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Heat, Light, Sound and Sewage: Building Glasgow's City Chambers

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New Glasgow Society

1307 Argyle Street

Glasgow

G3 8TL

United Kingdom

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Building Glasgow's City Chambers with all modern conveniences in the 1880s
Dr Nina Baker DL, PhD, BSc, FIESIS, HonMWES

The Glasgow City Chambers complex was built in the 1880s and is considered to be one of the finest examples of municipal building in the UK. In daily use for political, administrative and civic functions since the day it opened, this building is the embodiment of the city and its history. I will introduce you to the structure and building services of the building and the construction processes which brought them about.

Superficially the building seems to be the epitome of tradition: ornate stone inside and out with many Italianate stylistic features. However, hidden from view are many aspects that were at the forefront of their technologies at the time. Regrettably, there is no comprehensive book about the building and there are only the most basic of plans or records of changes over the 130 years of its history. So I have been researching in archives, having conversations with the janitorial staff, doing detective work, and drawing conclusions from what can be seen today.

Behind the fine masonry, faience tiling, elaborate plaster ceilings, marble linings and wood panelling, are the vast amounts of plumbing, heating and ventilating and utilities to keep hundreds of workers comfortable. At a time of transition for many of these building services, Glasgow was keen to show off its technical prowess and the chambers building was one of the earliest significant public buildings to have electric lighting from the start. We will look at the remaining traces of these original services and how they have had to be changed over the decades -and hear about what went wrong along the way.

Dr Nina Baker has had a varied career as a merchant navy deck officer, materials engineer, administrator and most recently as a city councillor. She is now a historian specialising in construction history and the history of women in engineering. This talk will be the first time her research on the city chambers has been heard in public.

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New Glasgow Society

1307 Argyle Street

Glasgow

G3 8TL

United Kingdom

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