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Sauchiehall Street

Sauchiehall Street

The northern stretch of the Golden Z, Sauchiehall Street is one of the main shopping and business streets in the centre of Glasgow. The name, unlike Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, does not root from a person. The first part is derived from “saugh”, the Scots word for a willow tree, and the second part, “haugh” is a Scots word for a meadow, or the land at the bottom of a river valley, of which “hall” is an anglicization of. Hence, “Sauchiehall” roughly translates to ‘Way of the Willows’.

Originally, the street was a winding, narrow lane, with villas and large gardens. Presumably with willow trees, so you can see where the name comes from. Today the street runs for about a 2.5km (1.5 miles) from the top of Buchanan Street to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where it meets with Argyle Street to form Dumbarton Road.

Sauchiehall Street was formerly home to many local quality department stores and retailers, of which Watt Brothers at the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Hope Street is the only one to survive from those early days. Now its pedestrianized section (east of Blythswood Street) is populated by typical High Street retailers while the western end of the city centre section of the street, by Charing Cross and the M8, is littered with an assortment of restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as Glasgow’s first “skyscraper”, the 10-storey Beresford Hotel, now converted into private flats. Probably the most famous landmark is the Willow Tearooms, originally designed as Miss Cranston’s Willow Tea-Rooms in 1903 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. (Note how the name matches that of the meaning of Sauchiehall Street.)

Quite interestingly, in the Wikipedia article for Sauchiehall Street, someone thought it was worthy to note a notable resident of Sauchiehall Street, one Edward William Pritchard, infamous for murdering his wife and mother-in-law by poisoning, and for that being the last person to be publicly hanged in Glasgow, in 1865.

Glasgow Trivia #18: Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) may be the most famous Glaswegian designer, but one invention which seemingly bares his name was not devised by him: the waterproof raincoat referred to as the “mackintosh“. That distinction belongs to Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), a Glaswegian inventor. The mackintosh first went on the market in 1823 under the name “macintosh”, but has somehow gained the extra “k” to its name, so it’s easy to make that mistake.

[Summer 2010 Poll: Where Are You From?]
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© 2010

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