Monday, 4 February 2019

Partick. Kelvingrove and Anderston Walk. New Look for Glasgow's Suburbs.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
As I had to go into Partick for something I thought I would make a longer day of it and check out the new buildings appearing in this vicinity. West Village student flats have been up for a couple of years now but the builders haven't stopped there.
More student flats have just been completed a stones throw away... also on the banks of the River Kelvin at Partick. Benalder Street and Beith Street to be precise- just behind Partick Train Station, Bus Station and Subway hub. Incidentally, turning round the other way, the popular west end nightclub Volcano used to stand here on a patch of empty land- Benalder Street, where Renton met Diane in the original 1990s Trainspotting film. Although the novel was set in Edinburgh's council estates they filmed a huge chunk of it in Glasgow as the powers that be in Edinburgh maybe didn't fancy the idea of a film about violence, shoplifting, and heroin addiction there. A risky bad image to get behind and promote. Or maybe it was just cheaper to make it in Glasgow ( it usually is cheaper in Glasgow :) with Edinburgh's main period street network continually packed with camera holding tourists eager for a photo of anything unusual happening..Once it was an iconic worldwide cult hit however they relented for Trainspotting 2 which had many more outdoor Edinburgh locations in it. ( Although in the Arthur's Seat segment the colours were far too vivid as if it had been green screened with the actors filmed elsewhere then superimposed on top. Funny looking and over-saturated compared to elsewhere. )
Yorkhill Hospital seen across the River Kelvin gives a better impression of where we are. This is the view from the student flats. Yorkhill is half empty now, most facilities being transferred over to the  new super hospital complex at Govan. New hospitals, universities and student flats make up the bulk of new build properties in Glasgow at the moment.
Especially student flats- thousands of them- so it must pay the city/ university/ colleges somehow. Every second building now seems to be student apartments. With three universities and a handful of 'super' colleges ( ie three or four old ones combined together) Glasgow is very definitely a major teaching hub in the UK. Edinburgh has universities as well but not to the same extent as Glasgow's very visible and more modern infrastructure which is one area where they can compete fully and hopefully win into the foreseeable future with brand new buildings. It's as if losing out to Edinburgh in the Hogmanay celebrations /Christmas Lights /Princes Street skyline, Festival and Castle attractions, plus old town tourist history vibe Glasgow has claimed the consolation prize of various state of the art hi rise student complexes within the city. And it can compete for nightlife here with trendy Byres Road and Ashton Lane a short walk away. Watching Francesco da Mosto's Venice programme tonight where tourists outnumber dwindling local Venetians many times over throughout the year I was reminded of Edinburgh slightly. Although it has many excellent visitor attractions Glasgow still feels like it belongs to the local residents and is not just a tourist magnet but a place where most of the population lives year round.

 One benefit of this is that it might help to stem the hemorrhaging of foot fall from traditional inner city shopping areas like Partick and Glasgow City Centre with thousands of students spending money in the local shops, bars, cinemas, and restaurants as well as ordinary punters. Lidl I've noticed have been very astute in this aspect as every new build student complex has a Lidl store in it from the off. With Lidl, Aldi, B & M and other discount stores making large inroads into the UK's big four traditional supermarkets of Tesco, Morrison's,Sainsbury and Asda a major shift has occurred in the last decade. Not really a surprise after 10 long years of austerity, low paid jobs and uncertain employment squeezing people to shop to tighter budgets. Many items are half price in the discount places and you are just as likely to see car parks full of expensive new cars there nowadays as old bangers.
Right in the midst of all this new age, new build utopia however I noticed this modest little church. Situated in a cul de sac, hidden and surrounded by higher modern buildings I couldn't help thinking of Andre Norton's Witch World again as the hero in that walks down a similar lane to a much older structure from a different era and enters another world entirely. Many books have that common theme however, probably all the way back to pre- biblical times and the first cities 7000 years ago in rapidly evolving Sumerian streets and turrets - a similar mishmash of different buildings and styles from ages past.
And so did I.........enter a different world that is. My first visit to St Simon's Church.
I soon found out Polish soldiers and other groups came here during the war years to worship in their native tongue and received a friendly welcome. Lost count of the number of times I've been in Scottish towns and cities and memorials to the Polish contribution to the UK war effort is celebrated with a tribute at some point so they have a strong history with Britain in the past and still today.
Interesting link here to this- the third oldest Catholic church in the city, opened in 1858.

  More info telling that particular story.
Some stained glass radiance.
A lovely church and very unexpected considering the number of times I've been in Partick (100s) and never noticed it before. A half hidden gem. Ancient history buffs have speculated that the mother and child iconography dates back long before the bible as well to early Egyptian and Mesopotamian origins. Makes sense- what image is older and more relevant to the human race than that of mother and infant together. Survival and continued existence in one.
Next up after Partick was the neighbouring district of Anderston, another inner city ward and one even closer to the heart of Glasgow. The 200 foot high 21 floor Anderston Centre Complex in the distance here. Scottish Comedian Billy Connolly grew up in Anderston, as well as other Glasgow city districts.
The attraction here for me was that I'd noticed new buildings springing up when I passed on the bus and was curious to see the changes in this area on foot. Scottish Power building and renovated flats which have looked this way for over a year now.
But this was different. A new right hand side to St Vincent Street and a brand new statue/sculpture on a plinth.

What was it I wondered? Who was the mystery man sitting in the uncomfortable looking high back chair? At least he has a splendid view of Kelvingrove's Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha's golden dome in the distance to compensate for his sore bum. (Well, would you like to spend a full night on it watching TV? Bet he'd rather recline on a comfy sofa these days. Nae luck Charlie. I have had the pleasure of similar wooden chairs in bothies with no other seats available and after four hours on it a cushion is a desirable extra.)
Of course, being Glasgow, it's none other than renowned architect Charles Rennie MacKintosh, probably totally scunnered at being placed slap bang in the middle of one of today's modern architectural wastelands... or he might approve... you never know.  A very good statue/sculpture anyway by another Glasgow great,  Andy Scott, the local artist behind The Kelpies, Cumbernauld's Arria (she's still my favourite) and the Heavy Horse on the M8.. and many many more. A very prolific talented guy. ( and his team as it's probably too much for one person nowadays to handle I'd imagine with commissions pouring in.)
I am joking about the wastelands as these new builds are not too bad. Very similar in style to other current projects I've wandered around like the Union Canal/ Fountainbridge development in Edinburgh and Shawbridge in Pollokshaws in this city's south side  rising as we speak and type. I have noticed there's never a lot of grass, trees, or vegetation in these new estates. Very bare landscapes compared to older estates with generous green spaces, front and back gardens, even in some of the roughest council estates of old. A bit like the gig economy jobs today where if you want any company perks of yesteryear you pay for them yourself out of your own pocket. Luckily, for children here, the large and leafy Kelvingrove Park is only a few streets away.
Being fairly savvy with recent new build developments I do see a unified recent style in action. After years of weird design types,funny shapes and peculiar roof structures, square and rectangular tenements are back in vogue. Not much in the way of gardens or sit outside verandas and deliberately low maintenance to save any future upkeep costs but....
... as this photo shows not that different from the 1950s and 1960s tenement council estates I and many older Glaswegians grew up in. The basic template is exactly the same here just given a modern twist with car parking and safe play areas within the central back court instead of washing poles and grass. History does repeat itself in some ways if you wait long enough to see it.
Anderston/ Kelvingrove Church.
Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha.
A close up of the artwork detail around the doors. If you have no money to travel to exotic places and cultures ... they sometimes come to you. Every large city and town experiences successive waves of immigration going back thousands of years. It's not something that's bothered me much but then I've always lived in predominantly white working class districts so it doesn't really impact on me much either. Most people do like to live in different tribes though who get and understand each others ways and beliefs without explaining them all the time or standing out as different and that too dates back to ancient times. It may well be genetically ingrained into the fabric of many humans despite any multicultural higher ambitions and desires of governments. After all, in nearly every big city worldwide there's a Chinatown, a Little Italy, Asian, Jewish, Polish, Jamaican, African, Irish, Scots, Welsh and English clusters,etc etc,... thriving mini communities within a larger urban area with their own self regulating borders, sometimes based on the cheapest places to live but not always. Most living happily side by side but still separate in many ways.

Grand period upmarket tenements along Sauchiehall Street.
Hippo Family. Anderston.
Park Circus Towers.  The end.


Anabel Marsh said...

I’ve passed that wee church many times, but never gone in. That street is a strange little oasis. I can hardly believe there are enough students to fill all these buildings but i’m assured there are. The Molendinar video gives me the screaming heebee jeebies! Second urban exploration i’ve watched today. The other was nostalgic - the old building at Jordanhill.

blueskyscotland said...

It's nice inside.
I've done a few of her urban building tours after finding out they were not that far away online- ones I would not have thought about until seeing them. Her video work, lighting and photography skills are very good and seeing this one she's got more bottle than me. I don't like rats yet love water voles which look very similar.
Plus the fact I'd be in there all alone as I don't know anyone nowadays that would be willing to try it.

Kay G. said...

I truly loved reading about the church, St. Simon's, Parish of Partick. I looked it up and read the history. Wish I could see it and how wonderful that you just stumbled upon it!

Carol said...

Aye - ye went tae Partick... but did ye find the thistle? ;-)

Carol said...

Oh yeah - and, as kids, we used to go through the tunnel under our mill - it was very scary indeed. You could hear the mill loudly above you. You knew somewhere in the middle was a 20 foot deep bit where the old waterwheel used to be. The walkway went down to around 6 inches wide and, by that time, you were bent double over the water! :-o

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Kay,
I added a link to the history of the church as it was interesting and even older than I guessed.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
I take it you mean Partick Thistle Football club?
Yes, it's amazing what kids get up to, especially years ago when they could wander miles away on their own or with friends. Walked over the moors to Kilmarnock once from near Barrhead and I was only around 12 or 13. Mind you I did get a severe thumping for that when I got home after dark.

Carol said...

we were always off the other side of our moors (they're about 10 miles across) - we used to play in a couple of caves there and visit the cross and war memorial up there. We were always in a gang of around 6 and our parents didn't mind one bit. We came back for tea...

Robert Craig said...

I'd heard Glasgow was used for Trainspotting because of its wealth of 80s shitholes compared to Edinburgh...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi R.C,
There is that side of it but I also think Edinburgh's city fathers didn't fancy a film about heroin addicts, violence and robbing tourists as it would put Edinburgh in a bad light. I knew Edinburgh well in the 1980s and places like Wester Hailes, Craigmillar, Miurhouse, Pilton, etc were all pretty rough back then without any tourists around to distract the filming. Glasgow was probably cheaper and maybe the filming crew and studios came from there. The director said that was the case for Trainspotting 2 although more scenes were filmed in Edinburgh for that one. May just have been down to cost. Even today Glasgow's still a cheaper place to live in or visit.