minutes

Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

on Thursday 9th October 2014 at 7.30pm

 

 

Attendance

96

 

Chair

Ms Petrina Cairns (President)

 

Welcome

Ms Cairns welcomed all members and visitors to the Old Glasgow Club meeting and explained fire drill procedures and house keeping rules. It was also requested that all mobile phones be switched to silent or off.

 

Ms Cairns also said that now the weather is changing that members and visitors should be thinking about contingency plans should there be adverse weather conditions. If you have any doubts about a meeting taking place, Ms Cairns said to phone Adelaides 0141 248 4970.

Should the Directors decide to stand down a meeting, Adelaides would be informed and there would also be a post on the Old Glasgow Club website and facebook page.

 

Apologies

Brian Henderson, Jane Collie, Jim O'Kane, Ian Frame.

 

Minutes

The minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 11th September were approved and proposed by Stuart Little and seconded by Gaynor MacKinnon. There were no amendments or matters arising.

 

President's Report

Ms Cairns thanked Stuart Little, OGC Director for the great talk that he gave the club last month called 'Shuggle to the West' and said that he'd done us proud.

 

The Club has organised a tour of Central Station on the 8th November at 11am. There is availability for 10 to go, please give your name and contact details to me after the meeting. We will meet at the Reception Desk in Central Station at 11am. Since the tour includes the roof and catacombs please wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

 

If you've not already seen them, the Poppy Scotland enamel badges are available from the merchandise stall at the back of the hall.

 

Unfortunately there's no OGC Calendars yet as it was working out quite costly and we didn't want to rush into anything. Next year we will have more time to do the Calton slides justice. We do, however have the usual Glasgow Calendar on sale which has lots of new photographs for 2015.

 

Our OGC Facebook page is going from strength to strength. Since it has been quiet recently and there's not been a lot happening locally in the media we were thinking about putting some old photographs that I came across on the Club laptop in the Facebook gallery. Obviously no names would be mentioned, but if you have any objections or concerns then please let me know. Some of the photographs date back 10 years or so and are of Club outings and Members Night.

 

Secretary's Report

Sam and Stuart are in charge of registration once again for the 2014 - 2015 session. If you have any queries regarding this then please see them at the front desk.

 

We have Old Glasgow Club leaflets with the syllabus and a wee bit of information on the club. I think that we have dropped them off to most of the libraries by now but if you want to take some then please do. You could leave some more in your local library, club or maybe a favourite tea room. I left quite a trail of them during Doors Open.

 

I hope you managed to take in a few new places during Doors Open.

Gavin took two tours round the Necropolis and on the Saturday we joined in with Paul's walk and talk at Springburn Park

......so we know we are in for a good evening - no pressure Paul!

On the Sunday afternoon I joined the Jacobite Glasgow walk. It was mainly around the Trongate area of the City and was really interesting. It is well worth it if you get the chance.

 

We mentioned the Mackintosh Architecture and Travel Sketches Exhibition that is running at The Hunterian until Jan 4th 2015 last month, but of course The Mackintosh Festival runs right through October at various venuues. We have one or two of the brochures on the desk.

 

As usual, lots going on in the Libraries and Museums. There is an October Holiday Programme full of free or discounted activities if anyone has children or grandchildren to entertain next week. Information on www.gasgowlife.org/young-glasgow.

 

Back to Kelvingrove Museum and the 'Alasdair Gray : From the Personal to the Universal' exhibition is running until 22nd February 2015. This is the centrepiece in a number of events to mark his 80th birthday this year. More information at www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove

 

'People Make Glasgow' has been the brand name for the City since June 2013 and the website has really useful information as to what is going on in the City, plus discounts and competitions like Freebie Friday. peoplemakeglasgow.com

 

Christmas Charities Fayre will be in the City Chambers on Wednesday 5th November from 10am onwards.

 

Waverly tours continue until 19th October. www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk

 

'City Portals' - this exhibition starts on 24th October and runs until 12th December 2014 at the Glasgow City Heritage Trust offices in Bell Street.  It features photographs taken by children from four Glasgow secondary schools who were sent out to photograph entrances, doorways, archways and gateways in a unique and exciting way. glasgowheritage.org.uk/events/current-exhibition

 

And, last but not least, David Simons who spoke to the club some time ago. He has another book out later this month called 'The Land Agent'.

 

Speaker

 

Ms Cairns introduced Paul Sweeney, who holds an MA (Hons) from Glasgow University, works for BAE Systems Maritime and is currently the Secretary of the Springburn Winter Gardens Trust. Paul's subject is 'Springburn: The Rome of the North'.

 

Thank you very much for inviting me tonight, I hope you will enjoy this talk. I'm from Bishopbriggs but I have a huge interest in Springburn.

 

Springburn is called the Rome of the North for a few reasons. One reason being that just as in the days of the Roman Empire when "all roads led to Rome", in the British Empire all railways led to Springburn. Another reason is, that just like Rome, Springburn is built on seven hills.

 

There is a rhyme naming the hills - Born Balgrayhill, Schooled Petershill, Worked Keppochhill, Married Springburnhill, Sick Stobhill, Domiciled Barnhill, Rested Sighthill.

 

I'm going to talk about the industrial growth of Springburn and Springburn Park which I am involved in and the main focus of this talk. Looking at an OS map from 1858 of the area, there a three key landmarks - Mosesfield, old quarry and Cockmuir farm and farmlands.

 

Springburn started out as a small rural weaving community at the begining of the nineteenth century. Its industrial expansion started with the opening of the chemical works by Sir Charles Tennant on the newly opened Monkland Canal.

The first railway line to the area in 1831, running through the chemical works attracting expansion with four railway works and Blochairn Iron Works.

 

The four main railway manufacturers were North British Railway's (NBR) Cowlairs works in 1841, Caledonian Railway's St Rollox Works in 1856, Neilson and Company's Hyde Park Works in 1860 and Sharp Stewart & Company's Atlas Works in 1888. The latter two eventually amalgamated to become part of the North British Locomotive Company in 1903.

Of the four works only the site at St Rollox is operational today.

 

James Reid became a partner of the Hyde Park Locomotive works (where Kelvin College stands now) and then took over the company in 1873. Hyde Park became the largest locomotive company in the UK.

 

What started as a small weaving community with a population of 700 in the early nineteenth century had a population of 30,000 at it's peak. The four locomotive works alone employed 9,000 people.

 

With the influx of people and lack of planning in Victorian times, there were the associated problems of ill health due to overcrowding.

 

The Reid family dominated the Springburn area at this time and wanted to give something back to the community that had helped make them so successful. In 1891 James Reid offered a bandstand to the area and realises that there is no civic space to house it. The Reids contribute and help with the development of the park.

 

The old Springburn Quarry and remains of an iron pit (approx 40/50 acres) was acquired by Glasgow Corporation in 1892 and Springburn Park was born. The park was later enlarged when Hugh Reid presented Glasgow Corporation with Mosesfield House and grounds in 1904. The Reids felt guilt about industrialising the area and wanted a green park for the workers to enjoy.

 

What started as an area of open park for health reasons soon developed into a recreational space also. It had bowling greens, flag pole to mark the highest point in Glasgow, reservoir, boating pond, convalescence area for the patients at Stobhill Hospital, Winter Gardens and much more.....sheep to naturally keep the grass in check. It was extremely popular and well used by the residents of Springburn.

 

Paul showed us many old and not so old pictures of the park in use, bandstand which was demolished in 1968, Winter Gardens, the old mens club at Mosesfield House which is still functioning today, Belmont House demolished in 1986 (home of the Reids). Paul thinks that it was the best park in Glasgow.

 

That brings us to the main topic of conversation - Springburn Park Winter Gardens

 

1899, 10,000 was donated by the Reid family towards the construction of the Winter Gardens. The Reids having paid for the construction of nearby Springburn Public Halls, on the agreement that Glasgow Corporation would build a winter garden in Springburn Park.

 

It was built by Simpson and Farmer, Horticultural Builders, Heating and Ventilating Engineers of Partick Bridge using iron from the Temple Ironworks of Crow Road, Glasgow. The glasshouse extends for 180ft, with tall 12 feet red brick walls (from Cleghorn Brickworks, Lanark) punctuated by round-arched windows.

 

It really is quite something, was once the largest glasshouse in Scotland at 842 sq.m. It is an extraordinarily versatile space and was used for concerts, cafe and horticultural space right up until it was closed to the public after a storm in 1983. It was found to be held together by decades of paint.

 

The day before it was to be suggested that the building be demolished in 1985, the Scottish Secretary of State deemed it a category A listed building. So, instead they built a fence around it and seemed to allow it to be passively demolished.

 

Springburn suffered from de-industrialisation with its inability to adapt when changing from steam traction to electric. The works just couldn't make the cultural transitions and there was a death spiral until 1962 and the loss of 5000 jobs at Cowlairs Works. Now only St Rollox which operates as a rail maintenance depot is left.

 

It was not only the parks winter gardens that were in decline. From the early 1970s to the early 1980s, 85% of the pre-war building in Springburn were demolished. A major dual carriageway, the Springburn Expressway, built in the 1980s, cut right through the centre of Springburn. Churches, cinemas, houses and wash houses, all gone.

 

Essentially an entire community was decimated. A once thriving community was essentially demolished, can it be rebuilt.

 

Springburn Winter Gardens Trust was formed as a community - led social campaign in a bid to safeguard Springburn's architectural heritage which has suffered a series of recent blows, including the demolition of the B listed Springburn Hall in 2012.

 

We initiated a feasibility project for the restoration of the Winter Gardens as an arts venue and theatre space. Wanting to restore it to a place of civic pride and not civic decay.

 

Paul asked the OGC members to have a look at the five scale models that he has brought along and vote on which one they favoured.

 

These are the five shortlisted entries from the competition initiated as a partnership between The Glasgow Institute of Architects and Springburn Winter Garden Gardens Trust. The competition is called "An intervention at Springburn Winter Gardens; to provide a place where people can gather and share collective memories".

 

The brief focused on interacting and engaging with the local community, building on work carried out to date by the Trust through development of a social media campaign. The focus was to be on social interactions, memories and oral history surrounding the Winter Gardens. This competition was a call for ideas for an interactive intervention and also a call for a landscape design for the surrounding land.

 

The five shortlisted designs are now open for a public vote with the winners being announced in November.

 

Paul thanked the members for listening to his talk and asked if anyone had a question for him.

 

Q - In the 60's, I lived in South Africa and I was delighted to find that the trains and track lines were made in Glasgow. I

      proud as punch.

A - My friend noticed the same thing when he was living in Singapore. It's the same all over the world, even the guns in

     Gibraltar were made in Springburn.

Q - Thank you for your talk. It was fascinating to learn about all that development in 1858, absolutely amazing the

     amount of increased industry.

A - Yes, it was a huge increase in industrial development, similar to that seen in Shanghai in the last couple of decades.

Q - You showed a picture of a locomotive coming out of Hyde Park works. In the 1940's and 50's  the fountain at the front

      of the works was removed to allow the finished locomotive to get out and then replaced.

A - The fountain is still around, it's at Springburn Shopping Centre. At least they kept something.

 

Vote of thanks

Margaret Kerr said that Paul thinks he is from Bishopbriggs, I think he is pure Springburn. Margaret went on to thank Paul for his fabulous talk, that you could see from the looks of recognition and nostalgia on peoples faces that Springburn was a brilliant place.

 

Quiz

The quiz was won by Cath Wallace who correctly answered the riddle as being the Fireman's statue outside Central Station.

 

AOCB

None

 

Next Directors Meeting - Thursday 6th November

 

Next Ordinary Meeting  - Thursday 13th November

 

Ms Cairns thanked everyone for coming and wished all a safe journey home.

 

                                                                                                                                            Shona Crozer

                                                                                                                                            Recording Secretary