WHICH of Glasgow’s factories was inspired by an Italian palace? What important city building’s design was decided by a competition? Where, in 1920, could you pick up your very own Albert motorcar?

Our city’s buildings have a rich and fascinating history – captured in the treasure trove of architectural plans kept by Glasgow City Archives at the Mitchell Library.

Archivist Nerys Tunnicliffe explains: “There are more than 150,000 sets of architectural plans for Glasgow in our holdings and they are extremely popular with architects, local historians, artists and even familytree researchers.”

She smiles: “There are some fantastic ones - buildings like Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Scotland Street School, the Battlefield Rest and the Botanics Garden Garage, and I have always liked the ABC Cinema on Sauchiehall Street, damaged in the recent fire. I wish it could have been saved.”

Despite the huge range of spectacular buildings included in the collection, Nerys says the most popular ones are those of ordinary tenements.

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Glasgow Times:

“It’s not so surprising, given the number of people who are living in or who have grown up in tenements,” she says.

“These plans are often drawn beautifully, showing features like box bedrooms, sculleries, cupboard presses and washing houses which bring a real connection with history.”

Nerys and her colleagues, Lynsey Green, senior archivist Irene O’Brien, Barbara Neilson and Michael Gallagher – have launched Ask the Archivist, a fantastic new campaign which gives people the chance to ask them questions about a range of topics based on their collections. More details are available on the Glasgow City Archives Facebook page.

Ask the Archivist is part of #glasgowlifegoeson, which highlights the services available online from the city’s museums, sports, arts and music facilities.

Here are seven superb things you may not know about some of Glasgow’s buildings which feature in the archive.

Glasgow Times:

1 The design of the City Chambers was decided by a competition, which was won by architect William Young. The first foundation stone for the building was laid by the Lord Provost in 1883 and it was officially opened in 1888 by Queen Victoria.

2 The amazing façade of Templeton’s Carpet Factory on Glasgow Green was designed by architect William Leiper and is said to be inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice).

3 An advert in our sister newspaper The Glasgow Herald (as it was then) in January 1920, announced the Botanics Garden Garage was taking orders for ‘The Albert, a 12hp motor car’. This lovely building, with its large windows finished in green and white glazed tiles, was the UK’s longest surviving purpose-built motor garage until its recent refurbishment.

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4 It was once described as “the most exotic tram shelter in Scotland” - the Battlefield Rest, built in 1915 and now a popular restaurant is decorated with gleaming green and cream tiles and has an octagonal clock tower.

Glasgow Times:

5 The wonderful Britannia Panopticon, built on New Wynd Lane, Trongate in 1857, is the world’s oldest surviving music hall. Early audiences were merciless and turns could find themselves pelted with shipyard rivets, nails, rancid turnips and horse manure, while urine might rain down on them from the balcony.

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6 Famous artists James Guthrie and EA Walton – part of the legendary Glasgow Boys – were members of Glasgow Art Club, which has occupied its Bath Street premises since 1893. Interestingly, the pioneers of this group had initially been refused membership. (At least they got in eventually – women had to wait until 1983.)

Glasgow Times:

7 It’s a Thai restaurant now, and it used to be the old home of the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) but the building on the corner of Buchanan Street and Nelson Mandela Place began life in 1908 as the Glasgow Liberal Club - the name is still carved above the door.