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> The End Of The Red Road Flats, Dismantling of Glasgow flats begins
GG
post 26th Sep 2010, 01:20pm
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The construction work took 1000 workers six years to complete at a cost (in today's money) of over 100million. Within a decade The Economist referred to the flats as a "slap in the face for the people they were built for", going on to describe how Glasgow Corporation had created vertical slums to replace horizontal ones, and telling how – too late – the Labour local authority had realised that the rehabilitation of sound old tenements was both cheaper and better for the Glaswegians who would live in them.

Today, as Glasgow Guide can exclusively reveal, the dismantling of the Red Road flats has begun in earnest. The photos below show the work to expose the steel-frames of one of the 'slab' blocks of the residential high-rise structures which, at the time of their construction by private contractors and the Corporation's direct labour group, were the tallest residential units in Europe.

The vast housing scheme, two 27-storey wall-like "slabs" and six 32-storey tower "points", situated in Balornock and Barmulloch in the north-east of Glasgow, was designed in 1962 by architect Sam Bunton for Glasgow Corporation. By the time of their completion in the summer of 1971, they contained 1,350 residential units to house up to 4,700 people. The scheme also included shops, play areas and car spaces ... followed later by pubs and a bingo hall.

In October 1975, the first complaints arose amongst the tenants of the flats, concerning living conditions, security and vandalism. By 1980 two blocks were declared unfit for habitation.

Speaking during the construction project, Councillor Edward Clark, convener of Glasgow Corporation's housing committee, proclaimed that Red Road would:
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"Provide citizens in the Springburn area and other districts who look forward to living in decent surroundings with all the modern amenities that they have so long desired."

He could not have been more wrong.

One of the most damning condemnations of living conditions in the Red Road flats was given by a former translator who had worked for the British army and had since fled war-torn Iraq to be housed in Red Road. When asked in 2008 by a Times journalist what advice he would give fellow translators being hunted down by death squads in Basra, the ex-translator responded that, unless they were in "extreme danger", they should stay in Iraq rather than come to live in the intolerable conditions he and his family were experiencing at Red Road.

In 2005, Glasgow Housing Association announced it planned to demolish the Red Road flats at a total regeneration cost of 60million. Plans were unveiled to replace the eight blocks with 600 low rise homes. No apologies were forthcoming for the tens of thousands of lives forever blighted by local government failure on a truly vast and demoralising scale. Instead, local MSP, Michael Martin, made a statement eerily reminiscent of councillor Clark's proclamation less than four decades earlier:
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"This [low rise] development will herald a new beginning and a new vision for Red Road and [sic] Barmulloch."

Charles Gordon, the then leader of Glasgow City Council (now also a Labour MSP), said:
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"The demolitions mark a spectacular end to one era and also signal a new era of 21st-century regeneration."

And what of the 1000 'white mice' workmen - nicknamed because they went home pink-eyed and covered in white asbestos dust - who laboured to build a towering disaster? In 1984, following a huge rise in death rates amongst former Red Road workers, a local action group traced 180 workmen, of whom 60 were already dead. Of these, 87 per cent had died from cancers associated with asbestos. The average age of the men when they died was only 51.

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Update, Sunday 10th June, 2012:



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GG
post 26th Sep 2010, 01:30pm
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For more photographs of the Red Road flats from earlier years, please go here:
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mitchell
post 26th Sep 2010, 01:32pm
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About time they were demolished.
There were some great tenements in Glasgow that did not have to be demolished.
Once the corporation started this distruction of good old sandstone and granite buildings it was the end of social freindship!
Then they stick the people into this inhospitable place which was a recipe for disaster.
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Heather
post 26th Sep 2010, 02:19pm
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I was in a house in the Red Road Flats once and I was surprised to be told by the woman of the house that if the emergency exit had to be used, the other Tennants on her flat level had to go through her house to reach it.
I wondered what would happen if no one was at home in her house when an emergency arose.wub.gif

When our family were all married and my parents left in a 5 apt semi detached house on their own, they were offered a flat in Red Road. They said " no thank you ".


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big tommy
post 26th Sep 2010, 02:24pm
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They really were an eyesore .Good riddance to them .people were not meant to be pigeon holed into such potential slums.
I have only ever been in one 2 flats up . And i suffer from vertigo,
Tommy


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*Peter Langford*
post 26th Sep 2010, 03:06pm
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I worked on the Red Road flats as an apprentice installing the lifts. I was quite an experience climbing up all those floors every day and walking out onto the bare steel beams. I worked on the single towers and recall sitting on the very top and seeing Arran on a clear day. For me it was a great experience being part of the biggest flats in Europe. But when I went back in later years I was shocked at the state of the place. The lifts stank like toilets and I felt sorry for the folk who lived higher up because the lifts were constantly vandalised and out of commission. I remember when they put on the outside facings we were told they were only good for twenty years then would need replacing. What a waste!
Peter Langford
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norrie123
post 26th Sep 2010, 03:18pm
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I lived in high rise in East Kilbride,early 70s, never had any bother, the locals called them upright ghost towns
I worked as a Concierge in Gorbals and always felt that if money had been spent in some of the High Rise as has been done to some in Glasgow they would have been Ok
Some of the tenants in Norfolk Ct felt the same way, modernise the insides and outsides but to a man/woman they said get rid of the anti socials who are a major part of the state of some of the buildings,too many high rise were dumping grounds for bad tenants

Its all very well criticising Glasgow Council for building the High Rise but I am sure at the time they thought they were improving the peoples living conditions

I remember being told that folk had asked for the red sandstone buildings at Oatlands to be retained, money had been spent on them in the 70s? but again as far as I am aware they were used as dumping grounds in their latter days, so they were demolished, what a waste

I have voted that they were right to build them, at the time, now its time for the worst of them to go

Bye for now, norrie
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andypisces
post 26th Sep 2010, 03:18pm
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I think the intent of the red road flats was good.. People say that they wereslums. well perhaps they were. however they did not startout as slums. the buildings did not turn into slums. People turned them into slums. I can recall what an adventure they were when they were being built. the highest flats in europe. I worked there briefly for a week on the lifts. It was a glasgow lift firm (A&P Stevens from dobbies loan) who got contract and we were so proud. Flats are only vertical streets and there is no reason why they should be less friendly than streets. My parents lived in the flats at wynford and had great neighbours.
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droschke7
post 26th Sep 2010, 03:26pm
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It seems that it's not only the Red Road flats that are to be or being demolished. Rumour control has it that 2 of the Lincoln flats are to be demolished, at least 1 but probably 2 of the Kingsway flats are to be demolished and at the moment they are in the process of demolishing the Plean street flats in Yoker.

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gordymac
post 26th Sep 2010, 04:09pm
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I remember when all the high rise flats were first built. People couldn't wait to get one, after the dumps that they were replacing. Bathrooms,fitted kitchens and underfloor heating were things that lots of ordinary folk could only dream about in the sixties. The fact that they became undesirable places to live owed more to the council policy of using them as a dumping ground for "problem" tenants,than the quality of the flats themelves.
I lived in one of the high rises in the west of the city for seven years, half way up a twenty odd storey block, and had absolutely no complaints whatsoever..The neighbours could be described in some cases as rough diamonds, but diamonds nonetheless. The concierge service was excellent.
The lifts always worked, and were cleaned twice a day. Repairs were always carried out quickly and in a friendly manner. But best of all was the view. On a clear day, I could see about twenty miles.
Don't let anyone tell you there was no neighbourliness. I witnessed plenty of it and was quite often on the recieving end of it, from both young and old alike.
Of course there were irritations like petty crime, but that is everywhere.
It always makes me laugh out loud when some clown (journalis,pub bore etc) who has never lived up high, pontificates about their shortcomings with zero experience.
I used to live in Bearsden, and had much less interaction with my neighbours there than "up the flats"
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*brenda garrard*
post 26th Sep 2010, 04:25pm
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I was in primary school when the flats were being built and my mum was the school attendance officer for the area. We watched with wonder as these huge buildings emerging from the ground. The flats were part of my mum's area and so she had to make frequent visits etc. One time she was stuck in the lift for ages and even to this day will not go in a lift if she can avoid it. (She is almost 88) I remember the fact that some residents had to go through a neighbour's house to reach the emergency exit if necessary and I remember the dustbin strike when there were rats the size of cats that had made their way as high as the 16th floor. Lots of my school friends lived in these or Sighthill flats and at the time they seemed ok but that was in the early 70s. I also remember being fascinated that they were built to sway in the wind so to speak.
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*People Count*
post 26th Sep 2010, 05:04pm
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Hi, I think I've known several people over the past 30 years of my life who have lived in high-rise flats, and none of them have reported any problems with them, other than social problems. But social problems don't exits because of the flats. They exist because people cause them. We were never a well off family. We did depend on Provident to get our school uniforms etc, like many average families in those days. But because our parents had values, we still had a nice house, and we still knew how to behave ourselves, the difference between right and wrong. Don't blame the flats. It's attitude that matters. If parents cannot provide their children with social education, which is not a hard subject, they shouldn't be having children, and they shouldn't be given houses next to people who don't live in a way that perpetuates misery. Councils blighted by such behaviour need to develop some teeth and evict these people so that flat-style living needn't degenerate in to a hellish experience within 5 years of building.
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troutmask
post 26th Sep 2010, 06:44pm
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Someone has already said, they weren't built as slums. That is true. I lived in one of the tall narrow blocks when they were first opened, and they were really very nice. The flats were very nice and also the landings had a nice finish.
But, as always, the problem is people. Vandalism or litter, does not appear by itself. As a working class person myself, I have never understood why so many of the working classes destroy where they live, and then blame, the council, the government, or society.
Throwing a crisp packet in the street, is the start of the decilne.
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troutmask
post 26th Sep 2010, 06:49pm
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QUOTE (People Count @ 26th Sep 2010, 06:06pm) *
Hi, I think I've known several people over the past 30 years of my life who have lived in high-rise flats, and none of them have reported any problems with them, other than social problems. But social problems don't exits because of the flats. They exist because people cause them. We were never a well off family. We did depend on Provident to get our school uniforms etc, like many average families in those days. But because our parents had values, we still had a nice house, and we still knew how to behave ourselves, the difference between right and wrong. Don't blame the flats. It's attitude that matters. If parents cannot provide their children with social education, which is not a hard subject, they shouldn't be having children, and they shouldn't be given houses next to people who don't live in a way that perpetuates misery. Councils blighted by such behaviour need to develop some teeth and evict these people so that flat-style living needn't degenerate in to a hellish experience within 5 years of building.

Hello.. I dont often agree with the opinions on here, but you are spot on. Poverty is not the problem, but cultural poverty certainly is.
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**CAMPSIE**
post 26th Sep 2010, 06:59pm
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High rise living should be abolishished, it turns ordinary clean living people into fearful nervous wrecks, I hate what it did to my lovely aunt, who was accosted on a daily basis, and robbed so many times we lost count. Thankfully her last years were spent in a nice home where she could go to the shops and not worry about the terror that often awaited her in those stinking lifts.

High rise demeans people, I hate them with a vengence.
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