The Argyll Arcade
The Argyll Arcade
By:, Categories: Words & Images, 5 comments


For almost 200 years it has been a jewel in Scotland’s architectural crown and a magnet for shoppers. Today, Argyll Arcade, in the heart of Glasgow, remains almost intact, the oldest covered shopping mall in Scotland, well known for its jewellery shops.


The iconic L-shaped arcade was built in 1827 in the chic Parisian style, and cut through old tenements, creating a short-cut between Argyle Street and Buchanan Street, the biggest retail street in the UK outside of London. It’s accessed through a centre bay with paired mosaic, semi-domed tympanum at each entrance; and the main one, on Buchanan Street, has recently taken on a cat-like appearance with some imaginative work with its Christmas lights makeover.


Designed by John Baird (1798-1859), the building was Grade A listed in 1970 recognising its special architectural and historic national importance as Europe’s oldest covered shopping malls (and is the only remaining arcade now in the country). It was restored to its original Victorian pomp and splendor after a two-year, £750,000 conservation programme that was completed in 2011.


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  • A suitable post for the run up to Christmas. As you entered by Buchanan Street, a side entrance to Wylie's department store was on the right hand side. It had a fantastic toy department and of course Santa Claus was in residence every December. Further up the arcade on the left hand side was The Doll's House, full of girly toys as I remember, but at the top left hand side just before the turn towards Argyle Street was every boy's idea of heaven - The Clyde Model Dockyard.

    There used to be another arcade in 1960's Glasgow - The Queen's Arcade which ran northwards from Renfrew Street towards the Cowcaddens. My only memory of it was that it was pretty seedy, even to a 10 year old boy. Perhaps it was the inspiration behind the famous lines -

    "I'll be a drug fiend,
    And take morphia that maddens,
    And buy dirty books
    In a shop in Cowcaddens!"

    By "only remaining arcade now in the country" I presume you mean Scotland, as I believe the Central Arcade in Newcastle, home of the famous JG Windows music shop, is still on the go.

    Great post!

    • Yes, Brian, I was pandering to your nationalistic bent with "country" meaning Scotland!

  • Oops - it was Wylie Hill's department store at the Buchanan Street entrance to the Arcade. There was a Wylie & Lochhead across the road just to confuse things!

  • waw! every day is a school day I had no idea the argyle arcade had been open that length of time thanks for the read

  • The entrance building in Buchanan Street is more recent - it has a late Victorian look about it. What lies behind it is much older, for instance Morison's Court (including the back entrance to Sloan's) dates from 1797. At the time the Court was built it was at the westernmost extremity of Glasgow. The buildings at the entrance to the Arcade on Argyle Street have an early 19th Century look - they are much plainer than the mid to late 19th Century buildings of Buchanan Street.

    I had a wee walk through the Arcade today and couldn't help but feel disappointed to find that the Clyde Model Dockyard had failed to materialize from circa 1965.