Old Glasgow Club
Minutes of ordinary meeting of Club held at Adelaide’s, 209 Bath Street on Thursday 8th October 2009 at 7.30pm
Mr Gordon (President)
Mr Gordon welcomed members and visitors to the meeting.
There were apologies from Anna Forrest, Jim Gibson, Sheila Kelly and Jennifer McTavish.
The minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on 10th September were approved, proposed by Miss Cairns and seconded by Mr Little. There were no amendments or matters arising.
Mr Gordon was pleased to see so many people attending the meetings and welcomed new members.
Mrs McNae reported on a visit to Whitelee Wind Farm just outside Eaglesham which had recently opened a visitors centre to the public. Entry was free and there was plenty to do for all ages, including a guided tour around the 140 turbines.
Mrs McNae directed our attention to the noticeboard and merchandise table. Any newspaper cuttings or reports of interest to the club can be passed on to Alison Sannachan. Mrs Sannachan has also organised a photo competition for this months meeting.
There are 7 tickets available for a free tour around the BBC Headquarters at Pacific Quay on 27th November. There are also tickets available for a panto, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, by Runway Theatre on the 17th December at Eastwood Theatre. Tickets are £9.50. Anyone interested in either excursion please see Margaret Thom at the Registration Desk.
Sally White, Secretary of the Alexander Thomson Society and Mark Baines, Lecturer at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, will speak on “the road, the ruin and the railway”, and their joint project to develop and maintain the Alexander “Greek” Thomson Church at Caledonia Road which is currently falling into a derelict state. Sally White is the project manager and represents the Alexander Thomson Society. Mark Baines is the designer of the project.
In 1991 the Alexander Thomson Society was set up by Gavin Stamp, a lecturer at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, to prevent the neglect of architecturally important Greek Thomson buildings. Initially the society was run from members houses, then moved to Holmwood House and is currently situated at 7 Walmer Crescent, Cessnock. Since the conception of the Society, several Thomson buildings have been lost and many are listed but in a bad state of repair. The success of the Inspired Genius exhibition at the Lighthouse clarified the need for a space to permanently exhibit and safeguard Thomson artefacts and which could also be used as the HQ for the society. The Caledonia Road Church was the preferred choice over the Egyptian Halls in Union St (the commercial premises on the ground floor would add complications to the development) and the St Vincent St Church (a building which is still in use).
In 2006, a tomb to Alexander Thomson was unveiled in the Southern Necropolis and this provided the incentive and impetus to apply for funding to finance a development proposal and survey of the Church. In October 2008 the project received a further £200,000 grant to fund a full planning application and an application for full listed building status. On Sept 1st 2009 planning approval was received and Ms White hopes they will have some positive news on the listed building status soon.
Mr Baines then introduced himself and described his long involvement with all things “Greek” Thomson, including managing an exhibition at the CCA in 1994 and writing many reports and articles on his work. The proposed regeneration of the Caledonia Road Church has meant the drafting of proposals which have to reach an architectural balance between old and new.
The Church was completed in 1857 and Alexander Thomson was not only its architect (the church being a fine example of his mature style) but also an elder of the church. The Church is currently owned by Glasgow City Council and has not been in use since 1962 when its congregation was depleted by the demolition of the Old Gorbals. Years of neglect, vandalism and a fire in 1965 has left an empty shell, nothing more than a traffic island. Mr Baines showed several slides of the area from 1900-1960’s showing the church in its prominent social position in the heart of a busy community and highlighting its current decline. Proposed developments to the surrounding areas envisage the church, sandwiched between 2 potential residential areas, therefore in prime position to become a hub once again. The new development will incorporate the original shape of the Church, sandwiched between road and railway track, but will incorporate amenities to benefit the local area as well as provide a working base for the Alexander Thomson Society. The existing Church will not be re-built but will be conserved and repaired as far as possible.
Ms White outlined what the Society required of the proposed development: namely a Thomson study centre, archive and exhibition space. Elements of the regeneration proposals include; the creation of the study centre in the old meeting hall; conservation and repair of the ruin; landscape design and artworks in a courtyard and car parking area; incorporation of a café, archive, museum and shop and the construction of studio units and a new mezzanine level comprising ten 2 bedroom flats. There will also be office space for the running of the Society. Income will be generated from the café and from hiring out some of the room space for community needs or functions.
Mr Baines added that where possible existing Thomson material will be used for the restoration e.g. a doorframe and sandstone blocks which are currently languishing in a stonemason’s yard. Solar panels will also be installed and renewable energy resources will be implemented. Not only will the project rejuvenate a fine old building but it will also improve the look of the surrounding area by improving street lighting and the proposed installation of an underpass across the busy road will also be a boost to the area. Mr Baines concluded by showing a 3-dimensional animation of the proposed development.
Q: How much will the regeneration cost?
A: Estimated at £4.5 million.
Q: How will the proposal of a new bus garage on the same road impact on the development?
A: The entrance to the Complex will be further up the road than the bus depot so there won’t be much traffic impact once the underpass is built. It will also improve public transport links to the Church.
Q: How have the Proposals been received?
A: So far there has been a great response from both Glasgow City Council and public forums. The raising of awareness of the project in the public eye has had the added benefit of an increase of public donations to the archive of Thomson artefacts.
Q: How large will the meeting rooms be?
A: Capacity will be 80-90 people.
Q: What will happen to the Tower?
A: 10 years ago work was successfully completed to stabilise the tower and so it will remain an important part of the design. There are also plans for the installation of a clock.
Q: When will the project be completed?
A: Hopefully, if the project gets underway soon, then late 2011 could be possible – coinciding with the Alexander Thomson Society’s 20th birthday.
Vote of thanks
Mr Robertson thanked both Ms White and Mr Baines for an unusual and interesting talk, commenting that it was unusual to see one presentation from both angles of a project. The 3D Animation was also a treat.
Competition winner: Stephen McCarron (answer: willow)
Mr Gordon wished all a safe journey home.
Next Directors Meeting- Thurs 5th November
Next Ordinary Meeting – Glasgow Riverside Museum Project, Iyke Ikegwuonu,
Thurs 12th November
P Cairns, Recording Secretary.