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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Glasgow Post-Office in the olden time, and fight for letters by city magnates


TOWARDS the end of last, and early in the present century, the Cross was the great business centre of the city. There the Exchange was situated, where the newspapers were read and the war news discussed by the Virginia Dons who strutted about in wigs and scarlet cloaks. Not far from the Cross, in Gibsonís Wynd (now Princes Street, City), some hundred years ago, the Glasgow post-office was situated. It consisted of three apartments: the front one measured twelve feet square, the other two were mere pigeon-holes, each ten feet by six or thereby. The rent of the premises was £6 or £8 a year. The delivery hole, or wicket, was a hole broken through the wall of the close.

At this time the West India mail arrived only once a month, and upon the arrival of this mail, the pressure that took place at the delivery of letters was quite overpowering. So anxious were our merchants to get their letters that they attended personally, and were wont to push and scramble at the little wicket window in the close for first delivery of their expected remittances.

Upon one of these occasions a fracas took place between Henry Monteith, Esq., and Robert Watson, Esq., banker. From high words they proceeded to downright fisty-cuffs, and had a regular set-to in Princes Street. So long as the contest was confined to words, the future Lord Provost and M.P. had the best of it, but when it came to blows, the banker showed himself the better man. Their friends, however, interfered and separated them, and they are said to have been afterwards fast friends.

About the year 1800 the post-office was removed to St. Andrew Square, where the rent was £12, but the accommodation little better than before. About the year 1803 it was removed to No. 114 Trongate, where the rent was £20, but still with no great improvement in accommodation. Then, in 1810, Mr. Dugald Bannatyne (father of the late Andrew Bannatyne, Dean of the Faculty of Procurators) was appointed postmaster, and he built a more suitable and commodious post-office on the east side of Nelson Street, and Government was so liberal as to pay Mr. Bannatyne a rental of £30 a year for it.

After his death the post-office was removed in 1840 to Glassford Street, on the site where Messrs. Wilson & Mathesonís warehouse now stands; and then in 1856, it was removed to South Hanover Street. The foundation stone of a new and enlarged post-office, fronting to George Square, was laid by the Prince of Wales on the 17th of October, 1876, who, with the Princess and the princes Albert Victor and George of Wales, had been for some days the guest of Colonel Campbell at Blythswood House, Renó frew. A further extension is now in course of erection, with a frontage to Ingram Street. When it is finished, nearly the whole square or block, bounded by George Square, South Frederick Street, Ingram Street and South Hanover Street, will be occupied and in use for post-office purposes.


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