Ian R. Mitchell
For a century the Pearce Institute has been the heart of the community in Glasgow?s Govan district. Originally endowed by the widow of the one time owner of Fairfields? Shipyard, shipbuilder William Pearce, the building itself is an A-listed masterpiece in an eclectic Dutch and Scotch Renaissance style by the architect Rowand Anderson. Inside it was a working mens? club as well as a community centre, with a theatre, games rooms (the magnificent Edwardian billiard room is till functioning), gymnasia and public washing and cooking facilities.
Over the years many of these functions have remained, and as Govan changed, others have been added, and today the PI as it is affectionately known houses many of its traditional activities, as well as economic training for young people, language centres for immigrant groups, and anti-poverty programmes.
The PI closed a few years ago, but was brought back to vigorous life by a community campaign and now faces its second century with confidence and on a sound economic footing ( part of the building is now leased to income-generating business activities). To mark its centenary in 2006 many events were organised in the PI, but more especially, it was felt that the publication of a book of essays on the history of the building, and a collection of the reminiscences of those who have used its facilities, would be an appropriate commemoration.
The outcome is this excellent book, which will gladden the heart of Govanities at home or throughout the globe, and give an insight into the community to many others. In his Preface to the book Alex Ferguson recalls that he learned to play football in the PI, and many other luminaries have used the building, such as the Rev George Macleod who formed the Iona Community here in the Hungry Thirties. But the book is not about luminaries, it is about the ordinary, fine folk of Govan who created a vibrant community in the most difficult of circumstances, and who refused to let Govan die, or indeed, allow its still beating heart, the PI, to fail. Reading their patchwork of memories is a humbling and yet uplifting experience. As Govan experiences massive regeneration and redevelopment, the PI will continue to make a major contribution to the process.
Copyright I.R. Mitchell
Preface by Sir Alex Ferguson
Edited by Norie Mackie and Roy Boyd
Published by House of Arthur in association with the Pearce Institute
Available from The Pearce Institute
840-860 Govan Road,
Glasgow G51 3UU.