cross

Shawlands Cross is located at the junction of Pollokshaws Road with Kilmarnock Road and not as might have been expected at the cruciform junction of Pollokshaws Road with Langside Avenue and Minard Road.

Early morning at Shawlands Cross, Glasgow

Shawlands Cross

Shawlands Cross, Glasgow 1

Shettleston Cross

Springburn Cross

Springburn Cross, Glasgow 1

The number 428 identifies this location as the corner of Springburn Road and Vulcan Street, the latter going off to the right. The tram lines do not curve into Vulcan Street but continue south on Springburn Road. Cowlairs Road enters on the left, just off camera, and the row of tenements in view lies between Cowlairs Road and Angus Street. The large gap beyond Angus Street is explained by the railway bridge. The tram in view is bound for Pollokshaws West.

Springburn Cross, Glasgow

Strathbungo Cross – Located at the intersection of Allison Street and Pollokshaws Road.

Tollcross – Presumably there is a cross at the Toll.

Townhead Cross – Located at the junction of Castle Street and Alexandra Parade.

Victoria Cross I – Located at the junction of Byers Road and Dowanside Street.

Victoria Cross II – Located at the junction of Victoria Road and Allison Street.

Whiteinch Cross

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc keenan June 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Do you know of Victoria Cross on Byres Road?
Interesting Story.
Plans to rename the junction of Byres Road and University Avenue in advance of a visit by Queen Victoria…..apparently defeated by the people….the name can still be seen on the building to the north of Tennent’s Bar.

Marc

Chris Jones June 13, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Hi Marc,

Thank you for your question. It forced me to do further searching and I came up with not one but two Victoria Crosses and a host of others to add to the list!

Chris

Gordon McDougall September 8, 2016 at 1:44 am

Hi Chris,

Love the site. I’m chair of the Arlington Baths Club. Owned and run by members since 1870. We’ve some great archive photos we’d be happy to share with you. If you reckon the city’s first swimming baths club might be worth adding, get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help.

All the best.

Gordon

PS Pop in during Doors Open Days if you are passing.

Chris Jones October 8, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Hi Gordon,

Many thanks for sharing this information and for your kind offer. I see that Arlington Baths Club has its own website; arlingtonbaths.co.uk I spent a good part of my youth swimming in Glasgow baths, initially at Calder Street and then at the Gorbals Baths where I also learned Life Saving from the Glasgow Police. Many happy memories.

Best wishes,

Chris

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