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Renovation plans to inject 'spirit' back into century-old Langside Hall

The South Glasgow Heritage and Environment Trust (SGHET), run by local people, has a plan in place to make the hall a loved and sought after hub for the community.

Langside Hall

It was once home to the National Bank of Scotland and then became a treasured building used by locals for meetings, events and weddings.

Langside Hall took pride of place at its original home on Queen Street in Glasgow city centre before being moved brick by brick to the corner of Langside Avenue and Pollokshaws Road in the southside.

Now hidden behind a cluster of tall trees, and on the corner of a busy road, the ornate A-listed building often goes unnoticed by those who pass by.

The South Glasgow Heritage and Environment Trust (SGHET), run by local people, wants to restore the hall to its former glory and are putting plans in motion to ensure it is once more an essential hub for the community.

Isobel Barrett, chair of SGHET, said: "If you think about it as an old lady that was transported from Queen Street brick by brick in 1902. She shoogled along and they put her together and she was all proud.

"After a number of years she has become all sad again, so we want her to get back her spirit and hold herself up high and say, 'here I am again', and people will applaud the old lady."

Justin McNeil, Isobel Barrett and John McMurchieJustin McNeil, Isobel Barrett and John McMurchie

The trust's secretary John McMurchie added: "The building tends to get lost behind trees half the year. It is a big unknown place and it only appears when the leaves fall off the trees.

"When we speak to people about this building they say, ‘where is it?’ and you have to say, 'it’s across the road from The Shed'.

"We really should be saying, ‘where’s the Shed?’ and ‘it’s across the road from Langside Hall’."

The Georgian exterior is almost completely intact but it is the Victorian interior which has fallen into disrepair over the years.

Some original features remain, such as intricate cornicing and green tiles, but the hall has been adapted a number of times to suit various uses and the maze of rooms and mishmash of décor has left it looking a shadow of its former self.

Main HallThe main hall in the building

Last year, Glasgow Life, which currently runs the building, sought organisations that would be willing to take on the redevelopment of the hall and SGHET jumped at the chance.

The trust then applied to an Enterprise Fund for a feasibility study and business plan for Langside Hall and were successful.

"We decided this was for us because our whole aim is to protect, preserve and promote heritage and history, and to involve young people in education," said Isobel.

Tenders were sent out to various architects and Glasgow-based Collective Architects were chosen to carry out the work.

Now a final report has been produced which details a £4.8m transformation that would see the hall become a social hub for the community and encompass a café bar and restaurant, heritage information centre, cultural venue, as well as space for start-up businesses.

"In July, it will be a year we have been working. It is a big undertaking, we know that, but someone has to start and say, 'this building has to be saved for community use'," said Isobel.

"We have to be realistic, it is a long haul. We have found that we had a lot of backing and good support from the council and Glasgow Life.

"We are all very excited about it, it is the biggest project that SGHET has undertaken. It is such a big project that we are having to form a trust, Langside Hall Trust."

Once formed, the Langside Hall Trust will be able to apply for funding to carry out any work.

Project architect Justin McNeil said: "We have reached the equivalent of the planning stage in terms of the drawings. But the next stage will be the whole process of developing the funding strategy and hardening up the uses of the halls.

"Also, the mechanics of the transfer of the asset from Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council to Langside Hall Trust. That all takes a lot of time and there are a lot of meetings continuing now to take that forward.

"Ultimately, if that is all resolved within the year it is probably still about another two years' of work. There would be a period where the building would have to shut down as well because of the amount of work that has to be done."

Plans for the buildingPlans for the building include a sunken terrace to the back and extending paving to the front

Some of the main work proposed by Justin and his colleagues will be to the entrance to the building.

He said: "At the interview we were asked what we would do to create the 'wow factor' and at that stage we knew that it would definitely be something to do with the entrance.

"Through the study it became apparent that the entrance doesn’t work anymore for a number of reasons but then we found a reference to the ‘green-tiled entry hall’ in the history book and it just felt like that was the way in.

"You will have the external works as well but the key point is when you enter the building; that’s your first impression.

"The idea would be that the green tiles would extend through the building to create the clear circulation. We would put a lift in as well so that it accesses all of the floors.

"Some of the halls have still got their original features so the idea would be that we would almost hardly touch these halls, it would just to be to try and bring those features out again."

Green tilesGreen tiles in Langside Hall

An extensive consultation process has been carried out and members of the public can still give their views on what they would like to see the hall used for.

Part of the plan includes the pedestrianisation of part of the road at the front of the building and making more use of the outside space.

Justin added: "During the consultation events with a lot of people in the area the building doesn’t even register with them, or they never come, or they used to come and they don’t any more, so it definitely has been forgotten.

"This is to reinvigorate it again and reconnect it back into the town centre so it becomes a place that people will talk about and go during the week and at the weekend."

The plan for Langside Hall is part of a wider £3.3m Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan to regenerate the southside community.

Isobel added: "We can’t do it on our own, we have to take the people with us and that’s what we are doing just now.

"We know it’s a big journey for us but anybody who walks away from a journey is pretty boring.

"Nothing that’s exciting in life should ever be predictable. There will be ups and downs but we’ll be there."

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