Jamaica Street, named after the largest slave plantation island in the Caribbean, was opened in 1763 at the height of Glasgow’s rum and sugar trade. Jamaica was Glasgow’s premier sugar producing centre. It is therefore no surprise that the street was given this name by West Indian merchants in Glasgow.
Richard Oswald and Co. applied to the town council in 1756 regarding the purchase of land surrounding their bottle works at the Broomielaw, which had been operating since 1730.
The Broomielaw was used as a dock to land tobacco and sugar from the larger ports at Greenock and Port Glasgow and the new street became an important thoroughfare on the way to many Glasgow warehouses. Jamaica Street rapidly became one of Glasgow’s busiest streets. Its establishment testifies to the city’s early development due to slavery and slave dependant trade.