Red Road tower blocks come down - but not without a fight
Published 11/10/2015 | 17:46
The demolition of a group of high-rise flats did not entirely go to plan with two of the six blocks still partially upright and some residents unable to return to nearby homes.
Four of the six Red Road multi-storey flats in Glasgow were brought down in a single blast, with two remaining partially upright due to an apparently unforeseen difficulty. The top half of two of the buildings remained standing at a slight angle after the bottom halves were destroyed.
It is understood that up to 2,500 people were kept from their homes surrounding the site due to the failed demolitions, however residents returned home around an hour later than previously scheduled.
A Glasgow Housing Association spokesman said: "The original plan for today's demolition was that 10 floors of the blocks would remain for dismantling, post blowdown, by machine. However, this did not go completely to plan. Over the next few days the contractors, Safedem, will carry out a review to determine the best way of now completing the demolition.
"Residents began moving back into their homes shortly after 6pm, just over an hour later than originally planned. We sincerely apologise to everyone involved for this delay and any additional inconvenience caused."
The demolition is part of Glasgow Housing Association's plan to regenerate communities across the city which will see thousands of new homes built.
When they were built between 1964 and 1969, the Red Road flats were the highest in Europe at 292ft (89 metres).
They were at the centre of controversy last year when Glasgow 2014 chiefs faced criticism as they planned to demolish the Red Road flats as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
They eventually ditched the proposal to blow down five of the six remaining blocks live on television amid fears of a public protest.
Critics said it was insensitive to former residents and to the asylum seekers who still occupied the sixth block.
One of the blocks was demolished in 2013 and another in 2012.
The bottom 10 storeys of the blocks remained after Sunday's blowdown and will be demolished using machinery at a later stage.
Researchers in the Housing, Everyday Life and Well Being team at the University of Glasgow are currently studying the long term experiences of those who were rehoused in high rise flats during the 1960s and 70s.
They found that the vast majority of high rise tenants at the time were said to be satisfied with their new homes.
Professor Lynn Abrams, head of modern history, said: "Red Road polarises people. The flats undoubtedly became the symbol to some of all that failed in the city's high rise experiment, associated with isolation, anti-social behaviour and crime.
"To others, however, it was home. This is where they grew up, where they raised their children. They were an improvement on the housing conditions many had endured in Glasgow's overcrowded and substandard rented sector, they were modern with all mod cons including hot water and indoor WCs.
"But it is clear that so early in the life of Glasgow's high rise experiment there were already signs of the problems that bedevilled this modern housing solution.
"Social problems such as isolation and loneliness and the absence of provision for children; economic problems surrounding high rents and expensive utility bills; and problems with the build quality of the flats with thin walls, ill-fitting windows, dangerous balconies and malfunctioning lifts."
The research follows on from a pioneering study of Glasgow's high flats in 1968, conducted by social researcher Pearl Jephcott, which surveyed thousands of high rise tenants, including residents at Red Road shortly after they moved into their new homes.
Questionnaires were completed by some of the Red Road residents at the time giving an insight into how people perceived new high rise living. They include a middle aged couple living on the 24th floor in Petershill Drive, who said there were no children in the block, although in fact there were two families living on different floors.
One young mother living on the 19th floor, who had moved from Springburn, said her son would not go out to play because he was afraid of the lifts, the lifts took too long to come and they were often broken.
She also complained of a lack of shops, with residents having to rely on grocery vans which came round the flats and were more expensive.
Professor Abrams is appealing for people who lived in Glasgow's high rise blocks in the 1960s and 1970s to contact her team at the university to share their memories.