Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S32

Back in the news, at Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee has been taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the second blaze at the Mackintosh Building.

On Thursday it heard from independent fire, security and resilience adviser Stephen Mackenzie.

Speaking about the equipment, which relies on cooling mist to extinguish flames, committee member Tavish Scott asked Mr Mackenzie: “The committee wasn’t told it was removed after the first fire and we are all puzzled as to why it would have been removed. Why would it have been removed?”

Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m also puzzled as an expert.”

The MSP asked whether the system should have been retained until a replacement was developed.

Mr Mackenzie replied: “Categorically I’ve stated there should have been a temporary or phased installation and that could’ve been part of that basis.

“I’m incredibly puzzled to now hear that this has occurred.”

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

The committee also heard ventilation ducts which allowed the fire to take hold in 2014 were still in place at the time of last year’s blaze as they had been due to be rectified at the end of the restoration project.

Contributions continued with further comment from another expert.

Dawson Stelfox, a conservation architect at Consarc Design Group, gave an insight into fire safety assessments during the construction period and suggested the system should be reformed.

He explained: “At the moment the statutory position on that is that a fire risk assessment has to be done, but the focus of that is on life safety, is on getting people out of the building in time, and it’s not on asset safety, it’s not on protecting the building.

“I would suggest to you that it is worth the committee looking at changes to requirements and fire safety assessments during the construction period to also take into account fire asset safety and fire spread.

“Fire-stopping during construction is not an easy thing because it might continually be disruptive and have to be put back into place, but I would suggest to you that there hasn’t been enough focus on achieving compartmentation fire-stopping during the construction process.”

The Glasgow School of Art added information about advice it was given.

Referring to the mist suppression system, a Glasgow School of Art spokesman said: “As a result of the 2014 fire, considerable elements of the system were destroyed or damaged. The GSA sought expert advice which indicated that this system was unusable.

“As you would expect, the GSA wanted to take advantage of improvements in the technology and install the best system for the building.

“The installation time for the replacement system in the post-2014 restoration would have been broadly similar irrespective of the type of system commissioned.”

Fire expert ‘puzzled’ over art school mist system

Interesting to note that STV’s headline stated…

A prevention system that survived the first fire was ripped out before the second blaze.

While the text of its article went on to state…

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

Frankly, this smells of a common trend I’ve highlighted in media coverage recently, with a ‘clickbait’ headline claim which is NOT backed up by detail in the article.

Expert ‘puzzled’ by Glasgow art school fire system removal

Odd that the media has apparently ignored earlier sessions of the committee’s hearings.

Nothing they could use in those to get a ‘clickbait’ headline, or whip up some ‘Trial by Media’ goodness?

MSPs today heard the final session of evidence in their investigation into the fire which gutted Glasgow School of Art last year.

The Parliament’s Culture, Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee heard from Historic Environment Scotland and fire safety experts at 9am this morning in its last hearing.

The Committee will now deliberate upon the evidence it has heard and consider the future of the Art School.

MSPs deliberate over Glasgow School of Art’s future after hearing final evidence


No significant changes seen when I’ve been past the building remains recently.

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street


Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S31

Was the Mackintosh Building fire a cunning marketing ploy?

Most of the media came up with the same ‘feature headline’ this week, namely the record number of visitors at Mackintosh related venues in this 150th anniversary of his birth.

The BBC…

A record 1.1 million people have visited Charles Rennie Mackintosh venues across Glasgow this year.

A series of events to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the acclaimed architect boosted visitor numbers.

Visitor numbers were also helped by the reopening of Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street.

In June a fire ripped through the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art.

150th anniversary boosts visitor numbers to Mackintosh venues


The 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth has helped venues connected to the artist record their best ever year for visitor numbers.

More than 1.1 million people have visited Mackintosh venues in and around Glasgow this year, including Scotland Street School Museum, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at The Hunterian, officials have revealed.

It marks an 8% increase on the levels in 2017 and is up 30% compared to 2016, culture body Glasgow Life said.

The figures were revealed in a year which saw the completion of a four-year, £10m restoration of Mackintosh’s only surviving Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street, and a Mackintosh interior forming the centrepiece of the Scottish design galleries at the new V&A Dundee.

Several venues, mostly in the west of the country, were involved in Mackintosh 150, a year-long programme of events and exhibitions celebrating the birth and legacy of the artist, architect and designer.

However the past 12 months also saw a massive blaze rip through the famous Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for the second time in four years in June, devastating the building and forcing the school to close its visitor centre and Mackintosh walking tours programme.

Mackintosh venues celebrating record visitor numbers


As the 150th anniversary celebrations of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s life draw to a close, venues and attractions in Glasgow have recorded more visitors in 2018 than ever before.

Between January and November, more than 1.1 million people visited Glasgow Mackintosh venues, including The Lighthouse, Scotland Street School Museum, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian museum.

This is an 8% increase in footfall compared with the same period in 2017 and a 30% increase on 2016.

Born in Glasgow on June 7 1868, Mackintosh is globally considered one of the most creative figures of the 20th century.

Figures have been welcomed as a strong indicator of the success of Mackintosh 150 and the continuing appeal of Mackintosh in Glasgow, especially in the wake of the second devastating fire in the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art in four years.

Glasgow Mackintosh venues have record year following 150th anniversary celebrations

The Scotsman…

Events marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh have helped venues connected to the artist record their best ever year for visitor numbers.

More than 1.1 million people visited Mackintosh venues in and around Glasgow – including Scotland Street School Museum, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at The Hunterian – in 2018, officials have revealed.

It marks an 8% increase on the levels in 2017 and is up 30% compared to 2016, culture body Glasgow Life said.

The figures were revealed in a year which saw the completion of a four-year, £10 million restoration of Mackintosh’s only surviving Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street, and a Mackintosh interior forming the centrepiece of the Scottish design galleries at the new V&A Dundee.

Several venues, mostly in the west of the country, were involved in Mackintosh 150, a year-long programme of events and exhibitions celebrating the birth and legacy of the artist, architect and designer.

But 2018 also saw a massive blaze rip through the famous Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for a second time in four years in June, devastating the building and forcing the school to close its visitor centre and Mackintosh walking tours programme.

The record-breaking visitor figure, which includes GSA numbers up to June, reflects the success of the other venues in attracting people through their doors, officials believe.

Venues connected to Charles Rennie Mackintosh record visitor numbers

No Conspiracy Theory stories?

I left ‘The Scotsman’ article to last, since its (surely world-famous by now) Moron Comment section was, I thought, the ideal place to find the Conspiracy Theorists flocking together, and discussing various plans that could have been enacted to boost visitor numbers in the 150th anniversary year.

But, no.

Not a single one,  not even a derogatory comment from any of the trendy/fashionable Mackintosh haters, who could have dug their knives in there.

Still, looking at other stories from around world, which tell of some pretty ruthless people, and of others who just seem to have no clue about the serious implications of what they are prepared to do to achieve their goals, I just can get the image of some little creep sitting in an office, in a marketing and promotions company, coming up with hidden/secret ‘Cunning Plans’ to further their own ends.

Think I’m being silly, or that you’re safe? Husband cut wife’s parachute after she asked him ‘Are you trying to kill me?’ court hears

Christmas Mackintosh

Christmas Mackintosh

Dec 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S30

Possibly a little late, STV brought three varied stories from the edge of the fire.

A quote from one’s not enough, and I can’t lift the whole article which is relatively long, so this is just the link.

Probably the sad thing I see in this is the ‘Then and Us’ emotion, rather than some understanding.

There’s been a lot of devastation, it’s a shame there seems to be a continuing rift between some of those involved.

Lives turned upside down by Glasgow Art School blaze

Business are to receive assistance.

Almost £2 million is being used to give business rate relief for companies affected by the fires at the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building and Victoria’s Nightclub.

The Scottish Government has announced approximately £1.85 million of its Fire Recovery Fund will be used by Glasgow City Council to provide business rates relief and support recovery efforts following the fire in June.

No business in the immediate fire cordon area, or eligible companies in Sauchiehall Street, will have to pay business rates for the period of January to March.

Some 200 businesses in the eligible area have already received more than £3 million from the £5 million fund, which was announced by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay in July.

The recently renovated Mackintosh library had been due to reopen next year.

In addition, a £150,000 grant will be given to the Centre for Contemporary Arts to assist with its recovery plan.

The Scottish Government has already offered £20,000 of financial support to businesses directly affected by the fires and £10,000 to others in the area impacted by a reduction in shoppers.

It has also expanded its contribution to hardship rates relief and in partnership with the council has created an emergency fund to support displaced households.

Mr Mackay said: “Having already provided a great deal of assistance so far, the Scottish Government is now making the remaining balance of its Fire Recovery Fund – some £1.85 million – available to Glasgow City for further business rates relief.

Businesses affected by Sauchiehall Street fires get £2m relief fund

Mackay said: “This relief will provide much-needed breathing space while businesses resume trade and allow them to focus on the commercial opportunities of the festive period in the knowledge that they will not face any additional business rates liabilities related to the period between January to March.

“The devastating fires at the Glasgow School of Art and near Victoria’s Nightclub have had a significant and lasting impact on businesses, residents and the Sauchiehall Street economy alike.

Government to give £2million to businesses affected by Art School fire

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “The Sauchiehall Street fires had a huge impact on the city, most especially on those who live and work in the vicinity.

“In response to these tragic and traumatising events, and in partnership with the Scottish Government, we ensured local businesses received the support needed at a crucial time.

“Businesses are the lifeblood of Sauchiehall Street and stability continues to be their overriding priority.

“There has been a real acceleration in the physical improvements in the area and this announcement will complement and make a significant contribution to our aims and ambitions for a 21st century Sauchiehall Street.”

Businesses hit by Sauchiehall Street fires get £2m boost

Sauchiehall Street Fire

Sauchiehall Street Fire

Dec 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mindless hysteria – not always the correct response to a demolition notice

I used to work in West Regent AND was part of forum/group that enjoyed abusing Glasgow City Council.

Both of those assertions have been false for many years. Not only don’t I work there any more, the company is long gone (as is the one that replaced it), and I’m no longer associated with that group. The latter is quite sad as we parted acrimoniously after a misunderstanding when the ‘leader’ decided to misinterpret an offer I made to volunteer some free help as some sort of takeover attempt. However, shortly after that they got really nasty toward the council, and councillors, so I’d have gone anyway. A real shame as they were (and still are) very knowledgeable on local history. I follow that side of their activity, but not the rest, and won’t identify them.

I spotted a news item about an old (1830) B listed building in West Regent Street being granted permission for demolition, having decayed internally and externally through neglect. I was slightly surprised at first, as I thought this one had gone many years ago. But, it seems this one is number 141, while the one I was thinking of was at 107.

From memory (I couldn’t find anything online) 107 West Regent Street was probably the ‘Last Straw’ that compounded the problems I was having with the group, and made me ‘walk.

This was a derelict building, similar to 141, which was vandalised and burnt down at some point and, following an inspection, had the remains declared unsafe, with demolition following.

My recollection was that ‘The Group’ launched into one of its council/councillor hate orgies, attacking some by name, on the basis that they were behind the fire, to release the site for development, and that they were to profit as they were somehow connected to builders/developers, and should be fired immediately for their part in destroying a historically significant building, which was said to have been one of (Charles Rennie) Mackintosh’s commissions.

I can’t find easy confirmation of that online, as the old historic record for 107 has been purged, so don’t know if it was true.

But that was when I gave up on the group, realising that they seemed to claim EVERY building fire was attributable to the council, or a councillor or councillors wanting a site cleared of a historic building that could not otherwise be demolished to suit their plans.

I was fed this story about 141.

CITY planners have agreed that a run-down B-listed building in central Glasgow can be demolished and replaced with a development of serviced apartments.

Officials have approved an application made by Suite Street Hotels for premises at 141 West Regent Street, on the corner with West Campbell Street.

APARTHOTEL Can Replace City Centre Listed Building

It’s interesting to look at the listing for this building.


Circa 1830. 2-storeys and basement, 5 x 5 main bays, with 2

3-bay extensions to S; 1st 2 bays from N on West Campbell

Street blind; 2nd bay from W on West Regent Street blind at

1st floor. End terrace classical block converted to offices.

Painted ashlar. Basement band. Pilastered central doorpiece

with flat block pediment to entry at head of steps

oversailing basement. Sash and case windows in architraves;

corniced at ground floor. Eaves cornice; blocking course

raised in centre. Details continue on West Campbell Street

elevation; 1 small arched window in pedimented gable,

(pediment truncated).


There doesn’t appear to be anything of particular significance there, or even a famous name attached to it.

Also, it was converted to offices, so most, of not all, of the interior was lost or damaged years ago.

I mention this because if you go online and look for more on this demolition, you will find a story which begins (from early 2018).

Historic and important building facing demolition in flats plans

I’m not linking to it, as I used to use the media source as a linked reference for many of my posts, then discovered they kept altering their links, so that all the reference link I had carefully included – all lead to dead or non-existent web pages! So sod them.

However, I read and reread that story they ran, and apart from the planning application requesting demolition, NOWHERE did the article concerned give ANY reason or detail to back up the headline claim where it had proclaimed ‘Historic and important building’.

I’ve said it before, I’ll no doubt say it again – we can’t keep EVERY old building. And, despite many people wearing rose-tinted glasses when looking at them, many were also badly built, and won’t last. Cowboy builders are NOT a modern invention.

But we DO have to be CAREFUL, and make sure we keep the good ones which we can.

Now that I’m ‘older and wiser’, rather than listen to, and accept without question, the statements of the critics, I find it much more interesting and informative to actually look at some planning application decisions, and the logic behind them (which can now be found freely online as part of public records). It seems that our council is NOT the villain some often seem to try to portray it as.

141 West Regent Street

141 West Regent Street

Dec 8, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S29

I was going to suggest that a new director had been found for the Glasgow School of Art (after, in my opinion, the previous director was ‘persuaded’ to fall on his own sword as a sacrificial offering to the baying hounds demanding a head) surprisingly quickly, such appointments often seem to take a ridiculous amount if time. I’ve never really understood this process – my gut tells me such positions should be filled by someone with intimate knowledge of the job, promoted from within, and selected on the basis of the experience in lower positions in the chain of command.

But I’m generally wrong in that thought, as will be seen if the occupants of such posts are looked at in the case of large companies.

Cynics might suggest in such cases that this is an élite, closed club, where such directors take up such posts for only a few years, as part of a cunning plan. Once they’ve held the post long enough to satisfy their contractual terms, the get a massive ‘Golden Handshake’, and move on to the next one, and so on, until they retire.

However, for the next year at least, it looks as if my preference for someone internal to be promoted to this post is generally satisfied.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) board has appointed Prof Irene McAra-McWilliam as the school’s new director.

The professor will fill the role for one year before the GSA undertakes a full candidate search.

Along with Prof Ken Neil she has been acting as joint interim director since 16 October.

Prof McAra-McWilliam joined the School of Art as head of School of Design in 2005.

In 2016 she was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list which recognised her work in higher education, innovation and design.

That same year she was appointed deputy director (innovation).

The professor also established the schools Highland Campus at Altyre and created The Innovation School as the GSA’s fifth academic school.

However, the key phrase in that report suggests she could be out after a year, as some ‘high-flyer’ is found, and parachuted into the role of director.

On the other hand, maybe she’ll do such an outstanding job in that year, and her position will be made permanent.

We’ll have to wait and see.

New director for Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art has appointed a temporary leader following the sudden departure of director Tom Inns in the wake of a storm of controversy over its stewardship of its iconic Mackintosh Building after it was devastated by two major fires in the space of four years.

Former head of design Irene McAra-McWilliam has been appointed director for the next year by the art school’s under-fire board.

Prof McAra-McWilliam has been a deputy director at the institution since 2016, the same year she was awarded an OBE.

The interim appointment has been announced less than a month after the resignation of Prof Inns amid growing questions over the fire protection measures which were in place when the two blazes broke out.

A statement from the art school said its board would be carrying out a “full candidate search” for a replacement for Prof Inns, previously head at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, who was appointed in May 2013.

It added: “The board wishes Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam every success in her new role and is confident that the Art School will continue to be a successful, independent and internationally highly esteemed art school under her leadership.”

Glasgow School of Art appoints new director as fire recovery continues

As usual, this Scotsman story has attracted the usual moron into it comment area, with this gem appearing there.

Antoine Bisset

“…as fire recovery continues”
What world of insanity is this?
The GSA is a pile of rubble. A pastiche may be built, but that’s it.

Far from promoting any of those associated with the place, they should all be jailed for the rest of their lives.

Read more at:

As I said in the opening above… “the previous director was ‘persuaded’ to fall on his own sword as a sacrificial offering to the baying hounds demanding a head“, only Antoine wants ANY of those associated with the place jailed for the rest of their lives. Does that include the cleaners, the kitchen staff, any students that studied there?

Me, for visiting, looking at the place, taking pics, and writing about it?

I can picture Antoine, at the head of the posse and lynch mob, picking out the best tree for the rope 🙂

Quite what this idiot means by finishing with ‘Read more at:’ is indicative of their level of intelligence, since it’s the link to the SAME article their informed and oh-so-helpful comment is posted after.


Dec 2, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S28

Well there you go.

The CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) swings from ‘bust’ to ‘boom’.

Last time out, it was crying in its beer and warning everyone it might go under as it wasn’t able to open its doors, thanks to the quarantine thrown up after Mackintosh Building fire.

Now, it can afford to throw a free party for one and all to celebrate the lifting of the quarantine, and return to normal service.

I think somebody should subject the CCA Board to the same sort of scrutiny and negativity which has recently been aimed at the Glasgow School of Art Board – or have it add the words ‘tact and diplomacy‘ to its agenda.

(Oh well, there goes MY free invite.)

Now that I’ve burnt that bridge, I’ll add that this looks like a promotion for the first exhibition after the re-opening, and other events, so the party is really riding on the back of that, rather than being ‘stand alone’.

Fingers crossed they get everyone back, on the other hand, do they really need friends who deserted them in the time of need?

A massive party is set to take place next month to celebrate the reopening of Sauchiehall Street businesses following the devastating art school fire in June.

And next month, they will join forces to “support the revival” of the area at a huge extravaganza – with all Garnethill residents, members of the local community, long-standing CCA supporters and regular visitors invited to attend!

Francis Mckee, CCA Director, said: “This is a party for everyone. We want to celebrate the reopening of our building and bring together all the people who supported us during the summer months and all those who want to support the revival of Sauchiehall Street and the Garnethill area. It’s time to look forward and definitely time for a party.”
Read More

CCA and Saramago Café Bar will be open right through to 3am with sets from Cucina Povera, Poisonous Relationship, Kübler-Ross and Sarra Wild.

The evening begins with the opening of CCA’s new exhibition, A Weakness for Raisins: Films and Archive of Ester Krumbachová, and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival will also have events on throughout.

The party is free entry all night and takes place on Friday, December 7.

CCA hosts huge community party to celebrate Sauchiehall Street reopening after art school fire

We’re Having a Party!

A little fun pic I haven’t had a chance to pull out of the files so far.

Just three contractors hanging around 🙂

Click for a little bigger.

Hanging Around The Mackintosh Building

Hanging Around The Mackintosh Building

Happy at their work.

Just Hanging Around At The Mackintosh Building

Just Hanging Around

Nov 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S27

Nice to see a robust defence from the board of the Glasgow School of Art, as it finally breaks it virtual silence in the face of nothing but days/weeks of negative comments and a lack of support that has verged on a witch-hunt, following the fires that struck the Mackintosh Building.

I sometimes wonder of those making such accusations and claims ever listen to themselves – I doubt it.

I have little time for those who exercise perfect 20/20 hindsight.

Regrettably, fires happen, despite best efforts.

If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have fire and emergency on constant standby.

The board of Glasgow School of Art has hit back at claims it failed to look after the A-listed Mackintosh building.

A submission to a parliamentary inquiry strongly defended its record following two devastating fires in four years.

In documents released ahead of an evidence session in parliament on Thursday, bosses denied claims of “systemic management failure”.

They said the school was “robust and well-managed” and fit and able to oversee repair of the iconic building.

MSPs on the culture committee have heard from architects and other experts but this is the first time those in charge of the art school have had their say.

Glasgow School of Art bosses hit back at fire criticism

There’s no honour, or demonstration of great intelligence (but maybe of a lack of that commodity)in the statement:

One Mackintosh expert described the Mack building as a “fire-trap waiting to happen” while another former employee said everyone knew the building was a risk.

Those ‘experts’ and ’employees’ would have been worth having if they’d done something useful, rather than stating the obvious.

As it is, they’re no better than the type of person who sniffs and says ‘Told you so’ when something happens.

The board gave a detailed response:

Detailed response

The board said it wanted to replace speculation with a factual position, and responded to a number of criticisms.

  • On claims there was a lack of transparency, the board said “there has been no intention to exclude people who want to know what has happened or what happens next”. It said a website was dedicated to putting out information following June’s fire, but accepted it was “not entirely successful in communicating with the public in the immediate aftermath”.
  • A temporary fire suppression system was not installed after the 2014 fire because there was no system “suitable for a building of the scale and complexity of the Mackintosh Building that could have been installed during the construction period”.
  • The school’s monetising of the Mackintosh building was limited in scope, and revenue amounted to no more than about £60,000 from tours of the building and the sale of merchandise.
  • On claims it failed to engage with experts, the board said it put in place an expert panel so that its design team could have access to the right advice when required. These experts have been called upon to provide advice to other institutions following major disasters including the National Museum of Brazil.
  • The board said events hosted within the building after the 2014 fire followed stringent procedures agreed with the contractors. About half a dozen events were held over the four years since the 2014 fire. “Safety of visitors and operatives and efficient site operations remained the absolute priorities at all times,” it said.
  • It rejected the idea of rebuilding the Mackintosh as a museum. “To strip it of its primary function and consign it to the status of a visitor attraction, would be to strip life and purpose from the building… converting the Mackintosh Building to a museum would not be an expression of responsible custodianship, it would be a piece of sabotage against our built heritage and a failure of our duty to future generations.”
  • In other submission papers, the board said the art school’s fire prevention plans had been worked up over many years. It stated: “It was suggested at the hearing on 20 September 2018 that ‘the failure was systemic and that there was a misjudged attitude to risk for such a hazardous and iconic building.’

“It is understood that none of the witnesses are experts in this area. We strongly rebut that allegation.

“We have always taken fire precautions seriously across our whole estate.

“Our decision to commission a water mist fire suppression system to enhance the protection of the Mackintosh building, and the installation of sprinkler systems within the Reid and Stow buildings demonstrates our approach.”

Elsewhere, the board said the decision on whether a public inquiry was necessary was a matter for the Scottish government.

Call for Trust to handle restoration

I had to look twice, since there have been so many nonsensical suggestions made in the wake of the Mackintosh Building fire, I read most of them “At arm’s length” lest they damage my brain,

But it really was something sensible, with calls for a trust to be set up to handle the restoration, leaving the Glasgow School of Art’s board to get on with the business of the school.

Will it happen?

Will someone screw it up?

We can only wait and see what develops.

The former director of Glasgow School of Art says a trust should be set up to restore the Mackintosh building.

Prof Tom Inns said such a move would leave the board of governors free to run the world renowned school.

In a submission statement to the culture committee, Prof Inns said the rebuild after the 2014 fire took up a large part of his working week.

He backed the suggestion of former GSA director Prof Tony Jones that a separate body should oversee the rebuild.

Prof Inns wrote: “Establishing such a trust would allow the board of governors and management team of Glasgow School of Art to focus on the task of running one of the world’s top art schools, leaving trustees of an independent trust and its executive team the challenge of what will be one of Scotland’s biggest heritage projects over the next 5 – 7 years.

“A Mackintosh Building Trust could be for the benefit of Glasgow School of Art but also for the benefit of others.

“Some form of Mackintosh Building Trust could be a game-changer for the development of Glasgow and the Sauchiehall Street area, boldly opening up access to creativity and the Mackintosh legacy within Glasgow.”

Prof Inns noted a similar approach had been taken in Dundee with the development of the £90m V&A museum.

It was developed in close collaboration between the Universities in Dundee, Dundee City Council, the Scottish Government and other partners.

Prof Inns added: “The V&A in Dundee is a museum dedicated to design, the Mackintosh Building should not be a museum but could be a centre of creative education for Glasgow School of Art and the City of Glasgow dedicated to all forms of creative practice and the celebration of Mackintosh’s genius.”

Ex-director backs call for Mackintosh restoration trust

That last add-on actually echoes one of my own thoughts regarding the city’s treatment of Mackintosh, which seems to lack a central resource dedicated to someone who has eventually become one of our icons.

While I would not be so ignorant or critical to say there is no facility dedicated to his work, what we have is spread fairly thinly in a number of places. While each may provide SOME of the story, I don’t think any one of them stands alone as a place where someone could find comprehensive coverage of Mackintosh’s work. They’re all quite nice in their own right, but not integrated.

As an aside, that observation is not reserved exclusively for Mackintosh. I could easily level the same criticism about our treatment of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who has even less recognition and places dedicated to his work.

In recent years, I’ve been surprised after a little digging into these architectural greats, finding more examples of their work remain virtually hidden and unknown around Glasgow, unless you are dedicated to finding them.

Interesting response to trust proposal

I’m pretty sure I’m considered a ‘Yes Man (sorry, ‘person’) as regards the Art School Board, and I’m probably wasting my time be responding ‘Not so’. I just think we need level heads to move forward, not knee-jerk reactions and witch-hunts. If there is genuine blame to be apportioned, then let that follow from any proper reports into the fire, and their findings, otherwise – Give it a rest!

That said, I’m a little surprised to the response regarding a trust be formed to look after any rebuild/restoration, to leave the board free to run the Art School.

Earlier this week former GSA director Prof Tom Inns said a trust should be set up to restore the Mackintosh building.

In a written submission to the committee he said such a move would leave the board of governors free to run the world renowned school.

But Ms Gray claimed this was a “minority” viewpoint and stressed the board was capable of managing both the day-to-day running of the school and the restoration project.

On the other hand, I know how I’d feel if the task of restoring something I really cared about was taken out of my hand, so I can see both sides of this story.

The main theme of the article this was mentioned in was a statement by the Art School Board that it has failed to communicate.

During her evidence Ms Gray told the committee the circumstances surrounding the latest fire and the 2014 blaze were not comparable.

The broadcaster noted the first occurred during the day while the school was operational while the most recent broke out at night in a building that was still under construction.

Culture committee convenor Joan McAlpine asked Ms Gray if she had any regrets.

She replied: “We take full responsibility, at all times, for what happens at the GSA. Absolutely. One hundred per cent.

“Yes I have massive regrets that we have suffered two major disasters.

“In fact, I would say more than regretful, it has broken my heart.”

Ms Gray claimed the board had audited itself as rigorously as the committee and was “very self critical”.

But she added: “I do regret not having engaged more fully, and sooner, with the local community.

“I really do because that was, actually, a communications mistake.

“It was not intentional but the perception they had is valid.”

Art school admits ‘poor communications’ after Mack fire

Another article touched on the same subject, but, unfortunately let a politician speak, and make a grab for popularity (and votes) with the locals.

MSPs urged GSA chiefs to listen to the views of members of the community, having admitted that initial communication was poor.

Ms Gray said: “I really can’t tell you the kind of suffering that some of the residents have explained and we are massively sympathetic to that.”

Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McLean said: “I think you are deluding yourselves if you think that you have a good relationship with this community.

“If you want to rebuild your relationship with this community, you really need to start telling immediately what your plans are.”

The same article then made a fairly ‘throwaway’ comment, suggesting that preventative measures from a 2006 report were not effectively implemented.

This may be great for ‘points scoring’, but is just opportunistic ‘fluff’, and not presented with any evidence, so really falls into little more than the class of ‘Kicking someone when they are down’.

It’s clearly next to impossible to refute such a claim, but you can make yourself look ‘good’ if you raise it.

MSPs raised concerns that a number of preventative measures were not effectively implemented.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine referenced a federal report into fire safety at the GSA, published in 2006, which highlighted six areas that were deemed to present either a medium or high risk.

The issues were: Likelihood of a fire occurring in the building (medium to high risk); potential for fire to remain undetected (medium to high risk); potential for fire to grow/spread beyond item first ignited (high risk); potential for fire to grow beyond room of origin (high risk); hazard posed by fire (high risk); consequences in the event of the fire spreading (high).

No regrets over decisions taken before Mackintosh fire, say art school bosses

One article specifically mentioned the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s review – not yet completed or published.

Today, Muriel Gray said: “The GSA welcomed the opportunity to come to the committee meeting this morning so as to address the rumours, supposition and speculation that have been circulating since June 15 by sharing the facts with members.

“We submitted detailed paperwork to the committee in advance of the meeting to help answer questions around the restoration including issues of safety and access, and to clarify both the possession of the site at the time of the fire (Kier Scotland Ltd) and the GSA’s oversight of the restoration.

“In particular we were pleased to be able to tackle head on the allegation that there is a causal link between our corporate governance and the occurrence of the second fire when the cause of that fire is not yet known.

“Like everyone we are waiting patiently for the outcome of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s thorough review of the fire, and once it is published we will consider the findings carefully.”

It also included this clarification.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine MSP said: “The role of this committee is not to establish the cause of the fire, but to explore whether poor decision making or flawed processes contributed to the loss of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece.
Read More

Road closures ahead this weekend for Christmas Lights Switch On at George Square

“We have already gathered evidence from former employees, independent experts and local community leaders who have been critical of the art school management.

“We had an evidence session with the school’s architects and main contractor, which raised further questions about fire prevention and containment.

“We will put all these points to Glasgow School of Art management and board and will consider their response carefully.”

Glasgow School of Art issue statement ‘addressing rumours’ over second fire

By all means, bring out your stocks and rotting vegetables – but NOT BEFORE the independent evidence and reports are in, and they show such things are justified.


Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Nov 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S26

Interesting logic – it seem it’s OK for investigators into things like fatal air crashed to begin their work months after evidence has been gathered, and that reassembling the parts doesn’t obscure potential evidence, but…

That doesn’t seem to apply to the evidence that will now be collected regarding the fire at the Mackintosh Building.

At least not if you are one of the ‘experts’ that lives nearby:

Fire investigators have been given access to the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art four months after a blaze tore through it.

Demolition contractors have been taking down sections of the Mackintosh to be preserved for a future rebuild, after a devastating fire in June.

But concerns have been raised by residents neighbouring the iconic building who are angry it has taken to long and fear the cause of the blaze may never be identified.

Fire investigators access Art School after four months

And I could also cite the case of the destruction of Cameron House at Loch Lomond, which sadly included two fatalities, but…

The fatal fire broke out at the category B listed building near Balloch at about 06:40 on 18 December, leading to the evacuation of more than 200 people.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Plans lodged to rebuild fire-hit Cameron House Hotel at Loch Lomond

I’m not really even going to pass an opinion on this, which just seem to be a local move from one moan to another by disgruntled people who want attention.

I’m pretty sure if any official fire investigators had WANTED into the building sooner, they could have exercised authority to gain such access if they deemed it necessary – and nobody could have prevented them from doing so.

So I’m left wondering just why this so-called complaint has been levelled, and who it was aimed at.

I wonder if there are any ‘Activists’ (with some agenda of their own) working the residents from behind, like sock puppets?

Fortunately, there’s better news (and bad news) as somebody dares to do something positive, and not think of something to complain about,

Distillers have created a limited edition craft gin to raise funds for the fire-ravaged Glasgow School of Art.

North Star Spirits produced 500 bottles of Glas Wee Gin with profits going to the Mackintosh Campus Appeal.

Glas Wee Gin - North Star Spirits

Glas Wee Gin – North Star Spirits

The historic building was gutted by fire in June for the second time in four years.

Iain Croucher, director of North Star, based in Blanefield near Glasgow, said: “We wanted to create something to celebrate famous Glaswegians and raise money for one of Glasgow’s most famous buildings at the same time.

“Glas Wee Gin was concocted. It is matured in oak barrels and bottled in Scotland, and is something special.”

The bad news is that the gin – at £17.50 for a 35cl bottle – has sold out already.

Distillers sell Glas Wee Gin to raise money for fire-damaged Glasgow School of Art

Nov 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S25

I thought things might have calmed down for a while.


After the moaning that came from various places around the Mackintosh Building which were cordoned off while the remains were made structurally safe, now it would seem we have moaning from the “We Wuz Robbed” brigade.

Glasgow MPs have demanded answers from the UK Government, after receiving no funding to help with the rebuilding of the Glasgow School of Art in the Budget,

The MPs are calling for support because Belfast was awarded £2million to help recover from a fire which ruined a historic city centre building – but Glasgow missed out.

Despite two devastating fires on Sauchiehall Street this year, the UK Government did not announce any funding to go towards regeneration of the area.

Glasgow MPs demand answers after city misses out on Budget funding for Art School rebuild

You’ll have to excuse my political naïvety, but understanding of reality, when I say I’m not in the least surprised.

After all, how do you expect someone you somehow expect to give you a handout to react after you spend months, or years even, kicking them in the teeth and telling the world they are (insert favourite derogatory here) and that you want the Union with them ended, and to be Independent because THEY are stifling your growth?

How can I put it as an apolitical moron

As you sow, so shall you reap.

There was a possibly more important aspect which appeared buried in the same article, almost as a throwaway line with no further comment:

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, has also come under fire for his refusal to support calls for a public enquiry into the blaze.

I would have liked more on that, not that I’m suggesting there should be a public enquiry, simply that the reporters should give more information. Public enquiries need to have reasons to be held, and to be in the public interest – and I’m sure there are many more criteria I’m not aware of, but that a Scottish Secretary would, AND have advisers to brief him about.

Glasgow School of Art Director steps down

I spotted at least FOUR media articles covering this resignation on the day, but each was merely a clone of the other, and none went into any significant detail.

Glasgow School of Art boss Prof Tom Inns steps down

Glasgow School of Art director steps down after five years

Glasgow School of Art Director Professor Tom Inns steps down

Glasgow School of Art Director Tom Inns quits

As usual, The Scotsman’s comment section allows the usual moron to jump in with a ‘clever comment’ after the item (it’s the last link of the set given).

I wonder if there may be more on this announcement later?

I can’t be the only one wondering if he was pressurised into leaving, as a sacrificial offering to appease the masses, and be seen to ‘fall on his own sword’.

This custom of having at least on head ‘roll’ when there are problems is a disgusting one I’ve seen all too often over the years, regardless of whether the person sacrificed was involved or not, it seems to be more important to make some sort of public display that show someone ‘feels the pain’.

It really did happen to me once.

A client found a number of errors in some paperwork – Muggins was first sent in to act as ‘firefighter’ and see to it that everything was fixed, and that the client had been pacified.

Muggins was then told that, so far as the client was concerned, Muggins was responsible for the errors, even though he had not actually done the work, or prepared the paperwork, and that Muggins would be receiving a month’s suspension, although he should have been fired as the person in charge.

That was as far as the client was concerned – nothing actually happened at work, things carried on as before – but it was a warning about how big company politics can play out.

Doesn’t matter who actually screws up, so long as you can find a high profile scapegoat to throw to the wolves, and show that ‘something’ was done!

The sad thing (which I believe can be said about most ‘witch-hunt’ or ‘head-rolling’ terminations) was that nobody cared about what was done to address the original problem, and by sacrificing the scapegoat, they threw out the very person, and experience, they needed to deal with that original issue.


They’re still opening up streets around the Mackintosh Building.

Last time I went along Renfrew Street to the library it wasn’t possible to get to Scott Street, which was still closed off, and there were Portakabins standing in the street, serving as toilets.

That’s all gone, and the street is now open for partial vehicle access, and pedestrians.

The only part you can’t get to now is the road/pavement directly between the Mackintosh Building, and the Reid Building across the road.

Renfrew Street Library

Renfrew Street Library

I couldn’t have taken this view last time, as can be seen in the last summary.

Renfrew Street Open To Scott Street

Renfrew Street Open To Scott Street

I’m not sure if I got a decent pic of this load of scaffolding last time, but I grabbed a shot anyway.

The jibs hide one another, they just all lined up, but there were actually THREE cranes working over the remains. The available angle of the shot here just wouldn’t show them all.

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Spotted this, evidence of something taller in Scott Street, but it’s gone now.

I’m not familiar enough to say what it was.

Scott Street Remains

Scott Street Remains

Nov 4, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S24

A quieter week (thank goodness, after last week’s marathon).

Unless I missed anything else, the media only picked up on one story, the unfortunate fact of the ducts which caused so many problems back in 2014 still being open in 2014 while being used to provide routing for cabling within the building, and not far from being sealed off once the almost complete installation was finished.

Ventilation ducts which allowed the Glasgow School of Art fire to take hold four years ago were still in place when a second blaze broke out this year, a Holyrood committee has been told.

The ducts were being used to run cables and pipes through the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building during its reconstruction, and were due to be fire-stopped at the end of the project, according to architects.

A report into the 2014 fire by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service found that old ventilation ducts in the building assisted its spread from a basement studio into neighbouring rooms and upwards through the building.

Convener Joan McAlpine said: “We know about these ducts, how dangerous they were.

“Some of them would have still been in place because not all of the building was destroyed in 2014.

“Did you take immediate measures to ensure that that issue with the ducts was dealt with at an early stage in the construction project?”

David Paton of Page\Park Architects said: “It wasn’t done at that stage because these ducts were going to be used for the routing for all the services, and then at the end of that process they were going to be fire-stopped.”

David Page, director of the firm, added: “It still remained a conservation project, so we were unable to build new ducts or new distribution systems, we had to use the systems, the circulation that was there.”

Art School vents which spread first blaze still in use

Pressed on whether Glasgow School of Art raised this as an issue, Mr Paton said: “I don’t recall that.

“They were very much part of understanding what the build process is, and these ducts were being used for pipe work and for cables, and at the time of the fire, all of that installation was ongoing, so there was a myriad of cables and pipes going up through these spaces which would be closed off in due course.”

He added: “There was a significant process put in place to protect the building at that point.”

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Scotland, said: “It was part of the construction process that they (the ducts) had to be open, and we could not actually put the wires and the steelwork pipes for the final system in without them.”

Ms McAlpine also raised the findings of an inquiry into a leisure centre built by Kier in Dumfries, published in April 2018.

Consultant Professor John Cole found a series of defects in the DG One building and highlighted concerns about “extensive failures” in regard to fire-stopping.

She asked Mr Paton if the report had been raised with Kier in the context of the art school work.

“As far as I am concerned that was irrelevant to this contract,” he said.

“We were focused on the work that we were doing and making sure that what Kier was doing on the site was correct.”

Ducts which allowed 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire’s spread still in use during 2018 blaze

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

Oct 28, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S23-II (new pics)

Held over from the rather long summary on Sunday, due to all the news regarding changes around the building, some pics I was able to collect earlier in the week before everything collapsed around me.

Not all the streets are yet open to the general public (at least not when I was there), but are open to those who have business, or a reason to be there to access some of the building entrances that were previously barred to all.

I would say that we now have access to the front of the Mackintosh Building (for pics at least) although the street in front is obviously closed to the public.

There is, however, not a lot to be seen now, due to the density of the scaffolding in place to make the structure safe.

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

A reminder of this view not so long ago, when the first rebuild was underway.

Mackintosh Rebuild

Mackintosh Rebuild

With the opening up of Dalhousie Street, we can now get a look at the Reid Building, fortunate not to have suffered greater damage from being in such close proximity to the fire.

It’s not a building I’d had much opportunity to look at, and might not have.

Reid Building Renfrew Street

Reid Building Renfrew Street

Wandering around to the other end of this closed of part of Renfrew Street brings us back to the library, and its ‘tunnel’.

While this is still closed, it was notable that the cordon had actually been withdrawn by a few metres, and while was previously set outside the tunnel, it now lies within it.

The part that is still outside actually cordons of a couple of Portakabin type building, which are actually toilets. Not quite sure why they are there.

Library Renfrew Street

Library Renfrew Street

You couldn’t get this close to Scott Street before.

Even so, I’m beginning to side with the folk who think the library is an abomination (although I generally say what’s built is built, good or bad, so make the best of it), because it obscures a significant view of the Mackintosh Building. Both of the pics show just how much it hides, either from a distance, or close-up.

Mackintosh Building Library Tunnel Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Library Tunnel Renfrew Street

Wandering down into Sauchiehall Street to look back up Scott Street, we can see the supporting framework, and the Reid building behind.

The fire service did well to stop the fire getting across Renfrew Street, if the videos of the fire are anything to go by.

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

Last of the new shots, a look up Dalhousie Street, and another look at the dense scaffolding seen in the first pic.

Earlier articles gave the amount, or at lest referred to “more than 450 tonnes of steel” being used to support the structure.

Mackintosh Building Dalhousie Street

Mackintosh Building Dalhousie Street

I didn’t want to add to the length of the already overlong post on Sunday, but I was sad to see language used by the critics which stil smacks of a witch-hunt, and perhaps even lusting for heads to be set rolling.

That’s simply not helpful, nor do I think it fair. It’s also, to put it simply, the unthinking moron’s response to problem solving.

We don’t need morons with perfect 20/20 hindsight here, we need people with experience and imagination, and open minds.

As I have noted before, this is an old building, built using design practices, material, methods, techniques etc not governed by any of the rules and regulations we have in place today, take for granted, and in many ways, not able to be modified to meet them.

We need to hear talk of moving forward and, assuming the plans for restoration are practical, of making that restoration compliant, eliminating the mistakes (we see now) of the past, and restoring an iconic structure.

As an aside, I seem to recall someone doing something sensible just after this fire, and calling for inspection/review of similar buildings, suggesting they could be at similar risk due to their construction.

Dare I ask if anything has been done?

Or has this suggestion simply been allowed to slide into obscurity and be forgotten, until there’s another fire, and another useless witch-hunt by the useless “We told you so” brigade? Long on advice, but short on action.


Oct 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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