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Let Glasgow flourish through maintaining its built heritage

I WAS bemused to read in your front-page story Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, state that since the beginning of 2012 Glasgow has been on an escalator of tourism growth ("Glasgow to capitalise on two-year tourism boom", The Herald, January 1).

What the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) seems to have is a specific business plan for the city which is based on a perceived profile of the people it wishes to attract. In my empirical, though I would admit limited, experience of talking to such tourists, they do not come to Glasgow simply because it is a giant shopping market. If people have the money to travel from afar to survey the city they are generally not so shallow.

I believe UK and foreign tourists wish to embrace the unique Victorian heritage which is the visual essence, identity and feel of the city and any emerging plans which may be proposed to re-brand it as a modern city seem potentially counter-productive. I do not of course include transport infrastructures and such like utilities.

We should perhaps draw comfort from the fact the GCMB and the city council are not in control of the city of Florence or I could restlessly imagine the Piazza della Signoria might be as ruinous as the Springburn Public Halls and the statuary removed to make way for money-making pop concerts. Continental cities often capitalise very effectively on their historical and quality assets, even those which were broken by war.

Let us hope that 2013 will be the year Glasgow's preparation for the Commonwealth Games makes more ground towards celebrating the proud story of Glasgow for visitors to see – in the very centre of the city. Too often the word "flourish" in the city motto is taken as a verb to mean ever-changing and moving onwards to the future. It also means things like a fanfare or a flaunt. There is much to flaunt and indeed much of 1960/70s modernism to undo without compromising her necessary growth and prosperity. This is one instance where the council must invest more in the past to prepare for 2014.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive,

Milngavie.

READERS might be alarmed to be reminded that, very soon, all of the monuments in George Square, Glasgow, with the exception of the Cenotaph, are to be cropped off and transported to some unknown destination, possibly never to return.

The monuments concerned, with details of subjects, sculptors and dates, are as follows:

n James Watt, Francis Chantrey, 1819;

n Sir John Moore, Corunna, Wm Flaxman, 1819;

n Scott Monument, John Greenshields, 1837;

n Queen Victoria, (Equestrian) Baron Marochetti, 1854;

n James Oswald, MP, Baron Marochetti, 1856;

n Robert Peel, John Mossman, 1859;

n Lord Clyde, Indian Army, J H Foley, 1868;

n Prince Albert(Equestrian), Baron Marochetti, 1868;

n Thomas Graham, chemist, seated, Wm Brodie, 1872;

n Thomas Campbell, editor, Wm Mossman, 1877;

n Robert Burns, G E Ewing, 1877;

n William Ewart Gladstone, Hamo Thornycroft, 1902.

The removal of the appropriately large Scott Monument, installed even earlier than its magnificent Edinburgh counterpart in 1846, seems an obvious cultural mistake, as does the loss of the Burns statue. While some of the rest are arguably more dispensable, there has been no public debate and there is no mandate from the people for the wholesale disposal of our collective heritage, consultants and competitions notwithstanding. Just when the world at large has been realising what a mess unfettered capitalism has landed us in over the last five to 10 years, elected officials, it would seem, are bowing to the voice of business for the sake of imagined and highly questionable commercial advantage. George Square belongs to the people.

Should this unnecessary, undemocratic and unaffordable change go through, the only answer is the ballot box.

Professor Sam McKinstry,

7 Johnston Road, Gartcosh.

ON returning to Springburn after a trip away for Christmas, I discovered to my horror that the view from my flat is irrevocably altered following the demolition of Springburn Burgh Halls. Yet another landmark from Glasgow's illustrious industrial past is now lost.

In the early 1990s, the City of Glasgow District Council published a Springburn Heritage Trail booklet. The final paragraph of the entry on Springburn Public Halls reads: "This magnificent Victorian fancy embodies the local people's pride in their engineering achievement, by implication the product of a civilisation the equal of the ancient Greeks."

With the destruction of the Burgh Halls, what price now the survival of the long-derelict Winter Gardens in Springburn Park?

Ian Brooke,

12 Ashvale Crescent,

Springburn, Glasgow.

IF the Sighthill Stone Circle is demolished Glasgow City Council should be thoroughly ashamed of itself ( Letters, December 28 & 31).

The work of Professor Alexander Thom, one of those to whom the stone circle is dedicated, is complex, difficult to understand, and largely forgotten, except by those convinced of the correctness in principle of his astronomical theories. But he was enormously influential in interesting a generation in the construction and meaning of neolithic monuments throughout Europe, not just Scotland. In turn, Professor Euan McKie, the only remaining dedicatee of the stone circle, contributed enormously to our understanding of the period and the amazing skills and knowledge that our neolithic ancestors must have had, in his seminal work Science and Society in Prehistoric Britain.

Scotland is fortunate indeed to have numerous crucially important neolithic monuments, and the Sighthill stone circle should be preserved intact, to inform and remind those not lucky enough to visit the ancient sites in Orkney, Lewis, or Arran, of our prehistoric heritage. Having just signed the online petition to save the Sighthill Stone Circle, I urge readers to do the same.

Rose Harvie,

Afton Cottage,

82 Bonhill Road, Dumbarton.

FOLLOWING your excellent article on the debate around an Irish Famine memorial ("Famine myth warning by top historian", The Herald, January 3), no-one would argue against Professor Tom Devine that history should be evidence-based, but memorials can be positive statements about the past. In Lamlash on Arran a memorial was erected in 1977 to commemorate the departure of 29 people from Glen Sannox to Megantic county in Quebec, part of the emigration of 700 Arranachs to the Canadian Maritime states.

The list of subscribers includes the Canadian descendents of these emigrants, the cities and universities that they helped build. As the bicentenary of this emigration approaches it is worth remembering that not everyone could afford the cost of an Atlantic ticket; some such as Daniel Macmillan could only pay for the ferry across the Clyde in 1815. When his grandson became Prime Minister in 1957 a picture of the Arran croft was on the wall in Downing Street.

The descendants of those cleared from Arran have had freedom and opportunity that is reflected in raising a memorial both to their departure and the subsequent communities they helped flourish. A Glasgow memorial to those who came here for a better life includes everyone who was willing to try, a true testament to endeavour.

J D McKelvie,

The Medical Centre, Garelochhead.

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