The remains of the six tower blocks on Red Road which were blown down on Sunday are now attracting tourists. Nicknamed – the Leaning Towers of Petershill – the two fragments of buildings still standing with ten or more floors intact, are being widely photographed.
Dr Helen Murray and her friend Catriona Fraser came from Aberdeen specially to see the mounds of rubble. From Glasgow originally, Helen said: ‘You knew you were home when you saw the Red Road flats on the horizon. My mother has asked me to bring her here to see the site even although she’s never been on this side of the city.’
The two friends have toured the country taking fun shots of different places and people – including tennis star Andy Murray.
Local residents in the Red Road exclusion area were – mostly – back to normal. Said Margaret Finlay, a family support worker at the Tron St Mary Church of Scotland on Red Road: ‘It was back to work on Monday. There wasn’t a lot of inconvenience.’ The Church’s community allotments had been covered with black tarpaulins to protect the vegetables and other plants from the dust. And the Sunday service had been held in Springburn Church along with that congregation.
Bonnybroom Nursery which was possibly the closest building to the demolition site, was open on Monday as usual. Glasgow City Council was asked by the head teacher to put out a tweet to that effect.
The senior citizens’ Alive and Kicking building on Red Road and the Family Centre next door were all still being cleaned up today (Thursday 15 October) before expecting to re-open soon.
Contractor Safedem is using high-reach machinery to dismantle 123 Petershill Drive. The work will involve weakening the steel frame enough to enable it to be brought down to ground level under controlled conditions. A safe exclusion zone within the site has been set up so that parts of the structure can be dismantled safely. The exclusion zone also includes a buffer zone for debris.
A GHA spokesman said: ‘Although two of the blocks did not fall exactly as predicted on Sunday, all blocks are now at a height that the demolition can be completed as planned. The contractor is now dismantling the remaining floors of the blocks. This work will be carried out under strict health and safety conditions and with minimum disruption to residents.’
While reports from various residents alluded to burst water pipes, broken locks, washing machines stopping working, no one spoken to had actually experienced any back lash from the major blow-down on Sunday.
The six blocks were built in the late 1960s. Designed by architect Sam Bunton, they cost £6 million. The cost of demolition has not been revealed by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) which is part of the Wheatley Group and owns the iconic properties.
There was confusion tonight about the safety of residents in the area around the Red Road flats demolition site and whether or not they would be able to return home.
A BBC television broadcast said an emergency inspection was being carried out after two of the six tower blocks failed to come down completely. The remaining unsafe structures had to be examined and consideration was being given to having them ‘pushed over’ on Monday.
This unexpected setback cast doubts on whether local residents could return to their homes on Sunday. The television report said they should consult the GHA website. But that website did not give any information on what to do.
A GHA spokesman said: ‘The original plan for today’s demolition was that 10 floors of the blocks would remain for dismantling, post blowdown, by machine. However, this did not go completely to plan. Over the next few days the contractors, Safedem, will carry out a review to determine the best way of now completing the demolition.
“Residents began moving back into their homes shortly after 6pm, just over an hour later than originally planned.
“We sincerely apologise to everyone involved for this delay and any additional inconvenience caused.’
Later the GHA spokesman added: ‘Exclusion zone has been lifted, everyone is getting back into their homes tonight.’
In true Presbyterian tradition, all six election candidates for the Glasgow South seat had their say in Cathcart Trinity Church. Each was listened to with respect by the audience of almost 200 people. Three people who wanted to have a shouting match were politely, but firmly dealt with by the Chairperson, Rev Wilma Pearson and chose to leave.
The format worked well. First, every candidate stating his case, then questions were asked by the Chairperson from those submitted some time before. Each candidate gave his answer. And a final response concluded an informative and carefully timed evening.
Tom Harris who has represented the area for Labour since 2001 when the seat was Glasgow Cathcart, left no one in doubt about his concerns should the SNP ‘sweep the board.’ He said: ‘That is the elephant in the room. There can never be a coalition between Scottish Labour and the SNP. The only sure way to stop them is to vote Labour.’
Stewart McDonald, the SNP candidate was equally certain: ‘If you want business as usual at Westminster, then I’m not your guy. If you want to move forward and hold politicians accountable, you should support me.’
Ewan Hoyle, the Scottish Liberal Democrat representative said that the Liberal Democrats were the major ‘green’ party championing climate change at Westminster. ‘If you want green issues to be on the table at Westminster you should vote Liberal Democrat,’ he said.
Kyle Thornton of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party said his party was the only one with a plan to make things better for everyone in Britain. ‘Everyone who wants a job should get a job. There will be help for the young people into jobs or college or university or an apprenticeship. This is not another Referendum. If you want the country to keep together you should vote Conservative.’
Scottish Green Party candidate, Alastair Whitelaw said it wouldn’t be a career disaster for him, personally, if he didn’t get elected. But he urged people to consider the international perspective so that this country cultivated better relationships all over the world. ‘This is the only way to secure our future by being better at the so-called ‘soft’ relationships and being able to speak other languages. Peace, disarmament, food production and climate change are the things that need to be done better in the next 30 to 50 years if we want to make this world a safer place.’
Brian Smith of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) warned: ‘If you vote tactically, you’ll still get austerity. Think carefully and vote for what you really belive in. Dream dreams, that way you can change society.’
Photograph shows BACK ROW from left: Alastair Whitelaw (Scottish Green Party), Brian Smith (TUSC), Ewan Hoyle (Scottish Lib Dems), Kyle Thornton (Scottish Conservative and Unionist). FRONT ROW from left: Stewart McDonald (SNP), Rev Wilma Pearson, Tom Harris (Scottish Labour Party)
The food co-operative at the University of Glasgow is well under way for this semester. Every second Friday from 3.30pm till 5.30pm they hand over the pre-paid vegetables ordered online. Today – Friday 13 February 2015- the people on duty in the foyer of the Queen Margaret Union were (from left) Ambi, Eva and Grace who is showing the new Food Co-op bags which can be purchased for £3. They have been hand-printed by Esme Armour at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and are made of bamboo. For more information go to: www.glasgowunifoodcoop.com
A Thames tidal wave of enthusiasm gave the current Govan Fair organisers a flotilla of good ideas to improve the stability of the annual event.
Adrian Evans, Director of Totally Thames, a Festival spanning the length of that great river which flows through the heart of London, was guest speaker at a seminar on the Govan Fair’s future this week. He outlined the ebb and flow of events which led to Totally Thames. His inspiration was the exceptional artist George Wyllie. ‘He brought this huge origami boat and floated it down the Thames in the 1990s,’ said Adrian. ‘That made a big impression on me. It was immense. It was amusing and made me realise Govan – where he came from – was a special place.’
The festival he has developed from nothing on the Thames now has many very good working partnerships with businesses along the length of the river. His organisation is responsible for around 25% of the events while the others arise locally and are included in the Totally Thames programme. He urged the Govan Fair organisers to: ‘Look for the opportunities. Pursue them aggressively and celebrate the fantastic and unique history you have.’
Architect Andy McAvoy left Govan at the age of five but admitted he’d been ‘infected by the Spirit of the Place’ on his return in recent years and acknowledged George Wyllie had been an inspiration, too.
Andy has spent at least three years researching the buried history of Govan. ‘It was a gathering place. It was the confluence of two rivers – the Kelvin and the Clyde. So people could wade across from North to South and from East to West at low tide. The Weavers would taunt their Deacon to come out of the Water Row Inn in an annual ritual to take up his post. That led to the ‘Ghost of Water Row’ an art work in light set on the site where that inn had been.’
Andy’s research showed that a Fair predated the procession which is almost the only current activity. ‘There was commerce and interaction of people. There was a horse fair and a labour fair. Where commerce was, people gathered. But ship building caused a massive re-writing of the landscape. That’s when Lady Elder stepped in with Elder Park to have a green space protected for people.’
The Govan Fair has probably been in existence since well before 1756 when there is some documentary evidence to show it flourished. Andy outlined the various ups and downs of the Fair and said that Lord James Stringfellow, Govan Fair Chairman who chaired the seminar and Liz Gardiner of Fablevision who introduced all the speakers, were issuing a call to arms to bring in new energy to develop the Fair in a way that could be sustained and would grow the event.
The fair at present is mostly an annual parade on the first Friday of June with shows being set up last year because of Lord James’s show family connections. Other entertainments and attractions are being considered to encourage more local community participation.
The ‘incredible history’ of Govan and its Fair was supported by Graham Jeffery of the University of the West of Scotland and Director of the Creative Futures Institute and Dr Alan Leslie of Northlight Heritage concerned with archaeological excavations.
They referred to a bus from Gdansk with local people aboard tell the local history of their shipyards and city to visitors. This idea had been successfully adapted for Govan and could be again. And the site of Doomster Hill – currently under a car park – should be reclaimed as an ancient place of justice and important meetings.
The seminar was held in the Board Room of the re-furbished Fairfield Offices on Govan Road by courtesy of Govan Workspace.
It was followed by a walking tour of Govan which included the Old Kirk, the Pearce Institute, Doomster Hill and Water Row, the derelict Govan Graving Docks and the vibrant Film City which was once Govan Town Hall.
Glasgow’s plan B has nothing to do with the Referendum! It is the Council’s strategy to increase the population of honeybees in the city. Around 120,000 bees have been installed in two insulated beehives on the roof of Glasgow City Chambers.
Vital in the food chain, this kind of bee is under threat because of pesticides and climate change.
Council Leader Gordon Matheson – who is also chair of Sustainable Glasgow – said: “Bees pollinate a third of the food we eat and also pollinate trees which helps reduce air pollution by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Numbers have dropped dramatically so Sustainable Glasgow is helping reverse that decline by installing these hives.
“I hope the bees will flourish and help us ensure Glasgow remains a Dear Green Place for generations to come.”
PlanBee Ltd is the company which provides the bees, the hives and the training programmes. Council staff have swarmed to be trained in hive management.
Bees can travel up to three miles to find their target flowers. Said Warren Bader of PlanBee Ltd: “Glasgow is a fantastic garden city. Bees can be safer in a city than in the countryside where a lot of farmers use pesticides and plant monocultures (just one type of crop) which isn’t healthy for pollen production. In a good summer the bees can produce plenty of honey.” He added: “Unless you are a flower, the bees really aren’t interested in you so no one should be worried!”
Wax from the bees will be used as furniture polish in the City Chambers. What happens to the honey will be decided when the quality and quantity is known.
Glasgow aims to become one of the most sustainable cities in Europe by cutting carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 / 21.
Already it has a network of electric car charging points; solar powered parking meters; Green Wardens; electric vehicles in the council fleet and a Green Energy Services Company to promote and oversee renewable energy projects. The Stalled Spaces initiative has seen 32 disused spaces in Glasgow brought back into use as community gardens, performance space and locations for public art installations. This scheme will be rolled out across Scotland.
Next year Glasgow plans to hold Green Year 2015. Twelve months of activities will celebrate the city’s green credentials and encourage others to do their bit for the environment. Twitter: @greenglasgow.
GOVANHILL & CROSSHILL COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Scottish Referendum Discussion
Don’t know ? Come Along
It’s too important for politicians, alone.
Monday 9th June 2014 at 7pm
Samaritan House, 79 Coplaw Street,
Govanhill G42 7JG
Speakers and public discussion
Firefighters’ efforts have saved 90% of the Glasgow School of Art and up to 70 % of the contents – including students’ work – it was stated tonight while the building still smouldered after a major fire which started around 12.30pm.
The unique building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and has been a world attraction as well as a working School of Art since 1845.
In a release from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Assistant Chief Officer Dave Boyle said: ‘Crews have been working absolutely flat out during this very challenging incident and it is clear their effort and skill has saved this treasured building and many of the items it housed.’
The building was busy with students meeting today’s deadline to hand in work for their final degree shows. Everyone exited quickly and no one was injured.
Said ACO Boyle:‘The priority from the outset was to save life. But we worked closely with Glasgow School of Art staff to ensure firefighters conducted an effective salvage operation.
‘We are very conscious the Macintosh is a world renowned building that is a key feature of this great city, and that the artworks it stores are not only valuable but also cherished.
“We are acutely aware this period is the culmination of years of endeavour for students and that their irreplaceable work is inside the Mackintosh.
“Work to save everything that can be saved is ongoing and we will continue to work closely with GSA staff and students throughout this operation.’
A spokesperson for Glasgow School of Art added: ‘We would like to express our very sincere thanks to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for their tremendous efforts throughout today.’
Fire has destroyed Glasgow’s unique School of Art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
A projector in the basement exploded around 12.30 today and the masterpiece was set ablaze. Firefighters were still dousing the fire at 6pm and were expected to be on site for hours after that with three aerial rescue pumps in use.
Appliances from across Glasgow and West Central Scotland were at the scene within four minutes of the first 999 call. Search and rescue teams entered the building wearing breathing apparatus and led a number of people to safety. But no one was injured.
Said Chief Officer Alasdair Hay: ‘This is likely to be a protracted incident and crews have been working extremely hard to tackle what is clearly a very significant fire. The priority throughout this operation has been to protect life but salvage operations are also underway.’
Neil Baxter, Secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said: ‘This is the loss of a dear friend. It is desperate. People have been crying in the streets of Glasgow and throughout the world. The loss is beyond belief.’
Muriel Gray, chairman of the Board of Directors of the School said: ‘This is a double blow and couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Today was the last day for students to hand in work for their degree shows. While it is a nightmare and there are a lot of very upset people here, everyone is incredibly supportive.’
Just hours before, the new £50 million Seona Reid Building across the street, won the AJ100 Building of the Year Award 2014. The unanimous choice of the judges, The Steven Holl designed building was recognised as the finest to be completed by any of the UK’s top 100 practices during the past year.
Stuart Robertson, Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society said the blaze and the loss of the building and its contents was ‘a human tragedy.’
An explosive launch to the Commonwealth Games has brought more fireworks with it.
The Red Road tower blocks in Sighthill will be demolished LIVE during the opening ceremony and seen by 1.5 billion people around the world. Those in Celtic Park, where the opening ceremony will take place, will see the blow-down on the enormous 100 metre-wide screen which will occupy the entire south stand.
Eileen Gallagher Chair of the Ceremonies, Culture and the Queen’s Baton Relay Committee: ‘By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn’t stand still. Glasgow’s story is always one of its people; their tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions. Marking the end of Red Road is very much a celebration of all of those things.’
Commented Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council: ‘The opening ceremony will be a ceremony like no other, showcasing our city’s unique style and personality and with our people and communities at its very heart. We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role. Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the Games.’
Gordon Sloan, Chairman of Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) said: ‘The Red Road flats were very popular in their day and hold a special place in many people’s hearts. But they are no longer viable as modern homes and GHA made the decision to demolish them as part of the wider regeneration of the North of Glasgow. We will bring them down in strictly controlled conditions with the expertise of our contractor Safedem, during the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.’
David Zolkwer, Head of Ceremonies & Artistic Director for Glasgow 2014 said: ‘By sharing the blow-down with the rest of the world, I hope it will be seen as the noble, respectful and celebratory send-off that it is intended to be.’
Shona Robison, Minister for the Commonwealth Games said: ‘This spectacular start to the Games within the opening ceremony will send a strong signal about the power of the Commonwealth Games. For many people, these Games are more than sport. They are the chance for regeneration, renewal and having better places to live and work.’
But Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: ‘It’s the oddest thing. They will knock down five blocks but leave one which houses asylum seekers. What does that say?’
The Red Road flats were ‘a place of despair’ and should never have been built, said Robina Qureshi, Director of the charity Positive Action in Housing (PAiH) ‘Through our work we have regularly visited refugee and asylum seeker families and seen the misery for everyone. This is where the Sehryk family committed suicide from the balcony of their 15th floor flat on the day they were to be made destitute by the UK Borders Agency. The windows all had so-called suicide prevention netting but they managed to tear it away. Those flats were not meant for human beings, they were just great big filing cabinets of humans living in misery or despair.
‘Before the demolition programme the Council tried to market them to university students, then professionals, but it didn’t work. No one wanted to stay there. And I guess that’s how the planners wanted it.
‘Then thousands of asylum seekers came in from war torn countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a five year contract between the Council and the Home Office. They had no choice in housing. Red Road was one of the places where they were effectively dumped out of the way while Glasgow City Council collected the council tax payments and rent from Westminster.
‘What is ironic is that the Commonwealth Committee in Glasgow denied asylum seekers the right to volunteer for the games.’
She went on: ‘For the Olympic games, they light a torch. Here in Glasgow, they celebrate the start of the Commonwealth Games by blowing up the Red Road flats. It is highly insensitive and jars with the senses.
‘Sports men and women in the Commonwealth Games may well be claiming asylum here because of the threat of torture or denial of certain freedoms in their own countries. The Commonwealth Committee clearly thinks it’s a great idea to blow up the high flats but has no concept of the misery the Red Road flats caused to thousands of people from Glasgow and across the world. No change there then.’