Gallus Glasgow D: Donald Dewar

By Panayotis Vryonis from Athens, Greece (Glasgow) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Panayotis Vryonis from Athens, Greece (Glasgow): CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Donald Dewar was a Scottish politician who was a major force in securing victory in the devolution referendum of 1997, resulting in the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. He was the inaugural holder of the post of First Minister but died in October 2000, not much more than a year after taking office. He was held in considerable affection by many people so, a couple of years later, a statue (by Kenny Mackay) was erected at the foot of the Royal Concert Hall steps (above).

Thomas Nugent [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Thomas Nugent CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Now, Glaswegians have a strange relationship with statues. They see them as a challenge, and poor Donald’s spectacles were fair game. Time and again, they were crumpled, broken or even removed altogether. The solution? The nine-foot statue was further elevated onto a smooth, tapering six-foot high plinth in the hope of preventing access. It doesn’t stop folk making sure Donald is nice and warm in the bad weather though!

Actually, he’ll soon have to be on the move. Glasgow City Council in its wisdom – or otherwise given the number of empty shops elsewhere – wishes to expand Buchanan Galleries, the adjacent shopping mall. The council is NOT gallus. The statue will be moved further down Buchanan Street and the Concert Hall steps demolished. This is considered disrespectful: 12000 people objected, there was a petition and a campaign to Save our Steps. The steps are where people eat their lunch in the summer while listening to buskers playing in the street below. They are used as a gathering place for protests and rallies, such as during last year’s independence campaign. An area which, though modern, has some character, will be replaced by concrete and glass – a cylindrical atrium which has already been dubbed, in inimitable Glasgow fashion, the People’s Pedal Bin. That IS gallus.

There are no A to Z posts on Sunday so on Monday, in E, I will introduce you to a Saint.


  1. I love how Donald is being kept warm! That’s terrible that such a wonderful space is being demolished.

    Thank you for introducing me to gallus – a new word for me. 🙂


  2. I hope the campaign to save the steps follows through! It’s a beautiful locale… and I love when the locals dress up their statues. 🙂


    • The hall will stay but they’re changing the entrance from the grand steps. Part of the reason is to make it more accessible (the accessible entrance is on the other side of the building) and I can’t argue with that. But I think there must be better ways to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. He looks quite smashing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a statue of a politician that color green. Minneapolis (along with not giving our buildings fun names) also doesn’t pay attention to our statues of local politicians. We’re actually quite boring.