The following is the text from a discussion document for a meeting held between Glasgow Corporation, Strathclyde University and the New Glasgow Society at the Trades House, Glassford Street, Glasgow. The date is given as June 13th but the year is not included in the document. The content suggests a date in the early 70s.

New Look for the North Bank

"DESPITE the major redevelopment and motorway schemes which are transforming large parts of the city, the outside world’s image of Glasgow seems limited to either “Gorbals” or “Sauchiehall Street”. The main reason for this is probably that Glasgow still lacks an obvious focal point o centrepiece with which people can identify the city – and which could present the image of a dynamic and forward-looking metropolis.

A rare opportunity to create such a centre exists at this moment on the North Bank of the Clyde, between Stockwell Street and Jamaica Street and stretching back from the river to Argyle Street. At present run-down, the area provides a unique opportunity to develop over a number of years a group of buildings and open space which in the future would be of inestimable value to the city.

The most important feature of the site is its proximity to the river. Previous generations flocked to the quaysides at Clyde Street to board sailing ships or steamers, either as a way of getting around the city (in 1884 steamers began running from Stockwell Street Bridge to 11 landing stages on the way to Whiteinch) or to sail “doon the watter”. But changing means of travel have resulted in a string of derelict sheds along the waterfront. At the very least, we should be able to clear these away and to landscape the ground between roadway and river. This valuable area of open space, right in the heart of the city, could be achieved in a very short time.(Note 1)

A second feature of the area is the St Enoch Station. This was regarded as the most important structure in Glasgow when built in 1880 but it now also stands empty, another victim of changing travel patterns. Eventually the site may be redeveloped although this could take many years because of the maze of premises beneath the station itself.(Note 2) At the moment it serves as a car park – but surely we can find a more imaginative and exciting use for this great covered area in the city centre? An exhibition area linked with St Enoch Hotel to expand the facilities the city offers major exhibitions (Note 3); a “fun palace”; a transport museum; a permanent exhibition of Glasgow’s industry close to the river which made the city; or just leave it as a a car park? (Note 4)

Thirdly, St Enoch Square, once a spacious residential square with St Enoch Church (now part bus station-traffic island-taxi rank-subway station) – again, surely we can do better than this. The Corporation’s plans to pedestrianise Buchanan Street and Argyle Street could be extended naturally into at least part of St Enoch Square. (Note 5) In the sketch we have prepared of a re-designed square buses and taxis are retained at the southern end of the square, beneath the pedestrian ramp across which would cross the proposed high-capacity road, to provide easy access from Buchanan and Argyle Streets to the revitalised riverfront.

Other possible developments for the area include a new Roman Catholic cathedral which promises to give Glasgow a building of world stature. Furthermore, what a splendid and dramatic setting the Clyde could provide for the new Concert Hall which seems destined to be built on a derelict piece of wasteground at the other end of Buchanan Street (Note 6) – and what better place to site the new Citizens Theatre when it has to make way for the Ring Road? (Note 7)

If developments of this nature begin to take place on the North Bank it should also be possible in the future to attract a major international hotel and a limited number of prestige office buildings to this key Scottish site. (Note 8)

The opportunity exists on the North Bank for a series of developments which could steadily transform the area from its current nondescript character to one which would substantially enhance the prestige and image of the city. In the short term the riverfront could be landscaped and St Enoch Square tidied up. Around these could then be sited over a number of years the entire area with the exception of the Customs House is gradually redeveloped.

But it is important to start thinking and planning for this now, before piecemeal development destroys today’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Notes on developments since:

1 Quay Gardens at Customs House Quay were laid out in 1975

2 St Enoch Station was demolished in 1977

3 Stone from St Enoch Station was used to fill in Queen’s Dock, where the SECC was built in 1985

4 St Enoch Centre was built in 1985

5 Buchanan Street was pedestrianised in 1978

6 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, built at the top of Buchanan Street, was opened in 1990

7 Although the façade of the Citizens’ Theatre was demolished the theatre remains on the same site and the current building, including two new studio theatres, opened in 1992

8 The Glasgow Hilton was opened in 1992