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A SPECIAL FEATURE FROM SCOTLAND'S ONLINE TOURIST GUIDE
The largest of these businesses was Laird's Cabinet Works, who had a
large red-brick building behind the lane, and which
stands to this day. Of those that were interesting, as opposed to just
large, then the Flag Maker, D. McNee, must rank fairly high. Slightly
later, in 1899, there was also a firm with the grand title, The Ottoman
Art Hassock Co. Clearly, Glasgow's Hidden Lane has hidden many wonderful trades over the years.
By far the most interesting is the sculptor James Young. He first
appears in the lane around the late 1870s, and remains there into the
twentieth century. But who was he?
Well, James Young was a rather famous stone sculptor. Not far from The
Hidden Lane is Kelvingrove Park where you will find the Stewart Memorial
Fountain, a stunningly beautiful water fountain full of carved stone.
James Young carved some of it while under the employ of J & G Mossman. He
went on to set up his own company, and you will find examples of his
fine stone carving all over Glasgow.
THE HIDDEN LANE. It is a phrase that brings to mind mysteries and
secrets and witches and wardrobes. But what is it? Well, from a tourist
point of view it's not really very much at all other than a cafe, and an
art gallery called The Hidden Lane Gallery which isn't actually in The
Hidden Lane. That said, it's a very good cafe, and Glasgow's Hidden Lane
is worth checking out for the cafe alone.
But what exactly is it that makes The Hidden Lane so special? For if you
pay it a visit you will find vehicles parked haphazardly on an old
cobbled surface, and a motley collection of brick buildings and shacks
that really don't look all that appealing. Other than the cafe and the
art gallery there is nowhere that you can go into and explore. I mean,
there's only so long that you can stand watching a man and his van
trying to escape the parking melee before a rather awkward atmosphere
What is remarkable about Glasgow's Hidden Lane is the sheer variety of
trades and industries that have occupied it since Victorian times. Back in
1879, for example, when 1103 Argyle Street was actually 197 Dumbarton
Road, there was a blacksmith, wright, mahogany merchant, slater,
brickbuilder, plasterer, flag maker, laundry, cabinet works, and a
sculptor. Now, in anyone's books, that is a fairly comprehensive and
impressive range of industries
The building in Jamaica Street, for example, that houses MacSorley's
Bar, contains carved stonework made by Young's company. Carved stone
heads thought to be members of the original bar owner's family were
probably the work of James Young. His firm carved stone on Mackintosh's
Glasgow Herald building in Mitchell Lane, on Kelvingrove Art Gallery and
Museum, and all over the city. They even carved the stone unicorn that
sits on top of the Mercat Cross. James Young's firm has indeed been
described as Glasgow's 'most prolific and important firm of sculptors at
the end of the 19th century'.
Today, The Hidden Lane continues to be home to a great and wondrous
variety of businesses. There are craft workshops and old red-brick
buildings housing firms like Finch & Fouracre (Modelmakers & Designers),
Spot Specific (who provide a mobile app authoring cloud service), Pete
Gillies (stained glass craftsman), and many many more.
And that is what Glasgow's Hidden Lane is really all about. It is, and
always has been, a special place where special people make special
things happen, a place where the mystical and at times alchemical
amalgamation of art and craft ensures continued growth for the city of
Glasgow. The Hidden Lane.