Next phase in Springburn Winter Garden’s project about to start

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The campaign to save one of Glasgow’s most historic and architecturally important buildings - the Springburn Winter Gardens, has taken a major step forward with the start of the latest phase of repair works.

The work to secure the future of the 116 year old A-listed structure is a collaboration between Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, Glasgow City Council and specialist contractors Covanburn.

The contactor has arrange a programme of repairs to the building in order to ensure its structural integrity is strengthened over the coming months as further funding is sought for its full restoration.

The Trustees previously commissioned a structural survey of the Winter Gardens, which discovered severe corrosion of supporting steel beams that hold a decorative cast iron ‘lantern’ structure in position at the top of the building. However the survey also found that the main structure of the building itself was in remarkably sound condition given its exposure to the elements over 30 years, which has bolstered confidence that the restoration of the building remains viable and has prompted the council to approve funding for the current repairs to the roof.

The works being carried out over the festive period will install steel bracing to the severely corroded lantern support beams in order to ensure that any risk of a sudden roof collapse is prevented.

Visiting the site before the works began, the leader of Glasgow City Council, Frank McAveety said: “Growing up in the local area myself, I have many fond memories of Springburn Winter Gardens in its heyday, so I welcome the initiative taken by the Trust to restore the building. I hope that these vital repairs can help lay the groundwork for the Trust to secure further grant support from funding partners in order to return this historic landmark back into a thriving asset for the people of Glasgow.”

Meeting at the Winter Gardens site with the council leader, one of the Winter Gardens trustees, Patricia Ferguson, said “It was good to welcome Cllr Frank McAveety to Springburn Park today so he could see for himself the important preservation work the council is funding in support of our Trust. We look forward to working with the council to bring this important building back into use for the community.”

The Winter Gardens have dominated the skyline of Springburn Park, located at the highest point in Glasgow, since it was built in 1899 and opened in 1900.

Funded by a donation from Sir Hugh Reid, who owned the nearby Hyde Park Locomotive Works, they served as a space for leisure and recreation for the people of Springburn and surrounding areas for 83 years. It remains the largest single span glasshouse in Scotland, on a par with the People’s Palace and Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens, reflecting the scale of Springburn’s industrial importance a century ago, with its cluster of world-famous locomotive manufacturing and railway engineering works.

The Winter Gardens were closed to the public and abandoned after a major storm in September 1983 due to the discovery of structural problems with the glazing, combined with the lack of funds to repair the building at that time. The building received Category A Listed status in 1985, only two days before it was due to be demolished. Since then, the structure has become increasingly derelict, featuring on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland from 1990. It has also been a target for vandalism, and a lack of maintenance had allowed self-sown trees to mature and burst through areas of the walls and lower roofs, prior to removal in the initial phase of repairs to the building that were carried out in 2013.

The Springburn Winter Gardens Trust was officially formed in 2014 to lead efforts to restore the structure as a symbol of civic pride, for the community of Springburn and Glasgow. A recent business case and community consultation commissioned by the Trust has demonstrated that full refurbishment of the landmark structure is both technically feasible and enjoys widespread support throughout the local area. Once the latest phase of repairs has been completed, the Trust intends to appoint a full time project manager, accelerating development of its ambitious plans to transform the iconic building into a multi-purpose arts and cultural centre for the north of Glasgow.