Heritage & Monuments

George Square

Scotland / Europe

George Square was laid out in 1782 and named after George III. It was originally a piece of marshy land called Meadowflats. Today it is Glasgow’s most prominent public open space and is now widely considered the heart of modern Glasgow. The square holds an important place in Glasgwegians lives, in the past and to the present. It has been the focus of political rallies; rent strikes in the First World War, women’s suffrage and the infamous Bloody (or Black) Friday riots, which took place on 31 January 1919, when 60,000 protesters campaigned for a 40 hour week. Today the commemoration of our Armed Services, takes place around the cenotaph. The Eastern side of the square is occupied by the City Chambers and gradually houses were built around it, many in Victorian times, some of which became hotels after the opening of Queen Street Station on the North Side. The Millennium Hotel was built in 1979 and replaced the North British Hotel, formerly “The George” (built in 1787). On the South side stands the former Head Post Office. By the time Queen Victoria visited it in 1888, it was described as “one of the finest civic enclosures in the whole kingdom”. The spacious pavements contain many monuments and statues. In the middle of the square stands The Cenotaph, built by Sir John Burnet between 1921 and 1924, to commemorate those who died in the First World War. There is the 80-foot high fluted ionic column topped by the a statue of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), by John Greenshields, erected in 1837. There are also equestrian statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-77). Other statues include Robert Burns, the famous Scottish bard (1759-96), Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore (1761-1809), fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna in the Peninsular War, sculpted by John Flaxman (1755-1826) in 1819; Field Marshal Lord Clyde (1792-1863), who led the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in 1858, sculpted by John Foley (1818-74) in 1868; the poet, Thomas Campbell (1777-1844); the chemist, Thomas Graham (1805-69); James Watt (1736-1819), inventor of the steam engine; and British politicians – Robert Peel, and W.E. Gladstone. Today the square is alive with open-air concerts, pop-up events, and ice-skating at Christmas.

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