Royal Exchange Square

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Gallery of Modern Art with Duke of Wellington with Traffic Cone.

Royal Exchange Square is a public square in the City of Glasgow in Scotland. The square lies between Buchanan Street and Queen Street opening out at the junction of Queen Street with Ingram Street, just south of George Square. It is also easily accessible from Buchanan Street on the west side of the square, through two prominent archways, Royal Bank Place.The square is a landmark due to its distinguished architecture which attracts many visitors.[1] [2]

Tobacco-lord William Cunninghame's mansion and gardens fronting Queen Street, and central to the future square, were constructed in 1778 when the wealth of Glasgow soon eclipsed the remainder of Scotland. Five years later the Royal Bank of Scotland opened in Glasgow, being its first-ever branch beyond its Edinburgh base. Under its agent, the merchant and philanthropist David Dale, the bank in Glasgow soon exceeded the business volume of the Royal Bank elsewhere and to reflect its status the bank moved from the area of Glasgow Cross by buying over Cunninghame`s mansion in 1817 and operating from it. In 1827 the Royal Bank sold the Cunninghame mansion to the city for fitting out as an Exchange and its new Glasgow Chief Office branch, designed by Archibald Elliot II, complete with its six pillars and wide stairs, was erected in 1834 facing onto Royal Exchange Square. In 1850 this was extended through to Buchanan Street.[3]

In the centre of the square is the former Royal Exchange, a Graeco-Roman masterpiece designed by architect David Hamilton [4] in 1829, where merchants exchanged contracts in cotton, linen, chemicals, coal, iron, steel, timber and other commodities. [5] In front of the portico is Baron Marochetti`s noble bronze equestrian statue of Duke of Wellington erected in 1844. On the tall granite base are bronze reliefs of the battles of Assaye and Waterloo, the Return of the Soldier, and Peace and Agriculture.[6] From the 1950s the Royal Exchange housed Stirling`s Library and the Commercial Library and now houses the Gallery of Modern Art and an information centre and library.

The architects of the Georgian terraces built around 1830 on the north side are David Hamilton and James Smith[disambiguation needed][7] and on the south side are Robert Black[8] and Archibald Elliot II [9]

There are shops and offices, and numerous open air cafés and restaurants. The square is also the home of the Western Club.[10] During winter months the square is lit up with a large overhead net of celestial lighting between the Gallery of Modern Art and surrounding buildings.

At the Queen Street entrance, and facing along Ingram Street, the statue of Duke of Wellington usually has a traffic cone placed on his head. This was originally a joke by youngsters, but it is now encouraged by the public to leave the cone intact.


  1. ^ Architecture of Glasgow by Andor Gomme and David Walker, published in 1968 and 1987
  2. ^ The Second City by CA Oakley published in 1975
  3. ^ The Royal Bank in Glasgow 1783-1983 a bi-centenary publication of the Royal Bank, 1983
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Buildings of Glasgow by Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, published in 1990
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^

Coordinates: 55°51′37″N 4°15′09″W / 55.8602°N 4.2526°W / 55.8602; -4.2526