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The Stone that Built Glasgow - City Chambers

A cache by Heidi Seekers Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 07/22/2014
1.5 out of 5
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Geocache Description:

Glasgow City Chambers

Sandstone is the dominant building stone type used in Glasgow. Two types of sandstone were generally used in the construction of the buildings - the so-called 'red' and 'blonde' sandstones.  Many of city’s stone buildings were built in the second part of the 19th century and are now of an age where some of the stonework is showing signs of decay and require repair. The legacy of air pollution from industry and domestic coal burning through much of the 20th century has accelerated stone decay in many parts of the city. 

Situated in the heart of the city, Glasgow City Chambers has been casting its impressive shadow over George Square for over 120 years. At the time of its construction, it was the most expensive building in Europe. Its distinctive domed tower and carved stone facade provide the backdrop to a thousand tourist photographs and diverse cultural events throughout the year, while the building acts as a suitably prestigious home for the headquarters of Glasgow City Council. Famous for its opulence, with its stunning interior, the building, is an architectural gem and is well worth a visit.

Glasgow Town Council chose the eastern edge of George Square as the site for its new, purpose-built offices in the early 1880s. A competition was held to find the design that best reflected Victorian Glasgow’s salubrious status and Paisley-born, London-based architect William Young was chosen as the winner. The foundation stone was laid in 1883, an event which saw 600,000 people crowding into George Square, including some resourceful locals who climbed high onto roofs and scaffolding to get a better view of proceedings. Officially opened in 1888 by Queen Victoria, the complex interiors were finally completed in 1890.

Despite the grandness of the exterior, all is not as it seems - the imposing sandstone conceals a more modest (and much cheaper) brick structure. In all 10 million bricks, 9,905 cubic metres of stone and 537.7 cubic metres of granite were used in the construction of this A-listed landmark.

The granite can be seen at the base of the building, with sandstone above and covering the majority of the building.  

Your tasks

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  1. Look at the two main building stones (the granite and the sandstone). Describe how they differ from each other? (colour, texture, etc)
  2. During the industrial era, the sandstone used on Glasgow's buildings turned black. What caused this?
  3. Many of Glasgow's buildings have undergone cleaning and repair in recent years.  Can you see any evidence of this on the facade?
  4. What are the properties of granite which make it more suitable for use as the foundation stone of the building?
  5. As an optional extra, post a picture on your log of yourself and / or your GPSr in front of the City Chambers.

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