Yesterday, we visited the Lighthouse, a former newspaper office designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh which has been renovated into an art space, design studio office and historical exhibit. We’ll probably return in a few days to see the view from the observation tower which was unfortunately closed.
Today, we started the day at the Cup Tea Lounge which is built in an old bank building. The space, which also hosts a bar at night offering 71 type of gin, has a beautiful ceiling with tiled original walls.
In the early afternoon, we visited the Tenement House Museum, an example of a tenement rental housing in Glasgow’s past. The original apartment was rented by a woman who stayed there for more than fifty years from 1911 onwards. When she passed away in 1975, the house was already left for ten years untouched and inside were all of her belongings, letters and ephemeria. I didn’t know what to expect from this historic site, and didn’t think it would be that interesting. However, it turned out to be really a delight, with its four room flat a curious look into the 20th century. Upstairs, they’ve kept the home as close to original as possible, with coal fired kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and sitting room intact. Inside you can smell the faint scent of coal gas being used to light the lamps.
I found the personal items archived to be particularly insightful: Miss Toward, the woman who lived there, wrote to a friend in 1945 that perhaps people might travel by airplane and see the world. She kept her ration stamp book and gas mask from the Second World War, along with postcards from travel to British resorts. The only item she purchased when converting the house to electricity was a radio, made of a caramel coloured bakelite.
Just down the street, on the steep hills west of Glasgow’s core, we took a tour of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibits at the Glasgow School of Art, an active campus of artists, designers and architects. As we were guided through the modern new building to see historic exhibits, students strode through with their portfolios and projects between classrooms and communal spaces. Curved walls and light tunnels cut vertically through the space, with some walls covered in posters for student activities. It probably takes a lot of work to design a poster at an art school. No firing up Microsoft WordArt for these folks.
Across the street is the original school building, which was unfortunately closed due to a fire two years ago and is being renovated.
We walked back across Sauchiehall Street, and back down Buchanan Street to the Merchant City area of Glasgow. Along the way, I walked into an Argos location, which is a catalog order store. It brought back memories of Consumers Distributing in the 1980’s in Canada, where stacks of paper catalogs were delivered to the public, and you ordered by visiting the retail location. Sometimes, it was mail ordered in, though most of the time a local cache of items were in the back room. An anxious few minutes were spent waiting for the clerk to take your order, written on a carbon copy slip of paper, and to check for inventory in the backroom. Once it appeared in the counter window, you knew you were in luck. Visiting Argos today really refreshed that childhood memory of Consumers.