TOM Shields, for many years the indefatigable custodian of the Herald Diary, has lately been trawling Glasgow in the interests of research. His resulting new book, 111 Places in Glasgow That You Shouldn't Miss, has, at number seven, the Barras - "a flea-market that never called itself a flea-market."

The place, founded by Maggie McIver in the early 20th century, Shields writes, grew in time into a commercial giant with 18 different markets, 1,000 stalls and 150 shops, as "the poor and not so poor flocked for bargains in clothing, food, furniture and just about every item for the home." The Barras took on an extra-special life of its own in the weeks before Christmas; today's image, from December 1955, indicates that dolls in particular did a roaring trade.

As Shields notes, the Barras, however, became "infamous when honest traders were infiltrated by sellers of counterfeit and black-market goods. There is still a hint of the illicit, and visitors may be approached by ambulent salesmen whispering 'tobacco' or 'Viagra'.

But the book also observes that, in addition to stalls selling bric-a-brac, the Barras has seen a "hipster transplant", with a younger generation flocking to occupy some of the market's empty spaces and creating Barras Art and Design (BAaD). The Backyard bar and food venue attracts a young crowd, and BAaD itself stages such events as the Glasgow Vintage and Flea Market. "The flea," concludes Shields, "has finally become a selling-point."