Since opening in 1883, the hotel at Glasgow’s Central Station has had some historic visitors. On Monday 4 October the newly refurbished and renamed Grand Central Hotel officially opened its doors – aiming, once again, to be THE place to be seen in.
The £20 million refurbishment of the iconic building began in 2009 after it was bought by renowned hotel group Principle Hayley. The work done has reinstated some of the building’s original motifs, including an ornate Italian marble floor, intricate cornicing and, in the ballroom, a set of hidden windows. These were uncovered when the ceiling was lifted by three meters, and duly restored
Also unveiled, a new bar, Champagne Central, which overlooks the famous concourse in Glasgow Central station. The first four floors – there are seven in total – currently offer 118 refurbished bedrooms. Although open, construction work is ongoing. By next week, the Grand Central Hotel will boast 168 rooms, a restaurant and a Deli. This will complete Phase 1 of the refurbishment. Phase 2 is due to be finished early next year and will see a range of rooms available on the top three flours.
The re-opening represents a great day for new general manger Laurie Nicol, who left the Hilton group in January to run the Grand Central.
Laurie told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘The Central Hotel is one of the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow. When I found out it was getting refurbished I decided it would be a great place to work. I am delighted to get the job, it’s been a huge learning curve – I did not know much about the refurbishment process before and it’s certainly been entertaining and exciting.’
She added: ‘I am very proud of what we have achieved. We’ve been able to keep the romance of the hotel alive while bringing it up to date with a stylish, contemporary, twist.’
Principle Hayley’s team worked closely with Historic Scotland – the building is A- Listed- and interior designers Charles Leon Associates. Charles Leon outlined some of the principles behind the work: ‘We have tried to design a hotel fit for today’s lifestyles while fully respecting the existing form and features and, indeed, revealing and refurbishing others that have been lost over the decades.’
Purchased by Principle Hatley in the spring of 2009, Grand Central became the 23 hotel in their portfolio. Principle Hayley CEO Tony Troy said: The £20 million refurbishment has been a major project and it’s great to see the transformation nearing completion. The hotel has played a major part in Glasgow’s history and we are looking forward to next the chapter.’
The hotel has seen some famous faces during it’s long history. Her Majesty the Queen has stayed as have Laurel and Hardy, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra. Perhaps the most illustrious guest of all was much-loved former US President John F. Kennedy. Should President Obama plan a stay, you can bet the staff - 165 personnel- would be kept busy polishing the 25 metre chandelier that hangs down the main stairwell.
One of the hotel’s three executive suites has been named after JFK. The other two are called Robert Rowand Anderson- the Scottish architect responsible for the hotel’s 1876 design- and John Logie Baird, who sent the first long distance TV images from the hotel in 1927.
To mark the occasion of the reopening, Principle Hayley had former Miss Scotland, Nieve Jennings, try out the Champagne in the new bar, clad in a stunning red dress that would have had Frank Sinatra and JFK running round the chandelier.
Story by Grace Franklin Photographs by Stuart Maxwell
The Duke of Rothesay started it in Glasgow yesterday.
Aiming to encourage people to START to do what they can to make better use of natural resources and protect the environment, Prince Charles is making a whistle-stop tour of the UK in a train fuelled by recycled cooking oil, to visit good examples of what is being done already.
START – is a co-operative of partners who have all started down the eco friendly line.
The initiative was launched in Glasgow with the Duke going walk-about among the stands in Glasgow Central Station.
After being welcomed by Lord Provost Bob Winter, he chatted with people in the crowd and made Nancy Gray’s day. From Shettleston, the 74-year-old is an avowed Royalist. ‘I just love the Royal Family,’ said the retired tailoress. But when
Prince Charles shook her hand and said he hoped he was not interrupting her day, she went all aflutter. Literally shaking with excitement, Nancy told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I came here specially to see him.’ She followed the Royal entourage around all the stalls which highlighted what could be done to START looking after the planet better.
Price Charles – who is correctly addressed as the Duke of Rothesay when he is in Scotland – first dropped off a pair of his old green cord trousers into the Oxfam clothes recycling point.
Waitrose showed off their new trolley which can be borrowed by customers from their Byres Road shop, starting this week. It is fitted to the customer’s bicycle and enables them to pedal home with a big amount of shopping.
Cube Housing Association was able to illustrate their new district heating scheme on the Wyndford Estate in Maryhill. The cost effective system delivers low-carbon energy and reduces carbon emissions in a whole neighbourhood.
Virgin Money had a wish tree to get people to promise to do something – and they’ll come back to you in a month’s time to see if you’ve done it for the planet.
B & Q staff showed the Prince how they make peat free compost. ‘He was really interested in what we’re doing,’ said Douglas Szafranek.
Husband and wife team Alan and Hazel Tomkins were delighted to be presented with their award for sustainable business for their restaurants which include Gamba, Urban and Dining Room in Glasgow. The first such award from the START group, the company has worked to train staff in food safety, minimising waste and maximising on local produce. Said Alan Tomkins: ‘It is very special to have been recognised for this.’
Four young apprentices from City Building’s Queenslie training centre in Glasgow, explained to the Prince how they are building two different models of sustainable houses to test what works best. Said Laura Twigg (18): ‘He was interested in the fact that we used tyres as one of the building materials.’ Michael Connelly (17) commented: ‘It was a great honour to meet Prince Charles. I never would have imagined I’d meet a member of the Royal family one day.’ Naveed Mohammed (19) admits he’s been bragging about meeting the Prince since he knew he’d been selected for the START event. And Brian Docherty (17) found the Prince asked a lot of questions about the pipe layout in the sustainable houses.
Glasgow City Council had a large number of stands in their exhibition. Most noticeable was a Peugeot electric seven seater vehicle which came from Allied Vehicles in Possilpark and is one of the fleet of electric vehicles the city has purchased. Said Allied Vehicles managing director Paul Nelson: ‘The Prince was very interested in the project. Glasgow city has purchased 10 of these seven seaters and 30 smaller vehicles – called Peugeot Partners – from us.’
Quietly in the background, Richard Bellingham, Senior Research Fellow on energy Policy at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, was pleased that a report produced by the Institute had brought together so many of the organisations in Glasgow which are STARTing to implement sustainability procedures. ‘By drawing in the right partners, the benefits will be real for the city and more likely to be supported and therefore, stronger,’ he said.
At the end of the tour, Jane Wood, Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community said that Scotland – home of the Enlightenment – should be proud of leading the way in carbon reduction and sustainability as instanced by the work shown on the stands the Duke of Rothesay had toured. She was wearing an eye-catching outfit designed by Joey Dee of Edinburgh and using 75% recycled materials.
Before Prince Charles boarded his train to go to Edinburgh where a similar exhibition was to be visited, he told the assembled crowd: ‘START is all about what each one of us can do for the benefit of our children and our children’s children. It can be really simple to make better use of natural resources. Each of the major sponsors of START have their own message because they know their own customers best. Through these initiatives we are leading by example and showing what can be done to make that first step to sustainability.’
He added: ‘Glasgow is good at working together. This will take the city forward to develop the brand Sustainable Glasgow.’
Gemma Mackenzie and Martin Graham
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP visited Glasgow Central Station to launch a campaign for the High Speed Rail Link to be extended from London all the way to Glasgow.
He was joined by Glasgow SNP candidates Osama Saeed, John Mason MP, Malcolm Fleming and Patrick Grady.
Last month, the Government announced plans for the rail link which would extend from London to Birmingham. If the link was extended as far as Glasgow it would reduce the journey time from 4.5 hours to 3.5 hours.
The minister explained that there was a clear need to move people from air travel to train travel.
He said: ‘We currently have seven million journeys a year from Scotland to London, only one million of these are by train. There are clear advantages in terms of the boost for jobs and the economy.’
The first part of the plan for 120 miles of new rail line between London and the West Midlands would cost between £15.8bn and £17.4bn. Work is due to commence on the project in 2017.