This morning, I collected tour group from Park Terrace in Glasgow’s West End at 8.00 am and then embarked on a motor coach tour of key sites associated with Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson (1817-1875). Thomson was possibly the greatest mind in Scottish architecture and obtained the sobriquet ‘Greek’ due to his belief that the architecture of ancient Greece could be the basis of modern architecture. However, Thomson never actually visited Greece.

(Most of the images shown herein are from the writer’s library due to poor light conditions on the day aggravated by rain.)

Our first stop was the Sixty Steps (1872), a monumental flight of steps which connected a now demolished bridge across the nearby River Kelvin.Note massive retaining walls.

Sixty Steps, Queen Margaret Place, Glasgow

Next we crossed (on foot) a bridge over the River Kelvin to visit nearby Northpark Terrace (1863-5), one of Thomson’s austere designs comprising a long infill terrace of retained and repetitive rectilinear elegance.

Northpark Terrace, Hamilton Drive, Glasgow

Next, we drove a short distance, down the Great Western Road to Great Western Terrace (1867-77). This is Glasgow’s grandest terrace and most unusual in that the taller houses are placed at the middle, rather than at each end. the design is severe, relying on repetition and careful proportions.

Great Western Terrace, Great Western Road, Glasgow, Scotland

Great Western Terrace, Great Western Road, Glasgow

Next to St Vincent Street Church in the city centre. This dates from 1857-59 and is the only surviving intact church by Thomson.The structure is raised on its man-made Acropolis on the steeply sloping site. The ionic porticoes are purely symbolic whilst the tall steeple suggest indian influences.

St. Vincent Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland

Next we visited the Glasgow School of Art, the interior of which suffered extensive fire damage on May 23rd 2014. This building was completed in two halves between 1899 and 1909. It has been called the most important building world-wide in the first decade of the 210th century. The School of Art was not designed by Thomson but Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), another of Glasgow’s world-class architects.

Glasgow School of Art, Renfrew Street, Glasgow

Next to the Caledonia Road Church in the Gorbals District. This dates from 1856-57. Now a ruin due to arson, this was Thomson’s first church. Note elevated portico and unusual tower, possibly with German influences.


Our final visit was to Holmwood House (1857-58). This is Thomson’s finest and most elaborate villa.Here Thomson used the Greek style asymmetrically according to Picturesque styles.

Holmwood House, Cathcart, Glasgow, Scotland

Holmwood House concluded our tour. Group were then transferred to Glasgow University.

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