The old trouper of Shawlands is coming back to life
Glad Cafe in Pollokshaws Road, near Shawlands Cross, which puts on music, exhibitions, comedy nights, and community events. There was a life drawing art class taking place when I popped in one night, and locals tell me its success has encouraged other arty initiatives in the area.
Rachel Smillie, director of the Glad Cafe, says of Shawlands: “There are great grassroots initiatives. Lots of live music goes on in bars largely because of Crawford Smith who runs Southside Sessions.
“Southside Film was set up by Karen O’Hare and is run by her with a good band of volunteers. They set it up to address the lack of cinema space, and run a great programme in likely and unlikely places throughout the year including Glad Cafe, Govanhill Baths, the boathouse in Queens Park and Pollokshaws Burgh Hall.
“And the Southside Fringe happens for two week in May.”
So why did she open the Glad Cafe in Shawlands? Says Rachel: “As long term residents of the south side – my husband’s family have been southsiders since at least his great-grandparents generation, and we have four children all living in the south side with their children – we opened the Glad Cafe to answer our own question as to why the south side didn’t have the sort of place that we would like to go to.
“We had always gone north or to the west end for food and entertainment. Before opening we canvassed opinion about the idea from our children’s friends – all at that time in their 20s. Their enthusiasm and support was
‘‘ Loads of younger creative people have moved into the area. It is no longer seen as a cultural backwater. There are good places to hang out
overwhelming. There was already a developing artistic community in Southside Studios and the Chalet in Govanhill, and young people were finding the area more affordable than the west end.
“Loads of younger creative people have moved into the area. It is no longer seen as a cultural backwater. There are loads of good places to hang out.”
Glasgow City Council has also responded to this enthusiasm for Shawlands. It set aside more than £3million for improvements, and already you can see new stylish pavements being laid around Shawlands Cross.
The larger part of the project will be redesigning the area in front of the somewhat neglected Langside Hall, which is a few yards down from Shawlands Cross. Trees will be cut back, the taxi rank moved, and a civic square will be created in front of the hall.
Mind you, the city council has a bit of making up to do as it originally approved the Shawlands shopping arcade, which has never really fitted in to the area and may be revamped yet again.
As Gary at the community council says, if the council engages with locals and are ambitious in their plans, then Shawlands will regain its popularity.
To continue the sexist observation I began with, the old girlfriend is putting on her make-up, and digging out her glad rags to show there is life still in the old trouper.