chapter  14
‘To knock fire out of men’
Forging modernity in Glasgow
Pages 24

From the magisterial urban interventions of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson (1817-

75) in the 1850s and 60s to the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

(1888-1928) and his Glasgow Style associates in the opening years of the twen-

tieth century, Glasgow has been associated with manifestations of the modern in

design, architecture and urbanism. This chapter explores the ways in which

these two generations gave spatial and visual expression to the urban experience

of modernity in Glasgow, capturing the sense of explosive dynamism,

complexity and friction implicit in Francis Newbery’s metaphor of civic life as an

industrial forge. The notion of forging modernity also resonates with the trans-

formation of Glasgow in the second half of the nineteenth century into an indus-

trial powerhouse of the British Empire, a transformation as ideologically fraught

as it was economically empowering.2