It’s (almost) hard to believe I’ve been writing miserable for almost six years now, after discovering that Tollcross Winter Garden (glasshouse) had been closed after suffering storm damage back in 2011.
I used to make the occasional diversion through Tollcross Park so I could wander around the glasshouse, after finding it had been restored back in the period 1999/2000, having lain derelict for at least a decade, and at risk of being lost at worst, or left to rot at best. However, funding to the value of £1.7 million rescued the glasshouse then, when it also gained an adjacent Visitor Centre, café, and play area.
One of my changes of route/circumstance meant I didn’t find out about the 2011 damage and closure until January of 2013, when I came across the shocking sight of the derelict, and posted…
Tollcross Winter Gardens refurbishment 2013
Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict (January 2019)
Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games shame – Tollcross Winter Gardens wrecked in 2013
And then fairly regular updates, about nothing happening.
Little did I know then, six years ago, that articles which were then reporting that the Winter Garden was merely ‘Closed for Refurbishment’ were complete fantasy, and the place had been abandoned – despite the millions being squandered on attractions for the dopey 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and being poured into the swimming pool in the adjacent Tollcross Sports Centre.
Things are, at last, looking up as official at Glasgow City Council are proposing funding of £1million to restore the derelict structure. The money, if approved would come from a £3million pot which Glasgow is to receive from a Scottish Government scheme aimed at helping town centres.
The adjacent visitor centre (referred to as a Millennium Building) is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new early years centre, as a report by officials states: “This creates an opportunity to bring the [winter gardens] structure back into active re-use as part of the wider project.”
Tollcross Winter Gardens Visitor Centre
I’m not sure what life that building was intended to have, but I never expected it to last, given the peculiar tent-like roof it was burdened with, which I’m pretty sure would have a high maintenance cost had it remained.
Granted it has obviously not been maintained (at a guess, I’d think it would have to be completely renewed at set intervals, IF it had been remained in service), but visits have shown that it let in lots of water, and the interior was clearly flooded and water damaged. One of my past posts showed pics of the interior, taken through the windows.
Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre Wood Shuttering
A statement about the proposal concluded with:
“The restoration of this building will also link into several other approved council strategies including the Property and Land Strategy in terms of the co-location options that a refurbished glasshouse structure could offer; the community engagement and management options that may be explored including engagement with Friends of Tollcross Park; and the city-wide analysis of the glasshouse structures that form part of the current feasibility report on the People’s Palace Winter Gardens.”
“Additionally, the principles and commitments in the recently approved Council Heritage Assets Plan could also be delivered in relation to this particular structure.
“The ongoing review of Neighbourhoods and Sustainability Depot provision may also be influenced by the restoration of this heritage structure and the services provided from it.”
TOLLCROSS Winter Gardens Set To Be Saved Under £1Million Council Plan
This touches on another story we have been following, that of the Winter Garden attached to the People’s Palace, which was inspection revealed to be showing the true extent of its century plus of life, and prompted a much wider review of remaining glasshouses across the city.
I’m sure each case will be different, but the effect of a century of Scottish weather on cast iron structures (I’m assuming most, if not all, have such frames, of varying quality depending on the composition of the metal, which were cast in Glasgow’s foundries), and have aged differently depending on their location.
I’m not sure of how far the Tollcross glasshouse has decayed in recent years. I’ve taken pics that record recent collapses of upper parts of the glazed roof, but without looking closer can’t say if this is due to serious failure of the cast sections, or just rot in the glazing that sits over those parts.
I’m sure there are many out there who will embrace a good session of ‘council bashing’, but we really need to ignore such politically motivated wasters who merely wish to further their own selfish hate campaigns, and support whatever positive schemes can be created to look after our historic structures.
Back in Tollcross, the lovely, sodden, wet, rainy weather of the past few weeks means I haven’t been through the park for a few weeks.
Looking at reGlasgow’s drone pic shows that after languishing behind wimpy temporary perimeter fencing for eight years, the site has gained proper perimeter fencing during those weeks of my absence, set into the ground, and not able to be kicked or knocked over.
Tollcross Winter Garden Fixed Perimeter Fence Pic Credit reGlasgow
Local media spotted the planning story too, and summarised the past years.
The adjacent ‘Millennium Building’ is scheduled for demolition to make way for the construction of a new Early Years facility as part of the council’s response to the provision of 1,140 hours of statutory childcare.
And council chiefs say this creates an opportunity to bring the glasshouse back into active re-use, as part of this wider project.
As reported by Glasgow Live, The Tollcross Park greenhouse was shut after being damaged during the storms of December 2010 and January 2011 and has been closed ever since. It is presently on the register of buildings at risk in Scotland.
A decade earlier it underwent a £1.9million refurbishment, funded by the city council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland.
Glaswegians were up in arms at the idea the historic spot would never be opened again, with more than 100 turning out for a protest at City Chambers in June to demand the Gardens be saved.
Campaigners were opposed to the private nature of council meetings on its future, fearing that plans would put “profit before people.”
They also wanted to ensure the building would be reopened to operate the way it always did, rather than in a “repurposed or reimagined” way.
A council spokesman said: “The proposal to invest £1m in Tollcross Winter Gardens has the aim of the bringing the structure back into use as part of a wider project.
“Plans are already in plan to demolish the neighbouring Millenium Building with the intention of creating a new children’s nursery in its place.
“If approved, the proposed refurbishment of the glass house will assist the broader work to boost and promote the wider the Tollcross area.”
It’s hoped the project will build the profile of Tollcross town centre as a visitor destination, linking the historic built form of the area and the international class swimming pool, to the new nursery establishment, and enable the re-activation of the park.
Tollcross Winter Gardens set to be saved if council gives green light to funding boost
I’m not sure if the apparent hostility (by the vociferous ones at least) is altogether wise.
One of the problems with things such as glasshouses is their obvious fragility, and attractiveness to vandals.
Building and structures change over the years, as does their occupation and use.
I would have thought that a future, even with change, would be better than no future (remember, council money does not appear from a ‘Magic Pot’ but is raised via taxes), and utilising the building in a way which brings people and the community to it has to be better than keeping a decaying relic which few will visit.