Photographs by Ian Watson
A state-of-the-art library and learning centre opened this week in the £10 million refurbished Olympia building at Bridgeton Cross.
As well as an extensive range of books, newspapers and magazines, the library has 32 PCs, online learning, a community room and a children’s area. It will offer computer courses and reader development programmes. There are also enhanced business resources and a rich collection of local and family history archives. The ground floor library is the first part of the Olympia Building to open to the public. A new boxing gym will be occupied by Amateur Boxing Scotland early next year and office space on the top floor is also available.
First opened in 1911 as a variety theatre, the landmark building later became a popular cinema. In its declining years it was a bingo hall before closing in the 1990s.
Bowing to public pressure, Clyde Gateway bought the red standstone, turretted, premises in 2009. Refurbishment started in 2011 and was completed in October 2012. One of the highlights of the refurbishment was in February this year when the restored original dome was lifted back into place.
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “Libraries are at the very heart of our communities. New life has been breathed into the Olympia and this library will play a vital role in the life of Bridgeton for generations to come.”
Councillor George Redmond, the Vice-Chair of Clyde Gateway said: “The opening of the library is the latest chapter in what is becoming a thrilling story of the regeneration of the Bridgeton and Dalmarnock communities. There is an incredible transformation across the whole area. This fantastic new library really does have the best of everything and I have no doubt it is going to be very popular with residents of all ages.”
Grace Donald, an 87-year-old lifelong resident of Bridgeton said: “The Olympia has always been very special to me. I spent many a happy night at the cinema with my husband and my children. I was really upset when it closed its doors. That was a very low point in Bridgeton’s history. I never dreamed that I’d ever get back inside the building so it’s a big thrill to see what Clyde Gateway and Glasgow Life have done. I’ve lived here all my life and I know that Bridgeton Cross has never looked better.”
If you go down to the Richmond Park on Sunday 17 July, you’ll get a big surprise! Teddy Bears will be having a picnic, thanks to the Oatlands Community Resource Committee (OCRC). They’ll be with their young friends each of whom will have an accompanying adult. Everyone will tuck into their own packed lunch and go treasure hunting.
This is one event from a full summer programme organised by the new committee and part-time manager, Lisa Gillen, at OCRC. An even bigger event will be a Family Fund-raiser Fun Day on Sunday 14 August starting at 2pm.
Said Lisa: ‘There will be stalls selling all sorts of wonderful things, raffles, tombola, a bouncy castle, face painter, DJ, maybe some Hip Hop………..’
All money raised will go towards activities for local people at what used to be called the Blue Hut but that will change colour as soon as paint is obtained (donations welcome!!!) ‘This helps keep our wee centre open,’ said Lisa. ‘So please show your support and come along….it will be good fun for all.’ She also hinted that a VIP has been invited, but more about that when the VIP confirms…
A regular daily programme includes a Kids’ Club, a Meet and Greet tea and chat session for newcomers and to meet neighbours in this growing district, a Pensioners’ Club, Bingo, Supermarket bus and Zumba – which is so popular a second class is being considered. A college course starts on Monday 29 August covering computer skills, adult literacy and local history but places are limited so sign up quickly. And The Oatlands Press Gang of kids is about to produce their first, monthly, newsletter.
On Sunday 24 July OCRC will hold a sponsored walk around the ‘Ducksy’ in Richmond Park when everyone is invited to join in.
Come October school holidays the committee plans to have a play scheme in place with volunteers and those who plan to pursue a career in childcare. Anyone keen to train for this form of child care should contact Lisa at the OCRC, 8 Logan Gardens, Glasgow, G5 0HP. As a registered charity the organisation can provide all training and process the vital Enhanced Disclosure Certificates.
On the down side, the area still awaits the long promised shop, children’s play park and the critical re-vamp of the listed St Margaret’s church building as a community centre.