The Castles of Scotland

14K Gold Turquoise & Pearl Mackintosh Necklace

The Municipal Buildings,
page 3 of 8

inadequate for conducting with efficiency the varied civic, legal, and penal functions of an increased population. To these features were also added the justiciary trials and all the prison requisites and accommodation for nearly the whole of the county of Lanark. The necessity for new and more commodious buildings was first discussed by the Town Council in 1805, but with no result. In November, 1808, a new Committee, with the Lord Provost as convener, was appointed to look out for a proper site and report. The spot agreed upon was at the western extremity of Glasgow Green, at the foot of Saltmarket, and there the foundation stone was laid in September, 1810; but it had only been a few years in use when the unfortunate fact was evident that the locality was totally unsuited to the requirements of business, and the population always moving west. The building as it still stands is one of the finest specimens of architecture in the city. Glasgow was steadily expanding to the west and north, and, after the opening of the Royal Exchange in 1829, it became more and more inconvenient for gentlemen engaged in business in the neighbourhood of Queen Street and Buchanan Street to attend meetings at the foot of Saltmarket. Bitter dissatisfaction prevailed on all hands. The feeling grew strong, and at last found distinct expression in a letter addressed by Dr. Cleland to Alexander Garden of Croy, then Lord Provost of the city. In this able and exhaustive communication Dr. Cleland advocated the appropriation by the Town Council of St. George’s Church. Though this scheme was not entertained, the matter was fast becoming a burning question, not only to the magistrates and merchants, but also to the citizens. Sheriff Sir Archibald Alison, the sheriff-substitute, and all the court officials were also indignant at the indifferent accommodation afforded them in their administration of the duties of the Crown. Accordingly, on the 26th April, 1836, an Act was passed which authorised the Glasgow court-houses commissioners with power to erect new buildings for the accommodation of the municipal authorities, and for both the sheriffs and justices of the peace Of the county. It was resolved to erect the new edifice on part of the block bounded by Wilson Street on the south, and Hutcheson and Brunswick Streets on the west and east. These buildings, of which the elevation to Wilson Street is strikingly handsome, were erected in 1842, at a cost of £54,000. Here, for a period of thirty years, were located side by side, the municipal authorities on the west side of the block, and the sheriffs of Lanarkshire on the east side, until the vast strides which the city was making in commercial enterprise, manufactures, and, consequently, in population, rendered additional accommodation in both departments an urgent necessity. An extension was made in Brunswick Street in order to avoid congestion in business in the Sheriffs’ section of the buildings; but this afforded only a partial and temporary relief, so it was ultimately resolved that the City Corporation should remove to some other locality, and thus leave the County Courts of Law in possession of the whole buildings.

As regards the site to be chosen, there was a very marked difference of opinion amongst the members of the Town Council. One section of the city’s rulers, with what might be now termed prophetic instinct, advocated the promotion of a bill to acquire the ground on which the Municipal Buildings actually now stand. The then Lord Provost, Mr. Rae Arthur, headed this party. The other section of the Council strongly advocated a more restricted and economical scheme, that of simply extending the existing buildings, by acquiring the remainder of the ground between Wilson


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