Gallus Glasgow: Incredible new project brings 1864 bird's-eye map to life

By David McLean

A 'gallus' new project has been launched giving people a unique chance to peel back the decades and see Glasgow as it was more than 150 years ago.

Led by Glasgow City Heritage Trust (GCHT), Gallus Glasgow takes a fresh look at a highly-detailed bird's-eye map of the city drawn in 1864, when our Dear Green Place was well on its way to becoming the Second City of the Empire.

The extraordinary map was created for an edition of the Illustrated London News by 19th century draftsman Thomas Sulman, and is said to have been pieced together using sketches drawn from a hot air balloon.

The map shows a bygone Glasgow that, while still familiar, thanks to the presence of a select band of surviving historic landmarks, even your great-grandparents would struggle to fully recognise.

In Sulman's Glasgow, countless church spires and chimney stalks vie for space alongside grand Georgian and Victorian piles, while the Clyde is crammed with the masts of scores of tall ships.

Complemented by an interactive site, with a zoomable version of the 1864 map, plus some exquisite animation work by SUUM design studio, Gallus Glasgow injects new life into Sulman's static illustrations to give a much fuller picture of a fast-growing city on the "cusp of greatness".

Gemma Wild, Heritage Outreach Manager at GCHT, said Sulman's map shows Glasgow at an "exciting time" in its history, "full of opportunity and optimism".

She said: “The story goes that Thomas Sulman took to a hot air balloon to draw the map for the Illustrated London News, which gives it a unique and highly detailed perspective."

Telling the story of Glasgow as it was at the height of the Victorian age, and using Sulman's intricate map as a vehicle for exploring the next 50 years of civic developments that followed, the project, which runs until March next year, is accompanied by a series of events, including online evening talks and lunchtime seminars.

GCHT say that, while they were keen to celebrate the great achievements of the era, the project also seeks to acknowledge that 1860s Glasgow was a place of contrasts.

Through themes such as urbanisation, industrialisation and public health, GCHT say it will show how the spectacularly rich were living side-by-side with some of the poorest in Britain.

In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, there will also be recognition of the role of slavery in the creation of wealth through colonialism and trade during the period.

The public are being encouraged to contribute to Gallus Glasgow by adding their own stories and other relevant material.

Ms Wild added: "We’re keen for people to get involved by adding their own stories, images and memories to our dedicated project website".

Fans of the map who fancy owning their own copy are in luck, as beautiful high-quality prints have been specially produced as part of the project.

A variety of sizes are available to buy on the GCHT’s website, including full size prints of the whole map, smaller prints of selected areas including Glasgow Green, George Square and Merchant City, and also postcards.

All proceeds go towards funding the work of Glasgow City Heritage Trust.


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