Tobacco Lord read the smoke signals

GLASGOW'S Gallery of Modern Art, then Stirling's Library, was soot-black when this picture was taken in the 1950s.

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In the days before clean-air acts, when the city's thousands of factory and tenement chimneys belched out smoke, Glasgow was covered in an acid-rich patina of pollution.

The building, minus its clock tower, front portico and large rear extension, was built in 1780, at a cost of £10,000, as a private home by Glasgow Tobacco Lord William Cunningham. It was he too who changed the name of the road outside his new house from Cow Loan to the more fitting Queen Street.

Cunningham, who first visited the States in 1746, made the bulk of his huge fortune during the American War of Independence (1775-1782), cashing in on the shortage of US tobacco to sell his existing stocks at sky-high prices to nicotine-addicted Scots consumers.


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