This is the Tron Tower in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Tron is a Scottish word for a weigh beam, essential for all trading cities. It is derived from the old French, ‘troneau’ meaning balance. This general area is still called Trongate. The original building was a Catholic Church ‘Our Lady and St Anne’ constructed in 1525 which later was ‘Reformed’ as a Protestant church. The tower was added in 1628 and is all that remains after fire in 1793. A previous devastating fire in 1652 destroyed much of the Merchant City buildings – most of them had wooden frames. Glasgow had various peaks in its history but much of the wealth came from trading tobacco, cotton and shipbuilding. Daniel Defoe, in his book ‘A Vision of Britain Through Time’, wrote –
‘Glasgow is, indeed, a very fine city; the four principal streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have ever seen in one city together. The houses are all of stone, and generally equal and uniform in height, as well as in front; the lower story generally stands on vast square dorick columns, not round pillars, and arches between give passage into the shops, adding to the strength as well as beauty of the building; in a word, ’tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted’.
Let’s not forget, however, that this wealth was built on the back of African slaves. I doubt there is a country in the world that does not have a dark history.
This rather sinister building is the Tollbooth Steeple built in 1626. It was attached to a later demolished town hall, court and jail. Public hangings and other ghastly punishments were a spectacle for the medieval locals.
Glasgow Cross, between High Street leading to St Mungo’s Cathedral, Gallowgate and Saltmarket.
When I was a child this was still the bustling Glasgow Fruit Market. The father of one of my first school friend’s worked here. Every day I looked with interest in her lunch box to see what exotic fruit she had. Now it has been transformed into a bustling, glamorous event space with bars and restaurants. On the day I visited, there was a craft fair in the middle. One of the artists, a man of my age, noted that I had a silky voice with my mutated transatlantic vowels. A silver tongued merchant methinks…
I graduated from college in this very building in 1980 – Glasgow City Halls. I always feel a tinge of regret when I think about my graduation. Family issues made me choose not to continue with a post graduate qualification. In time I could have lectured at my alma mater. One of my fellow students did exactly that with lower grades.
He spent two years wallowing in unrequited love for me because I thought he was gay and he didn’t make his intentions plain. Maybe this is the ‘troneau‘ in life. He got the dream job but not the girl. Speaking of dream girls, I have a new admirer at work. He thinks I am too beautiful to work with the masses. It is hard to know how to respond but perhaps I should retire to my
brown recliner throne and have Teddy bring me sugared plums?