Glasgow Trades Hall

This evening, I am posting information on my visit earlier today to the Trades Hall of Glasgow.

The Hall is now owned by independent trustees for the public good but the underlying organisation dates back to medieval times and the Fourteen Incorporated Crafts of Glasgow which are: Hammermen, Tailors, Cordiners, Maltmen, Weavers, Bakers, Skinners, Wrights, Coopers, Fleshers, Masons, Gardeners, Barbers and Bonnetmakers and Dyers. Each year these entities elect the members of the Trades House which began in 1605 as the Deacon Convener’s Council. Before the advent of the Welfare State in Britain this type of organisation played a role in assisting disadvantaged sections of the community and there remain funds available today for educational and other good purposes.

The building itself is of architectural merit, having been designed by Scotland’s leading architect of the day, Robert Adam (1728-92) who was awarded the mandate in 1791. After the death of Robert Adam, his two younger brothers supervised completion of the building which opened in 1794. Further work was undertaken in 1837-38 by David Hamilton (1768-1843)  and in 1888  by James Sellars ( 1843-88) , both of whom were also leading Glasgow architects. Today, the Trades Hall represents Robert Adam’s only surviving work in Glasgow.

Key aspects of the Trades Hall are:

Entrance Vestibule

→This was reconstructed in the 1930s. The floor is an intricate mosaic inset with the arms of the Trades House.

→The walls are panelled in oak with painted decoration by John Keppie (1862-1945).

→Two carved oak benches which run the length of the passageway which, inter alia, feature the crests of the  fourteen Incorporated Trades.

Entrance Vestibule, Glasgow Trades Hall

Reception Room

Originally let as shops but subsequently incorporated into the main building. In here are two Deacons’ Chairs.


Added in 1838 by David Hamilton. Now used to host meetings, receptions, dinners and seminars. Particular features include:

→The white marble fireplace was designed by Robert Adam and  moved to the saloon by Keppie.

Adam Fireplace, Glasgow Trades Hall

→The Deacon Convener’s Chair of State, designed by David Hamilton in 1819. Features fourteen silver shields each engraved with the coats of arms of the Incorporated Trades.

Deacon Convenor’s Chair, Glasgow Trades Hall

→Stained glass portraits from 1916 of King James VI, William Beattie (elected 1913) and Mary, Queen of Scots. The latter donated the former Blackfriars Monastery site as new premises for Glasgow University.

The Grand Hall

Adam’s original design has been subject to extensive remodelling, particularly in the 19th century. Key features:

→The rooms is symmetrical in design with three large and two smaller windows which flood the room with light.

→The windows have been restored to Adam’s original design.

→The ceiling has been twice replaced with current version made of waxed and fireproofed avodire wood from W.Africa.

→The ceiling is dominated by a seven metre dome.

Dome, Glasgow Trades Hall

→There is a high level frieze which runs the entire perimeter of the room. This dates from 1903 and depicts the fourteen Incorporated Trades.

Section of Frieze, Glasgow Trades Hall

Panels and Portraits

The collection includes a portrait of Frederic Chopin who visited Glasgow in 1848.

Chopin Portrait. Glasgow Trades Hall

Stained Glas Window

Shows the old arms of the Crafts as they appeared in 1888 when the Hall was remodelled by James Sellars.

Stained Glass at Glasgow’S Free Trades Hall

Craftsmen’s Gallery

Was originally added as an extension in 1808 as a purpose built school room for the Trades Free School. Provided education for about sixty pupils.

This is an intriguing building fully deserving of a visit.

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