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Preserving the Past for the Future

Elphinstone Tower (Gorbals) Past & Lost


Elphinstone Tower in the Gorbals

Elphinstone Tower was situated at 87-89 Main Street in Glasgow's Gorbals

Elphinstone stood in the village of Gorbals on the south side of the River Clyde. The Citizen's Theatre now occupies the site.

It was erected by Sir John Elphinston between the years 1600-1608 and consisted of a tower house with extensive gardens and orchards. A 'chapel' (later appellation) adjoined the tower where Sir John died in 1634 - his later life marked by poverty.

Elphinstone Tower Gorbals

An earlier view of Elphinstone Tower with a more complete roof

The tower was sold by his creditors and was acquired by Robert Douglas, Viscount Belhaven who embarked upon extensive alterations. It is probably due to him that the balustraded wall top with its distinctive turrets were built. His family arms and initials were placed above the door to the 'chapel' at a later date - no doubt they originally appeared above the tower's entrance.

Elphinstone Tower Gorbals

An actual early photograph of Elphinstone Tower

The greater part of the tower, including the wall head, was taken down in 1849, by reason of insecurity, but this did not prevent the 'chapel; being converted into a public house! The latter, the armorial and the corbelling of the square turrets can be observed in the photograph which was taken in 1867.

In the 1870s the tower was completely removed to accommodate the construction of tenements which stood until the 1970s until they, in turn, were demolished during the Gorbals regeneration.


Date posted: 24 Jan 2014Last updated: 08 Dec 2014


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