Iconic Bridgeton building’s new lease of life brings back fond memories of former glory days.

In 2012 Glasgow City Council reopened Bridgeton Library with Scotland’s first BFI Mediatheque in an effort to restore the magic that the Olympia building formally had.

The Olympia was first opened as a music hall in 1911. Later, it became a cinema between the years 1928 to 1978. Then it was reopened again as a bingo hall until the doors closed for the last time in 2000.

The Olympia was one of the first large scale cinema’s in Scotland: it was known to sit over 1638 people in one screening. In 1938 the theatre was remodelled to accommodate the large numbers by architects McNair and Elder.

Bridgeton local John Welshe spoke of his fond memories of the Olympia Cinema. “The place was huge when you saw it from a child’s point of view, as I got older and grew up more it got smaller but it was still an amazing hall and my family visited frequently.”

After sitting derelict for four years, in 2004 the Olympia building caught on fire and was left in a state of disrepair. John Welshe said how the fire effected the Bridgeton locals: “The Olympia held a lot of pleasant memory for the locals in Bridgeton and when it caught fire you really couldn’t help but feel a part of the areas history and your own history had disappeared. It was a sad day when it caught on fire, especially considering a person lost their life in the fire also which was a terrible thing to happen.”

The council had planned to demolish it to make way for new housing but locals who held fond memories of the Olympia during their childhood protested against it and won. The many locals that came together to fight the demolition were happy to find out that the council now had other plans for the building that was once the heart of Bridgeton Cross.

Welshe said that the council took some convincing and the protest was an important part of that:”At first, the council wasn’t really interested in what was going to happen to the building and essentially just wanted to demolish the rest of the building to make way for new housing but the locals like myself really wanted to keep what was left of the historic building so we protested against it and we won. When I found out that it was going to have the UK’s first mediatheque I felt that it was a great homage to the buildings former glory days of it being a picture house.”

The new-look Olympia re-opened to great acclaim in December 2012 with a public library and café on the ground floor, a High Performance Centre for Boxing on the first floor and two top floors of spectacular and distinctive office space. By 2018 it had become home to almost 150 employees across a number of high profile organisations, including Glasgow City Council and the University of Glasgow

Welshe said the new building had been a success. He said:”I am someone who remembers the place fondly in its hay day and I think what they have turned it into is so much better than destroying an area’s crowning jewel to make way for more housing.”

The page Glesgapals allows the public to write stories about what they remember about public places like the Olympia/ ABC cinema and some of them are absolutely fantastic in getting an insight into what the place was like .

A bridgeton local called Willie Gibson recollected his times at the Olympia.

He said:”My fondest memory about the Olympia was the concession for about under 15’s, if they were accompanied by adults. Subsequently, under fifteens on their own would have to pay a shilling, 12d (5p), however when with an adult, half price i.e. sixpence. we may have been very young but we quickly learned that if you approached a young couple the guy (perhaps keen to impress his bird) would not only agree to the ‘request’ you would very often be told to ‘keep yer tanners son.’ Fifty five years on I still like to tell people, with considerable qualification, no matter where I travel, that Glasgow people are the most generous people in the world. Great times, many good memories.”

After visiting the Bridgeton Library and hearing stories from people who were able to visit the building as its original structure and purpose, I can see why the locals were so passionate about keeping the spirit of the building alive.

It holds so many memories and milestones for the people of the east end like John Welshe who said: “I also had my first date in that cinema when I was around 16, I paid for me and the lass I was seeing from my wages that I had saved up. I doubt I was the only person to have taken someone to the Olympia on a wee date, the Olympia was an amazing place to go to and it still holds a lot of fond memories for people.”

Hopefully, the new Olympia building can be the host to many more milestones and memories for the future generations of Glasgow’s East End.

Young aspiring creators on track to design a more stylish east end.

The Instagram obsessed generation can be thanked for dragging us out of the ugg boot, low waisted, skirts and leggings days full of more than questionable fashion trends.

In place of the velour covered trends of the early to late 2000’s has come the street and athlesuire style of clothing. The streetwear trend has completely taken over and even in places like the East End young people can be found dressed head to toe in designer streetwear brands like supreme, a bathing ape, off white and many others.

These brand names can cost some serious amounts of money for such basic clothing items and many people don’t have £240 to drop on a basic black T-shirt. In trying to keep up with these trends young people have taken some notes from these designer streetwear brands and have began to produce their own streetwear brands at prices they know their peers will love and most importantly be able to afford.

One of these brands Dynamic clothing was created by Kieran Healy who comes from the Garthamlock area of Glasgow’s East End. The brand is pimarily based on Instagram and advertises its custom streetwear clothing in dozens of different colours and styles. The page was created back in May of 2018 and the website just took off from there.  Custom hoodies embezled with the companies logo cost a resonable £25 compared to the £400 price tags of their high end peers.

Mostro Clothing is another streetwear brand to emerge from Glasgow’s East End. Mostro was the brain child of a group of four friends who just wanted to give their ‘daft idea’ of breaking into the Glasgow fashion scene a chance. They produce quality clothing with indepentent and orginal designs. Only recently launching they have gained a following of young and fashionable followers on their various social media platforms. They look set to take off as a brand to watch as their designs are unique, stylish and take inspiration from the city around them. Mostro Clothing’s collection starts from £15.

The independent streetwear scene is big business in urban areas like London and it appears it has made its way to Glasgow’s East. These young people taking thier future into their own hands are not only encouraging other young entrepreneaurs to give owning a business a go they are doing it with a professionalism and style that makes it something to be admired.

These young people are helping to improve the east ends reputation and are providing a taster of the changes that this generation will bring to Glasgow East.  

East End Locals start petition to save popular pool from Council cutbacks.

The Whitehill swimming club which has been around since 1977 began this petition when it was discovered that Glasgow City Council said that closing the popular pool house would be a ‘option” for saving the council money.
The huge 200 community members within the Whitehill Swimming Club are encouraging members of their local community to come forward and sign their petition in order to save an important part of Dennistoun’s past.
A spokesperson for the swimming club called upon the internet for support when posting the petition saying, “while these are only options at this stage Whitehill Swimming Club is anxious about the future of the pool and as such, the club itself.”
Members of the swimming club claim that the club has always been a vital resource to not only Dennistoun locals but children and adults from all across the city who come in to enjoy the facilities.

The petition posted by the group was posted two days ago and has just over 2000 signatures and the club is encouraging the public to come along to a meeting at Dennistoun Library on January 8th at 7pm to share their thoughts and feelings about this proposal with three of their local councillors.
If you would like to know more or even to just support you local clubs and leisure centres please go along to the Dennistoun community council meeting in Dennistoun Library, 2A Craigpark, Dennistoun, G31 2NA and sign the petition here.

Winter Garden closure causes tension between Glasgow MP’S.

Previously there was doubt whether or not the Peoples Palace would be open to the public ever again due to the state of disrepair it had fallen into but luckily the £350k worth of renovations that were needed on the landmark were approved by Glasgow City Council.

However, there may be one place within the palace that we may not see again for quite a while and that is the Winter Gardens.

When visiting the Peoples Palace, the place that I remember most fondly is the amazing Winter Garden which was host to thousands of tropical plants and a heat that someone from Glasgow would surely never experience anywhere else in the city or the country for that matter.

However apparently the costs to maintain the tropic climates needed for these plants was too much for Glasgow City Council who according to MP Paul Sweeny have switched off the heating systems within the Winter Gardens which will kill off all of the plants in an act of ‘civic vandalism’.

This tweet was challenged however by SNP Leader Susan Aitken who accused the MP for Glasgow North East of ‘making things up’.

The two contradicting arguments has left the public a little confused weather or not to expect the beautiful tropic gardens when the Peoples Palace and Winter Gardens open in Easter 2019.

 

 

Regeneration Project bringing a new lifestyle to Glasgow’s east end.

Since the east end was host to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow City Council has invested £17m into a regeneration project that is improving the eastend areas of Barrowfield, Dalmarnock and the Gallowgate. Emirates Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome has helped to promote healthy living and lifestyle to those in the eastend. 

The East End is becoming a haven for small businesses and their customers.

The increase in small businesses opening up shop in the east end rather than the usual Great Western and Byres Road has allowed places like Duke Street and the Barrowlands to turn into a retail paradise for those who wish to adventure outside of the ‘Westend Bubble’.

Both eastend tourists and locals can enjoy food in places like Coia’s (who have just celebrated their 90th birthday in Duke Street), the quirky Dennistoun Bar-B-Que and shop in places like the iconic ‘Barras Market’ and vintage shops like “Rip It Up” and “Mr Bens” who have their homes in the Calton district of the east end.  

East End Library Finalist in Museum of the Year Competition.

The Glasgow Women’s Library is one of the east end’s hidden treasures.

Located in Bridgeton it is the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s lives, history and achievements.

The museum is open to everyone and hosts a variety of events within its beautiful award-winning building in Landressy Street.

The museum was also nominated for the Art Fund museum of the year award 2018 which is the world biggest museum prize and the UK’s largest arts award which awards £100,000 to the winning museum.

While Glasgow Women’s Library was beaten out by Tate St Ives it is still amazing that an east end establishment is being given such high praise and recognition for all the amazing work it does in sharing stories and achievements of women past and present, in their everyday lives and also their careers with the public worldwide .

The museum received a lot of support from the Glasgow public on twitter who was finally happy to see such an amazing establishment given the widespread publicity it deserves.

Since the competition, Glasgow Women’s Library has been host to other amazing events and keeps its events calendar packed full of amazing workshops, inspirational talks and exhibitions all about amazing and talented women who already have and currently are creating a different future for women worldwide.

For any information on upcoming events at the Glasgow Women’s Museum please head to their website.