ADFAS report on our Visit to Glasgow 2018
ADFAS 2018 VISIT TO GLASGOW
On Monday April 30th, ten of our members met promptly at Berkhamsted Station, ready to go. Julie Griffiths and Barbara Mitchell shepherded us safely aboard and we were off. It was all change at windy, cold Milton Keynes where we were joined by the other members of our group. Our connection arrived and once on board and our luggage safely stowed, we were away.
Our train was on time at Glasgow Central where we were warmly welcomed by Ken Gray, our Blue Badge Guide for the trip. He was to become our friend and a very important member of our party. Ken led us across the concourse, through a couple of swing doors and there we were, in the foyer of the Grand Central Hotel. It could not have been easier.
Central lighting on the main staircase of our hotel
No sooner we were up in our rooms and ready to relax than we were downstairs again and whisked away by Ken on an unscheduled visit to the Lighthouse, now Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture but originally a building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for The Glasgow Herald. Here we saw sketches of Mackintosh’s designs for the buildings and furniture that we would see on our various visits.
The view of central Glasgow from the very top of The Lighthouse
2018 is the 150th anniversary of the year of the birth of Charles Rennie Macintosh, architect, artist and designer, a creative genius whose influence was felt not only in Glasgow but throughout Europe and we were to see much evidence of his work during our short visit to the city.
Some interesting examples of local architecture near our hotel
That evening we gathered together for drinks and dinner in a private room in our hotel. There we were joined by the other members of our group who had arrived later from different parts of the country. Julie warmly welcomed us all before we tucked in to a delicious meal.
The next day was Tuesday 1st May when we visited the vast and splendid Cathedral of Glasgow.
Typical view from our coach of the main streets of Glasgow
St. Mungo’s was consecrated in 1197 and is one of Scotland’s most magnificent medieval buildings.
St Mungo's emblem - a salmon with a ring in its mouth
On the way there, Ken had drawn our attention to Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow and built in 1471.
The oldest house in Glasgow
The area was strangely peaceful and quiet although we were only a few minutes drive away from Glasgow’s busy bustling streets.
Back on the coach we were off and in ten minutes were in Bellahouston Park to visit The House of an Art Lover, a building inspired by Rennie Mackintosh’s design for a competition held in 1901, and built in 1996. It houses a permanent exhibition of rooms built and furnished in the style of Mackintosh.
A brilliant display of Rennie Mackintosh’s design
We then drove south into Ayrshire to Dumfries House, a fine Palladian mansion set in acres of gardens and countryside. The house had fallen into disrepair, but was finally rescued, beautifully restored and saved for the nation by The Prince of Wales. We were met by the proud resident guide who led us through each grand room where we saw fine collections of Chippendale furniture, tapestries and priceless works of art. After lunch we had time to wander through the lovely gardens.
Later we were served tea in china cups and ate delicious home made shortbread.
Wednesday 2nd May dawned bright and sunny. We were so lucky with the weather for this was our day for getting away from the city and experiencing some fresh mountain air. We were off to Loch Lomond.
The Erskine Bridge on route to Loch Lomond
As we drove along the winding leafy road, we were able to catch glimpses of the loch shimmering in the sunlight and of the mountain scenery. Ken played us some jolly Scottish tunes and songs to cheer us along the way.
At Tarbet we climbed aboard a motor boat and sailed off down the loch.
Chairman Julie looking forward from the viewing site to ADFAS 2018/19
It was pretty windy on the top deck, but below we were able to enjoy the scenery and drink our cups of steaming hot chocolate at the same time. Back on the coach, we drove down to Luss, a lovely old, beautifully preserved lakeside village. It was a good break and we had time to explore and have some lunch in a local café where we were served by smiling kilted staff.
Rather reluctantly we scrambled back onto the coach and were driven away west to Helensburgh in Argyle. Situated high above the River Clyde, in lovely gardens was Hill House, designed by Rennie Macintosh.
Rennie Macintosh's unique Hill House
Interior shots of Hill House
Inside all the furnishings, carpets, lamps curtains, fireplaces and decorations were the work of both Rennie Macintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald. I think we were all delighted to explore this exquisite house and admire all it held. Back on the road we headed towards Glasgow.
However, Ken had a surprise for us. We stopped off in the small town of Dumbarton beside the Scottish Episcopal Church of St. Augustine, where we were welcomed by the Minister, The Reverend Kenneth Macaulay and his assistant.
Church of St. Augustine, Dumbarton
He had opened the church especially for us! It was here that in August 1900 Rennie Macintosh married Margaret MacDonald a talented and influential artist herself. She had in fact been a strong influence on the work of Gustav Klimt and his paintings in the Secession Building which had delighted those ADFAS members who had visited Vienna in 2015. We were all enchanted by this lovely church, built in 1873 and containing countless interesting features.
Thursday 3rd May was to be our last full day together. We set off with Ken and drove the short distance for another unscheduled stop, this time to The City Chambers in St. George’s Square. We were greatly impressed by this vast majestic Victorian building with its marbled halls and grand stairways.
Home of Glasgow City Council
Ken with his friend(s) from earlier days!!
It is home to successive city councils and a popular venue for balls and grand civic occasions.
Our next stop was at The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum another impressive Victorian building which housed one of Europe’s finest art collections.
A quiet rendition on the Organ during the lunch hour
There was much to see in this busy, buzzing huge place including a great concert organ on which the resident organist gave daily concerts. Linda, our lively and enthusiastic guide had selected several examples of important works from the gallery’s massive collection for us to see.
Our final visit was to The Riverside Museum, Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel situated on the banks of the Clyde. Here we were well placed to see the merging of Glasgow’s River Kelvin and the great River Clyde, quiet now that all the big shipyards are gone.
A Transport Museum exhibit and the Glenlee Barque
It was fun to see the tram cars, bikes and buses and other old vehicles and fun especially to clamber aboard the Glenlee, an elegant three masted barque sailing ship, Clyde built in 1896 and now moored alongside the museum.
Back at our hotel we gathered for our last evening get together, for two of our party had to be off the next morning to catch early trains. It was a fitting time for us to raise our glasses to Julie. Our ADFAS chairman Valerie expressed our most sincere thanks to her for organising this visit to Glasgow so efficiently and so beautifully. It was yet another success story.
Friday May 4th and on our last morning in Glasgow, we drove to Hillhead Street and to the Hunterian Gallery in the centre of the university area. The Gilbert Scott Building (the University’s striking main building) is named after its designer Sir George Gilbert Scott, a leading figure in the Gothic Revival movement who designed many of the original University’s buildings in the late 19th century.
Main University and a Gallery exhibit
The Hunterian is is yet another one of Scotland’s great art galleries and museums and holds the most fabulous permanent collection of paintings and sculpture. Worth mentioning is its collection of the beautiful portraits and landscapes of the American artist James McNeill Whistler.
The Mackintosh's reconstructed house next to the Hunterian
Beside the Hunterian is the Mackintosh House which contains the reassembled furniture fittings, decorations and objets, curtains and carpets removed from the Mackintoshes’ marital home further down the road in Southpark Avenue and before the house was demolished. For some this last visit was certainly one of the highlights of our very busy Glasgow trip.
We were soon back at the hotel and settled comfortably in the foyer to collect our luggage and wait for our train home. Ken joined us there and Julie paid him a very special tribute. He had been wonderful, kind, patient, smiling and so knowledgeable. He had looked after us well during our short but intensive few days in Glasgow. It was sad to say goodbye but we were all agreed when Julie pronounced him our favourite guide. The best ever!
Central Station, Glasgow as viewed from one of the many bars in the hotel before departure.
We collected our luggage and trudged off to catch the train home. It had been yet another splendid ADFAS holiday. One in which we had learned much of this great city of culture. We will have many happy memories, not least among them being the friendliness of the Glasgow folk we had met along the way.
After all and to coin a phrase, "Glasgow's miles better"!
The ADFAS Committee would like to thank all attendees on this trip who have kindly provided their photographs to make this trip down memory lane as representative as possible.