THE problems of Glasgow's High Street are more than those listed in your recent article ("Plan to revitalise oldest street in Glasgow is branded ‘insulting’", The Herald, October 23).

The plight of "the underdog" "at the edge of the world" is Glasgow’s own history and culture, and the contempt with which both the local authority and national government disrespect it. This will not be fixed with a public relations campaign when both Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow, and St Mungo’s Museum are sitting closed with their futures in doubt. It is disingenuous to ignore the fact that the two museums, the Cathedral and the Necropolis were the drivers which brought visitors to Townhead and the High Street.

What self-respecting city would ignore its oldest house, in the way that Glasgow has? Built in 1471, it was rescued by private citizens in 1906 and came under the care of Glasgow District Council in 1979. It then shut for four years while a local company “restored” it for a nominal penny. This involved protecting the floor beams by adding a false floor, which destroyed the proportions of the rooms, making it difficult to reinstate the furniture. The west-facing 17th century portion had all of its floor timbers removed and replaced. The ground floor windows were replaced with plastic as Historic Scotland had no record of the mediaeval fenestration, and with experience in maintaining tidy ruins as opposed to running museums, did not care.

During the closure period a private individual who had loaned important furniture to the house, reclaimed it and put it in the saleroom. As “nobody is interested in old oak furniture”, Glasgow Museums didn’t bid for it. A private collector who recognised the pegged, de-mountable sideboard as being Scottish, probably from a royal household, got it for a song.

Where were the curators in this matter? From 1906, the curators at the People’s Palace acted in an "honorary" unpaid capacity. In 1979, the People’s Palace curators (I was one of them) were instructed to empty the house for refurbishment and told to produce a display four years later without knowledge or involvement in the Frankenstinian make-over and asset stripping which went on behind closed doors. The display of 1983 is still in place today, untouched.

The People’s Palace is also now closed as unsafe and its winter gardens emptied of plants for the first time in 120 years. Glasgow City Council has forcefully demonstrated yet again that Glasgow’s history and culture does not matter. Glasgow people have been deprived of their museums, libraries, community centres and the facilities which make life worth living. When the Burrell Collection opens for the second time in 40 years after a £66 million spend, they will be told that this is the "culture" that really matters.

Glasgow’s history and Glasgow’s High Street have been treated abominably by the local authority; the scandalous demolition of the Adam-designed professors' houses in 1974 comes to mind. The edge of the world encountered in High Street is a class edge, and no amount of banners, demotic slogans and London architects can overturn its shameful 150-year neglect by people who do not have Glasgow’s cultural interests at heart.

Elspeth King, Glasgow.


I NOTE your article on the “unmitigated disaster” of the vaccine passports system in which Stephen Montgomery, a Scottish Hospitality Group spokesperson, claims “that the responsibility lies entirely at the door of the Scottish Government” ("Vaccine passport scheme an ‘unmitigated disaster’ as venues suffer big drop in customers", The Herald, October 25).

Hardly: the Scottish Government was not responsible for the Covid pandemic and seems to be taking reasonable steps to ensure that large gatherings are properly controlled. If the passports system is a disaster then that is because no party in the entertainment industry wants to take responsibility for the large gatherings and possible spread of Covid. What have they come up with? How are they trying to help the Scottish Government? The mantra seems to be: don’t do anything that means they have to think about it.

In reality each club needs (or ought) to check each entrant is over 18. Surely there could be a small addition to this? Perhaps we might talk about a combined age and Covid registration card, but that will not go down well with the “erosion of freedom” mob.

Football clubs when issuing next year’s season tickets can easily introduce the Covid test to the applications.

There’s lot’s of ways of doing it but to do nothing just isn’t right. To blame the Scottish Government (or any government) is even worse.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.

* WE have to travel for our booster Covid jags to a base in Castlemilk this week and are looking forward to the trip. It will be good to drive down the northbound hill and turn right to the vaccination centre, rather than make the usual, heavy-hearted left turn, to the crematorium.

Gilbert MacKay, Newton Mearns.


I READ your moving report of Clarkston residents, and some survivors, remembering the disaster of 50 years ago that took the lives of 22 people ("Half a century on, Clarkston falls silent in memory of blast victims", The Herald, October 22).

However, there was a positive response by the public utilities. They decided that there was a lack of knowledge of the location of others’ plant in the roads.

This led to the setting up of Susiephone, a call centre with the slogan “Dial Before You Dig”. Susiephone would pass details of the intended excavation to all the other utilities, which, if affected, would respond with details of their plant at that location. This was to avoid damage to others’ plant, including gas.

Clearly a positive response, as I understand that Susiephone is still operating.

Bill Wilson, Kirkwall.