GLASGOW is renowned for its shops, as demonstrated in the photographs and publicity material here at the City Archives.

In the mid 1800s the city , like many in the UK, was influenced by Parisian-style arcades, which allowed discerning shoppers to promenade under cover while browsing.

Although the Glasgow arcades never flourished in quite the same way as in other European cities, the most famous and sole remaining arcade in the city today, the Argyll Arcade, is still celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

Glasgow Times: Queen Arcade entrance, 1960s. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

The Argyll Arcade, the earliest shopping arcade in Scotland, was built in 1827 by architect John Baird Senior, who was influenced by Burlington Arcade, London with its glass roof and cast-iron framework. As an L-shaped thoroughfare running between two of Glasgow’s busiest shopping streets, it has always appealed to high quality shops and is now mostly associated with jewellery and watch businesses.

However, there were once seven other shopping arcades in the city centre, although most were much smaller in scale and less grand.

Glasgow Times: Wellington Arcade, 1925. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

Perhaps best remembered is Queen Arcade which ran north from Renfrew Street up to what was Russell Street (later Wemyss Street). Constructed in the mid-19th century, it was decorated with pictorial tiles by Glaswegian architect, etcher and journalist James Moyr Smith and others. It had pubs at both entrances, The Arcade Bar and Camp Bar, perfect for refreshment after shopping! It housed a range of small shops that often changed hands. Despite this the arcade lasted until it was demolished in 1966.

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Across the road from Queen Arcade, running from Renfrew Street down to Sauchiehall Street was Wellington Arcade. Possibly also designed by John Baird, it originally thrived in ‘Glasgow’s Soho’ surrounded by cafes and theatres. It too had pubs at each entrance including the Metropole Bar, a common place of refuge for husbands during their wives’ shopping trips. In 1930 it was torn down to make way for a Woolworths.

One arcade I’d love to have visited was the Royal Arcade at Hope Street next to the Theatre Royal, built in 1850 and said to include a fountain, marketplace and band stand. It was gone by 1906 after a fire and changes to the street layout.

Other lesser known arcades were the Milton Place Arcade at William Street; Hope Street Arcade, part of the Blythswoodholme Hotel; Millar’s Arcade at Saltmarket, which catered mostly for bookshops; and Campbell Arcade off Trongate, a cul-de-sac full of grocery shops.

How would these arcades fare now, as shopping trends change again? Perhaps the Argyll Arcade, still going strong, is the answer. And regardless, Glasgow remains a retail hotspot.