Glasgow West End Walking Tour (Self Guided), Glasgow

Glasgow is a home to a great number of historic, cultural and architectural landmarks, the lion's share of which are found in the West End. The adjectives applicable to this part of Glasgow speak volumes: cosmopolitan, multi-cultured, bohemian, intellectual, grand, leafy, confident, tolerant, and trendy. Indeed all of them are true, especially given that inside the area there are several smaller neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive character.

Byres Road, the West End's main artery, has varied attractions centered around it: impressive Victorian architecture, quaint shops, bustling nightlife, public parks & gardens, and more. Complete with its upmarket residences, this district appeals to the young and mature professionals as well as Glasgow University students.

Situated behind the lively Byres Road is Ashton Lane, a cobbled backstreet with most of its premises occupied by various pubs and restaurants, plus a gallery of small specialist stores – popular with those coming to shop, dine and meet friends.

Other notable attractions within the West End include:

Kelvin Hall – one of the largest exhibition centers in Britain, opened in 1927; now a mixed-use arts and sports venue.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery – one of the most visited free-to-enter museums in the UK; among the exhibits is "Christ of Saint John of the Cross" by Salvador Dalí.

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery – Scotland's oldest public museum, founded in 1807.

University of Glasgow – the 4th oldest university in the English-speaking world; established in 1451.

Riverside Transport Museum – zig-zagging, zinc-clad ultra-modern edifice housing impressive collections of motorcycles, cars, trains, ships, toys and other pieces of transport technology.

If you are intrigued by this highlight and feel the urge to experience first hand the flavors of Glaswegian West End, grab the opportunity and take this self-guided walk!
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Glasgow West End Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Glasgow West End Walking Tour
Guide Location: Scotland » Glasgow (See other walking tours in Glasgow)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kelvin Hall
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
  • Lord Lister Monument
  • Lord Kelvin Statue
  • Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery
  • University of Glasgow
  • Mackintosh House
  • Ashton Lane
  • Byres Road
  • Riverside Museum (The Glasgow Museum of Transport)
1
Kelvin Hall

1) Kelvin Hall

The Kelvin Hall, located on Argyle Street in Glasgow, is one of the largest exhibition centres in Britain and now a mixed-use arts and sports venue that opened as an exhibition venue in 1927. It has also been used as a concert hall, home to the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena to 2014, and from 1987 to 2010, Glasgow's Museum of Transport.

The Kelvin Hall stands on the banks of the River Kelvin, opposite the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It was designed to complement the municipal display of Kelvingrove Park. Fronted in red sandstone with a palatial entrance piazza, the immense steel-framed building dates from 1927.

Its predecessor on part of the site, also known as the Kelvin Hall, was constructed on the cinder-based football areas of the Bunhouse Grounds as a temporary hall using brick, wood and iron, and was opened in August 1918 to house the second British Industries Fair in the city. The new structure was designed by Robert James Walker, the leading architect of the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry of 1911 held in Kelvingrove Park.

From 1918 and 1919 until the Hall was destroyed by fire in 1925, British Industry Fairs and various exhibitions, were held, also flower shows, circuses and carnivals, with the surpluses being paid into the Common Good. The new Kelvin Hall covers 6 acres and was designed to house large-scale exhibitions and events. It was built for Glasgow Corporation in 1926-1927 and was designed by Thomas Somers Glasgow's Master of Work and City Engineer.

The redeveloped Kelvin Hall hosts art, cultural and health and fitness activities promoted in a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, the University of Glasgow, and the National Library of Scotland. The Hall is protected as a category B listed building.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

2) Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum (must see)

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum reopened in 2006 after a three-year refurbishment and since then has been one of Scotland's most popular free to enter visitor attractions and the most visited museum in the UK outside London.

It has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world and a vast natural history collection. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters (Rembrandt van Rijn, Gerard de Lairesse, and Jozef Israëls), French Impressionists (such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Vincent van Gogh and Mary Cassatt), Dutch Renaissance, Scottish Colourists and exponents of the Glasgow School.

The museum houses "Christ of Saint John of the Cross" by Salvador Dalí. The copyright of this painting was bought by the curator at the time after a meeting with Dalí himself. For a period between 1993 and 2006, the painting was moved to the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

The museum also contains a large gift of the decorative arts from Anne Hull Grundy, an art collector and philanthropist, covering the history of European jewelry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Why You Should Visit:
Easy to reach, very family-friendly, with lots to see, plus reasonably priced shops & café, and the glorious organ recital in the afternoon is a real bonus.

Tip:
The best way to get an overview is to go on one of the daily, free tours – you might be surprised what you will learn.
At weekends and holidays, you can take part in one of the family activities throughout the exhibits.
If you're going to visit both the café & gift shop, go to the café first as they'll give you a voucher for 10% off in the gift shop.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu, Sat: 10am–5pm; Fri, Sun: 11am–5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Lord Lister Monument

3) Lord Lister Monument

Seated alongside Lord Kelvin in the west part of Kelvingrove Park is a bronze statue of Lord Lister. This memorial pays tribute to Joseph Lister who succeeded Lord Kelvin as the President of the Royal Society in 1895 and whose research into antiseptic systems revolutionized medicine around the world.

Essex-born Lister was primarily based in Edinburgh and London throughout his long career, but it was during his tenure as Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow in the 1860s that he undertook his first experiments with carbolic acid. He pioneered the usage of carbolic acid to disinfect surgical tools and instruments, thus causing mortality rates in hospitals to fall by almost 50%.

The initial idea to commemorate Lister's legacy, mooted after his death in 1912, implied setting up a museum in the Royal Infirmary to display his old equipment. However, the outbreak of WWI and the subsequent lack of support from the Infirmary management led to a revised proposal of a simple statue.

The latter was cast in bronze, upon request from a royal commission, by Scots sculptor George Henry Paulin and was unveiled in Kelvingrove Park in September 1924. The sculpture depicts a vibrant figure of Joseph Lister clad in his academic robe. The monument is placed atop a grey granite pedestal which has a carved Caduceus symbol above Lister's name at the front of the plinth.
4
Lord Kelvin Statue

4) Lord Kelvin Statue

Glasgow University is one of the most interesting places to visit and in a small garden below the University Tower you will find the Lord Kelvin Statue.

The statue was erected on this site in 1913 and was the work of Archibald MacFarlane Shannan, who was commissioned to immortalise Sir William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin of Largs, in bronze.

You can see the great man sitting on his stone plinth, his head bent over a book, undoubtedly studying higher forms of mathematics or some other learned scientific work.

Sir William Thomson was born in Belfast in 1824 and his family moved to Glasgow in 1836. Sir William was a brilliant student and he finished his studies at Glasgow University, his speciality was mathematics, science and energy.

He was particularly drawn to understanding the vagaries of heat and is renowned for his determining of Absolute Zero degree temperature, now known as the Kelvin Scale.

He was involved in many scientific inventions and improvements, that although today are somewhat dated and some of them have been proved false, he was nevertheless highly respected in his time.

He is also known for his work on the mirror galvanometer, the siphon recorder which recorded the receipt of telegraph messages and the Kelvin Water Dropper – a prototype of the electrostatic generator.
5
Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery

5) Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery

Located at the University of Glasgow, this is Scotland's oldest public museum. It was founded in 1807 with funds left by Dr William Hunter in his will. Hunter was a physician, an anatomist and one of the leading obstetricians of his day. He was also a great book and coin collector, and his collections were bequeathed to the museum.

With over a million items, the museum is full of Roman artifacts from the Antonine Wall, items from Captain Cook’s Voyages of Discovery, meteorites and scientific instruments that once belonged to Lord Kelvin and James Watt. One section deals with early man and you will see several mummies and dinosaur fossils.

In “A Healing Passion” you will learn about the history of Glasgow medicine and see anatomical instruments from Hunters teaching collection. His coin collection is reputed to be one of the most extensive in the world: he bought several collections from other collectors, including those of Horace Walpole and Thomas Crofts. Even King George III gave an Athenian gold coin.

There are many interactive displays and the museum is an educational experience for children and adults alike. The library has a collection of over 600 manuscripts and over 1000 books. The oldest manuscript is “Homilies of Saint Basil” and was written in 859.

Why You Should Visit:
Eclectic but well presented, with room to accommodate a lot of people without feeling crowded. The dramatic setting and design of the interior are breathtaking.

Tip:
Allow a good amount of time – there is a lot to see and the area is good for a stroll. Try and go on a sunny day to get the best pictures.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 10am–5pm; Sun: 11am–4pm
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
University of Glasgow

6) University of Glasgow (must see)

The United Kingdom boasts many fine, ancient universities that are renowned throughout the world and one of the most important among them is the University of Glasgow – the 4th oldest in the English-speaking countries.

It was founded by the Papal Bull under the papacy of Pope Nicholas V in 1451 and King James II gave Bishop William Turnbill the permission to add it to the city’s cathedral. During the Reformation, the Mace and the Bull were taken to France, and while the Mace was later returned, the Bull was either lost or stolen.

In 1870 the University’s main campus was built on Gilmorehill by Sir George Scott. It was constructed in the Gothic style in a twin-quadrangle layout with an open undercroft. The spire was added to the bell tower in 1887. The University’s other departments are spread out in various buildings around the city and around the country.

During the 18th century the University was the main center of the Scottish Enlightenment movement and in the 19th century it finally opened its doors to students other than the rich upper classes. Merchants’ children went there to learn law, medicine, teaching, engineering, science and the Scriptures.

On the campus you will find the excellent Hunterian Museum & Gallery as well as the Mackintosh House.

Why You Should Visit:
Boasting some of Glasgow's oldest and most beautiful, magical architecture, this University definitely deserves a spot on all tourists lists.
Its campus houses several of the city's museums, including the excellent Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, and the Zoology Museum.
The University is also close to a number of great restaurants and bars, as well as the charming Ashton Lane.

Tip:
Go to the south side of the main building for breathtaking views across the city and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.
Also, you should make sure to visit the University Chapel, preferably on Tuesdays at 6pm when the choir is singing.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Mackintosh House

7) Mackintosh House

No-one should miss the chance to visit a house museum if possible because they are an excellent way of feeling as though you are stepping back in time. Mackintosh House on the Glasgow University campus is a very fine example of this.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a 19th/20th-century architect, designer, artist and the principal representative of the Art Nouveau Movement in the UK. He and his wife Margaret, who was also a renowned artist, lived in the house on Southpark Avenue between 1906 and 1914, when they moved the house and its contents were bought by a Mr Davison and his family. When they put the house up for sale in their turn in 1946, it was bought by Glasgow University and the Davidsons made the university a gift of the furniture.

The house museum has been a part of the Hunterian Art Gallery since 1981 and is a faithful reconstruction of the time when the Mackintosh’s lived there. The beautiful furniture was designed by Mackintosh himself and several examples of his and Margaret’s paintings adorn the walls.

You can visit the hall, drawing room, dining room, studio and main bedroom, all of which are elegantly decorated. As you drift from room to room, you almost expect to come across Charles working on the designs of another building, or Margaret, paintbrush in hand, bent over her easel to catch the last rays of the summer sun.

Why You Should Visit:
Even if you have only limited interest in architecture, the half-hour tour through this house is worth every penny.
Eye candy wherever you look, and breathtaking examples of the Mackintosh genius. The use of light and space, too, is a revelation.

Tip:
Take the morning guided tour first – you will then be able to pop back in the afternoon when you can go round at your leisure.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 10am–5pm; Sun: 11am–4pm
Last admission 45 mins before closing
8
Ashton Lane

8) Ashton Lane

Ashton Lane is a cobbled backstreet in the West End of Glasgow. It is connected to Byres Road by a short linking lane beside Hillhead subway station.

The Lane was not always the focus of West End cafe society. By the early 1970s, it was a run-down area of small residential and empty commercial properties. Today, bars and restaurants occupy most of the premises in Ashton Lane. The Famous Grosvenor Cafe and the now internationally renowned 'Chip' remain a defining feature. Some like Jinty McGuintys Irish Bar have been there a while too, almost 25 years.

Ashton Lane continues north as Cresswell Lane, where the variety of bars and restaurants is supplemented by a gallery of small specialist shops. The Lane and its surroundings might then be regarded as Glasgow's equivalent of Dublin's Temple Bar area or Edinburgh's Rose Street. While still popular with local residents and students, it is now firmly established on the Glasgow tourist trail.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Byres Road

9) Byres Road

Byres Road is a street in Hillhead, Glasgow. It is the central artery of the city's West End.

Byres Road is a mixed commercial, shopping and upmarket residential area consisting largely of traditional sandstone tenements with retail premises on the ground floor and three floors of residential flats above. Its proximity to the University of Glasgow has meant that the surrounding West End of Glasgow has a large student population. Murals painted by the notable Glasgow artist Alasdair Gray adorn the Ubiquitous Chip, the Oxfam Bookshop, and the Oran Mor bars.

Stretching from Great Western Road at the Botanic Gardens in the north to Dumbarton Road at Partick Cross in the south, the road originally ran through a relatively rural area called the Byres of Partick (also known as Bishop's Byres). The oldest pub in the area is the 17th century Curler's, originally sited beside a pond used for curling and, legend has it, given a seven-day licence by King Charles II.

Nearby lanes and byways have benefited from the business of Byres Road and now contain a variety of small businesses from tapas bars to second-hand record stores. The most famous of these is Ashton Lane, which contains bars, restaurants and a cinema.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Riverside Museum (The Glasgow Museum of Transport)

10) Riverside Museum (The Glasgow Museum of Transport) (must see)

The Glasgow Museum of Transport was established in 1964. In 1987 the museum was relocated to the city's Kelvin Hall, and then moved to its current location in the Riverside Museum building, designed by Zaha Hadid, at Glasgow Harbour in 2011.

Although containing approximately the same floor space as the previous museum facility, this distinctive building creates a more environmentally stable home for Glasgow's significant (over 3,000 exhibits) Transport Technology collections featuring motorcycles and bikes, vintage cars, trains, ships, toys and other means of transportation to pore over.

The building also houses a workshop and office space for the Clyde Maritime Trust. It even has a cobbled street depicting life in Glasgow from the turn of the 20th century, where you can wander in and out of recreations of old shops, whilst passing by horse-drawn carriages. Another popular visitor attraction, berthed right outside the museum, is the Glenlee (aka The Tall Ship), launched in 1896 and circumnavigated the globe four times. This is one of the few remaining Clyde-built ships still afloat.

The building has a zig-zagging, zinc-clad roof and a 36 metre-high glazed frontage overlooking the River Clyde. The design, combining geometric complexity with structural ingenuity and material authenticity, continues Glasgow’s rich engineering traditions and forms part of the city’s future as a centre of innovation.

Why You Should Visit:
A prominent and truly unique location – allows visitors an opportunity to get a sense of history by literally stepping inside (aboard) some of its pieces.

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