Blowing up the Red Road Flats – a poor image of the city

It has been announced that some of the Red Road Flats will be blown up during the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games.

I think it is in pretty poor taste. Notwithstanding the fact that people like to watch the spectacle of tower blocks being brought down there is something about making this the focus of a big entertainment production that makes me feel uneasy.

Maybe I just have a sense of humour deficit today but it seems to me that blowing up people’s former homes is always going to be an act that has somewhat mixed feelings attached to it. As well as that, there is the news that one block will be left standing because it is still used for housing for asylum seekers who will have to evacuate that block on the day. They won’t be invited to Opening Ceremony itself but invited to watch from “safe” locations.

Making asylum seekers shelter leave their homes to shelter from explosions is not an image of Glasgow that I think is particularly entertaining and not one that should be beamed around the world.

I’m a supporter of urban regeneration. I’m also one of those who thinks that that Glasgow has gone from being a city which has a fabulous architectural heritage to one whose current architectural aspirations are dull and commonplace. Many of the high towers in Glasgow failed and should be pulled down. I’m far from sure they should be pulled down as entertainment at the Commonwealth Games and sure that there should be an architectural vision for the city which is just as ambitious as that which saw those towers being raised in the first place.

Blowing up people’s former homes and making asylum seekers shelter from explosions is not entertainment. This proposal is in poor taste.


  1. Serena Culfeather says

    It’s not a lapse of humour on your part it’s gross insensitivity on the part of whoever is running the Games – can’t imagine what the asylum seekers must think of the city if this is deemed entertainment.

  2. Brian Ralph says

    I hope they have heard about the Canberra Hospital incident. (from wikipedia)
    The demolition had been planned for some time, and the ACT Government decided to turn the building implosion into a spectator event. Over 100,000 people, one of the largest crowds in Canberra’s history, came out to bid farewell to the birthplace of many Canberra residents.

    However, the implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital was a terrible failure. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be later manually demolished. But far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators situated 500 metres away on the opposite side of the Lake, in a location that nobody considered unsafe or inappropriate. A twelve-year-old girl, Katie Bender, was killed instantly, and nine other people were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.

  3. frdougal says

    They’ve obviously forgotten the fatality which happened when they demolished the old Gorbals flats. This is very stupid.

  4. Helen says

    Apart from the insensitivity of the event, one has to ask why one block is left standing. If it is not suitable for the citizens of Glasgow, why is it suitable for asylum seekers. Should people fleeing brutality and persecution not be housed with more care.

  5. Andrea says

    I first moved to the Red Road flats in 1968 as a 14 year old. Moved away from the centre of the city which I loved – and still love.
    Anyone who thinks of this spectacle in terms of ‘entertainment’ is missing the point – its not entertainment – it a Celebration.
    As a young teenager I learned what despair looked like – because it was all around me.

    As a young trainee teacher I taught in both primary schools that serviced those flats – and learned compassion for the weans who followed ….

    When I decided a decade later to leave Scotland (guessing maybe that I would never live there again) – my last act was to climb the stairs to the top of the Birnie Ct Tower take in the highest views – the distant horizons beckoning.

    I’ve now lived in Australia for more than 30 years – and I would credit the Red Road flats for galvanizing me to leave. It is at times a bittersweet exile from family and friends.

    I hope the celebration goes ahead – I’ll certainly be watching – a celebration for all those souls who were part of this disgusting social experiment.

    If you think of this event as in ‘poor taste’ – you simply never lived in those flats.

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