By: jbhthescots@mac.com, Categories: Words & Images, 6 comments




Ah, Glasgow! Back among ‘my ain folk’.


From just 77,000 in 1801 Glasgow expanded to a metropolis of one million souls by 1912 (and arguably 1.8 million if its district is included). This made it the second-largest city in the United Kingdom and on some estimates the sixth largest in Europe, on a par with the likes of Berlin, Vienna and St Petersburg. Hardly surprising then that during this period Glaswegians proudly referred to the ‘dear green place’ as the ‘Second City’, later adding ‘of the Empire’.


And this well-hidden sign which displays the word “Empire” backwards on both sides is actually a piece of public art. It won the Turner Prize in 1996 for Douglas Gordon, an internationally renowned artist from Glasgow who studied at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art. Originally erected in Brunswick Lane, it now sits in the even more inconspicuous back alley of Tontine Lane, part of the Merchant City, leaving many of its neighbours, many of whom are students, blissfully unaware of its existence.


There are lots of interpretations about this sign, none of which have been confirmed. One refers to Gordon’s work in video and film and his passion for Hollywood movies and Alfred Hitchcock. A similar “Empire” sign appears in the Hitchcock movie Vertigo. But another interpretation may refer to Glasgow’s role as the Second City of the British Empire.


Leica M3 & 50 Summilux V2
Kodak TMax 100 (@200)
HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)
Vuescan & Plustek 7600i




  • Yummy Good, off to a Grand Start wetting out Appetite for all thats Scittish
    Thiugh the Glasweigans feel they are the Center of the Universe
    Stayed back in the late 80's in Glasgow @ a Victirian Hotel if i remember correctly above the train station ... And visited Adam Mclean's 'Alchemy' shop
    Heading to Inverness then Skye
    sipping Oban 😉

    • That would have been the Central Hotel - The Central Station and hotel will feature in the blog. The Central Hotel was one of Frank Sinatra's favourites. Sipping Oban - No better way to head to Inverness and Skye.

  • Errrh my spelling
    Writng on a NYC subway ... Apologies

    • I always wondered who it was who did all that graffiti on the NYC Subway!

  • Haha, well someone has to Entertsin the masses...

    Do hope you will cover The Fringe... And tell us your spin and favourite Haunts
    Saw Muriel Sparks, Martin Amis & Jeanette Winterson there
    Love the Glass Hotel in Edinburgh and its 'Honour Bar'
    where You help youself and leave what $ you deem fit (for hotel patrons only)