Wednesday, 17 March 2010


The Calton area runs (or if you accept the WHO figures, limps) from Glasgow Cross to Bridgeton, bounded also by Dennistoun and Parkhead. In 2008, the World Health Organisation declared that Calton had the worst male life expectancy in Europe. The figures are hotly disputed by local activists, who argue that the figures are unfairly skewed because of a few streets - the Herald's demolition of the figures can be found here -
The skewing of the figures happens because the council has placed hostels in the area in which single homeless men at the end of their tether are parked - and sometimes die there. I once cycled past a group of such men huddled round one of their number and passed without asking if I could help. When I cycled back in half an hour an ambulance was taking the body away - the poor guy had been dead on the ground when I passed earlier. As the Herald says
'Following a World Health Organisation (WHO) report in August, in which Calton was identified as having the lowest male life expectancy in Europe, the British press descended in numbers, as they had in the past, looking for ways to put flesh on the story's bones. Calton's men die at 54, claimed the report. (Its women do considerably better at 74, although this is rarely mentioned). Print and television reporters asked young mothers how they felt about their children's diminished life chances, even as those infants ga-gad in their parents' arms. More galling for locals was the choice of camera shots used to illustrate Calton's grim reputation as a hive of multiple deprivation: a boarded-up window here, a broken wine bottle there. The area's more presentable streets were either erased or never recorded; footage of residents with anything positive to say was left languishing on the cutting room floor.'
See also
and the Calton Heritage Trail

This is the beginning of the Gallowgate, one of Glasgow's oldest roads (Glasgow Cross on left)

The curiously decorated Schipka Pass is named after an 1877 Russo-Turkish battle for some forgotten reason. It is owned (in 2010 anyway) by a chap called Dick Barton, presumably not the special agent from the BBC Light Programme.

Mr Barton is a Partick Thistle fan

This is one of the many parts of Glasgow that the City Fathers wish would just disappear - no sense of humour these guys, and no time for loose cannons either

Some Glaswegians wax lyrical about the Barras. I've known it since the mid-50s (see Saracens Head below) and it stinks. It stinks literally (the air must be 20% fat droplets) and legally - it may be the biggest outlet for counterfeit goods in Europe. The patter of the traders used to be brilliant - so much wit went into selling polycotton shirts and packs of nylon socks - but what sticks with me is seeing two 'santas' at Christmas rolling in the street hitting each other over the head with their handbells.

This Barras entrance has something of the feel of a Hollywood Wild West set; like much of Glasgow - at upper and lower levels - an entrance that also serves as a facade, with meanings that are perhaps not immediately apparent

The Wash House

Glasgow's Barrowland dance hall was built in 1934, then rebuilt in 1960 after a fire. See
A place of happy memories for many Scots, Barrowland is also famous for a darker reason. A murderer dubbed 'Bible John' by the press met at least two of his (known) three victims here in 1969. There has been speculation that the serial killer Peter Tobin (who left Glasgow after the three murders and has boasted of over 40 murders) may have been Bible John
The Oldest Chippie in Glasgow (apparently)

This is the Saracen Head in the Gallowgate, the oldest pub in Glasgow; more famous perhaps these days as the original of Billy Connolly's 'Sorry Heid'.
My father worked here as a 'potman' in the 50s / early 60s and I would walk down after school to pick up the war pension for my mum. Eight pound something it was. It was popular with ex-soldiers in those days, many of them like my father, ex- Black Watch and with war wounds. There is a website for the pub which gives some useful info
but disregard the stuff abut the 'last witch' - the last witch burned in Scotland was poor Janet Horne in 1722. History is a poorly taught subject in Scotland.
A street corner
Tim Land - for all your Celtic requirements. The Capones Clearance Center next door deals in wallpaper alas, not surplus gangsters
This is the beginning of London Rd, which flows out from Glasgow Cross and its Celtic pubs to Bridgeton, the Orange heartland.

The Red Book Shop

There are redundant public toilets all over Glasgow, some of them quite grand (see Anniesland) and others quite bog-standard such as this one.

Junction of Charlotte Lane and London Rd

London Rd Cafe - they have run out of frappocinos

A shop for the Woodcraft Folk

London Way: cue Marks and Spencer sax - this is not just London Rd. . .this is London Way. . .
Calton has some nicely designed old houses scattered among the desolation

Looming over the 'Adult Fun' shop on London Road (haud me back) is the magnificent Roman Catholic church of St Alphonsus (see Churches)

Adult fun from the front. . .
. . .with St Alphonsus opposite

The glorious Templeton carpet factory (built 1892) is a copy of the Doge's Palace in Venice. Dilapidated Glasgow Green Station on left

Come on Scotland!

17 November, 2007: Scotland 1 Italy 2. We were robbed - of course we were. UEFA wanted both France and Italy to go through, so the puir wee Scots were Floddenised by trickery. Look at the number of pages devoted to the match.

Junction of London Rd and Bain St
The Calton Bar. Glasgow punters often accuse bar owners of being comedians, but in this case, for a while, it was actually true - the bar was run by comedian Janey Godley for 14 years -


  1. The skewing of the figures happens because the council has placed hostels in the area in which single homeless men at the end of their tether are parked - and sometimes die there. london apartments

  2. The shop at the junction of Bain st was Margaret Forresters, one of the old shops that sold clothes,and household things..

  3. Yes, I remember Margaret Forresters. It also sold furniture of reasonable quality. My mum used to take me into that shop in the 1950s. I haven't been back to the UK since 1980 (emigrated 1970). The place looks no better notwithstanding all the new developments. I see that all the churches (save the RC church) have gone. I recall one every two blocks ... and two pubs every one block.