1864 Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow: The University of Glasgow

Bird's Eye View of Glasgow 1864

We have recently acquired a fantastic new addition to the library’s map collections; an original bird’s eye view of Glasgow viewed from the south-side of the Clyde and published in 1864. This fascinating resource provides a wealth of historical information on the city.

The bird’s eye view was produced by Thomas Sulman thirty-nine years before the invention of the aeroplane. It is believed that Sulman used a hot air balloon, and perhaps photography, to draw this amazingly intricate map. As architectural illustrator for the Illustrated London News between 1859-1888, Sulman created a series of bird’s eye views of various cities in Britain. This view of Glasgow was included as a supplement to the 26th March 1864 edition.

Thomas Sulman's signature

Thomas Sulman’s signature at the bottom left of the map: “Tho’ Sulman del.”
del. is an abbreviation of delineavit, which is Latin for ‘drawn by’.

Sulman trained as an engraver and illustrator at the Working Men’s College in London. Founded in 1854, and still in existence today, their ethos is the provision of adult education for those who have otherwise struggled to receive it.

20 year old Sulman entered the College on its opening. Memories of his time there are captured in an article in Good Words journal (1897, pp. 547-551), where he describes art classes taught under the instruction of one John Ruskin;

Never without an afterglow of grateful memory will the first art class of the Working Men’s College be remembered by those few living who were privileged to belong to it’.

This blog post is one of a series on the historical importance of this map in illustrating topics such as the industry of the time, the overcrowded ‘slum’ conditions Glasgow was at one time known for, and how society traversed a city in a time before the motor vehicle.

University of Glasgow, High StreetOur first extract starts close to home, with the University of Glasgow. The University, or Old College of Glasgow, was located on the High Street between 1460 and 1870.

The extract shows the Old College at the top-centre with the Tower in the courtyard. The building to the right of the courtyard is the Hunterian Museum, founded in 1807.

Following the High Street south from the Old College, landmarks still in existence today can be used to gain one’s bearings; the Tolbooth Steeple at Glasgow Cross, and St. Andrews in the Square (bottom of the extract, slightly left of centre).

We have many maps in our collections on Level 7 detailing the University of Glasgow. The map below, from 1778, predates the bird’s eye view, and shows the campus before the Hunterian Museum was built.

Plan of the city of Glasgow : Gorbells and Caltoun from an actual survey by John McArthur, surveyor in Glasgow (1778)

Plan of the city of Glasgow : Gorbells and Caltoun from an actual survey by John McArthur, surveyor in Glasgow, 1778. (Click to view full digitised map)

Although the Old College buildings were demolished after the University moved to its current location in the West End of the city in 1870, not all was lost. The Old College Gatehouse and other sections of the College, were carefully dismantled and reconstructed as Pearce Lodge, adding a wonderful presence on our campus today. Below you can see it in its original and current locations.

Old College Main Gate

Left: Main entrance, Old College, High Street. Drawn by R. W. BIllings in 1845.
Right: Pearce Lodge, University Avenue (n.d.)
(Coutts, 1909, plates facing pages 136 and 416)

We hope you’ll enjoy reading our blog posts on the bird’s eye view of Glasgow as much as we will enjoy researching them. Other posts in the series can be found here.

You are welcome to come up and see the bird’s eye view for yourself, and even order your own copy from the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit on level 7 of the University Library. Just get in touch by email, 0141 330 3176 or pop up to see us Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.


Coutts, J. (1909) History of the University of Glasgow, Glasgow, James Maclehose and Sons, publishers to the University.

Harrison, J. (2007) A History of the Working Men’s College, 1854-1954, London, Routledge.

McArthur, J. (1778) Plan of the city of Glasgow : Gorbells and Caltoun, Glasgow, [s.n.]. Available from the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit, Level 7 at Case Maps C18:45 GLA1.

Strathclyde Regional Council (1981) ‘Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow: Key & Notes’. Available from the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit, Level 7 at Maps C18:45 GLA10.

Sulman, T. (1864) ‘Glasgow’, London Illustrated News, 26th March, Supplement. Available from the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit, Level 7 at Case Maps C 18:45 GLA7.

Sulman, T. (1897) ‘A Memorable Art Class’ Good Words. Jan, pp. 547-551. Available online (UoG Staff & students only) , or in paper from Special Collections, Level 12.

WMC The Camden College (2015) ‘About Working Men’s College’ [Online]. Available at http://www.wmcollege.ac.uk/pages/working-mens-college-camden-information.aspx (Accessed 24 March 2020)

Categories: Library, Official Publications

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2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on cautivadulce.


  1. 1864 Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow: St. Mungo and St. Enoch | University of Glasgow Library

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