It is with profound concern that I write regarding the future of the B-listed Springburn Public Halls, a historic landmark at the junction of Keppochhill Road and Millarbank Street.
An emergency intervention by Glasgow City Council, ostensibly to make the building safe, has resulted in the partial demolition of the north elevation.
The east and south facades of the building that face onto Millarbank Street/Springburn Road and Keppochhill Road respectively – along with their incredible James Sherriff sculptural detailing of locomotives, engineering and the city's coat of arms – remain intact but it would appear they too are at imminent risk of demolition.
This building once formed the social heart of the district of Springburn; originally promised to its citizens by Glasgow Corporation as a fillip for Springburn Burgh joining the City of Glasgow in 1872. In the event, the building was gifted to the community by the local industrialist and philanthropist Sir Hugh Reid, who owned Neilson, Reid & Company, the operator of the nearby Hyde Park Locomotive Works.
Designed in the Edwardian Baroque style by William B Whitie – who would subsequently design the Mitchell Library – the hall was opened on May 16, 1902. It functioned as Springburn Sports Centre from 1960, until it was closed and effectively abandoned by Glasgow District Council in 1985 – apparently due to emerging dry rot problems – soon after the opening of Springburn Leisure Centre in 1984.
It has since languished in a state of increasing dilapidation, despite numerous frustrated attempts to restore it to some form of productive use.
The building is in an acutely perilous state. I urge the councillors and officials responsible to expedite any option to retain the south and east facades of the building, including their outstanding sculptures, before further demolition work. There is significant precedent in saving the facades of endangered listed buildings in the city, notably in the restoration of the former GPO building in George Square and the former Olympia Cinema at Bridgeton Cross, recently revitalised by Clyde Gateway as a library and amateur boxing facility.
The Springburn Public Halls could become a potent symbol of the district's rebirth from its calamitous industrial decline – hopefully expedited with the construction of the 2018 Youth Olympics Village at nearby Sighthill.
Demolition of this fine listed building, one of the last remaining buildings of historical significance in the whole of north Glasgow, would erase one of the last vestiges of a once thriving and industrious community and is utterly unacceptable.
Paul J Sweeney,
17 Sinclair Gardens,
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