Take a look because it could be the last time you see them. Schools. Police stations. Cinemas. Tenements. Buildings that tell the story of Glasgow and Glaswegians, but buildings too that are in serious danger of disappearing. They may still be standing now – damaged, decaying, and neglected examples of a great city’s history – but how much longer before we lose them?

To highlight the issue, we asked five leading figures in architecture and heritage to talk about buildings in Glasgow which they’re particularly concerned about and their choices underline the scale of the crisis; indeed, demolition work began on one of their nominations while the article was being put together. Taking part are MSP Paul Sweeney, Liz Fuller of heritage group SAVE, architects Alan Dunlop and Hunter Reid, and writer Ian R Mitchell and these are the buildings they’re worried about; buildings we could be about to lose forever.

The Herald: 272 Saracen Street272 Saracen Street (Image: free)

272 Saracen Street

Is there a better place to start than the Glasgow tenement? Many have been lost, most famously in the Gorbals, as well as fine examples such as the corner tenement at Maryhill Locks on Cowal Street. But thousands survive, not always in the best condition.

One of them is 272 Saracen Street in Possil, which is the choice of MSP Paul Sweeney. The tenement is structurally sound but is in a bad way; the shop on the ground floor is still operating but the three stories above have been boarded up.

One of the finest features of the building is the mural on the side of the building, which depicts the heritage and history of Possil. At the top of the mural is the gatehouse of the famous Saracen Foundry, which once stood at the northern end of the street.

The mural features many other nods to local history, much of it disappeared. The Astoria Cinema, one of the local picturehouses. A tramcar, like the ones that would have come and gone from Possilpark Tram Depot. And in the the centre a worker at the foundry, which supported local jobs.

Mr Sweeney believes the tenement is exactly the kind of building that should be protected in Glasgow. “I’ve been trying to get the council to do a compulsory ownership on it,” he says. “The windows are all smashed and it’s in private ownership but it’s exactly the sort of thing that could be quickly renovated. I don’t think Glasgow values its tenements as it should.”

The Herald: Washington Street primaryWashington Street primary (Image: free)

Washington Street primary

There are so many neglected Victorian schools in Glasgow – some going, some gone – but the one the choice of architect Hunter Reid is Washington Street primary by the Kingston Bridge right in the centre of the city.

Mr Reid, who led the successful renovation of Maryhill Burgh Halls, knows the Washington Street school well: when it became an arts centre in the 1970s, he worked as a volunteer there alongside the head of art: none other than Alasdair Gray.

“That type of building, old schools with internal atriums, they’re fantastic and you can do so much with them,” says Mr Reid. “It’s easy to adapt into different uses, you could add on it easily because they’re all got playgrounds. The galleries and balconies, you would see other people within the building when you were moving around it. The atriums were a good communal part of the building, so it’s got great light.”

The sad thing is schools such as Washington Street are either unlisted or C-listed which means they don’t have a great deal of protection. Mr Reid also believes the reason Glasgow has so many buildings at risk is because of inaction by the council.

“We haven’t got the good people in place in Glasgow,” he says. “The city used to have a director of planning but it was abolished about 30 years ago. There used to be strategic local plans for all the areas of Glasgow done by the planning department. And what I always found was if they really wanted to find the money for a project, they could find it.”

The Herald: Possil Railway StationPossil Railway Station (Image: free)

Possil railway station

One of Glasgow's many lost railway stations, Possil was opened in 1897 by the Lanarkshire and Dumbarton Railway and closed in 1964. The C Listed building, with its decorative timberwork and terracotta tiling, was used as a bookmakers for some years but is now in a deteriorating condition.

Writer Ian R Mitchell, author of Walking Through Glasgow's Industrial Past, nominated the building and says he’s sad to see it in its current state. “It’s a palimpsest to the past,” he says “and shows that once upon a time this was a prosperous community with a lot of industry. But it’s also just a nice wee building – nice woodwork, fretwork, it shows the care that was taken into buildings of this kind in those days. They weren’t just functional and utilitarian, they were meant to say something, to say we’re proud of this area and this makes us feel good.”

Mr Mitchell says part of the problem is that Glasgow’s leaders and some Glaswegians have not always valued its architectural heritage. “What an incredible architectural heritage we had but never valued,” he says. “A lot in Glasgow’s story was about the collapse of industry – when I came to the city in the 1970s from Aberdeen, you’d have thought it was dying. I remember walking from Bridgton Cross to Parkhead to see the Dons play and there wasn’t a building standing – it was like Berlin after the war.”

Mr Mitchell says another issue is there are some people who do not know their city. “Springburn, Govan, other places,” he says, “you meet middle class Glaswegians who’ve never been there in their lives. I honestly think most of them blotted it out and were unaware of the dereliction.”

Mr Mitchell does believe areas such as Possil can still be regenerated. “Look at Dalmarnock; 20 years ago, it was a wasteland, now there’s the Commonwealth Village which is a great success; the Gorbals too. There have been major planning successes and major reversals – but it’s very slow and very painful and not fast enough.”

The Herald: Alan Dunlop at the Vogue CinemaAlan Dunlop at the Vogue Cinema (Image: free)

Vogue cinema

Perhaps more than any other building on the list, the former Vogue cinema on the corner of Balmore Road in Possilpark emphasises the precarious nature of some of the heritage buildings in Glasgow. Just a couple of days after speaking to the architect Alan Dunlop, who nominated the building, demolition work started on it before the council issued a building preservation order.

Mr Dunlop, who has produced drawings of how the cinema might look if its 1930s art deco frontage was sensitively renovated, says it would be a very sad day if the building was lost.

“The cinema is the most significant building in that whole area which has been devastated over the last 40 or 50 years,” he says. “If you lost it, there would be nothing left in that part of Springburn that has any architectural significance whatsoever.

“The building is dilapidated but it has a really fine art deco stone frontage and it’s a building of real character and a marker for the area and could be converted into residential accommodation. There has to be a will to do it and it has to go beyond ‘och this is too much trouble, we’ll just demolish it and do something else’.

“It’s to do with civic pride and people’s appreciation of the environment in which they’re living. The retention of the city’s fabric is an important part of how we appreciate Glasgow and how we live.”

The Herald: Whiteinch CraneWhiteinch Crane (Image: free)

Whiteinch Crane

Less famous than its brother down the road at Finnieston, the Whiteinch Crane is also worthy of attention, says Paul Sweeney. Built in 1920 to serve the North British Engine Works, it transferred engines from the yard onto ships moored on the Clyde but by the late 70s, the works was closed and the crane out of use.

Mr Sweeney says he’s concerned about the current state of the crane – which was given A-listed status in 1989 – and thinks there’s a danger of losing it.

“There’s only four of these cranes left on the Clyde and these are world heritage assets, they really are,” he says. “My worry is that they are so badly corroded they have to be dismantled. As far as I can tell, there’s very little active maintenance and the crane in Whiteinch is in a bad way.

“Glasgow has lost so much of its industrial heritage without a thought and we’re risking losing more of it if we’re not careful.”

The Herald: Calton police stationCalton police station (Image: free)

Calton police station

Nominated by Liz Fuller, buildings at risk officer at the campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the old police building in Calton was in use right up until the 1980s but is now in a poor way: empty, boarded up, and in danger of disappearing.

Ms Fuller is a big fan of the building, which she describes as sober, substantial and refined. “It was designed by the architect, John Carrick, to house a police station, courtrooms, mortuary, muster hall and cells,” she says, “and it has a simple but distinguished classical style, its upper floor lined with tall, elegant windows.”

Unfortunately, its condition is now categorised as poor with partial collapse of the roof of the building’s rear wing and the fabric of the building threatened by the decay of the masonry, water and vegetation. “This fine building could be lost if no specific plans come forward to help it,” says Ms Fuller.

The good news in other parts of Calton there are real signs of hope. The Glasgow Building Preservation Trust recently completed the renovation of the West Boathouse on Glasgow Green, and are currently developing a project with PEEK Project to save Whitevale Baths on Gallowgate for the community. William White’s beautiful Clay Pipe Factory in the Barras Market is also being developed into a community arts hub, and the former St James School is being renovated by Glasgow City Council to house the new Calton Gaelic Primary School.

Could the Calton police building be next for saving? “With more and more new residential properties being erected in the area,” says Ms Fuller, “there is a keen opportunity to continue to activate local heritage assets for community use.”

Buchanan Street steps

It’s a measure of how people feel about the humble set of steps leading to the concert hall at the top of Buchanan Street that when the idea of demolishing them was first mooted in 2015, 14,000 people signed a petition to save them. As it stands however, they will be removed when the area is redeveloped.

Alan Dunlop thinks the disappearance of the steps – designed by Sir Leslie Martin and opened with the concert hall in 1990 – would be a great loss. “There’s many a day I’ve grabbed a sandwich and sat on the steps to have my lunch and any time you see a photograph of Buchanan Street, it’s usually taken from the top of the steps; public protests are usually held there too. It might not have been planned by Sir Lesley Martin to have the steps as such an important part of urban Glasgow but over the years they have become fundamental to how the city operates.

“I don’t have any particular love for the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre but quite rightly, there’s a lot of criticism of the state Sauchiehall Street is in, and the steps are the turning point, the knuckle, that takes you from Buchanan Street to Sauchiehall Street. The intention is they would come away as part of a redevelopment of the shopping centre but to dismiss them so easily is a real mistake. I think Glasgow would really miss the steps if they were gone.”

The Herald: Tradeston telephone exchangeTradeston telephone exchange (Image: free)

Tradeston telephone exchange

Ian Mitchell remembers the first time he noticed this handsome building on Centre Street in Tradeston but at first he couldn’t quite work out what it was.

“When I first saw it, I just could not find out what it was and I looked for years,” he says. “Eventually, Historic Scotland found out for me – it was one of the early telephone exchanges that was built in the 1930s when the telephone industry was in public owner-ship.”

Constructed by the Office of Public Works, it is red sandstone and ashlar and is B-Listed, but the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland noted as far back as 2007 that it was unoccupied, in poor condition and of no known ownership.

“It’s a very, very fine building,” says Mr Mitchell. “It was used as a store for a while but the last time I looked it appeared to be totally vacant and it’s decayed rather a lot in the last ten years. But the structure is still there and it could be restored and it’s just a 100 yards from Barclays Bank. That area of the city has a lot of potential and it could kickstart a regeneration of the south side at that particular point. Somebody needs to be a pioneer.”

The Herald: Springburn Winter Gardens Springburn Winter Gardens (Image: free)

Springburn winter gardens

Paul Sweeney grew up in the Springburn area of Glasgow and remembers being fascinated by the big ruined building in the park. “It looked like the wreckage of the Hindenburg,” he says, “and I was always curious about it as a child.”

Once the largest glasshouses in Scotland and built with money provided by the Reid family of the neighbouring Hyde Park Locomotive works, the glasshouse has been unused and ruinous since the 1980s. But Mr Sweeney is leading attempts to restore it, which he believes is particularly important in Springburn. “I’ve always had a personal angst to see Springburn’s pride restored; it’s about the community’s sense of purpose,” he says. “People drive through Springburn, they don’t go to Springburn, and that’s what I want to change.

“It’s now over 40 years that the building has been derelict but I love it because of what it symbolises: that Springburn was a community of immense industrial wealth, power and prestige. Growing up as a kid, I could see Springburn had been heavily demolished. It was one of the worse acts of urban planning, and it’s never been repaired and the area has never had the focus from the city ever since. It’s always overlooked.”

The Herald: Wyndford FlatsWyndford Flats (Image: free)

Wyndford flats

You may have heard of the battle of Wyndford. On the one side, the housing association Wheatley which wants to pull the flats down; on the other, some residents who say, yes, the flats need improved and better maintained but they like living there and want to stay.

One of the campaigners who’s been arguing against demolition is Alan Dunlop who accepts it can be a hard sell. “High rises in Glasgow have a bad reputation,” he says, “because many of them were poorly constructed and there were social issues about people who were put into them; Red Road is a prime example.”

But Mr Dunlop believes there’s real hope of saving the Wyndford flats after the council initially supported the decision to demolish them. “Unlike many of these other difficult high-rises, Wyndford had a straightforward and strong architectural plan to create a community that included really nice houses, shops and good green space and a primary school.

“So there was architectural ambition there that went beyond what you would think as a normal high-rise; they float above this cultivated landscape. They weren’t filing cabinets. They were actually very nice and elegant properties.”

The Herald: The India building The India building  (Image: free)

The India building 

If you want to see the crisis in Glasgow’s architecture first hand, look at the India building. The old warehouse on Bridge Street in Laurieston was one of Ian Mitchell’s choices for The Herald’s list of architecture at risk but before we could even publish the list, part of the building collapsed and it is now in the process of being demolished.

The warehouse was built in 1876 for the manufacturing stationers Robert McGregor. “I think the ground floor would have been where they sold the goods,” says Mitchell, “and the upper floors would have been where they were manufacturing the stationery – factories looked like houses in those days.” However, the building had been vacant on the upper floors for about 25 years, while the shops on the ground floor ceased trading in 2009, leaving the whole building to the mercy of the elements and vandals.

Mr Mitchell says one of the problems in trying to save something like the India building and others like it is that the system mitigates against it. “The cost of restoration is inhibited by the VAT laws – it costs you more to restore an old building.”

The fact the building is in Laurieston is also an issue. “The squeaky axle gets the grease. In middle class areas, a building that closes gets turned into luxury flats but in another area what happens? It gets demolished. So working class areas are losing their heritage much quicker than middle class areas.”

Following a partial collapse of the ceiling, the India building’s fate has now been sealed and it has become the first building on this list to lose its fight for survival.

Mr Mitchell, though, is generally optimistic about the direction of travel on heritage buildings - “compared to 20 years ago things are better there’s an assumption now that if you can, and you have the funding, you restore,” he says.

But as the demolition teams move into Bridge Street, you can’t help wondering what will be next. “The India building was one I’ve been trying to point out as being in danger for a long time,” says Mitchell, “it’s really sad. They say that in Palermo a palazzo collapses every week. In Glasgow it seems a Victorian masterpiece receives a death sentence about as regularly.”