Merchant’s House

John Burnet, 1874

7 West George Street

The Merchant’s House is an impressive monument to Glasgow’s global trading. An organisation of Glasgow merchants was established in the seventeenth century.

Merchant’s House, 2009

In Glasgow’s ‘golden age of tobacco’, it was central to the development of the city’s commerce across the world. It was behind the deepening of the River Clyde to allow large shipping vessels to dock and it helped recruit troops in the American War of Independence to protect the tobacco trade.

The globe, with a sailing ship, flanked by two female figures, which adorns the top storey of the building was copied from the original Merchant’s Steeple (1665) near the Trongate. In the Trongate Glasgow’s merchants waited on their tobacco ships to return which explains the Merchant’s House motto, engraved in stone, Toties redeuntes eodem (‘So often returning to the same place’). On the walls are carvings of Neptune, and ornate compass drawings, with the Glasgow coat of arms – all helping reinforce the historic role of Glasgow as the second city of the world’s most powerful Empire.