Monday June 16, 2014
Glasgow has some secret spots, but few are so enchanting as the Sixty Steps. Tucked away off Queen Margaret Drive, the only public structure by the great Victorian architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson invites discovery.
On Sunday 15 June, as part of the 2014 West End Festival, the Greek Thomson Sixty Steps Preservation Trust was once again welcoming visitors. New signs and a viewing bench were unveiled, exciting restoration plans discussed, and young Scottish actor Patrick Wallace performed a specially-written one-man show, ‘Intimations of Mortality’.
Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson was an architectural genius who left his mark on Glasgow. Inspired by the ancients, he created breathtaking monuments such as the St Vincent Street church. His Sixty Steps, by contrast, is something of a folly.
Commissioned by an enterprising property developer who wanted to draw house-hunters to land he had bought in North Kelvinside, the Sixty Steps was completed in the early 1870s.
Comprising a sweeping staircase bounded by a wall bearing traces of windows and doors, and crowned by a romantic ‘bellevue’ looking out across the river Kelvin, the structure originally stood amid rolling fields.
Gradually, the tenements and villas that surround it now were built and over time Thomson’s flight of fancy fell into disrepair: during World War II the cast iron lamps that Thomson designed to flank the steps were removed, and the stonework started to crumble.
Now, thanks to Glasgow City Council and the efforts of the Greek Thomson Sixty Steps Preservation Trust there is a determination to restore the structure to its former glory.