October 2, 2022

STUDYING HISTORY just isn’t for everybody. “Why dwell on the previous when the long run issues?” is a typical chorus. Nicely, as a self-proclaimed philistine historian (I studied geography in highschool), I now freely admit that I’ve develop into interested by our previous. Occasions and customs, traditions and habits which have contributed to the formation of contemporary society.

With an apology to Moist Moist Moist and their hit: “The story is throughout us, ….. It is written within the wind, it is in all places I am going.” It appears regrettable, then, that our gurus of historical past schooling on the Scottish Board of Examiners suppose it applicable to exclude Glasgow from the record of cities on the west coast of Nice Britain, whose wealth, progress and prosperity itself was primarily based on a commerce that was inevitably related with the transatlantic slave commerce. Solely Liverpool and Bristol ought to be awarded this doubtful honor within the revised Nat 5 Historical past program (the previous O stage for previous beauties like me).

So my early historical past classes (earlier than geography took over) centered on early Glasgow, rising up alongside the Molendinar mountain vary and shifting into the sixteenth century Reformation. (The considered the bishop being “kicked out of city” captured my creativeness.) If I had held out for an additional 12 months or two, I might need realized that by the mid-18th century Glasgow and its Clyde ports have been importing huge portions of tobacco, rum , sugar, and later cotton from the Caribbean and American colonies, typically aboard ships constructed by Clyde.

By then, Glasgow retailers dominated town via their buying and selling actions, dominating the panorama with their city middle mansions, their philanthropy, their examine locations, and their management positions. The commerce in sugar, rum, tobacco and cotton was the muse on which Glasgow’s wealth was primarily based, and it was Glasgow’s industrial connections that, over three centuries, underpinned the financial transformation of a small market city into the world’s main industrial energy. And it was this wealth that in the end set the engine of the Industrial Revolution in movement, permitting Glasgow to proclaim itself the second metropolis of the Empire. An empire constructed on the black slave labor of the colonies.

“Historical past is throughout us…”: Within the metropolis centre, the names Buchanan, Bell, Spears (Wharf), Ingram, Cochrane and Glassford (all tobacco lords) are all acquainted road names. And plenty of, many extra have ties to commerce with the colonies. Suppose additionally of the streets of Tobago and Jamaica and Radio Clyde’s each day morning rush hour site visitors reviews in Kingston and Plantation.

Now I’m not a supporter of gesture politics, such because the removing of the Colston statue in Bristol, or proposals to take away a few of the statues from George Sq. due to commerce hyperlinks. They, along with road names and mansions, portraits, public buildings and philanthropy, are an integral a part of Glasgow’s historical past and can’t merely be copied from our previous by well-meaning educators.

“Historical past is throughout us…” and nonetheless disagreeable and distasteful we might discover many elements of it, it must be instructed to assist us perceive the previous and construct the long run.

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