In the latter half of the 18th century several prestigious housing projects had been undertaken to the east of the Saltmarket which included St. Andrew's Square and Charlotte St.. The Town Council wished to encourage the continued growth of this now fashionable area of the city and to facilitate this it obtained an enabling Act of Parliament in 1793. This allowed it to sell off portions of the Glasgow Green for development. In particular the Council turned its attention to the Calton (or Gallowgate) Green where it desired a terrace of high quality tenement houses to be built.
The Council caused improvements to be made to the old lone which ran to the north of these lands and changed its name to Great Hamilton St., now part of London Rd. To the south, and parallel to it, they opened up a new street in 1819 on the Calton Green, to be known as Monteith Row, and where the houses were to be built. It was named after the Lord Provost of the time, Henry Monteith. This site commanded a splendid view of the Glasgow Green, which in the same period was undergoing improvements to further enhance the area.
Monteith Row was originally designed by the architect David Hamilton (1768-1843), was largely built by Thomas Binnie to modified plans over a period from 1818-1845, and became home to many well-respected, prominent and wealthy citizens of the town. At one time so many medical men were resident there that it was nicknamed the "Doctors' Row." It also provided a temporary home for the first Roman Catholic religious congregation to reside in Glasgow since the Reformation when 3 sisters of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception were brought from Flanders in 1847. These moved to Charlotte St. two years later.
Such was the influence of the residents of Monteith Row that when London St. was being extended eastwards they caused its proposed course to be diverted into Great Hamilton St. rather than have it join up to Monteith Row, which it was felt would be detrimental to the ambience. This notable diversion is still in existence.
Although it continued to be a reputable address towards the end of the 19th century, the trend for several decades previous to this was for the wealthier citizens of the town to move to the west and away from the grime and factories of the east end. Thereafter the Row fell upon harder times which included it within the gradual decline of the whole Calton area. The Green in front of the Row eventually developed into something of a "Red Light" district which has continued until the present day, although moves are being undertaken to "encourage" a removal of this profession elsewhere.
By the 1980s most of Monteith Row was taken down with the site now largely occupied by a Barratts housing development. This has been given the name of Weavers' Court in commemoration of the area's historical connection with that trade. All that remains of Monteith Row is a single block, No 14, which is now used as a hotel for the more socially excluded in our city - the Monteith Hotel.
© 2005 Gordon Adams
NOTES: Updated for 1st March, 2010.
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