Online Debate: Gallus Glasgow: The greatest Victorian city in the world?

Thursday 24th February 2022 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

John Betjeman (1906-84) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster, who was also a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. In Pavement in the Sun, 1967, Jack House provides an account of John Betjeman’s impression of Glasgow. The visitor “was so entranced by Victorian Glasgow. ‘The headquarters of the Victorian Society shouldn’t be in London,’ he said. ‘They should be here. This is the greatest Victorian city in the world.”

The vast majority of the city as seen today dates from the 19th century. As a result, Glasgow has an impressive heritage of Victorian architecture: the Glasgow City Chambers; the main building of the University of Glasgow, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott; and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, designed by Sir John W. Simpson are examples.

However, we have seen high profile cases in recent years of significant Victorian buildings that have fallen into disrepair, neglect, been subject to fire and demolished. GCHT has produced an annual ‘snapshot report’ on the current state of Glasgow’s historic built environment since 2018. The 2019 report showed that the condition of buildings in Glasgow on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland has deteriorated over the last decade.

Is Glasgow really the ‘Greatest Victorian City in the World’ as Betjamen famously said? What can we learn from other cities with similar densities of significant historic buildings about how to protect this irreplaceable heritage? Is that heritage worthy of World Heritage Site status, and is that something that we, as a city, would want?

Join us for a lively debate on this fascinating topic. Find out what our expert panellists think about Glasgow’s Victorian heritage and the best route to protecting it, then we’ll open it up to you for questions and discussion.

Chair: Glasgow Lord Provost Philip Braat.



Free, booking required, donations welcome. 


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