The urbane West End seems a world away from Glasgow’s industrial image and the bustle of the centre. In the 1800s, wealthy merchants established huge estates here away from the soot and grime of city life, and in 1870 the ancient university was moved from its cramped home near the cathedral to a spacious new site overlooking the River Kelvin. Elegant housing swiftly followed, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was built to house the 1888 International Exhibition and, in 1896, the Glasgow District Subway – today’s underground – started its circuitous shuffle from here to the city centre.
The hub of life hereabouts is Byres Road, running between Great Western Road and Dumbarton Road past Hillhead underground station. Shops, restaurants, cafés, some enticing pubs and hordes of students give the area a sense of style and vitality, while glowing red sandstone tenements and graceful terraces provide a suitably upmarket backdrop.
The main sights straddle the banks of the cleaned-up River Kelvin, which meanders through the gracious acres of the Botanic Gardens and the slopes, trees and statues of Kelvingrove Park. Overlooked by the Gothic towers and turrets of Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Park is home to the pride of Glasgow’s civic collection of art and artefacts, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, off Argyle Street.