One of the oldest festivals in Europe – Govan Fair – is consulting on ways to revive the ancient gathering which goes back to at least 1756. In the spirit of these ‘together in the UK’ times, they were given great insights from the creator of Totally Thames – a festival which involves businesses along the length of that great river.
It is local people in Govan who are asking. They’ve found inspiration in places like Gdansk where history bus tours are led by local people who’ve lived the history. They’ve inspired research to uncover fairs of past times and how they were run. Unfortunately they’ve not been able to uncover the tarmac on a car park which conceals Doomster Hill, an ancient site where justice was once dispensed by the Kings of Strathclyde and where people gathered for important occasions.
The ship building history of Govan honed by skilled men who crafted vessels of every type – remains hidden. Unless you visit the fascinating exhibitions within the recently refurbished and now commercially used, beautifully appointed space of Fairfield Offices on Govan Road opposite Elder Park. There, of an afternoon, a person can view details of shipyards and people, see giant spanners and the works they sometimes tumbled into.
This quiet but highly professional presentation of local history puts the Riverside Museum to shame for it does not project a fraction of the information the Fairfield offers.
So maybe Govan Fair folk and local people will devise something that pleases them and which will enhance their Fair celebrations for generations to come. By consulting with Big Brother Thames, they’re off to a good start. If they can deliver in the way the Fairfield Exhibition of shipbuilding does, then the future of the event is secure.
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.’
Six months from today voters in Scotland will have a chance to make history. How they vote on Thursday 18 September 2014 in the Referendum, will decide if Scotland divorces the UK and goes it alone or stays in the same unbalanced relationship.
If enough people turn out to cast their vote, there will be a democratic decision. But on current trends, fewer than 20% make their mark. Even the increasing number using a postal vote doesn’t alter the low turnout.
So how can more people be persuaded that their vote counts? How can more people in this final six months, be persuaded to discuss the issues for and against independence?
Pathetic, bad-tempered tv pantomimes – such as the Lamont /Sturgeon skirmish – and the Andrew Marr hectoring, opinionated interview of Salmond, are more likely to put people off thinking about the issues.
So where will thinking individuals find respectful debate among knowledgeable equals? If anyone has an answer to that, this website would be delighted to report those debates.
A momentous week. First the tragic crash of the Police helicopter into the busy Clutha Vaults pub with the loss of nine lives – the pilot and two police officers aboard the helicopter and six patons in the pub.
Then the news that Nelson Mandela had died. The Colossus who led South Africa out of apartheid and into a new and more equal world had finally walked to freedom of a different kind.
In both instances the people of Glasgow showed their true mettle. They ran into the pub to bring out the injured. They provided tea and support for the emergency services personnel who had the terrible task of searching for survivors and retrieving bodies once the embedded helicopter had been removed. For Mandela, they were standing in Nelson Mandela Square within hours of his passing. On a cold, dark night with slight smirr falling, several hundred people listened to tributes and learned of the proud place Glasgow and Scotland had in the struggle against apartheid.
Bouquets of flowers appeared spontaneously. People talked to total strangers, sharing grief and memories, tears and sadness, a helping hand and solidarity.
Each individual had empathy for others. Whether it was immediately at the time of the crash and in its aftermath or whether it was history when Nelson Mandela was given the Freedom of the City and the years of effort it took to achieve that, didn’t matter.
What was important was that people in Glasgow identified with the humanity of others at a critical time. Instinctively they reacted as if the person needing help was one of their own. Let’s all hope and pray that true solidarity is in evidence for future struggles at home.
The public are being given a one-off opportunity to experience all the fun of the fair from the showman’s side in a special event at the Riverside Museum from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 December. This unique occasion will let people try their hand at running a stall, learn how rides are packed and transported across Scotland and take a peek inside the vintage and modern wagons in which the travelling showpeople live.
For three days there will be a free traditional family funfair outside Glasgow’s Riverside, which was designated European Museum of the Year for 2013. Situated in the Event Square will be a Steam Traction Engine, a traditional carousel and the popular flying Chair-O-Planes, as well as traditional games and food stalls.
The event, the culmination of a Fablevision project called Fair Glasgow which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery, is the first of its kind and aims to promote a better understanding of travelling showpeople in Scotland. It compliments some outstanding displays currently on view inside Riverside Museum, including the showman’s wagon donated by the Carter family.
Throughout the event the public will be encouraged to follow a trail to the museum’s education space, where they can take in fairground art demonstrations, information films and view some very rare and beautiful objects from fairs gone by. Key individuals from Glasgow show families will also be available to answer questions and give the inside story on the life of a showman.
Manager of Riverside Museum, Lawrence Fitzgerald, said: ‘Glasgow is an incredibly vibrant city thanks to the wonderful mix of different communities. The community of travelling showpeople has added a great deal to our history and this is a rare opportunity to experience, firsthand, just a little of their way of life. The combination of fun fairground rides and beautiful objects outside and interesting and unusual exhibits inside are sure to make the event a knock-out for families this weekend.’
Melvin Thomas from the showpeople’s community in Glasgow added: ‘We are delighted to work with the Riverside Museum to bring all the fun of the fair to the people of Glasgow this weekend. We are keen to share our proud heritage with as many people as possible and invite them to join in some of the wonderful experiences we enjoy as showpeople.’
The event is free and the funfair rides are also free. It is open from 11am to 5pm on Friday 6 and Sunday 8 December and from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 7 December. For more information please see www.fairglasgow.com
Some say it is too close to call. But the by-election in Govan Ward 5 will, again, be an historic pointer to our future.
The seat is for Glasgow City Council following the death in July of Allison Hunter a former SNP Group Leader in the City Chambers.
There are 14 candidates. Eleven of them have taken the opportunity to submit a photograph and 150 words to this website. Each was invited to say what they’d do first if elected. Their statements are posted here for the 5000 monthly, unique visitors to this website to view.
Govan is an interesting place that used to be its own place. Since last century it has been part of Glasgow. It has a history going back to pre-Christian times.
Politically it has been pragmatic – choosing the best person for the job at the time. Some might call this strategic voting.
In Westminster terms one of its most famous MPs was a Conservative, Sir William Pearce, who died aged 55 in 1888. He is remembered mainly through the Black Man statue of him opposite the Pearce Institute which bears his name.
By 1970 Govan was a long-held Labour stronghold when 22,364 people cast their vote for their MP giving Labour’s John Rankin the seat with 60.1% of the vote.
In 1973 SNP’s Margo MacDonald famously won Govan’s Westminster seat from Labour with 41.5% of the vote – 6360 out of the 15,168 cast with MacDonald being one of four candidates.
In 1988 Jim Sillars gained the seat for SNP from Labour with 48.8% of the vote – 14,677 out of the 30,104 cast. Sillars was one of eight candidates who included Bob Gillespie for Labour and Bernard Ponsonby for the Social and Liberal Democrats.
In 2012 for the Glasgow City Council elections four Councillors were elected.
James Adams (Labour) and Allison Hunter (SNP) were both elected at stage one. Adams with 1727 votes and Hunter with 1450 votes. A different counting system was used where voters had to mark 1 against the candidate of their first choice, 2 against the candidate of their second choice and so on. The others elected on stage 13 of the preference count were Stephen Dornan (Glasgow First) and Fariha Thomas (Labour)
A total of 7221 votes were cast at that Council election in Ward 5 but only 6924 of them were valid. The vast majority of the 297 rejected papers had the figure 1 against more than one candidate.
It would take a brave person to forecast who will win the Govan Ward 5 seat on Glasgow City Council in tomorrow’s by-election. It will be useful to see how many of the 23,542 voters choose to cast their vote. Last time, only 30% bothered to go to the poll. Which means that seven out of ten people didn’t use their vote. While this is supposed to be a democracy it means that the result is undemocratic because of apathy. So whatever the outcome, it will not be representative of the majority and apathy will have won.
Scotland’s history is being stitched up by hundreds of expert needlewomen and men who are creating the longest tapestry in the world.
The completed work of art and beauty will be hung in the Scottish Parliament in August this year, 2013, when a final day of sewing is planned on site.
Called ‘The Great Tapestry of Scotland,’ it developed from an idea from writer Alexander McCall Smith, historian and festival organiser Alistair Moffat, and artist Andrew Crummy and the expertise of a vast number of fine stitchers.
The outcome will be one of the biggest community arts project ever undertaken in Scotland with more than 160 panels each 1 metre x 1 metre being created.
Said Alexander McCall Smith: ‘The recording of events, both great and small, on cloth is nothing new. The most famous example, of course, is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is one of the world’s best-known works of art. More recently, the completion of the Prestonpans Tapestry in Scotland has reminded us of just how effective this method of narrating history can be. When I saw that tapestry for the first time, I was struck not only by its beauty but by the story behind its creation.
‘That led me to raise with Andrew Crummy, the artist, the possibility of creating a tapestry that would illustrate the whole history of Scotland. To my delight, Andrew agreed to take on the task. Alistair Moffat, one of Scotland’s finest historical writers, was then approached to join the project and come up with a list of historical moments that the tapestry would cover. As we had all expected, Alistair’s list is both balanced and exciting – a series of snapshots of Scotland from its earliest days to the recent past. This is a collaborative project. The work will be done by volunteer stitchers working throughout Scotland.
‘When the work is finished, we shall hand the tapestry over to the nation, to be displayed to the people of Scotland and visitors to Scotland. I believe that it will bring happiness and delight to many people.’
Several of the panels are being stitched by groups and individuals in and around Glasgow. One – started in mid January – shows Jimmy Reid and the 1971 Work-in at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. It is being completed by the West of Scotland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. The father of one of their members worked in the yard maintaining the cranes which are featured in the design.
The range of embroidery skills needed to translate Andrew Crummy’s descriptive artwork into a colourful, skilful and textural telling of Scotland’s history involves hundreds of talented individuals of all ages – men as well as women.
Started in the spring of 2012, the work should be completed by August this year and officially launched in the Scottish Parliament in September. It is estimated that each panel will take 400 hours of work to complete. The final tapestry will have taken a total of 50,000 hours of careful sewing which is equal to sewing 24 hours a day for six years!
Have you been involved in sewing the Great Tapestry of Scotland? Send us a comment and a photograph of yourself sewing and we’ll post it on this website.
The University of Glasgow omitted to mention in its ‘reshaping’ announcement yesterday (Wednesday 22 June) that the University Court has decided to close in 2012, the Slavonic Studies programme within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.
‘The Slavonic Studies cultural and inter-cultural programme deals with the cultures of Central and Eastern Europe. It is unique in Scotland. Slavonic Studies have been in existence at the University of Glasgow for sixty years, Russian Studies for more than one hundred years,’ said Senior Lecturer Dr Jan Culik.
Earlier this month, Glasgow University Senate has expressed the view that the Slavonic Studies programme should not be closed down, however, University Court has now decided otherwise.
At the students’ rally during the start of the University Court meeting, Dr Culik said: ‘This University would become the laughing stock of the world if the unique cultural programme we provide about Eastern Europe is discontinued. ‘ He added: ‘We provide strategically important knowledge about the significant areas in Europe and Scotland will be much poorer if this provision is no longer available.’
At least 26 senior academics across Scotland have raised a e-petition on the Scottish Government website, requesting ‘targeted funding for lesser taught language and cultural studies’ such as the East European languages and cultures at Glasgow University. Such funding exists in England and used to exist in Scotland. It is felt that without the Scottish government making a commitment to this important strategic resource, cultural and language studies of Central and Eastern Europe in Scotland will be lost. See websie: http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/view_petition.asp?PetitionID=455
Along with a detailed commentary on what the Court decided on each of the proposed cuts, retiring Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President, Tommy Gore, said: ‘I’m pleased that all the hard work put in by students has shown the University why their plans to cut and merge courses were wrong. Generally the outcomes of the Court meeting are proof of that. But there are still concerns over DACE, Nursing and Slavonic Studies, so we need to ensure students stay engaged and continue to argue the case for these subject areas which contribute hugely to the student experience at Glasgow.’
He added: ‘With the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, we’ve got a year to show the University how crucial Slavonic Studies is to other courses – such as Comparative Literature, Politics and History – across the University. We need to demonstrate the detrimental effect closing down Slavonic Studies will have on the student experience in these areas.’
Across the campus – at all levels – there is an atmosphere of discontent. As one academic said: “I think the University only wants to do highly lucrative courses primarily for foreign students and has adopted a ‘pile them high, teach them cheap,’ mentality.”
At the time of posting this story, the University of Glasgow had not responded to the localnewsglasgow query about the omission of Slavonic studies cuts in their release. The University was also asked for details of the savings expected through the re-alignment.
The Court of the University of Glasgow has finalised the ‘reshaping’ of the University which has caused great unrest among students and staff.
With their budget decisions for 2011-12 made today (Wednesday 22 June 2011) Court accepted all the recommendations made by the panels that were established to consult widely with the academic schools as well as with student representatives.
This means that:
The School of Modern Languages and Cultures will maintain the teaching of the full current range of modern languages at the levels currently taught.
Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics and History will continue to be taught at the University of Glasgow.
Nursing and Healthcare will continue as normal, including admissions for academic year 2011-12 and 2012-13, pending the outcome of the Chief Nursing Officer’s review.
The Open Programme will continue to provide courses, but through an independent, self-supporting unit within University Services.
The Centre for Drug Misuse Research will close.
The University will continue to withdraw from the Glasgow School of Social Work.
The University will withdraw provision of the dedicated Liberal Arts programmes on the Dumfries Campus from 2012-13. In a statement, the University added: ‘The University is committed to a strong and positive future for the Dumfries campus as we develop our range of courses focused on environmental studies, health and social studies, and primary education, and liberal arts will continue to be a part of other interdisciplinary degree programmes at Dumfries Campus.’
Speaking later, the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow Professor Anton Muscatelli, said that the decisions made at Court meant that the University was now in a very strong position going forward: “The past few months have been extremely challenging and I want to pay tribute to everyone who took part in what was a vigorous and comprehensive consultation programme. The difficult decisions that have been addressed, coupled with the work that has been done to turn-around our finances means that the future prospects for the continued excellence of the University of Glasgow are extremely promising. We will continue to provide a world-class learning and teaching environment, and look forward to the future development and success of the University with considerable optimism.”
SIGHTHILL STONE CIRCLE
A local amateur astronomer and science writer is hoping to rejuvenate a stone circle in the shadow of Sighthill’s tower blocks.
Duncan Lunan organised the construction of the stone circle over 30 years ago, when he was manager of the Glasgow Parks department’s astronomy project. The project’s goal was to accurately mirror the rise and fall of the sun and moon over the city and this was funded at the time by the Jobs Creation Scheme. Unfortunately the incoming Thatcher government cut this funding, leaving the project incomplete, with 4 stones still to be placed. Duncan explained: ‘Two were planned to be due east and west, marking the sunrise and sunset at the equinoxes. What we would like to do with the other 2 would be to put a plaque on them to explain why it is there, who built it and who it is dedicated to.’ He would also like to restore the original work and put in a path for wheelchair access.
The circle was built in honour of four academics from Glasgow University who promoted the understanding of megalithic astronomy: Professor Archie Roy, Dr Ewan McKay, Professor Alexander Thom and his son, Dr Archie Thom. The cost of the new work that will complete the project will be around £30,000.
Duncan hopes that the site can again host equinox and solstice celebrations similar to those which occurred in Scotland until the 17th century. He will be holding an illustrated talk on the Sighthill Stone Circle at the Ogilvie Centre, St Aloysius Church, Rose St, Glasgow, at 7.30pm on Monday 21 June. Following the talk there will be a visit to the circle for the midsummer sunset.