British Linen Company Bank, 162-170 Gorbals Street:
Located in the Old Gorbals district of Glasgow, south of the River Clyde is sited this lone tenement, the last surviving tenement in the area. The Old Gorbals area had a rich and varied architectural tapestry comprising of streets lined with Victorian sandstone tenements, churches and a wealth of minor buildings as well as a magnificent Greek Thomson tenement. All were swept away by the redevelopment of the area in the post-war decades when the slum clearances and subsequent demolitions destroyed the architecture of the area. The wholesale destruction of this area for at the time modern tower blocks seems incomprehensible in our current times, where tenements are recognised as buildings to be restored, not demolished.
Today the area is largely run down and many of the tower blocks have themselves been demolished or are scheduled for demolition as low-rise housing is currently favoured. Amidst the empty streets survives a single tenement, and it is not a run of the mill snadstone tenement, but rather a magnificent highly individualised tenement designed in 1897 by one of Glasgow's famous architects; James Salmon Jr.. The four storey building was originally a branch of the British Linen Company Bank on the ground floor and has a wealth of arts and crafts style details. The south end of the east elevation has two bay windows which originally had an arts and crafts style iron balcony above, and the north end over the main former bank door is demarked by a tower style projection from the facade and was originally topped by a feature finishing the tower. Today the building has been empty for over 20 years and lies derelict in a poor condition. The original slate roof has been replaced with a modern metal profile covering which is a solution to keeping the building rain and watertight whilst it languishes in its derelict state.
The building is in need of new occupation and extensive restoration, it deserves this not only as an example of James Salmon Jr.'s work, but also as an example of the Glasgow style and the case for restoration is even more pressing given that this is the last remaining tenement in this area, its continued decline is an architectural tragedy and mocks the supposed value the city fathers claim to have in this city's architectural heritage.

references: Small, S. (2007), Greater Glasgow: An Illustrated Architectural Guide.

street address:162-170 Gorbals Street, Glasgow, G5 9RB
Latitude / Longitude: 55.850124,-4.254228 (sourced using Google Maps)
Site visit dates: 29 April 2012




east front elevation. the building is boarded up and relatively secure with a temporary metal door and bricked up entrances. The typical plant growth and stone decay of such a neglected building are present (29/04/12)


the north end of the east elevation has a tower feature rising up over the main door to the former Bank which occupied the ground floor area (29/04/12)


main doorway with keystone in the arch above and stylised captials above the plumped columns (29/04/12)


original ironwork can be seen above the bricked up doorway (29/04/12)


ornate capitals at the ground floor level (29/04/12)


the magnificent carved signage of the British Linen Company Bank with Britannia at its centre (29/04/12)


detail of the carving (29/04/12)


triangular pediment with a claok of arms within (29/04/12)


the tall slender window of the tower feature with its elegant swept triangular top with arts and crafts botanical inspired carving, reminiscent of William Morris (29/04/12)


arts and crafts botanical inspired carving, reminiscent of William Morris (29/04/12)


east elevation (29/04/12)


east elevation ground floor, with the bank main door, large arched windows and to the left (south) the doorway to the floors above (29/04/12)


britannia carving (29/04/12)


capital (29/04/12)


doorway at number 168 to the floors above (29/04/12)


decorative scroll over the doorway at 168 (29/04/12)


view up the east elevation over the doorway at 168 (29/04/12)


small carved detail (29/04/12)


view from the south-east (29/04/12)


view looking up at the projecting bay windows of the first and second storeys (29/04/12)


first floor bay window (29/04/12)


capital atop the pilaster at the south end of the east elevation (29/04/12)


arched window on the top storey atop the bay windows (29/04/12)


front east eleavtion chimney. Note the delamination red sandstone and missing lime mortar (29/04/12)


south elevation (29/04/12)


small metal ties are present linking the stonework of the east elavtion to the brickwork of the south elevation (29/04/12)


random uncoursed rubble stonework of the north and rear elevation (29/04/12)


view up the north elevation (29/04/12)


unusual ground floor window turning the corner on the north elevation (29/04/12)


smashed and boarded up windows on the rear (west) elevation (29/04/12)


missing windows on the rear elevation allowing weather and pigeons to gain access (29/04/12)


to the rear of the building are several single storey buildings. These are not part of the original Salmon Jr. tenement design (29/04/12)


west elevation and the single storey buildings to the west (29/04/12)


west elevation with the metal profile roof covering (29/04/12)


rear elevation with the metal profile roof covering (29/04/12)


view from the north-west (29/04/12)




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view from the north-west of the rear and north elevation with the building in the distance in the shadow of a pair of tower blocks. (29/04/12)