For our group of 24, the first stop was The Trades Halls of Glasgow in Glassford Street where, after coffee, we had a fascinating lecture from Dr Robyne Calvert, the Mackintosh Fellow at Glasgow School of Art. The topic was the collaborative work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh; and Margaret and Frances Macdonald. Robyne demonstrated the symbolism of the work, assuming correctly that her audience would be familiar with the appearance of the work, particularly the Willow Tearooms. She believed that some critics had rather overdone the search for symbolism. She reminded us that Rennie Mackintosh believed that, while he had talent, Margaret had genius!

This was followed by a revealing tour of The Trades Halls which incorporate 14 historical trades. The roots of the crafts go back to medieval times and the building work commenced in 1791. Robert Adam was the architect, but did not live to see it completed; and his brothers James and William oversaw the completion in 1794. There are several most attractive and interesting rooms and the guide also gave a fascinating history of the incorporated Trades - definitely worth a visit on Doors Open Days. It is in fact the second oldest building in Glasgow still being used for its original purpose, the oldest being the medieval cathedral.

After an enjoyable lunch at the Osteriadel Tempo Perso in John Street ,we repaired to the City Chambers for the afternoon tour. This is a most ornate and prestigious building completed in 1887 and opened the following year by Queen Victoria. Glasgow City Council generously organise two free tours each day and these are well worth attending. The Council Chamber is particularly engrossing; and we were amused to hear that the chairs in the raised public gallery are nailed to the floor so that disgruntled Glaswegians cannot throw them at the councillors! As a Glaswegian myself I’m sure that this is a gross slander! It was also interesting to see the magnificent Banqueting Hall where among others of great note, Nelson Mandela and Sir Alex Ferguson, were given the Freedom of the City. Many of the stunning paintings in this room are by the “Glasgow Boys”.

I hope everyone enjoyed this fascinating and worthwhile day. I suspect that most of us  slept well that night!

Angela Taylor