All cities have their iconic streets. One of my favourites is Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End. It stretches from the working class district of Partick at one end, to the beautiful Botanic Gardens and mansions of Great Western Road at the other. With both the University of Glasgow and, until their recent move to Pacific Quay, the BBC Scotland studios close by, it has a vibrant, diverse feel to it.
Visiting Byres Road on my trips back to Scotland, it remains familiar, and yet new enough, to still excite me. I love how Byres Road honours its past by not knocking down ‘old’ buildings, but by repurposing them, turning an old church into a theatre, and an art deco cinema into a restaurant. The city – and street – is alive!
My grandparents used to live about halfway up Byres Road, and I spent a lot of time there when I was a wee girl. Much has changed since then. The pork butcher shop, which I remember having tiled walls, carcasses hanging from hooks which dripped blood onto the sawdust covered floor, is now an Oxfam shop, while Colquhouns, where we used to go for lunch on a Saturday, now houses a Pizza Express.
Byres Road has many of the stores you expect to see on any High Street – Boots, Marks and Spencer Food etc – but there are some great independent shops too where you can buy unique gifts.
And if you fancy getting a cup of coffee from ‘The Tardis’ you’ll find that there too!
The butcher shop I remember has long gone, but down near the Partick end there’s another butcher with a good sense of humour. I used to hate potted meat! Yes, I guess that means I was a ‘toff’.
And if you fancy stepping back into history, pop into Curlers Rest (formerly Curlers) for a drink. Established in the 17th century, it used to stand beside a pond where – you guessed it – they curled in the winter.