WHERE IS IT? On James Watt Street next to the IFDS, accessed either via Broomielaw near the Tradeston Bridge or Argyle Street
The behemoth of a building was originally used as a tobacco warehouse, a very important trade back when Glasgow was an international shipping port. While tobacco was first shipped to the city in 1674, in 1779 the French handed Glasgow a monopoly of the tobacco supply to their country.
This category B listed warehouse was built later in 1854 for Connel & Co by architect John Baird, known for his severe and reserved style, and under whom Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson was an assistant. Unfortunately, Baird died in 1859, so his assistant turned partner James Thomson, along with his two sons, William Aitken Thomson and James Baird Thomson, carried out additions to the building’s façade in 1904 for the Glasgow Tobacco Warehouse Company. Around the same time, the Black family became involved in the warehouse. Originally a cattle farmer, Donald Black turned to rowing scows filled with tobacco from Port Glasgow along the Clyde to Glasgow, stored at the James Watt Street building. Donald’s son Archibald gained employment in the warehouse, and by the time the Thomson’s had finished their improvements to the building exterior, Archibald’s son Donald was manager. The owner of the warehouse, J Carfrea Alston, retired, and so Donald, along with his bookkeeper William J. Isbister, formed the Glasgow Tobacco Warehouse Company and bought the building.
Four generations later, and the building is still in the family, although the business itself has changed. With the slump in Glasgow’s tobacco trade, the building and business were rebranded to GTW Storage Services Ltd, offering storage solutions to businesses and individuals.
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