I have contributed several articles on Glasgow's older working class areas to this website.As well as this one on Maryhill, there are features on Partick, Gorbals, Bridgeton and Pollokshields amongst others. These have led to an encouraging response, ranging for a few comments on Bridgeton to a couple of pages of comments on Gorbals. But the response to the Maryhill article has been truly astonishing, with hundreds of comments running into dozens of pages. These have come from current and former residents of the area, many of whom now live overseas. There is certainly something special about Maryhill.
I wrote the article Unlocking Maryhill as part of my work towards the publication of a book, This City Now: Glasgow and its Working Class Past, (Luath Press) which appeared in late 2005 with, the Maryhill material as a chapter. Through this work I became involved with the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust, which was working towards the restoration of the former municipal buildings, and I think that all those people who have written in would be interested to hear how things are going with the project - and they might well be able to contribute towards it.
In November 2004 the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust was formed to bring back into use for the community, the complex of buildings standing at the junction of Maryhill Road and Gairbraid Avenue. The halls were built in 1878 and designed by the architect Duncan MacNaughtan and are "B" listed. After Maryhill was annexed by Glasgow in 1891 they lost their civic function but continued to be used for social purposes till the 1980s. Since then they have lain derelict. The Trust has the buildings, including the former police station and fire station, on a long term lease from Glasgow District Council. Its aim is to bring the building back into uses which serve the local community in terms of social facilities like a nursery, healthy eating cafe and performance arts space.
The complex of buildings also includes the former swimming pool. This remains in the charge of the City Council which is engaged in the restoration of the swimming pool and creation of an associated sports and fitness centre at a cost of approx. £10 million. All the design and planning stages of this have been completed, and at the moment of writing the work is out to tender and should be started before the end of 2007. The Burgh Halls project is run in tandem with the restoration of the pool, but as it is a charity ( Scottish Charity SC 036089) it is subject to grant funding from such possible bodies as Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, its timescale is less certain.
In 2006 the Trust received £1.1 million from the Cities Growth Fund which allowed it to undertake the necessary, and expensive, work of design, planning application etc, and also to carry out some preliminary works on the fabric of the building to make it safe and prevent further deterioration. At the moment the Trust is engaged in the also time consuming and costly work of preparing applications for the necessary funding- estimated at about £8 million- which will carry the work on the Burgh Halls through to completion. Currently it is hoped that work could begin on site in 2008, and it is expected they would take about two years to complete.
Given the successful raising of the necessary funds- about which the Trust is extremely hopeful- there will take place an associated Heritage Project on Maryhill. This will seek to use spaces in the restored Halls for the exhibition of details of Maryhill's industrial heritage, which will focus on the unique collection of stained glass which the building formerly contained. These 20 panels, designed by Stephen Adam, consist of a world-unique collection of portrayals of the trades on Maryhill in Victorian times, and show working men and women at their jobs in the clothes and using the tools, of the time. The Trust aims to return this to the restored Burgh Halls, and is confident of being able to do so. These can be viewed, along with the plans for the halls, on the Trust's website www.maryhillburghhalls.org.uk
Again, subject to funding which we are hopeful of attaining, this Heritage project would run in collaboration with the restoration of the Halls. I would ask anyone who has memories of Maryhill, especially concerning its industries and industrial relations, and of its social and political organisations, or simply of the Burgh Halls themselves, to contact us. Or indeed, add your comments to the many others on this site:Unlocking Maryhill.
You can join the Burgh Halls Trust for £1 a year, take part in all its activities, and receive its Bulletin by writing to
Burgh Halls Project Co-ordinator,
Cube Housing Association,
70 Glenfinnan Road,