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Ten Glasgow buildings to check out at Doors Open Day 2015

The annual heritage festival lets you explore private buildings and spaces usually closed to the public
By Niki Boyle |

Glasgow is well served with museums, galleries, theatres and other cultural spaces, but sometimes your curiosity can only be satisfied by that which is normally off-limits. Now in its 26th year, the Doors Open Day weekend (September 19 & 20) allows members of the public to peek inside the normally private spaces in the city, opening up some of Glasgow's most fascinating buildings - and usually for free. This year's programme is as intriguing as ever, with 108 buildings - including 16 participating for the first time - open to the public. We've scanned through the programme and picked out ten we're really excited about.

Central station vaults doors open day
Ross Campbell

Central Station

99 Gordon Street

We know we’ve got another nine entries to go, but come on – this has got to be everyone’s favourite, right? Exploring the closed off vaults as the trains trundle and roar overhead, like you’re in some stone behemoth’s intestines? With The Arches gone, there are so few venues where you can feel that sensation any more. RIP The Arches.

Tours: Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20 11am & 2pm (one hour). Booking essential.

The Mitchell library
© Duncan McEwan
Art, Galleries

The Mitchell Library

icon-location-pin Finnieston

201 North Street

The Mitchell doesn’t quite fall into Doors Open Day’s remit of opening private spaces to the public – you're allowed to wander in pretty much all year round – but we love the airy, bookish interior of the place so much we’re including it anyway. It’s also not every day you can get a tour of the special collection items, some of which are very special indeed. 

Saturday September 19, 10am-4pm.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

232-242 St Vincent Street

They couldn’t have just called it ‘Doctor School’, could they? Not when it looks that lush and swanky. A joy to behold and be inside, these three 19th century houses also host magnificent collections of medical instruments, rare books, portraits and contemporary art, so get in there and have a nose around.

Saturday September 19, 10am-4pm.

bridgeton bus garage
© Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust

Bridgeton Bus Garage

76 Fordneuk Street

Remember when buses used to be jolly, brightly coloured, ‘we can take you anywhere’ carriages of joy instead of soulless commuter conveyances reeking of despair? Us neither, but we’re willing to bet these red and yellow stunners in the East End will get us feeling all nostalgic anyway. 

Tours: Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20, every half hour from 10am-4pm. Advance booking essential.

Dalmarnock leather works

Dalamarnock Leather Works

273-289 Dunn Street

This one’s a new addition to the Doors Open Day programme, and while the above picture might not fill you with anticipation (or maybe it will - we don't know what you're into) - just imagine the rich, leathery smell of the place. It’ll smell like Ron Burgundy’s dreams. Huff it up.

Tours: Saturday September 19 10am-3.30pm, every half hour. Advance booking essential.

Fairfield Shipyards
McAteer Photograph

Fairfield Shipyard Offices

1048 Govan Road

An examination of Glasgow’s industrial heritage wouldn’t be complete without a mention of shipbuilding. Fairfield has a reputation as one of the finest shipbuilders in the UK, with some of the most famous Clyde-built ships on its roster. Find out more in the recently renovated Victorian building.

Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20, 10am-4pm.

West Brewery at Templeton’s Carpet Factory
© Duncan McEwan

West Brewery at Templeton’s Carpet Factory

icon-location-pin Calton

15 Binnie Place

There’s lots to recommend the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory: its distinctive redbrick exterior; the roof, inspired by Venice’s Doge Palace; the grassy surroundings of Glasgow Green. Let’s face it though: the main attraction is the delicious pint you can sup after learning how it’s made.

Tours: Saturday September 19, 11am, noon & 1pm; Sunday September 20, noon, 2pm & 4pm; 30 mins.

greyfriars garden

Greyfriars Garden

Shuttle Street

Another Doors Open Day newbie for 2015, this community garden is located between the Merchant City and Drygate brewery, and is a lovely green diversion from the industrial focus of the rest of the weekend’s programme (though we appreciate that for other reasons, of course). Give yourself a break from the relentless urban surrounds of the city and breathe some freshly photosynthesized air.

Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20 10am-4pm. Tours available on request.

Trades House
© Duncan McEwan

Trades House

85 Glassford Street

A magnificent historical building originally dating from 1794, Trades House is the oldest building in the city (save the cathedral) that’s still used for its original purpose: the dispersal of charitable funds gathered by various traders and merchants based in the city. So you can feel good about it while you wander around taking in its four centuries of history. 

Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20, 10am-4pm. Tours available on request.

civic room gallery
© Martin Gray

Civic Room

215 High Street

A former Linen Bank on the High Street, this Victorian-era building is the new Doors Open Day hub, and is set to become an active gallery and events space after the weekend. You can be among its first visitors (and find out loads of useful info on the rest of the Doors Open events).

Monday September 14-Sunday September 20, 10am-4pm.

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Provand's Lordship, Glasgow, Interior
Stephen Robinson
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