18 Facts About Glasgow You (Probably) Don't Already Know

A compilation of interesting facts about Glasgow, Glaswegians and Scotland's largest city.

Truly a city like no other, Glasgow is home to some truly fascinating history and cultural quirks. Whether you’re just visiting or a Glaswegian yourself, there is so much to take in about Scotland’s largest city that you’d be forgiven for not knowing some of these facts about Glasgow and its citizens. 

But you don’t need our forgiveness, you need knowledge. Without further ado, here are some facts about Glasgow that we dredged up from books, the internet, podcasts and anywhere strange facts might be lurking.

Read on to find out what we discovered…

Interesting Facts about Glasgow

A few interesting facts about Glasgow to kick off the list.

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city

Yes, this is pretty straight forward. But it is interesting!

Despite not being the capital of Scotland, Glasgow is the nation’s largest city. It is the UK’s fourth largest city behind London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Glasgow is home to the UK’s first statue of a Woman Riding A Horse

There’s a lot of misinformation flying around about equestrian statues - perhaps you’ve heard about how the number of feet the horse has on the ground subtly conveys how its rider died (it’s not true) - but this is pure fact.

The first statue of a woman riding a horse appeared in Glasgow in 1854, and it depicts none other than a young Queen Victoria. You can find her in her original place at George Square Glasgow.

There are over 90 parks and green spaces in the city

Despite being Scotland’s most densely populated city, Glasgow has plenty of accessible green spaces to remedy the seemingly endless concrete jungle.

Glasgow’s Patron Saint, Saint Mungo, was the patron saint of Glasgow and Salmon

Saint Mungo’s coat of arms depict the emblems of the four miracles he performed, which are remembered by a popular moniker: “Here the bird that never flew, here is the tree that never grew, here is the bell that never rang, here is the fish that never swam”.

A Glaswegian Invented the Raincoat

There’s a reason some people still call their raincoat a “Mackintosh” - and it’s thanks to a Glaswegian. 

In the early 19th century, Glaswegian chemist Charles Macintosh was experimenting with chemical dyes and stumbled across something extraordinary: a way of waterproofing cotton. By glueing together two layers of cotton between a rubber liquid, Macintosh (finally!) found a way to create waterproof clothing.

It has the 3rd Oldest Underground Railway System in The World

Only London and Budapest have Metro railway lines older than Glasgow - and it’s the only underground to have never been extended beyond its original route. 

The First ‘Prime Minister’ of the UK Was Born in Glasgow

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first UK Prime Minister to use the title ‘Prime Minister’. He served as PM from 1905 until 1908 and died at Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Food Facts About Glasgow

Just a few food facts about Glasgow that'll whet your appetite for knowledge.

43% of Glaswegians Will Leave a Tip at Independently Run Restaurants 

While some people still talk about “Glasgow kisses” or “Glaswegian kisses” (headbutts or punches straight to the face), it turns out that Glaswegians are far more likely to show kindness to waiting staff than other UK citizens. 

In a study conducted by Planday, Scots were the most generous tippers and Glaswegians were the most likely in the UK to leave a tip if the restaurant was independently owned.

Glasgow has the second most takeaway food options in the UK

If you’re hungry in Glasgow, that’s probably your own fault. Glasgow caters for just about everyone’s dietary needs and requirements - so much so that they have the second most takeaway establishments in the whole of the UK - second only to Birmingham.

The Tikka Masala was (Probably) Invented in Glasgow

The legendary premises of Shish Mahal has satiated Glaswegians’ appetite for curries for decades (seriously, it originally opened in 1959). But even more impressive than its longstanding reputation is its claim to have invented the Tikka Masala curry. 

Beyond being considered a national dish of the UK, Chicken Tikka Masala was only recently thrown off its perch as the nation’s favourite curry - to be replaced by the chicken korma. 

In 2013, PETA named Glasgow the most vegan-friendly city in the UK

Not only that, but the University of Glasgow was the first in the UK to be accredited by the Vegan Society.

Surprising Facts about Glasgow

If you already knew all these surprising facts about Glasgow, give yourself a pat on the back.

Buffalo Bill Attended a Rangers Match in Glasgow 

William F. Cody (better known as Buffalo Bill) came to Glasgow in November 1891 as part of a European tour of his Wild West show. 

While in the city, Buffalo Bill, wearing full Western clothing, turned up at the Ibrox stadium to watch the quarter-final match between Rangers and Queen’s Park. According to contemporary reports, he was “enthusiastically received” by fans! 

Eagle-eyed visitors to Glasgow will also notice that there’s a statue of Bill on Whitehall Street.

Glasgow was The First City in The World to Give Nelson Mandela ‘Freedom of The City’

In 1981, Glasgow Councillors gave Nelson Mandela the “Freedom of the City” an honour bestowed upon a person for their service to a city. Mandela, who was still imprisoned, did not initially receive the honour himself. 

Additionally, Glasgow renamed St George’s Place “Nelson Mandela Place” - a significant political move since St George’s Place was home to the South African Consulate (they refused to adopt the name). 

Eight years later, Mandela visited Glasgow to thank the people and the city for their support during his imprisonment.

A Glasgow Carpet Company, Templeton Carpets, Manufactured Carpets for White House and the Titanic

For 160+ years, the finest carpets in the world were considered to be made in Glasgow by Templeton and Stoddard Carpets. 

Among their many achievements, Glaswegian factory workers made the carpets used by Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation and for the Houses of Parliament in Canberra, Australia. 

At one time, Templeton was Glasgow’s largest employer with over 7,000 employees in its roster.

The first African American to earn a Medical Degree attended The University of Glasgow.

John McCune Smith was born into slavery in Manhattan, New York in 1813. He was freed at the age of 14 and after showing exceptional brightness at school was encouraged to pursue his studies. After being denied admission to Columbia University and Geneva Medical College in New York, Smith travelled to Glasgow where he studied to become a physician. 

Following his return to the United States, Smith became the first African American to run a pharmacy.

St Valentine’s Forearm is in Glasgow

Sadly, Glasgow never got the reputation as the City of Love (that honour goes to Paris) and perhaps that isn’t so strange considering the part of him ‘laid to rest’ in the city is…his forearm.

Valentine’s arm was donated by a wealthy French family to the Franciscan Catholic Church in 1868. The bones were later moved to Glasgow’s Church of Saint Francis, and finally ended up in St Luke’s on Ballater Street in 1993, where they have remained ever since.

So there you have it! 18 facts about Glasgow that you now definitely know.

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