Skin and Hide Market

M026 Skin and Hide Market

Address: Greendyke Street, Glasgow G1 5PS
Date: 1889–91; 1891–2
Client: Robert Ramsey
Authorship: Authorship category 3 (Office with Mackintosh) (Office with Mackintosh)

Colour photograph of yard entrance, Skin and Hide Market

This imposing block was built as the premises of Robert Ramsey & Co., dealers in hides, skins, wool and tallow. It replaced their previous building, destroyed by fire on 3 November 1889. 1 Its main function was as a venue for auction sales. Among commercial buildings in Glasgow's industrial East End it occupies an unusually fine site, facing S. over the open space of Glasgow Green beside the 18th-century church of St Andrew-by-the-Green.

Colour photograph of front of Skin and Hide Market

The design is probably by John Keppie: its severe classicism seems to show evidence of his time in the office of James Sellars and his studies in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. However, Mackintosh's handwriting appears on one of the drawings, in a minor annotation relating to the roof. The drawings are dated December 1889, just a few months after Mackintosh joined John Honeyman & Keppie as an assistant, and it is not surprising at this early stage to find him detailing the partners' drawings rather than contributing to the design of a major project.

The symmetrical four-storey front originally had two rear wings of the same height, making a U-shaped block. This enclosed a yard with an iron and glass roof, reached by a gated cart entrance in the centre of the Greendyke Street facade. Offices and a sale room occupied the ground floor of the front block. The floors above, and the whole of both wings, were given over to warehousing for wool. The covered yard extended into the ground floor of the two wings, and seems to have been where merchandise was exhibited for sale. In 1891 John Honeyman & Keppie designed an irregularly shaped addition at the rear, extending both the yard and the warehousing.

The main feature of the Greendyke Street facade is a series of giant arches embracing the ground and first floors. Diocletian windows fill the heads of the arches and light the first floor (they recall the semi-circular windows of Sellars's cabinet works for Wylie & Lochhead in Kent Road, begun in 1880). On the ground floor, the spaces between the piers are spanned by cast-iron beams serving as shared lintels for pairs of square-headed windows. Identical cast-iron lintels supported on corbels are found at John Honeyman & Keppie's grain warehouse in Cheapside Street, and there are similar ones at their Glasgow Herald building.

Colour photograph of Skin and Hide Market windowsColour photograph of yard entrance, Skin and Hide Market

Ornament is limited to two panels of carving on either side of the cart entrance and some Renaissance detailing above the office doors. The facade is red sandstone, with brick for the back and side elevations. Inside, the timber floors were supported on cast-iron columns, and the roof trusses were also iron. According to the job-book entry, structural ironwork was supplied by Alexander Eadie & Son and P. & R. Fleming, but on one of the 1889 drawings a beam is identified as 'McFarlane's girder No. 234'.

Colour photograph of office entrance, Skin and Hide MarketColour photograph of carved panel, Skin and Hide Market

One room contained a massive stone chimneypiece, echoing the round arches of the facade, with an Italian Renaissance shield carved on the keystone. 2

B/W photograph of the auction house fireplace in the Skin and Hide Market

Between 1998 and 2000, the rear wings were demolished and the front block was converted into flats. 3

Notes:

1: Glasgow Herald, 4 November 1889, p. 6.

2: David Stark, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co., Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing, 2004, p. 66.

3: Glasgow Herald, 30 December 1998, p. 4; Scotsman, 11 February 1999, p. 1; Historic Scotland listing description.