All six of the infamous Red Road high flats were ‘blown down’ today but remnants of two of them remained after the explosion. Hours after the event, no one at Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) was able to comment on whether this was intended or not. Nor did the social landlord – part of the Wheatley Group – release the normal details of how much explosive was used, how many tonnes of rubble would be created etc.
One insider, however, said that the steel structure of the building was such that four times the normal amount of explosive would have been used and the two bits of building remaining standing would have been ‘not expected.’
And by early evening it was understood that hundreds of people were being advised to ‘look at the GHA website’ to see where they might spend the night if they were unable to return to their homes because of the unsafe, remaining structures.
An emergency inspection was believed to be underway as this story
is being written.
Local people in their hundreds stood at various vantage points for hours to wait for the massive implosion. They were well pleased. Cheers and a round of applause accompanied the massive cloud of dust which followed the collapse of the blocks. The dust spread over a very wide area.
Said trainee photographer Joe Graham: ‘That was quick!’ as he scrolled through his images.
Local resident Joan Flanagan said: ‘That was magic. I like big bangs and love to see things being destructed like that.’
Bobby Burns, also a local resident said: ‘That’s bitter sweet to see. It is one chapter of life closed now. But I suppose it opens a new one of re-generation for the area.’ He said he’d lived in two different tower blocks and commented: ‘They’ve both gone now. They were blown down too.’
The huge operation to clear the surrounding area of people began early on Sunday morning. ‘Two thousand five hundred people had to be moved,’ said one GHA official spokesman. ‘That takes time.’
Some resistance was expected from one householder – Tina Suffredini who chairs the local residents’ association. But when the time came, the GHA’s ‘plan B’ to have Sheriff Officers physically remove the lady from her property, was not required and she left her home of her own accord.
MSP Patricia Ferguson, who spent 11 years of her early girlhood in one of the Red Road flats said: ‘These needed to come down. I hope the new developments will bring job opportunities and community facilities and the GHA is consulting with local people to do that.’
photographs by Stuart Maxwell
The earth trembled in Gorbals on Sunday 3 October as two Norfolk Court tower blocks were demolished. The implosion reduced the 37 year old flats to 20,000 tonnes of rubble in ten seconds and was felt underfoot by the 600-strong crown of onlookers who congregated around Cumberland Street beyond the safety exclusion zone.
Said pensioner Mary McGuire who lives in one of the two remaining Norfolk Court blocks: ‘It’s sad but happy. The people who lived there used to be really nice folk. They’ve all long since moved to new homes.’ Her neighbour, Bridie Minto (82) said: ‘That block was still being built when I moved into my flat. It is sad to see them go.’
Anne Bunton who lived for 29 years in one of the 132 flats in one of the demolished blocks, missed the ‘blow-down.’ ‘She’s working today,’ said daughter Elizabeth. ‘That’s why I’m here to video the event.’ Born and brought up in the Gorbals, Elizabeth said: ‘A lot of history has just gone down. A lot of families have come and gone through those flats over the years. It is sad. But people have their memories even if the skyline changes.’
The 23 storey blocks cost around £1 million to be demolished. The blowdown was commissioned by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and carried out by contractor Safedem. Said GHA’s Executive Director of Development and Regeneration, Alex McGuire: ‘This is another step in the regeneration of the area.’ Around 200 affordable rent homes will be build in Laurieston South of the Norfolk flats in the next couple of years. The actual demolition site will be used for homes in a later phase of regeneration.
For more dramatic pictures and information see website: www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk