THERE is a famous Sauchiehall Street building named after him, and a grand arch at Glasgow Green was also built in his honour.

But those are only part of Archibald McLellan story.

Archibald, born in 1795, was the son of Glasgow’s leading coachmaker, also Archibald McLellan, whose premises were in Queen Street. He served an apprenticeship in the family firm which, in 1814, became Archibald McLellan and Son.

He studied classics at the University of Glasgow, matriculating in 1808. He was recognised as someone of remarkable talents. Whenever something was needed in Glasgow, McLellan did it, and often paid for it.

(Image: Glasgow City Archives)

The Trades House was the principal activity. He was a hammerman at an early age, became their Deacon before he was twenty-one and later Deacon Convener. He was a Conservative Town Councillor for 30 years.

A central figure at the time of the Municipal Reform Bill, it was thanks to him that the Deacon Convener and Dean of Guild retained their places in the Town Council. This was at a time of large-scale changes to municipal government under the Burgh Reform Act of 1833.

READ NEXT: Astonishing history of Glasgow ice cream shops once slammed as 'evil'

The restoration of the cathedral in the 1830s is considered one of his outstanding undertakings. In 1833 he authored an essay to engage public interest in the dilapidated state of the cathedral which had been left untouched since the Reformation.

The essay included the story that the members of the Trades House had saved it from the fate of the cathedral in St Andrew’s which had been destroyed during religious riots.

(Image: Glasgow Museums)

He and his associates adapted it to suit its use as a Presbyterian church. More controversial was their decision to remove the two towers at the west end of the cathedral.

Many of Europe’s grander cathedrals possessed twin-towered west fronts. Glasgow was no exception. Glasgow’s west front was unique as the towers were not a matching pair and, rather than being in line with the frontage, they jutted forward.

READ NEXT: From nursing revolt to Hollywood glamour: Rich history of Glasgow hospital

The towers, which had been a feature of the city’s skyline for centuries, were demolished one after the other to tidy up the cathedral’s silhouette and create an appearance more acceptable to Victorian taste.

His love of the fine arts, and his acquisition of many expensive paintings, are well recorded. He lived well, with Mugdock Castle as his country house, and 3 Dalhousie St as his townhouse.

He was neither a wealthy merchant nor a prosperous industrialist. His money did not come from his carriage business, especially after he had sold the Queen Street site and moved to Maxwell Street.

(Image: Glasgow City Archives)

Archibald made his money from property development. Much of the south side of Sauchiehall Street was constructed by him. He also had property in Queen Street at the Royal Exchange. He had a leading role in putting the Wellington statue nearby – long before the addition of its famous cone hat.

In his later years Archibald turned to two other issues which were not settled until after his death.

He realised that the frequency with which Glasgow was afflicted by plagues could be attributed to its contaminated water supply, and he was a strong advocate of the Loch Katrine scheme. He was also interested in opening up Loch Lomondside to the people of Glasgow.

His greatest interest was of course the arts. George Eyre Todd said this about his interest. In the early sweep of the Industrial Revolution, Glasgow was a place “laying under the stigma of being without a thought except making money.”  Archibald brought about the change.

He spent a large part of his means in buying paintings by the Old Masters, and he built a range of saloons in Sauchiehall Street to house his collections.

At his death in 1854, he bequeathed the galleries and pictures to the city, but the state of his affairs meant that the bequest could not be conducted.

It was proposed that the Town Council should buy them. After a mighty wrangle, the Council agreed to pay £44,500 for the gallery and the works of art.