Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 Glasgow Buildings Deadpool

"Historic Scotland has been very lax in keeping these buildings safe, but at the end of the day there is nothing they can do. The listing system is ineffectual as well. The council is just playing the system because if it lets the buildings fall into disrepair they will fall down. There is some legislation but it is difficult to enforce. They leave it lying long enough and the city council say it is dangerous and has it demolished. Springburn Halls is the most recent example but will not be the last. If they were Mackintosh buildings, there would be an international outcry. We make the most of the city's buildings through maintenance, repairs and insurance, with City Property managing and bringing to market as appropriate around 30 listed buildings classified as surplus."
Gary Nisbet, Evening Times, January 2013

Its that time of year when people in offices across the world participate in their annual deadpools. This is what Clint Eastwood leads me to believe anyhow. Much to my disappointment, I've never found myself on anyone's list yet, proving that somehow I am not famous enough for a Guardian obit.

Anyhow, the idea got me to thinking, on a lighter toned version for the start of the year.

Well, I say lighter toned...

The second Broomloan Road school, red sandstone, 1892, was set alight in September. No chance of recovery. Mostly demolished now. From our window, I can see the chimney, the solitary section still standing. To be demolished in the new year. Every day, I look out, and there it is. One day, it wont be there any more, and the final nail in the coffin of eight years work.

So, with that in mind, here's the Glasgow Old Buildings Deadpool. Those listed, old things left to rot in various parts of the city, saved for a rainy day. Destroyed with each actual rainy day.

Here are the buildings it would surprise me least if they were to be demolished in the upcoming year, due to neglect, or accidentally setting themselves on fire. Nasty habit, that one.

I take no joy in any of that. It would make my day to hear that all of them were being restored (well, nearly all of them as you'll see). But realism reigns in the world where the Broomloan Road schools, Colliseum, etc etc could not be saved, and a sense of resignation realises that for every 1 saved, 3 go.

And if that embarrasses someone with the power or money to do something about it....good.

After all, remember the great Coliseum cinema?

( © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

Whatever happened to it?



1. The Former British Linen Bank, Gorbals Street

( © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

Built in 1900 by James Salmon, this was the local branch of the British Linen Bank. Built as the Bank itself was on the way out, the building has become one of the great survivors of Laurieston. Standing across the road from the popular Citizens and Palace Theatres, on the edge of Gorbals Cross. Snug in between an auto shop and the Gorbals Public Baths. Portugal Street ran behind it, complete with St Johns Roman Catholic Church, in which the early records of my Great Grandfather Duncan were kept. 

Then in came the great developers, and all of it was swept away. Even St Johns, which survived everything, went away in the deluge of bulldozers. And most of its records disappeared. 

The high rise towers which replaced it, lasted twenty years.

And so of all the great hubble and tubble, only the Citizens Theatre, which enlargened to take advantage of the space from the demolished Palace and tenements, and the old Linen Bank building remained.


Listed in 1998.

"November 2010: External inspection finds the building remains derelict and in very poor condition. It is exceptionally damp throughout. The window boarding appears to be in need of renewal. Glasgow Building Preservation Trust completed an options appraisal for Southside Housing Association. However, it is understood the Association is, in conjunction with another housing association, considering a larger scale enabling development taking in the Lauriston area. 2013: External inspection finds very little change in condition from the previous site visit. The building remains damp, but secure. Window boarding appears to be failing in places. Part of the surrounding area is currently under redevelopment as part of the ‘Laurieston Living’ regeneration project."Buildings at Risk

"Glasgow style detailing. 4-storey 6-bay red ashlar. Ground floor: close entrance flanked by shop and 2 round arched windows with radial glazing to bank. Bank entrance: fine wrought-iron gate under round arch supported by columns between channelled pilasters. Scroll inscribed "British Linen Company Bank". Cornices over ground and 1st floors. 1st and 2nd floors single and bipartite windows in Gibbs surrounds with canted bay window, S, rising into 2nd floor. 3rd floor semi circular and basket arched windows with an arts and craft iron balcony ovr canted bay. N bay treated as a tower with small windows, having steep pediments on 1st and 3rd floors. Turret missing."
Historic Scotland

(Being a dilettante, I lack the technical language in describing these buildings. So thanks to Historic Scotland for that bit!)

For years, the little building that could has cried out for restoration. For life to return to Laurieston. And now it finally has, it might be the thing that signs its death warrant. For the mothballed building no one has money to use is quite safe out of the way. But when you find yourself on the edge of a major revitalization project, still mothballed, then time may run short. Just ask the Broomloan Road School chimney, while you can.

There was talk of restoring it in 2008, when the high rises came down. John Gilbert Architects were interesting. Nothing happened, much like the touted restoration of the Greek Thomson Caledonian Road Church just round the corner.

Hopefully, in years to come, people can read this and laugh and go "Oh Michael, look how unnecessarily worried you were!" But the last great survivor of a city area and its people, which, frankly, were treated like absolute shit, has limited time left before its event horizon.

2. Our Lady of Consolation RC Church, Inglefield St, Govanhill

A bit of light heartedness before we go on.

A footnote in the Buildings of Scotland, Scott Fraser & Browning's 1967 creature was the unadmired stepchild to the fantastic gothic, post-gothic, and Victorian Pugin style religious buildings across Govanhill. Several of which - Candlish, the Govanhill Parish Church - were demolished in fits of pique, adding insult to injury that they were lost and this was built.

It's ugly, unloved, and getting demolished. The lands getting sold. 

So it goes!

3. Beco Building, c42 Kingston Street

(as seen here)

Built 1878 by an architect lost in the mists of time, the Beco Building (as its known due to the shop on the ground floor) has already survived an appointment with the executioner. The Scottish government, in 2014, vetoed an application from the City Council for demolition. With the Evening Times as chief cheerleader.

"A £300million plan to redevelop Tradeston is being put at risk by a dilapidated warehouse" screamed their headline of 30th March 2012.

Yes, the old "a great thing for Glasgow wont happen unless this goes" trick. As seen with the St Enochs Hotel. Only, this time, the bluff was called. For now.

"The case for the demolition of the building is further undermined by the fact that the building is presently in use as a cash and carry, offices, storage area etc. The reality, however, is that the building is deteriorating over time with little investment being put into it largely due to the fact that it is in multi-ownership. The Council if it were pursuing a ‘listed building’s repair notice’ would also be frustrated by the number of parties involved. The final argument that has been presented is that the removal of the building could be justified to realise the overall regeneration of this middle block. The architects have considered the ‘do nothing’ scenario ie build the block around the ‘Beco’. In presenting this case, the architects were still of the opinion that the deteriorating structure of the building would prevent over time any new build scheme butting against the building. Instead there would have to be a safe gap of approximately six metres to each of the gable edges. The Beco building’s plot also includes a substantial surface car park area which would not be incorporated into the scheme. As a result the amount of basement area available for excavation works to provide car parking would substantially be reduced and therefore 100% provision would not be achieved. In addition to this the entrance to the basement car park would be pushed northwards and result in cars penetrating the perceived ‘home zone’ streets which have been derived as part of the overall aims of achieving a higher residential amenity. The Council is sympathetic to this view, while acknowledging that there has been no justification beyond reasonable doubt provided for the demolition of the listed building on structural grounds, it is desirable that the overall urban grid is re-established and the regeneration of this does not result in a broken urban form. The Beco building stands isolated in context with no relationship to any other architectural form as distinct from the setting of other listed buildings in the Tradeston area which have been successfully converted into residential use. The City Plan contains a number of policies relevant to the consideration of the proposals. As previously explained planning policy for the Tradeston area has evolved through the Draft City Plan via the adoption of a Local Development Strategy and through the City Council’s conscious aspirations to refocus and revitalise the City’s river corridor which had been in decline since the ship building and quayside industries of the past collapsed. The local development strategy for the Tradeston Area which highlights the regeneration of the twelve street blocks has been further refined with proposals for the first three blocks, as contained in this application and the proposed Glasgow Bridge. Together these will act as the catalyst that will drive development further south to the other nine blocks. The Tradeston Development Strategy which the applicant has also been involved in preparing was presented for information to Development and Regeneration Committee in February 2005."
A chunk of the Historic Scotland/SG report against demolition from 2007, now offline but supplied by the great Govan restoration activist Mo Riaz, tragically no longer with us.

The building has several owners, and getting each one to agree to a restoration, or the costs, is like walking across the Nile.  Parts of the building are in desperate need of fixing ASAP, and yet... the red tape prevents it.

"5-storey 16-by 6-bay symmetrical ashlar draper's warehouse and showroom. Ground floor wooden colonnette most now missing. Cornice. 1st floor and return elevation to Centre Street shouldered arched windows under string course. 2nd and 3rd floors flat ogee-headed windows. String course over 3rd. 4th floor basket arched windows. All windows have roll moulded arrises and are 3-paned sash and case except 2 bays of 4-paned windows fronting the central stair. Main cornice. 3-bay pavilions at each end have panelled parapets. Central scrolled pediment with scallop, dated 1878. Slate roof. Brick rear with 3 dormer hoists."
Historic Scotland

The next transformation of Tradeston - the first seemingly gone in a huff over a refusal to demolish listed buildings - needs to keep the old with the new. Else, it would just become a mono-hellhole, like Cumbernauld.

4. Lion Chambers, 170 Hope Street

( © Copyright Keith Edkins and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

""Lion Chambers stand on Hope Street like a rotten tooth. One of these days we'll read in the papers about it being dangerous, knocked down and a developer moving in.You wouldn't see a building of that calibre in that state in any other city. It's very frustrating. If you see what we have lost, you would be utterly astonished and disgusted. The days of 18th-century buildings in Glasgow are numbered."
Gary Nisbet, Glasgow Sculpture

Another Salmon masterpiece, this 1907 building is the perfect counterpoint to anyone who thinks I hold a grudge in general against concrete. Concrete high rise megaliths are awful. This building, on the corner of Hope Street and West Regent Street, is the supreme example of what can be done, aesthetically, with concrete. 

And, besides, the Church already mentioned with an execution date set, the most doomed building on this list. You see, it had a last ditch attempt for restoration due to dangerous by Keppie. The Glasgow Buildings Preservation Trust took it, the building was given the architectural equivalent of "fix it, or the last rights".

That was in 1995.

Since then, a demolition order was defeated, a wire mesh surrounded the exterior of the building to prevent the intricate concrete design falling onto members of the public.

"Glasgow style Art Nouveau. 8-storey commercial building with shop at ground floor. 3 irregular bays to Hope Street with canted corner; 3 shallow canted return to Bath Lane. Reinforced concrete. Casement windows with small-pane glazing. 1st floor cill band. Sculpted panel between 1st and 2nd floor. Eaves cornice. Square canted section in southmost bay rising from 1st to 4th floor corbelled out on sculpted heads at 4th floor; wide semi-circular keyblocked window in panelled section in 6th surmounted by pedimented gable. Canted corner bay slightly advanced over 4th floor and surmounted on 7th floor by octagonal cupola with parabolic arched windows, bracketted cornices, small dormers, narrow central bay: circular window to 4th floor, small windows above, round-headed at 6th floor.Projecting southern return with simple fenestration surmounted by pedimented gable. Double stack rising from south-west angle. Return to Bath Lane: 3 shallow, canted return bays with metal casements."
Historic Scotland, again, with thanks

"The preceding twenty years has seen the involvement of all the usual agencies, from Glasgow City Council, to Historic Scotland and Glasgow Building Preservation Trust and attempts to push the project along have been undertaken, but as yet the funding gap and will to drive the project to a satisfactory conclusion have failed. Like the Alexander Thomson Egyptian Halls to the south, yet again one of Glasgow's most prominent and centrally located A-listed architectural icons is locked in a complex drawn out spiral of decay as many strive to save it and yet the impetus, willpower and solutions continue to remain just out of reach. Time is always the enemy of such buildings as it allows the continued decay and cost of repair to continue to escalate, and inevitably in some cases lead to eventual demolition if the decay is such that loss of structural integrity eventually occurs and the cost of action then is unachievable combined with the comparative lack of enforcement and protection the listing process in reality provides."
Derelict Glasgow website

"A month ago, Glasgow's Department of Building Control declared Lion Chambers a dangerous structure. It is now shrouded in protective scaffolding. The owners have applied for listed building consent to demolish. Lion Chambers may have a small footprint, but if the adjacent three-storey block on the corner of West Regent Street under the same ownership is also removed, a viable development site will be created. Lion Chambers is listed Category A, as much for its pioneering structure as its appearance, yet Historic Scotland is reluctant to grant-aid any restoration that it believes will only extend the life of the building by a few years. Possibly, Lion Chambers is doomed to disintegrate, but possibly not. Before Salmon's concrete baronial castle is condemned, a second opinion simply must be sought. In the last few years, our understanding of the problems of early concrete structures has made great advances, so that celebrated dilapidated buildings, such as the Bauhaus, are being, or have been, carefully restored. In the last year, Glasgow has lost several precious and unique 1850s cast-iron buildings in Jamaica Street, while beautiful but long-derelict iron-framed Grecian warehouses, possibly by "Greek" Thomson, at Glasgow Cross, have been condemned, although their rehabilitation is crucial to the regeneration of the heart of the ancient city. For Glasgow complacently to acquiesce in the loss of Lion Chambers might suggest to cynics that the hard-won title of City of Architecture and Design in 1999 is rather a fraud."
Gavin Stamp, Independent, 15 April 1995

The Lion Chambers were ahead of their time. Sadly, Salmon's very forward thinking mind, with Edwardian resources, may have resulted in a doomed building.

How typical, I find one concrete build I like, and its probably doomed.

5. The Egyptian Halls

By Alexander "Greek" Thomson, 1870.

The building Thomson considered his Masterpiece.

One of the top five cornerstones of Glasgow art.

How to say this and avoid being sued? Thomson's greatest work is one of the cornerstones of what makes Glasgow Glasgow. It is severely under threat, and necessary work remains dormant. Unless all the vested interests - and I don't care who feels the other is more to blame, knock off the egos and get round a table - get together soon, the building is doomed. And the day the Halls are demolished, is the day Glasgow loses a large chunk of its history and soul forever.

There's our five most doomed.

I could mention many ruins, a dilapidated school in the East End, and a Presbytery in the South Side, but in both cases, my suspicions are that the event horizon for protecting them passed ages ago, and that by mentioning them here, it will remind some ill meaning souls they exist.

Hopefully in years to come this will be a fools list of buildings still standing, used even.

One fears it'll be like that list in the Evening Times, a decade ago. Buildings the likes of Gavin Stamp feared for. The Linen Bank and The Egyptian Halls were there too, yes, as was The Lion Chambers. (And what has changed since then? They survive, sans much help!) But so was the Coliseum, and the Springburn Public Halls. 

Sadly, with the increasingly lack of money, this might well be last chance to see.