Tobacco Road
Tobacco Road
By:, Categories: Words & Images, 4 comments


‘Tobacco Road’ is remembered as Erskine Caldwell’s 1931 novel that was made into a movie of the same name; but more famously perhaps as John D. Loudermilk’s song that became the big trans-Atlantic hit of 1964 for the British band with the very American-sounding name doing American blues, The Nashville Teens


But there’s also another sort of ‘Tobacco Road’ found in the heart of Glasgow’s stylish Merchant City, where you’ll find Virginia Street, Virginia Court and Virginia Place all cobbled together in the one little area – and the irony wasn’t lost on me either when I took this photo, because across the road there are two ladies in the doorway of their place of employ taking a quick – cough cough, wheeze wheeze – cigarette break.  


In Virginia Street, you’ll find a plaque that marks the spot of the Tobacco Exchange where sugar and tobacco were traded in the 18th century – and this is what brought great wealth to Glasgow. On the back of slave labour, tobacco became the most important commodity brought in from America, as Glasgow’s strategic sea trading position on the west coast meant a trip across the big pond to Virginia (and vice-versa) could be completed 20 days faster than a trip from London.


This resulted in almost half of the tobacco coming into Europe being distributed through Glasgow, as it was then exported on to England, France, Holland and Germany – and the wealth generated through this soaring tobacco trade is what helped to build Glasgow and established it as the Second City of the Empire.


Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (250)

Xtol 1+1 (12min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan



  • SinceTobacco is now a Dirty word though it's really all those carcinogenic additives and preservatives that make it so
    Perhaps Cannabis can be the source of New Income

    • Yes, but unfortunately today with air travel, Glasgow doesn't have the 20-day trading advantage it did from sea, as it did back then. That's what made the difference; and that's basically where Glasgow's wealth derived from to build the city.

  • How long was the entire trip, Glasgow to Virginia?