St. Enoch Square is actually sacred ground. It is the site of the chapel and last resting place of St. Thenew, the mother of St. Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo, the Patron Saint of Glasgow. The name Enoch is considered to be a corruption of Thenew. Since consecration, the land has been venerated and marked by a succession of chapels. Sadly, this came to an end in 1926 when the last St. Enoch Church on the site was demolished. With its disappearance, respect and recognition for the hallowed grounds ebbed away. They became a car park and later a bus stance. However, all is not lost and perhaps they will be honoured again in the future.
This Valentine’s Series postcard of St. Enoch Square was registered in 1911 but the photograph may have been taken earlier. It shows the St. Enoch Church, the entrance to the St. Enoch Subway Station and the St Enoch Hotel and Railway Station, the latter being the principal terminus and headquarters of the Glasgow & South Western Railway. The church had been rebuilt from an earlier one whose foundation stone was laid on 12th April 1790 and the spire had been retained. The railway station entrance and hotel were constructed on the site of the Surgeons’ Hall which stood on the east side of the square. Today, only the Subway building survives. The church was unfortunately swept away in 1926 and the station and hotel in 1977.
St. Enoch Station opened in 1876 and the hotel followed three years later. It was described as “the most imposing structure in Glasgow” and with over 200 bedrooms was the city’s largest hotel. Both the station and the hotel were among the first buildings in Glasgow to be lit by electricity. ( This postcard was originally published by E. A. Schwerdtfeger & Co. but the name was subsequently removed from reissues once Great Britain headed into the Great War. )
Here is a later view of part of the St. Enoch Hotel which was an enormous structure extending well round the left hand side. The gas lamps in St. Enoch Square have now been replaced by electric lights and the intricate wrought ironwork of the standard is evident in the foreground. The city wanted its new electric lights to be artistic as well as functional. People are traversing the ramp leading up to the station entrance and there are large posters under the canopy featuring enticing destinations. Various vendors occupy the arches beneath the ramp, including Burgoyne & Co. wine merchants and Brown & Sons, selling paints and varnishes. Ivie Hair & Co occupy a double frontage so they were obviously doing a good business selling soap and candles, oil and lard. ( The publisher’s name is not printed on the card but I believe this to be an E. & A. Schwerdtfeger successor. )
It is now 1949 and much of the Square is now being used as a car park and for taxis. Even though the Second World War ended just four years previously, the scene suggests one of prosperity and not austerity. The banner across Buchanan Street proclaims the Scottish Industries Exhibition. Vendors are selling the same products from premises under the station ramp as were being sold 30 years earlier. ( Postcard published by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd. )