West End Characters: Colin Beattie: Glasgow West End Entrepreneur
In recent years the West End has experienced its fair share of renewal and change. Property developments, interesting projects, new restaurants and some excellent coffee bars have all been welcomed with open arms. Nothing, however, has caught the imagination of local people quite so much as the Skerryvore Project (OranMor) – this massively expensive and imaginative venture, which will transform the old church on the corner of Byres Road and Great Western Road into an arts centre, is the brainchild of Colin Beattie.
It will encompass all that is dear to his heart ‘a place where people can socialize’ with few boundaries. It will serve the young ‘cool’ clientele, families and arts afficionados. It will be a place to celebrate on a large scale with an impressive function room and it will also boast a classy seafood restaurant. There will also be a wide range of entertainment on offer – the idea of ‘a play and a pint’ is intriguing.
Colin’s enthusiasm for the Skerryvore knows no bounds and, working in partnership with George Swanson, he is bringing to the venture many years experience in the leisure industry. Colin’s name is closely associated with many of Glasgow’s more interesting and successful entertainment ventures including: Mayfest and The Renfrew Ferry. He remains closely associatied with important music festivals in Glasgow including Glasgow: Big Big World, world music festival, and Big Big Country, festival of Americana. It is Colin’s dream that Skerryvore will provide ‘all year round’ the excitement of Mayfest; bringing international talent to the West End.
He is a complex and attractive character – both affable and informed. When Colin gave Jim and I a tour round the huge renovation project he demonstrated a clear understanding of the problems involved and a commitment to funding the project. His easy relationship with the workers also spoke volumes. It was not difficult to become caught up in his enthusiasm – not only is he concerned about current issues relating to the premises but Colin is equally well informed about the history of the building.
An impressive team has been brought together to tackle the project and local talent is being utilized when possible. Peter McGurn. the architect, lives a stone’s throw from the project and Alasdair Gray, West End artist and writer, has been brought on board to paint murals at Skerryvore. Plans are also afoot to create an external glass bridge joining the main building to the steeple – this work will be undertaken by specialist contractors from Yoker – Colin’s hometown. Another of Scotland’s finest craftsman, Andy Scott,(famed for his steel horse sculpture on the M8), will be using his creative skills to create internal structures. Hunter and Clark, the Builders, have wonderful credentials and their craftsmanship has been demonstrated on other city projects such as St Andrews in the Square.
At Skerryvore there is tremendous attention to detail and a sensitivity not often apparent in such major restoration projects. The war memorial is being moved to a more appropriate spot within the building, away from the entrance, so as not to cause offence and when we met up with Colin he was particularly concerned about replacing trees at the entrance, which are now problematic. However, the intention is that these will be replaced and he is intent on taking advice from Ewan, across the road at the Botanics.
Public support for the project has been tremendous and Colin was particularly delighted by a copy of an etching of the Church, by John dated 1939. Another gift was a book on a history of the Church from a local architect who was a member of its congregation as a young boy.
Skerryvore is an exciting scheme and is well on track for completion in February, 2004. It must be finished on time as the first major function to take place there will be the marriage of Colin’s daughter Lorna, to her fiance Barry, on February 14th. It should make an outstanding venue.
Roy Beer’s, our expert on the topic of licenced premises in Glasgow, has great expectations for the project and states: “ll be surprised if we get something less than remarkable at the end of the day”.
It is a massive undertaking, exceptionally interesting and ambitious with Colin at the helm it looks set to be a major success and a wonderful asset for the West End.
Read Roy Beer’s article on The Skerryvore Project
The above photographs were taken by Jim Byrne, to use accredit to Jim Byrne, www.glasgowwestend.co.uk
July, 2011. Two Major Awards for OranMor
The Skerryvore name was ultimately relinquished in favour of OranMor
This section: People: Local Glasgow West End Characters
Filed under: People: Local Glasgow West End Characters
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