22nd August 1888 - City Chambers Opens

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22nd August 1888 - City Chambers Opens

"I gladly inaugurate these new municipal buildings, which are worthy of the ancient renown and modern prosperity of your great city."

So said Queen Victoria when, on 22 August 1888, she opened Glasgow’s City Chambers. The visit coincided with the International Exhibition which took place in Kelvingrove Park between May and November 1888.
The City Chambers was designed by William Young, a Paisley-born architect and winner of a competition staged by the Town Council. The opulent building was a statement of intent and represented Glasgow’s growing wealth and influence on the international stage.
The building continues to function as the headquarters of Glasgow City Council, but has also appeared in films as the Vatican and the Kremlin.
Glasgow City Archives holds a number of records that tell the story of this magnificent building.
Image 1 - Foundation Stone.jpg

Laying the foundation stone (ref: P1745)

The foundation stone was laid on 6 October 1883 by Lord Provost John Ure. The ceremony was so well attended that some Glaswegians took extra steps to get a good view – look at the brave spectators on the rooftops!

Image 2 - Foundation Stone Ceremony Card.jpg

Invite to foundation stone ceremony (ref: D-TC6/460)

A card showing the details of the ceremony. Note the previous municipal buildings in the four corners of the document. The city’s archives have been stored in each of these buildings.

Image 3 - Foundation Stone Expenses.jpg

Statement of expenses for laying foundation stone (ref: MP9.182)

This extract shows some of the expenses associated with the foundation stone ceremony. £600 was spent on fireworks in four of the city’s parks, with the total costs of the occasion reaching £11,150 – the equivalent of over one million pounds today.

Image 4 - Proclamation (cropped).jpg

Proclamation (ref: D-TC6/581/1)

This proclamation sets out the arrangements for Queen Victoria’s visit to open the new City Chambers building. You can view the full text of the proclamation on the Glasgow Libraries Facebook page.

Image 5 - Elevation to George Sq image.jpg

Elevation to George Square (ref: D-AP4/1)

William Young’s original drawing. Young actually won the second competition to design the building. The first was won by George Corson, but his design was ruled out as it could not have been built within the allocated budget of £150,000. The scope of the project was increased for the second competition and the budget raised to £250,000.

Image 6 - Interior, Banqueting Hall Staircase.jpg

Banqueting hall staircase (ref: T-HL169, p.11)

The beautiful arcade corridor and the banqueting hall staircase in 1888. The City Archives holds many fantastic photographs of the building’s ornate interior.

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