PULLED DOWN OR BURNT DOWN – WHAT IS GLAS­GOW DO­ING TO IT­SELF?

MARK SMITH SEARCHES FOR SOLUTIONS AT ONE OF THE FEW CONSTANTS IN AN EVER-CHANG­ING CITY

The Herald Magazine - - 15 - PHO­TO­GRAPHS MARK GIBSON

ROBERT Love is re­mem­ber­ing the early days of mak­ing Tag­gart, and what Glas­gow used to look like. The grey high-rises of the Gor­bals, the red docks of Go­van, the blonde town­houses of Pol­lok­shields.

For Love, a TV pro­ducer just moved back to Scot­land, it was a per­fect back­drop for a new crime drama as well as a chance to show off Glas­gow to the rest of the coun­try. But even then, in the early 1980s, he re­mem­bers watch­ing some of the old ten­e­ments be­ing pulled down and think­ing: what are we do­ing to the city? What are we los­ing? How much have we al­ready lost?

More than 30 years later, if any­thing, Robert’s con­cerns about how Glas­gow has changed run even deeper. Now in his eight­ies, the for­mer pro­ducer of Tag­gart lives in one of the city’s most strik­ing and recog­nis­able build­ings – Kelvin Court on Great West­ern Road, which this year is cel­e­brat­ing its 80th birth­day. But for Robert, and many of the other res­i­dents, the el­e­gant 1930s block of flats is one of the few un­change­ables in a city that hasn’t stopped chang­ing – of­ten for the worse. On the day I visit Love, I get caught in the grid­lock of traf­fic around the ru­ins of Glas­gow School of Art. Pulled down or burnt down, what is Glas­gow do­ing to it­self?

I’ve come to Kelvin Court to ex­plore that ques­tion fur­ther with some of the peo­ple who live here. As well as Love, there’s a man known for his work on some of Scot­land’s most el­e­gant build­ings; an artist known for his bru­tal­ist style who worked on some of the high-rises that have since been torn down; and a jour­nal­ist who watched it all hap­pen.

All of them, in one way or an­other, are con­cerned about how Glas­gow is chang­ing, but they are also keen to cel­e­brate the 80th an­niver­sary of Kelvin Court. Amid all the change, amid all the build­ings that have gone up and come down, could this ar­chi­tec­tural icon be a warn­ing for the fu­ture?

I’m meet­ing Love at his big and bright first-floor flat that looks out onto Great West­ern Road. For 25 years, he lived in a four-bed­room flat in the West End but al­ways had his eye on Kelvin Court.

Like a lot of his neigh­bours, he re­mem­bers pass­ing the build­ing and think­ing “I’d like to live there”, partly be­cause it is so dis­tinc­tive and dif­fer­ent from much of the rest of the ar­chi­tec­ture in Glas­gow. Some peo­ple say Kelvin Court is rem­i­nis­cent of Her­cule Poirot’s apart­ment in the TV crime se­ries and there’s a good rea­son for that: it was de­signed and built in the 1930s by the English ar­chi­tect JN Fatkin along the lines of sim­i­lar blocks in Lon­don. It has all the el­e­gant lines of the ar­chi­tec­ture that Poirot would have known and loved.

Love, who moved here three years ago, says he was al­ways drawn to the art deco fea­tures and is aware of the build­ing’s ar­chi­tec­tural im­por­tance. He also feels that he and his neigh­bours could play a small

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.