It’s a shame that so many people are ready to cast scorn on any initiatives proposed by Glasgow City Council out of hand, without the slightest consideration of their merit. Granted, the council has suffered (and in some cases still does) from the possible existence of ‘Ego Projects’ at the behest of some councillors, but such dismissal is probably as bad as those wayward proposals.
I know, I used to be a member of a forum that enjoyed attacking the council regardless – but then I realised this was just mindless hate on the members’ part, and left.
I’m sure they’ll be having a little ‘hate orgy’ this week, and dancing around burning copies of the Glasgow City Council’s draft strategy and public consultation documents for the improvement of some 90 lanes within the city centre.
That would be a mistake.
While I was initially sceptical after seeing stories about the strategy in the media, actually looking at the detail for myself revealed a sensibly researched review and proposal within this strategy, and one which I hope will eventually come to be financed and adopted.
In fact, the strategy runs to some 90+ pages in a well presented document:
I’m familiar with many of Glasgow’s lanes (and seldom venture into them, and certainly not in the dark), and those that come to mind at first are not appropriate for the plan, being the back of many business, or access to their services. They also suffer from one of our good/bad ideas – giant wheelie bins for their waste. Admittedly better than the piles of black bags and waste, they still take up space, and can ‘go walkies’ since few lanes are level – I used to work near West Regent Lane for example. As can be seen, it’s needed for access, and the lane surface is old, failing, and on an incline.
Similar, but not on an incline, is Renfield Lane, but it has a fine crop of business related wheelie bins:
These are NOT the lanes of the plan, although it suggests that improving their condition would still make for a better, cleaner environment, provide improved access, and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
In fact, taking the time to look at the proposals without an ant-council bias shows the selection of a small number of lanes in areas where they could be developed as attractions, and turned into public spaces with shops, restaurants and bars.
This has happened in other areas of the city, and those lanes have become favourites with both locals and visitors.
With this in mind, it’s now worth reading the media coverage:
This was something of a surprise, and a reminder that unexpected things can happen when you are not watching – in this case while my regular walking route happened to be in another direction for a while.
Building seen has been abandoned, or more accurately unoccupied, for years.
A long long time ago it was a car dealer’s, might even have been built for that use originally. That eventually closed, then it was a Job Centre for a while. I’m not sure if it was before or after that, but I think it was some sort of office for a while, but was fairly anonymous, so I have little recollection.
It looks as if the agents have decided to divide it up into smaller units, with the funeral directors having established their presence while I was absent, and another premises (no clues yet) being fitted out next door.
Given how long this place has lain empty, I hadn’t expected to ever see anything there again.
It will be interesting to see what sort of plans arise regarding the re-use of old railway signal boxes, either already retired, or due to be retired as part of modernisation and improvement plans for the rail network.
I was almost surprised to read about this, as all the signal boxes I can think of having seen in recent years have all been closed and abandoned.
It seems many are listed, to varying degrees, so the owner (Network Rail) still has to maintain them, even if not in service and decommissioned, since listing confers responsibility, but so far, does not provide any cash. If the boxes can be let, then the interior could be maintained by the lessee, while the exterior remained with the network. Some could become cafes. Other suggestion include re-siting the boxes to allow them to be reused, perhaps at heritage railway sites.
Derelict Murthley (sealed and devoid of its stairway) is pictured below, but could be re-sited if funding can be put in place.
While it’s not a particularly recent event, this is the first time I’ve been able to visit the former entrance to Glasgow Zoo and grab a pic to show that it has now gone completely, together with any remains of the zoo which had survived on the ground behind. This was the last piece of zoo grounds which the developer consumed to build houses on. Although I’ve been past a few time since the turn of the year, it should come as no surprise to learn that the weather was usually just too wet to risk taking an ordinary (ie not waterproof) camera out.
Needless to say, but just for completeness, all the zoo roads and building that had survived on this last piece of ground have been razed, and the ground cleared to make way for more new build.
For those not familiar with the view as it was, visible on the left (behind the wall) is one of the new houses nearing completion, while the gap on the right (with the pieces of temporary fencing scattered around) used to be the entrance, complete with wrought iron gates, and gatehouse to the left. This was largely destroyed by arson many years ago, and the shell stood until it was demolished a couple of years ago.
The old shot below gives an idea of what was left, in 2008:
A tad further away than most of my subjects, but with good reason.
Pictured below is the Coliseum cinema located in Porthmadog, North Wales, opened in 1931 and of Art Deco styling (with many features apparently still surviving within), it seems it quickly gained a reputation for the quality of it sound system, described by the press of the day as “perfect”.
Fast forward through its years of success, it becomes significant when booked as the venue for screening rushes (in filmmaking, the raw, unedited footage viewed daily after being developed and printed) for a strange new television being produced by, and starring Patrick McGoohan – which would go (despite, or perhaps because of, its length of only 17 episodes) to become a cult television series still popular today.
This was, of course – The Prisoner.
The cinema was threatened with closure in 1983, but an appeal saw the local people raise enough money to keep it open, and in 1994 it received nearly new projectors when Barclays Bank Ltd closed it training centre and donated them to The Coliseum.
However, fast forward to 2011, and falling audience numbers meant that the cinema had to close its doors.
Worse news was to arrive 2014, when the group set up to save the cinema had its plans rejected by the Coliseum Shareholders, who voted to sell the property rather than grant a long-term lease to the Friends of The Coliseum.
As will be seen below, the agent’s description worryingly wastes little time in getting to the stock phrase: “suitable for all types of redevelopment“.
You can read the Friends’ story here:
The Coliseum web page:
The property comprises an art-deco style cinema which was originally constructed in 1931. The cinema traded for many years and closed in 2010. The building can accommodate 500 people and includes both ground floor and balcony seating. There is a reception area, office, projection rooms and a basement within the cinema together with a large car park to the side. The property provides a site that is suitable for all types of redevelopment, subject to the necessary planning consents.
An account of its days when The Prisoner was being filmed:
We used to see the Coliseum in the flesh until 1998, as we generally travelled down to Portmeirion (where most of the action was filmed) for the annual Prisoner Convention, but were obliged to give up this up after that date, and have never been able to get back. Due to our slightly odd travel arrangements (due to work commitments) we were never able to visit the Coliseum, where screening of selected episodes of the series were laid on for the conventions, together with related material.
Sadly, it’s hard to see what could be done by the Friends to save the cinema in the time available, as dwindling numbers are hard to convert.
The Internet has probably played a part, and we are in the same sort of scenario as seen by the cinema in the 1970s, when most closed, or were supplemented (or completely replaced, by use as bingo halls.
We can only watch and see what does, or does not, happen 300 miles away (that the door to door distance from where I am to Porthmadog) in North Wales.
We’ve mentioned Argyll and Bute Council’s £30 million CHORD programme before, first to note its existence, and more recently when the plans for Rothesay were announced. CHORD’s aim is to regenerate key coastal towns on the Clyde, and others in line for investment are Campbeltown, Oban, and Dunoon.
In an announcement that the council claims will see the largest town in the area see “the most major improvement works it has seen for decades”, £6.3 million has been approved for the redevelopment of the town centre and West Bay esplanade, and the town’s Colquhoun Square will become an open space, able to host outdoor events.
The tender process will now begin with work due to start in late February 2012 and finish in early May 2013.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, board member of the Helensburgh CHORD project, said: “This is arguably the most significant decision taken for Helensburgh since Argyll and Bute Council came into existence in 1996. Independent assessors have concluded that this project has the potential to support and grow the area’s business base and act as a catalyst for attracting new investment, as well as helping to attract new residents and increase visitor numbers. I’m sure every town in the country would jump at such an opportunity, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.”
When work starts in Helensburgh next year, contractors will upgrade the “streetscape” in the town centre’s main shopping areas and outside the town’s Central Station.
Work is expected to start next year, when contractor will upgrade the town centre and area outside Central Station, and improve signs which guide visitors.