Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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

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“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

Great directions – and an almost invisible long cat mural

“No problem, just head for Victoria’s, and you’ll see it on a wall”.

Remind me NEVER to go looking for something without at least a cursory check on its location.

Glasgow grew a new cat mural last week, but weather and other commitments meant I couldn’t whizz into Sauchiehall Street for a quick pic.

And the “Head’s up” I got to its existence with friendly directions…

First, Victoria’s was a nightclub destroyed by a fairly major fire some time ago (almost taking Glasgow’s famous Pavilion Theatre with it). Victoria’s is no longer there, nor is the building, which was totally removed and became a gap site.

Second, since I don’t frequent nightclubs, those directions weren’t really great.

Third, turns out the new mural is not on a wall as such, but on a wooden fence placed in front of the gap site, presumably to stop the locals falling off Sauchiehall Street and into the gap (as they suck on their Buckie bottles).

There’s a fourth – turns out that the damned thing is currently almost hidden/lost behind some temporary fencing surrounding works in the middle of that particular part of Sauchiehall Street.

I went flying past it when I arrived there, and didn’t even spot in broad daylight.

Consequently, I spent the next two hours tramping along Sauchiehall Street, from end to end, and up and down all the side streets looking for it.

Back at Victoria’s gap site, I was about to give up and go home (it was getting dark, we’d reach around 17:00) when I turned around and looked through the blue netting strung around that temporary fencing in the middle of that part of Sauchiehall Street.

There were playful kittens looking back at me through it!

Yup, I was standing across the road from the new cat mural, and hadn’t even seen it.

The fencing made it impossible to get a clear view and a decent pic (not to mention the folk who stopped to take a pic of a tiny little bit of it with the phones), and when I suggested it was long above, I really meant it – this is one loooooooooooooooong mural.

I had to resort to a few tricks to get pics, in the fading light, so hope they’re not too bad.

These pics can all be clicked to expand them.

Long mural is… long.

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Wide

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Wide

The cats on the left, complete with Crazy Cat Lady’s fetching ankles and cat slippers.

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Left Detail

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Left Detail

And the ones on the right.

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Right Detail

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Right Detail

I tried a shot through the fence, but couldn’t even get in front of the cats thanks to cabins standing in the enclosed area, blocking the view.

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Fenced

Sauchiehall Cat Mural Fenced

Did you spot the Grumpy Cat Wallpaper?

Grumpy Pee

Well THAT was inevitable 🙂

Nov 5, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | 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

Mackintosh Building S23

Last week’s summary suffered from there being only one of me, and would have been updated during the week, but this wasn’t possible.

That means this one will be a bit longer, as it has to play catch up, and then the extra items get added on – sorry.

I have some new pics, but I’m sure this will be long enough without them, so I use them later.

As expected, the arrival of bad weather and wind set plans back.

Plans to allow businesses back into their premises following a blaze at Glasgow School of Art have been delayed due to bad weather.

Work to complete the stabilisation of the west gable of the Mackintosh Building was due to be completed by October 14.

However, high winds have made it impossible for cranes to carry out work in the last week.

Affected businesses on Sauchiehall Street and Scott Street will face further delays to get access to their premises.

With more bad weather expected over the coming days, Glasgow School of Art said it would be impossible to complete the west gable work on schedule.

11 October Bad weather delays business access after art school fire

11 October Work to stabilise Art School Mackintosh building delayed by bad weather

11 October More wait time as art school job is delayed

But this eventually left Glasgow (at least), and the delay wasn’t huge, with the week seeing all the media report on improved access and places set to open.

The Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street is hoping to throw open its doors once again next week.

The CCA has been closed off following the major fire at the Art School in June, however it is intended it will reopen this coming Monday, October 22.

An announcement posted on the CCA’s social media accounts read: “Unfortunately, due to recent weather conditions, the works on Scott Street will not be completed this week. We are now working towards reopening the building by Monday 22 October.

Artist thanks CCA and says ‘Glasgow is lost without it’ after Art School fire
“Thanks to everyone for their support and patience throughout the closure, we’re really looking forward to welcoming you all back to the CCA very soon.”

Maintenance staff and cleaners at the CCA were allowed back into the building yesterday (Tuesday), after a four month absence.

17 October CCA aims to open by next week for first time since Art School blaze

Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts has said the building will re-open on Saturday.

The venue, on Sauchiehall Street, has been shut since fire destroyed the nearby Glasgow School of Art in June.

The CCA claims it was told it could re-open last month, but Glasgow City Council denied ever setting a firm timetable.

The cafe-bar, book shop, and retail space will open on Saturday.

Exhibitions and performances will restart on Tuesday.

I did (somehow) manage to get a current pic of the CCA – which I STILL think of under its old name of The Third Eye Centre from years ago, when I had a distant connection with it.

Centre For Contemporary Arts

Centre For Contemporary Arts

18 October Arts venue shut by Glasgow School of Art fire to reopen

A statement released by the CCA also thanked Glasgow for its support over the past few months, adding: “We can’t wait to welcome you back to CCA!”

18 October Sauchiehall Street’s CCA to reopen this weekend

The chairwoman of the Glasgow School of Art board will face questions from MSPs on the latest fire to engulf the famed Mackintosh Building.

The historic building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh was hit by another devastating fire in June this year as reconstruction following an earlier blaze in 2014 neared completion.

Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee has been taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the fire and has announced it plans to question board chairwoman Muriel Gray.

She is due to give evidence on November 15 along with other witnesses yet to be confirmed.

The committee will also hear from the company behind the reconstruction.

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland, will give evidence on October 25 along with David Page, director of Page\Park Architects, and David Paton who is head of design review at the architect firm.

18 October MSPs to quiz board chairwoman on Glasgow School of Art fire

Committee members agreed to call management figures from the art school to give evidence following a meeting last month where they heard claims of systemic management failures on fire risk.

CCA aims to open by next week for first time since Art School blaze
Charles Rennie Mackintosh scholar Roger Billcliffe told the MSPs the building was a “fire trap waiting to happen” due to its construction including air vents which acted as chimneys and warned a further blaze would occur if the building is rebuilt.

He said: “The staff are still there that were responsible for it. I don’t want to send them to prison but I want to make sure that they don’t operate a system where they can do it again.”

The MSPs also heard from former senior employee at the art school, Eileen Reid, who questioned why an immediate investigation into fire risk management was not carried out after it “failed” in 2014 fire, adding: “I do think it was systemic.”

18 October MSPs to quiz Glasgow School of Art board chairwoman on Mackintosh building blaze

The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) shut for four months after the Glasgow School of Art fire will re-open this weekend.

The venue said its cafe bar, book shop, and retail space will open on Saturday.

Exhibitions and performances will restart on Tuesday.

It comes as work to stabilise the Mackintosh Building’s west gable is completed.

Art school chiefs had hoped the work would be completed by last weekend but progress was delayed by high winds.

A safety cordon has been in place in the area since the June 15 blaze, preventing access to the CCA, Bagel Mania and News 4 U.

Muriel Gray, chair of the board of governors of the Glasgow School of Art, said: “This has been a challenging time for all the residents and businesses who have been affected by the fire in the Mackintosh Building.

“We are truly sorry for the impact it has had and want to thank everyone for their patience.

19 October Arts venue shut by Glasgow School of Art fire to reopen

Hope is at hand for businesses on Sauchiehall Street which had to close as a result of the Art School fire, with the news that stabilisation work has been completed on the Mackintosh Building.

As we reported yesterday afternoon, the CCA, Saramago Cafe Bar, Welcome Home and Aye-Aye Books based in the building will throw open its doors once more to the public at 12 noon on Saturday.

It is also hoped that nearby businesses such as Bagel Mania and News 4U, will be able to reopen over the weekend too.

19 October Hope for Sauchiehall Street businesses as Art School work moves forward

Following last weekend’s harsh weather conditions, the west gable of the Mackintosh building has been stabilised.

The team from Reigart Construction, SGB and Mabey Total Solutions have now completed this stage of the work.

This included the installation of the retention scaffolding on the north-west corner of the building.

A specially-designed restraint system over the library tower on the south-west corner was also erected.

Construction of a protective passageway on the west side of Scott Street was also completed.

It was created as an additional level of protection for the fire exit from the CCA arts venue.

The work on the west gable had been scheduled to be completed by 14 October, but was delayed due to high winds throughout the previous week.

19 October Workers stabilise the west gable of Mackintosh building

Muriel Gray, chair of the board of governors of the Glasgow School of Art, said: “This has been a challenging time for all the residents and businesses who have been affected by the fire in the Mackintosh Building.

“We are truly sorry for the impact it has had and want to thank everyone for their patience.

“We also want to say a big thank you to all the people who have been working seven days a week since July for their commitment to get the work completed, and in particular for pulling out the stops over the last few days so that the businesses which continue to be affected by the fire can get back into their premises.”

20 October Venue shut by Glasgow School of Art blaze to reopen

Work on the Glasgow School of Art building included completing the installation of the retention scaffolding on the north-west corner of the building and also on a specially designed restraint system over the library tower on the south west corner.

Further to that, a protective passageway has been built on the west side of Scott Street which the Glasgow School Of Art has created as an additional level of protection for the fire exit from the nearby CCA.

20 October Parts of Sauchiehall Street finally reopen months after Art School fire

I guess the only bad news to be read into all the above is that a disgusting vaping shop (which, unlike its more desirable neighbour, just moved to another of its nearby disgusting outlets) will probably be open again, selling its stinking ‘juices’.

Vaping Closed

Vaping Closed

Oct 21, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

McLellan Galleries building does have a dome

While I’m not suggesting the McLellan Galleries building doesn’t have a dome, I do have to confess that I couldn’t bring the view to mind recently, when I posted about the disappearance of the gallery’s entrance porch, and the apparent dereliction of place.

Add to this various memories of fires in the building, and of that very dome some years ago, I did begin to wonder if it was still there.

Of course it is, and the fire and dome collapse were back in the late 1980s, when the building was occupied by Trerons’ department store.

I don’t think I was ever in that shop, although I did have a boss back then whose wife worked there. This was handy as he was ‘under orders’ to pick her up from work every night, so there was never any question of us shutting up shop late. I recall one night when we had just pulled the shutters down, and a guy ran up wanting us to open the shop for him – he was, as they say, onto ‘plums’, and almost got trampled in the rush as the boss left.

I somehow managed to remember to go take a look, and even a pic, of the building and dome.

Read more on the plans for the old place.

Plans to transform historic Sauchiehall Street building

As you can see, Sauchiehall Street is road works from end to end at the moment, as the pavements are widened for pedestrians, and cycle paths installed, plus tree planting to make it a lot nicer than it was.



Oct 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Sauchiehall Street changes finally start to take shape

I think this is the first time I’ve taken a look along Sauchiehall Street, and actually felt as if I can see some shape to the revised layout with its widened footpath, cycle lanes, and controlled traffic zones forming a major regeneration of the area.

Pardon the expression, but it really has (inevitably) just looked like one giant road works for months, with no impression of what was coming.

If you aren’t aware of why the whole of Sauchiehall Street appears to one big road work area (complicated by the fallout from the fire at the Mackintosh Building, which clearly added to the existing disruption), this article summarises what we are expecting to arrive: City council plan to transform Sauchiehall Street, Charing Cross and Garnethill moves forward

Sauchiehall Street Avenue Works

Sauchiehall Street Works

In some ways it’s been a shame to see special interest groups, who have been consulted and catered for, appearing to whine on endlessly about being ignored, especially when aspects of the work have not been conjured up out of thin air, but have been applied after consulting similar development already in place in other countries.

I’m NOT going to mention any group in particular, just mention that I get the impression that they ALL seem to think THEIR group should be given priority over the others, or even that they are being ignored.

Clearly silly, and not practical.

But it is a shame how few of them seem to have the word ‘compromise’ in their vocabulary.

It’s almost as if they believe that if they concede anything, that will be seen as excuse to walk all over them, or just ignore them.

I used to think the council was justifiably criticised in the past.

Nowadays, I look at the complaints, and the council’s response.

Now I think the council is the one mostly getting the raw deal at the hands of agenda led groups and activists, single issue campaigners whose attitude seems to be “Our way or no way!”


If it wasn’t obvious from my pic above (and the great big sacks already sitting in them), those numerous holes in the road were for tree planting.

That’s already underway.

IN Pictures — Root And Branch Change On Sauchiehall Street Gathers Pace With Tree Planting

Oct 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S22

Sad to say, but no surprise to see the Mackintosh Building back in the news with the sudden arrival of some really hefty storms and high winds during the week – unfortunately not mitigated by a ridiculously warm and sunny, wind and cloud free Wednesday.

With such tall and exposed works on what is just about the highest point in the city of Glasgow, it was inevitable that work would have to be suspended for a time, until the wind and rain subsided. As a result, the prediction of 14 October for entry to closed areas around the damaged building was revised to 21 October.

Unfortunately, even as I write this summary, I’m also reading that although a further ‘danger to life’ yellow wind warning was lifted for Friday – it still affects areas west of the city, with a further amber warning in place for rain. The same rain warning was set to affect Glasgow on Saturday, with the amber alert in place until 6pm, but that was revised to apply south of the city.

Despite the reduction in warning levels, Glasgow was still expected to be hit with some force by Storm Callum, but maybe not as much.

Friday’s forecast predicts a ‘wet, very windy start’ with heavy rain increasing again in the afternoon (true, it happened), then cloud on Saturday morning with persistent, occasionally heavy rain, but drier for a time in the afternoon. Sunday is looking better.


Oct 14, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looks like I was right about the McLellen Galleries building

Although it wasn’t my intended subject, quite by chance (while out to collect some pics of the Mackintosh Building remains), I spotted changes around the McLellan Galleries in Sauchiehall Street.

Combined with the serious road works going there at the moment, I thought I couldn’t even find the building the galleries were in, let alone the building! Then I discovered I was fine, but some genius had decided it would be a good idea to cut of and scrap the porch that once stood over the entrance to the galleries (and my memory wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it had become).

Looks like I was right, and in the time I’ve not been a regular visitor to the area, the McLennan Building fell into the category known as ‘Negelected’, despite being considered to be one of the city’s most attractive buildings, and having had a collection of busy shops at ground level.

Now, I read that there are plans to revive the neglected building.

A planning application has been submitted to Glasgow City Council seeking permission to create McLellan Works, a base for creative small/medium-sized businesses with a mix of local retail, food, and café operators. If approved, it is hoped that this creation could be open before the end of 2019.

New shops and restaurants lined up for Sauchiehall Street

McLellan Works Image:  Bywater Properties

McLellan Works Image: Bywater Properties

The development is being led by the building’s new owner, and Glasgow based architects, with talk of links to the Glasgow School of Art.

It would also integrate with the current work of a multi-million investment programme on Sauchiehall Street, part of the city’s ‘Avenues Project’, which is bringing wider pavements, a two-way cycle lane, and improved lighting and seating areas to the street.

What I was originally thinking I had ‘lost’, The McLellan Galleries, would lie within the new McLellan Works. The galleries were originally built in 1855 to house the art collection of Archibald McLellan, a local coach builder, councillor, and patron of the arts.

From 1869 to 1899 the galleries were home to the Glasgow School of Art until the Mackintosh Building was built.

Following the transfer of McLellan’s collection to Kelvingrove, the building was given shopfronts and a corner dome, and opened in 1904 as Trerons’ Magasin des Tuileries. New exhibition halls, galleries, and a grand staircase were added eight years later.

The building suffered fire damage in 1986 and the collapse of its corner dome in 1989.

McLellan Galleries Facade Minus Porch

McLellan Galleries Facade Minus Porch

Oct 10, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

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