Gallus Glasgow D: Donald Dewar

By Panayotis Vryonis from Athens, Greece (Glasgow) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Panayotis Vryonis from Athens, Greece (Glasgow): CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Donald Dewar was a Scottish politician who was a major force in securing victory in the devolution referendum of 1997, resulting in the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. He was the inaugural holder of the post of First Minister but died in October 2000, not much more than a year after taking office. He was held in considerable affection by many people so, a couple of years later, a statue (by Kenny Mackay) was erected at the foot of the Royal Concert Hall steps (above).

Thomas Nugent [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Thomas Nugent CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Now, Glaswegians have a strange relationship with statues. They see them as a challenge, and poor Donald’s spectacles were fair game. Time and again, they were crumpled, broken or even removed altogether. The solution? The nine-foot statue was further elevated onto a smooth, tapering six-foot high plinth in the hope of preventing access. It doesn’t stop folk making sure Donald is nice and warm in the bad weather though!

Actually, he’ll soon have to be on the move. Glasgow City Council in its wisdom – or otherwise given the number of empty shops elsewhere – wishes to expand Buchanan Galleries, the adjacent shopping mall. The council is NOT gallus. The statue will be moved further down Buchanan Street and the Concert Hall steps demolished. This is considered disrespectful: 12000 people objected, there was a petition and a campaign to Save our Steps. The steps are where people eat their lunch in the summer while listening to buskers playing in the street below. They are used as a gathering place for protests and rallies, such as during last year’s independence campaign. An area which, though modern, has some character, will be replaced by concrete and glass – a cylindrical atrium which has already been dubbed, in inimitable Glasgow fashion, the People’s Pedal Bin. That IS gallus.

There are no A to Z posts on Sunday so on Monday, in E, I will introduce you to a Saint.


39 thoughts on “Gallus Glasgow D: Donald Dewar

  1. Inger D. Kenobi April 4, 2015 / 10:24

    Love Glasgow. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! See you Monday:)


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 14:50

      Thank you – hope to find time for some catch up visits over the weekend.


  2. Heyjude April 4, 2015 / 13:32

    I am enjoying learning about Glasgow and Glaswegians. Very entertaining 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 14:53

      Thank you! I was hoping to find things that non-Glaswegians didn’t know about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. vannillarock April 4, 2015 / 14:40

    People’s pedal bin LOL yep that sounds like Glasgow humour 🙂
    Now you have me scratching my head on the Saint – I can only think of mungo so maybe it’s sports related. Look forward to Monday
    Nice post!


      • vannillarock April 4, 2015 / 15:08

        After I commented it was bugging me so I googled it- but that doesn’t count! So the station/shopping centre it is:)


  4. Marion Ueckermann April 4, 2015 / 16:04

    Loved this. And loved seeing the mention of Buchanan Galleries which I used in a novella set in Glasgow which is under consideration by my publisher 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 17:34

      Wow! I like shopping there, but I think it’s big enough.


  5. Birgit April 4, 2015 / 18:13

    OK I just love that he is being outfitted at certain times. I also thought “what a wonderful place to have him in front of those nice steps” only to read that they are being demolished-I bet they don’t like the people congregating there.


  6. jazzfeathers April 4, 2015 / 20:20

    Love that statue 🙂

    And I hope you’ll succeed in keeping your Steps. Places have a soul. It’s always a shame when they are marred and destroyed.


  7. clicksclan April 4, 2015 / 21:07

    I was so excited to see this picture, we walked past those steps the Friday before last and I remember nervously climbing them on the way to my Open University exam several years ago!

    I love seeing the crazy things that happen to statues in Glasgow; a traffic cone is an essential piece of headgear for any self-respecting statue.

    I have a funny feeling who Monday’s saint will be. 😉


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 21:09

      And you will probably be right. And you will probably meet the cone in a later post!


  8. Rhonda Albom April 4, 2015 / 22:56

    Interesting. At least it was only his spectacles, not his arm like that mermaid statue in Denmark.


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 23:03

      Oh yes, I had forgotten about that! At least she got her arm back.


  9. Nadine April 4, 2015 / 23:07

    Poor Dewar! I hope he finds a permanent home that’s satisfactory to his fans.


    • Anabel Marsh April 4, 2015 / 23:27

      I hope so! He looks grand where he is now at the top of the hill watching over the city.


  10. Danielle L Zecher April 5, 2015 / 00:03

    That’s sad that the steps are going to be demolished.

    The statue looks so cozy in his scarf.


  11. Donna April 5, 2015 / 00:21

    He looks quite smashing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a statue of a politician that color green. Minneapolis (along with not giving our buildings fun names) also doesn’t pay attention to our statues of local politicians. We’re actually quite boring.


    • Anabel Marsh April 5, 2015 / 07:37

      Surely not! You probably have other quirks. Glasgow is definitely quirky about statues – there’ll be more later on.


  12. njmagas April 5, 2015 / 02:20

    Aww. That’s a beautiful concert hall. I hope it can be saved. It would be a shame for it to be destroyed. 😦

    N J Magas, author


    • Anabel Marsh April 5, 2015 / 07:41

      The hall will stay but they’re changing the entrance from the grand steps. Part of the reason is to make it more accessible (the accessible entrance is on the other side of the building) and I can’t argue with that. But I think there must be better ways to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Alex Hurst April 5, 2015 / 07:18

    I hope the campaign to save the steps follows through! It’s a beautiful locale… and I love when the locals dress up their statues. 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh April 5, 2015 / 07:48

      I think that battle has been lost. The council wants to extend the shopping mall and nothing stands in the way of commerce!


      • Alex Hurst April 5, 2015 / 07:51

        😦 noooo.


    • Anabel Marsh April 5, 2015 / 13:48

      I know, it’s rubbish isn’t it?​

      Anabel Online

      On 5 April 2015 at 13:38, Anabel's Travel Blog wrote:



  14. Sarah Ferguson April 5, 2015 / 19:37

    What a cool idea for the A to Z Challenge (which is how I go there) – can’t wait to read more!


  15. Sue Archer April 5, 2015 / 19:50

    I love how Donald is being kept warm! That’s terrible that such a wonderful space is being demolished.

    Thank you for introducing me to gallus – a new word for me. 🙂


  16. julieffisher April 5, 2015 / 23:50

    Lovely blog! You’re making me want to visit Glasgow!


    • Anabel Marsh April 6, 2015 / 08:17

      Thanks Julie! That’s part of my aim, to make people who don’t know it want to visit.


  17. Lori L MacLaughlin April 7, 2015 / 13:43

    It’s terrible what decisions are made in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Those steps are too beautiful to destroy for a mall. I like Donald’s winter attire!


I'd love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s