THE photograph of the car park was taken in October 1987; and on the same day it was reported that the venue that would occupy the space might not, after all, materialise.

The Glasgow Herald said plans to build the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall might have to be shelved after Scottish Secretary of State Malcolm Rifkind decided not to allow the district council to borrow £10 million towards its £24 million cost. Rifkind said the Scottish Office accepted the need for a new concert venue in the city, but the extra £10 million could only be found by a drastic re-ordering of priorities of the arts in Scotland and by cutting allocations to other councils.

Pat Lally, the Glasgow council leader, pointed out that the French and German governments were pouring huge sums into helping Paris and Berlin stage their own forthcoming City of Culture events; Glasgow in 1990, he added, would be representing the UK as European City of Culture.

A Herald leader on October 20 was pessimistic. “It looks as if there may be no new concert hall in 1990. Nor in 1991. Nor in the foreseeable future”, it fretted. Glasgow had waited a long time for a replacement for the magnificent St Andrew’s Halls, which had burned down in 1962. “The community must now strive to shake the Government out of its indifference, and if that proves impossible, to find sponsors in the market place whose public-spiritedness and generosity may shame Mr Rifkind and all his retinue of pin-striped Philistines”.

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Councillors tasked officials with finding ways of coming up with the £10 million. Lally himself suggested that the city might consider selling off its art treasures to find the money.

The project continued to look uncertain, with various avenues being explored. Eventually, on December 17, the Herald said that “after weeks of frantic activity”, a solution had been put together so that the hall project would be independent of Scottish Office cash restraints. A new company would be formed, limited by guarantee and with charitable status, and would receive grants and loans from the council in the same way as the Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Opera. “The plan is that the company would acquire the concert hall site from the council with an obligation to build the hall”, our report said. “The purchase price would be a capital receipt to the council and would be exactly matched by a capital grant to the company”.

Construction work got underway on April 18 the following year, with Lally himself (right) driving in the first pile and declaring that the hall would, when complete, “rank with the best in the world”. The Herald said finance for the project was tied in with leasing part of the Buchanan Street site to London-based developers for a £50 million shopping complex.

The hall – “Lally’s Palais” – was opened in October 1990. The site in the photograph is today occupied by the hall, the RSNO Centre, and the John Lewis store.