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Glasgow, 142 Bell Street, Cleansing Department Depot

Depot (19th Century), Stable(S) (19th Century)

Site Name Glasgow, 142 Bell Street, Cleansing Department Depot

Classification Depot (19th Century), Stable(S) (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Watson Street; Glasgow Corporation Cleansing Department Depot; Bell Street Stables

Canmore ID 148308

Site Number NS56SE 294

NGR NS 59777 64914

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Glasgow, City Of
  • Parish Glasgow (City Of Glasgow)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District City Of Glasgow
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Archaeology Notes

NS56SE 294 59777 64912

Site Management (15 January 2013)

Predominantly 4-storey, 9-bay by 13 bay rectangular plan (former Glasgow Corporation Cleansing Department Depot) with advanced outer bays. Arranged around internal courtyard and on corner site in city centre. Attic storey to S elevation with 3-bay return to W and E elevations. Red sandstone cladding to brick; ashlar at ground floor, coursed rock-faced with ashlar dressings to upper floors; red brick with white brick cill courses and lintels to S elevation. Base course and string course at ground floor, banded lintel course at 1st and 2nd floors; cill course at 3rd floor also with cornice and blocking course. Predominantly shallow-arched and keystoned openings at ground floor; flat-arched window openings with chamfered surround and long and short raised dressings elsewhere. Those at 1st and 2nd floor windows to advanced outer bays set within tall round-arched keystoned recessed panels.

The former Glasgow Corporation Cleansing Department building is a rare surviving example of a building of this type, incorporating multi-storey stabling and horse ramps. The building makes a significant contribution to the streetscape prominently positioned on a corner site in the centre of Glasgow. The building exhibits good stonework detailing including ashlar band courses and long and short ashlar dressings to openings.

The building was designed to accommodate the Cleansing Department's horses, carts, harnesses and fodder. Carts were stored on the ground floor with stables on the upper floor. The original horse ramps rising from the ground floor to the third floor remain together with the cast-iron and timber horseboxes to the stables. The original plans indicate that the pend was flanked by foreman's offices, above which were general stores and a drying room and at 2nd floor a boiler house and saddlery. At the 3rd floor were living quarters, accessed by a separate stair with an entrance to Bell Street. The upper floors of the SW block originally accommodated a granary and hay loft.

The City Cleansing Department was established in May 1868 however from the early nineteenth century the police had been responsible for cleansing the city and maintaining the public streets. In 1895 the police authority merged with the council becoming the Corporation of the City of Glasgow. Functions, such as street cleaning and maintenance were taken over by the Corporation. Horse-drawn vehicles were the main method for refuse collection and street cleaning until after WWII. The building continued to provide stabling for police horses until the early 1970s and is currently used as a depot for Glasgow City Council's Land and Environmental Services.

A W Wheatley was Glasgow City Engineer in the 1890s, working in Glasgow Office of Public Works Architectural Department (later Glasgow Corporation City Engineer's Department). Wheatley also designed the cleansing depot in Sawmillfield Street in 1899 (largely demolished), but he may have also been involved in other buildings for the cleansing department around this time.

Category changed from C(S) to B and list description updated 2012. (Historic Scotland)


Photographic Survey (18 October 2016 - 19 October 2016)

Photographic survey of the complex was completed 18-19 October 2016, through the Threatened Building Survey programme, the site being subject to a proposal for conversion to form flatted dwellings.

Opened 30 May 1898 as a replacement facility for the Cleansing department staff and stud previously sited at Old Parliamentary Road. Closer proximity to the city centre would allow for street cleaning to be carried out “more efficiently and economically ... than was previously possible.” The complex also housed the department’s general store and granary - department farms supplied all the hay for the stud, straw and grain also being supplied with the shortfall bought under contract from local dealers – for distributing to depots across Glasgow.

The northern range contained general and grain stores, offices and a saddlery. A manager’s flat runs across the third floor, accessed through a separate Bell Street entrance, the fire-proofed stair well evident through the lower floors of the range. The eastern range, fronting Watson Street, contained stabling over three floors for the department’s Clydesdale horses. A series of grit (clinker?) covered ramps allow access between floors, timber struts at turns remain extant (which may have been utilised throughout the ramp system) and provide extra purchase. Two stables, each containing stalls for ten horses, are accessed along cast-iron covered gangways. Each gangway retains a water tap, hoist and winch for the movement of feed and bedding to upper floors and a shute system to remove manure. Separated from the stalls by the ramp, each floor also contained a stable of four loose boxes. The undercroft of the range housed the department’s carts and later vans. Further offices and staff washing facilities were located in the northern-most ground floor.

Each stall contains cast-iron horse troughs and Dickie-brand automatic water drinkers. Vents above each stall may draw additional ventilation through flues in the brick walls: a similar arrangement was recorded at the Railway Stables (to the adjacent College Goods Station, now demolished) at Bell Street, see:

The original plans detail the courtyard range as a series of loose boxes. Given their separate location, these may have been utilised in part as isolation bays: two particular infectious equine diseases being prevalent in the form of Glanders (eradicated in the UK 1920s) and Strangles.

Significant alterations were carried out in the 1950s as the department mechanised. Extensive dining and washing facilities were inserted into the 1st floor stables and northern range for cleansing staff. The third floor was adapted for use by the mounted police with a new ramped access, exiting the building via Watson Street, inserted. Facilities for female staff were created by the removal of stalls or loose boxes (loose boxes are indicated on the original plans but stalls are in situ) on the third floor. The granary appears to have adapted to stores, a spiral staircase being replaced by a new stairwell in the SE corner. The courtyard range has been adapted/replaced by plant machinery housing.

Original architectural plans for the complex and those for the 1955 alterations are held in Glasgow City Council archives. Reports on the work of the cleansing department can be found in the Corporation’s Municipal reports and feature in the 1949 Glasgow Corporation information film “Keeping our City Clean” available through the National Library of Scotland's Moving Image Archive.

The complex, following an extended period of limited use, has been acquired by the Wheatley Group for conversion to form mid-market rental flats through plans prepared by Collective Architecture.

Visited by HES Survey and Recording (IF & RA) 18-19 October, 2016.


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