As the second largest city in Scotland, Glasgow has had a long and prosperous history to become one of the busiest locations in the UK. A lot of this prosperity came from its involvement with the industrial revolution in the 1800s, where the steel and coal industries became its main source of income. Situated next to a port, Glasgow’s ship building trade also played a huge part in the revolution.

6th Century: The Beginning

Glasgow was probably founded in the 6th century, although there is not exact documentation of this time. St. Mungo built a church on Glas Gu (green place), which became a settlement for fishermen. Eventually this settlement grew into a small town.


St. Mungo’s church was converted into a cathedral in 1136 and, shortly after, the King gave Glasgow a charter, meaning that the townspeople were granted certain rights.

Medieval Glasgow

During the middle ages, Glasgow’s population grew to around 1,500 – a large settlement at that time. The city consisted of four main streets – difficult to imagine now!


In 1457, the university was founded, attracting scholars across the country. Not long after that, Glasgow was made a royal burgh in 1454.


By the 1600s, the population had grown to around 7,000. However, the plague saw the death of many. Despite this devastation, the city recovered and continue to grow over the coming years.


Poor, overcrowded and slum-like conditions led to a high infant mortality rate. The health within Glasgow at this time was dire; a cholera outbreak in 1849 and again in 1854 caused the death of over 3,000 people at both outbreaks.


During the World Wars, Glasgow was the centre for the manufacturing of ships, meaning that this industry recovered from the depression. Later in the 20th century, the ‘slum clearance’ programme meant that people were rehoused to flats in and around the area. This freed room for the implementation of infrastructure such as the M8 motorway and the Kingston Bridge.

Since then, Glasgow has turned to its art, culture and heritage to attract visitors and provide jobs. Industries such as retail, finance and tourism grew rapidly and, today, the population has increased to over 598,000.

Did You Know?

  • In 2014, the city was given the certificate for achieving ISO 20121 (the international standard for sustainable event management). This was following the Commonwealth Games, where venues were constructed with recycled food waste!
  • The athlete’s village in Dalamarnock has more than 700 homes with solar panels
  • The university in Glasgow has green sources to produce its electricity, saving around 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • The city is home to trees that are twice as old as dinosaurs!
  • There are over 20 museums, most of which are free entry for the public