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Blythswood Hill, leading to Blythswood Square, is one of the central hills overlooking the River Clyde, which form the city of Glasgow, Scotland, and was developed as one of its prestigious residential areas from 1800 onwards, being known then as ″the magnificent New Town of Blythswood″.[1] After the Reformation the Lands of Blythswood were owned by Sir George Elphinstone and changed to the Douglas-Campbell family during the 17th century. Archibald Campbell, whose son became Lord Blythswood, set about feuing the lands to developers.[2]

Blythswood Hill
Blythswood Hill is located in Glasgow council area
Blythswood Hill
Blythswood Hill
Location within Glasgow
OS grid referenceNS583656
Council area
Lieutenancy area
  • Glasgow
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townGLASGOW
Postcode districtG2
Dialling code0141
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°51′46″N 4°15′57″W / 55.862689°N 4.265708°W / 55.862689; -4.265708Coordinates: 55°51′46″N 4°15′57″W / 55.862689°N 4.265708°W / 55.862689; -4.265708
West George Street on Blythswood Hill, Glasgow city centre, viewing west
St Vincent Street on Blythswood Hill, Glasgow around 1830, viewing east.

It lies on the western flank of Buchanan Street and rises to a plateau before dipping again towards the Charing Cross area of Park Circus and of Woodlands.To its north is Garnet Hill. Blythswood Hill contains the area from Renfrew Street, Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street south to Bothwell Street, and below to Argyle Street, and from West Nile Street westward to Elmbank Street and beyond.[3] The first street to be opened up was Bath Street in 1802, by textile manufacturer and builder William Harley (1767-1830) who also formed his pioneering public baths, dairy and bakery at its eastern end. [4] His planned Blythswood Square at the western end sits partly on his pleasure grounds, viewing tower, orchards and bowling green which he opened for the public, next to his house of Willow Bank.[5]

Blythswood developed due to the mercantile expansion of the city in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, housing the city's wealthy cotton merchants and shipping magnates in Georgian townhouses and Victorian terraces. The area is on a grid-iron layout which started first around George Square in the 1790s, adopted by Glasgow Town Council, and continued for urban development west over Blythswood, and south over the Clyde to Tradeston, Laurieston, and Hutchesontown. The grid-iron system was later adopted in 1830 by New York, followed later by Chicago, and other cities in America.[6]

Blythswood Square was the home of Madeleine Smith - a daughter of leading architect James Smith - who in 1857 was tried in the High Court for the murder by arsenic poisoning of her lover Pierre Emile L'Angelier. Although the case was not proven, to the delight of the public, the story scandalised Scottish society, and is recounted in Jack House's 1961 book Square Mile of Murder.

Today, residential use is returning to Blythswood Hill, while remaining mainly offices, hotels, shops, restaurants and art organisations.The conversion of the former Royal Scottish Automobile Club building at 8-13 Blythswood Square to form the Blythswood Square Hotel [1] is a current example of the enhancement and improvement of the whole of Blythswood Square.

Notable buildingsEdit

  • Blythswood Square Category A listed terraces on each of its four sides (c.1823 – 1829) frontages by John Brash for the trustees and successors of William Harley [7]
  • Blythswood Square Hotel (2009) conversion of Royal Scottish Automobile Club, remodelled 1923 by James Miller.[8]
  • St. Vincent Street Church (1859) by Alexander "Greek" Thomson, St Vincent Street. [9] One of Glasgow's significant ecclesiastical buildings in architectural terms after the Cathedral.
  • St. Stephen's Renfield Church (1852) by John Thomas Emmett, corner of Bath Street and Holland Street
  • Elgin Place Congregational Church (1865) by Sir J.J. Burnet, corner of Bath Street and Pitt Street (demolished 2005)
  • Adelaides Baptist Church and Centre (1876) Thomas Lennox Watson, corner of Bath Street and Pitt Street
  • King's Theatre (1904) for Howard & Wyndham Ltd by Frank Matcham, corner of Bath Street and Elmbank Street
  • Glasgow Art Club (1840s) 185 Bath Street, with gallery added by John Keppie and Charles Rennie Mackintosh [10]
  • Sovereign House (1893 onwards) 158/160 West Regent Street at West Campbell Street, formerly Institute for Adult Deaf & Dumb, and Church for the Deaf
  • Commercial Bank former, (1930s) by James Miller 92 West George Street, at corner of West Nile Street
  • James Sellars House formerly the New Club, (1880) James Sellars 144/146 West George Street
  • 198 West George Street at corner of Wellington Street, (1820s) self contained example of original townhouse
  • Lloyds/Union Bank of Scotland (1927) bank headquarters by James Miller 110 St Vincent Street, corner of Renfield Street
  • 200 St Vincent Street formerly insurance headquarters (1929) by Sir J.J. Burnet at corner of West Campbell Street
  • Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow (1821 onwards) 242 St Vincent Street, with its College Hall added by James Miller [11]
  • Bothwell Chambers (1850) by Alexander Kirkland 4-28 Bothwell Street, corner of Hope Street, first and original buildings in new street and first purpose-built speculative offices in Glasgow
  • Mercantile Chambers (1900) by James Salmon 35-69 Bothwell Street
  • Scottish Legal Building (1927) by Wylie, Wright & Wylie [12] 95 Bothwell Street, entire street block


  1. ^ Architecture of Glasgow by Andor Gomme and David Walker, published in 1968 and 1987
  2. ^ Glasgow Past and Present, by Senex and others, three volumes published in 1884
  3. ^ Buildings of Glasgow by Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, published in 1990
  4. ^ William Harley:A Citizen of Glasgow, by J Galloway, published in 1901
  5. ^ William Harley:A Citizen of Glasgow, by J Galloway, published in 1901
  6. ^ Glasgow Past and Present, by Senex and others, three volumes published in 1884
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

External linksEdit