Why I’m exploring Glasgow with a 1930s guidebook

why im exploring glasgow with a 1930s guidebook

Glasgow is haunted by itself. Unlike Edinburgh, whose every steeple and gable makes the past feel part of the present, Glasgow is its own ghost.

In this city, which looks much more new than the capital, history is glimpsed from the corner of the eye; it is a shiver on a late-autumn night as darkness falls on Duke Street and the brewery smell fills the air. Glaswegians are chronic nostalgists. We have a pretty straightforward relationship with the past: we just want to live there.

All of which is why I am standing in the Necropolis, the city’s great Victorian cemetery, holding a tourist guide from between the wars. The Ward, Lock & Co guide to Glasgow, the Clyde and Robert Burns country – “with appendices for anglers, golfers and motorists” – is a little red book, published in 1930, with fold-out maps and quaint adverts: “Electric light throughout,” tempts one of the grander hotels. “Hot and cold water in bedrooms.” Ward Lock guides to the UK first became available in the 19th century, when the railways created a tourism boom. They are useful rather than lyrical: their tone is that of a well-informed and cheerful companion who, while keen to stick with the itinerary, knows a decent little place for a cup of tea should refreshment be required…

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