Glasgow: The “greatest Victorian city in the world”
In Pavement in the Sun, 1967, page 189, Jack House provides an account of John Betjeman’s impression of Glasgow. The visitor:
“was so entranced by Victorian Glasgow. ‘The headquarters of the Victorian Society shouldn’t be in London,’ he said. ‘They should be here. This is the greatest Victorian city in the world.”
John Betjeman (1906-84) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster, who also was a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. The Victorian Society was founded in the 1950s, and its founder members included John Betjeman and Nikolaus Pevsner. The organisation is described as a UK charity and the national authority on Victorian and Edwardian architecture built between 1837 and 1914 in England and Wales. Its principal intention at its foundation, was to counter the “widely prevalent antipathy to 19th- and early 20th-century architecture.”
Following his account of Betjeman’s visit to Glasgow, Jack House added:
“Just a year or so later a conference of British architects expressed exactly the same opinion. Fortunately we have some lively organisations devoted to keeping what we can of the good Victoriana in Glasgow. And I believe that even Glasgow Town Council are beginning to realise what treasures lie under their noses. (You might think that this is not an apt phrase. How can a Victorian building lie under a Town Councillor’s nose? You don’t know our Town Councillors or their noses!).” pages 189-90, op. cit.