Recherche Malerei peripher A [Red Road

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Recherche Malerei peripher A [Red Road
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Recherche Malerei
peripher A
[Red Road, Glasgow]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Andreas Tschersich – 2007
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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------«The Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) have decided that high rise housing is no longer politically
correct. Rather than knocking down some of the highest blocks of flats in Europe we would encourage
GHA to offer them FREE to their occupants, subject to a strong agreement with professional factors.
Experience worldwide (and in the Glasgow Harbour development) shows that high rise living can be
very attractive when well managed. Since it doesn’t involve the expense of demolition or of rehousing
many occupants, this would actually save money as well as allowing people to keep their homes.»
High rise housing in Glasgow, Neil Craig, 9% Growth party, Glasgow
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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Inhalt
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------peripher A (Red Road, Glasgow)
Vorgehen und Methode
Recherche Red Road Flats
Bilder/Texte
Recherche Glasgow
Bilder/Texte
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Vorgehen und Methode
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peripher A (Red Road, Glasgow) – Öl auf Leinwand, 220 x 170 cm, 2006
Bei der Arbeit peripher A (Red Road, Glasgow) handelt es sich um eine grossformatige Öl-Malerei, die eine
Fotografieren im Internet
digitale Satellitenaufnahme (von Google Earth) der Glasgower Hochhaus-Siedlung «Red Road Flats» ins
Bei meiner Arbeit peripher A stand mir die Software Google Earth bei der Bildfindung Pate. Google Earth ist
klassische Medium der Malerei transferiert.
mit verschiedenen Tools ausgestattet. Zum Beispiel lässt sich eine ausgewählte Ansicht neigen und drehen,
um das Gelände und die Gebäude dreidimensional darzustellen. So lassen sich Bildausschnitte definieren und
Google Earth – 3D-Blick auf die Erde
mittels Screenshots können Bilder generiert werden. Man könnte diese Arbeitsmethode als «Fotografieren
Google Earth ist eine Software zur Darstellung eines virtuellen Globus. Sie kann Satelliten- und Luftaufnahmen
im Internet» bezeichnen – die Kamera wird hierbei durch eine Software ersetzt. (Vgl. Bildbeispiele auf den
unterschiedlicher Auflösung mit Geodaten überlagern und auf einem digitalen Höhenmodell der Erde dar-
folgenden Seiten).
stellen. Beginnend bei einer Ansicht des Globus ist es möglich, immer weiter in die Details hinein zu zoomen.
Wie bei der herkömmlichen (analogen oder digitalen) Fotografie, zeigt sich auch hier eine rezeptive Ambivalenz.
Viele der Daten sind auch als Website (http://www.maps.google.com) verfügbar. Die Qualität der Aufnahmen
Zwar sind die Satellitenaufnahmen von Google Earth äusserst realitätsnah (selbst einzelne Strassenlampen
ist unterschiedlich. Die Detailauflösung der Rasterdaten beträgt flächendeckend meist 15 m, in einigen
sind zu erkennen), dennoch bleibt für den Betrachter eine unüberbrückbare Distanz zum realen Ort bestehen.
Ballungsgebieten sind teilweise auch Auflösungen bis zu 15 cm verfügbar. Bei dieser 15-cm-Auflösung sind
Man glaubt den Ort in gewisser Weise zu kennen – dennoch bleibt er unfassbar und fiktiv.
bisweilen sogar einzelne Menschen zu erkennen.
Anders aber als der gezielte fotografische Blick, kennen Satellitenaufnahmen weder eine Hierarchie der
Für meine künstlerische Arbeit – die Auseinandersetzung mit Orten – hat sich Google Earth als wichtiges
Bildmotive, noch sind sie ästhetisch motiviert. Die Aufnahmen werden automatisch generiert und folgen
Arbeitstool erwiesen: Zur Reisevorbereitung, bzw. Nachbereitung und nicht zuletzt für Recherchezwecke.
eigenen Abbildungsregeln. Florierende Einkaufsstrassen, Industriebrachen, teure Villenviertel und verwahrloste Wohnviertel werden visuell gleichwertig behandelt und dargestellt – ganz im Gegensatz zu einer
Virtuelles Glasgow
Postkarte, auf der nur ausgewählte, ästhetisch oder symbolisch «sehenswürdige» Orte abgebildet werden.
Während einer solchen Google-Recherche über Industriestädte, stiess ich in Glasgow auf die «Red Road
Auf Satellitenaufnahmen unterliegen alle abgebildeten Orte einer gleichen uniformen Bildlogik. Dennoch
Flats», eine Hochhaus-Siedlung aus den 1960er Jahren im Norden der Stadt. Zum Zeitpunkt des Baus waren
lassen sich aus einer ästhetischen Perspektive unterschiedliche Qualitäten erkennen.
sie die höchsten Wohnblocks Europas. In den acht Blocks sind insgesamt 1300 Wohnungen untergebracht.
Dass ich gerade in Glasgow auf eine solche Siedlung gestossen bin, ist nicht erstaunlich, sind doch in den
Malerei vs. Fotografie
1960erJahren dort rund 300 solche Wohnblocks und -türme entstanden.
Durch den Transfer der «Satellitenbildwelt» ins Medium der grossformatigen Malerei werden unterschiedliche
In meiner Arbeit habe ich mich bis dahin noch nie so eingehend mit einem Ort beschäftigt, ohne jemals selbst
Bildrepräsentations- und Rezeptionsmodi miteinander in Beziehung gebracht. Damit sollen nicht nur Seh- und
vorort gewesen zu sein. Obschon ich also nie in Glasgow gewesen bin, habe ich dank Google Earth das Gefühl,
Abbildungsgewohnheiten in Frage gestellt werden, sondern auch die «Bildlogiken» unterschiedlicher Medien
mich dort sehr gut auszukennen.
untersucht werden. Die Malerei kontrastiert, aufgrund ihrer spezifischen ästhetisch-atmosphärischen Anmutung sowie ihrer historischen Bildtradition, die scheinbar stereotypen und zufälligen Satellitenaufnahmen.
Ein Rückblick
Demgegenüber zeichnet sich aber die ausgewählte Bildvorlage gerade durch ihre «malerischen» Qualitäten
Als in den 1950er Jahren Gorbals, ein zentrumnahes Arbeiterviertel in Glasgow, überwiegend von irischen
aus. Durch ihre leuchtenden Farben, die langen Schatten und der damit verbundene Eindruck von Räumlichkeit
Einwanderern bewohnt, zu verslummen drohte, wurden dort zahlreiche Siedlungen abgerissen. Um kosten-
suggeriert die Satellitenaufnahme eine fast subjektiv-künstlerische Kraft. Diese Ambivalenz bleibt auch auf
günstig und schnell den nun dringend benötigten Wohnraum zu schaffen, wurden in den 1960er Jahren in
Ebene der medialen Abstraktionsmodalitäten bestehen: Die Malerei bringt uns einerseits das gewählte Motiv
Aussenquartieren eine grosse Anzahl Hochhaus-Siedlungen errichtet – darunter auch die «Red Road Flats»
durch ihren «menschlichen» Pinselduktus näher. Andererseits verstärkt jedoch gerade dieser (durch seine
im Norden von Glasgow. Diese städtebaulichen Massnahmen zeigten jedoch nicht die gewünschte Wirkung.
mediumsspezifische Ungenauigkeit) die den Satellitenfotos implizite Distanz zur menschlichen Lebenswelt.
Von Jugend-Gangs beherrscht, wandelten sich die einst visionären Siedlungen bald einmal zu berüchtigten
No-go-Areas. Bereits 1980 galten zwei Blocks der «Red Road Flats» als nicht mehr bewohnbar. Mittlerweile
übersteigen die Kosten für den Unterhalt der Siedlung die Mieteinnahmen der Wohnungen. Bis 2015 sollen,
laut aktuellen Plänen der Stadt Glasgow, die Hälfte der 300 Wohnblocks wieder abgerissen werden – darunter
auch die «Red Road Flats».
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© Google
Earth
© Google
Earth
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Recherche
Red Road Flats
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Red Road Flats in Petershill (1962-1969)
http://www.theglasgowstory.com/image.php?inum=TGSE00892
The two 31-storey tower blocks and four 31-storey point blocks were designed for Glasgow Corporation in
1962 by Sam Bunton & Associates and at that time were the tallest residential blocks in Europe. They were
built with steel frames clad in asbestos panels, the first time such a technique had been used in Glasgow. The
asbestos has since been replaced.
As with many other high-rise schemes, poor planning and cost-cutting resulted in a lack of amenities, poor
services and a high incidence of vandalism and other social problems. In 1980 two blocks of flats were declared
unfit to live. A rescue programme resulted in the conversion of one for student and executive use and another
for the YMCA. In recent years some of the Red Road flats have housed Kosovan refugees and are now home
to asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa, Asia, the former Soviet Union, Iran and Iraq.
17 Red Road Flats
Springburn Heritage Trail 1989
http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/springburn/springher/springher17.htm
Looking east beyond Springburn Station the looming towerblocks of the Red Road Flats can be seen. Designed
in 1962 by Sam Bunton & Associates, they were intended to be a fast and cost effective solution to the problem
of overcrowding. There are two slabs of 26 and 28 storeys, four point blocks and two tower blocks of 31 storeys.
The latter were at the time the tallest blocks in Europe and the first to be built in Glasgow using steel frame
construction. The height and lack of amenities led to problems, especially for young families, so the two tower
blocks were sold off for executive and student use and for the YMCA.
© Burrell
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Collection Photo Library
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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Facts
-
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The Red Road project, approved in 1962, consists of six 31-storey towers (containing 720 flats) on Petershill Drive, Birnie Court and Red Road Court, plus two 27-storey towers (containing 606 flats) on Petershill Court and Petershill Drive.
The first tower was opened on 28th October 1966. At the time, it was the tallest residential
development in Europe.
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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Location City
Project in General
Type of construction Status Glasgow
residential complex
completed
Buildings of Red Road
Building Height
10 Red Road Court
21 Birnie Court
123 Petershill Drive
33 Petershill Drive
63 Petershill Drive
93 Petershill Drive
10 Petershill Court
153 Petershill Drive
89 m 89 m 89 m 89 m 89 m 89 m 80 m 80 m Floors Year
31 31 31 31 31 31 27 27 1966
1966
1967
1967
1967
1967
1969
1969
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21 Birnie Court
10 Red Road Court
33 Petershill Drive
10 Petershill Court
63 Petershill Drive
153 Petershill Drive
93 Petershill Drive
123 Petershill Drive
© www.glasgowguide.co.uk,
Stephen Finn (24-04-2006), Text: emporis.com
© www.futureglasgow.co.uk;
Alamy Images; Edwin Morgan; www.glasgowguide.co.uk
© bobbyneng,
flickr; www.glasgowguide.co.uk
© www.glasgowguide.co.uk
© dickyhart,
flickr
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GHA launches £60 million regeneration plan for Red Road
Red Road to GH2
The Glasgow Housing Association
Dr Stuart McDonald
http://www.gha.org.uk/content/default.asp?page=s4_1&newsid=447&newstype=n1_2
http://www.scottisharchitecture.com/crossover/index.htm?view=14
3 September 2005
Added 31 March 2005
Plans for one of Glasgow’s largest ever inner-city transformations were announced today by Glasgow
Rem Koolhaas once famously described New York, that city of skyscrapers, as delirious. Glasgow is neither
Housing Association.
New York nor a city of skyscrapers, but when it comes to the past and future development of high-rise buil-
A £60 million initiative, will bring radical improvements to the Red Road and Barmulloch areas in the north
dings in the city, the debate certainly appears to border on the delirious, if not downright daft. The comparison
of the city as part of a comprehensive 10-year redevelopment strategy. GHA has worked closely with the two
with the city«s now notorious Seventies Red Road flats and the next phase of Glasgow Harbour (GH2) and
Local Housing Organisations (Red Road/ Balornock and Unity Homes Housing Association Ltd), in drawing
Murray Dunlop’ plans for a scheme of 14 – 22 storey tower blocks, is not only far fetched in terms of design,
up the proposals.
but flies in the face of successful high-rise architecture in Glasgow and elsewhere.
Preparation is well underway for the first phase of the transformation of the area, which will include the demo-
Yes, watching one set of high-rise towers about to fall, whilst another is set to rise, does invite simplistic
lition of one of the largest of the eight Red Road tower blocks and the construction of 120 new homes for GHA
comparison. But, in the first place, the tallest towers in Murray Dunlops’ scheme are 10 storeys lower than
tenants. Another 96 tenement properties in Barmulloch will be demolished. GHA also announced the start of a
Red Road’s tallest tower «points». Second, far greater attention has been given by the architects in GH2 to
£200,000 investment project which will see gas central heating project installed in 86 homes.
place-making and community amenity; things that were conspicuously lacking in the overall scheme for the
In later stages of the project, around 600 new social-rented and private homes will be built in the area. A 10-year
Red Road flats. However, the thing that significantly differentiates GH2 from Red Road, is the fact that GH2’s
regeneration masterplan will determine the future of the remaining housing stock, including the rest of the multi-
occupants will be middle-class homeowners, not social housing tenants, and who will be able to meet the fac-
storey flats.
toring costs and the upkeep of the landscaping and other amenities.
Chair of GHA, Sandra Forsythe, said: «The announcement of this project is about much more than just building
The other bit of the argument lost in this daft comparison is that successful high-rise living exists in the public
and demolishing homes – it is about the transformation and regeneration of an entire community and the provi-
sector Glasgow, for example, at Anniesland. The problem with Barmulloch was that poverty and expensive
sion of better homes and better lives for local people.»
high maintenance regimes were not compatible, however laudable the attempt to address the immensity of
«It is a tremendous opportunity to be able to create a new neighbourhood that will be designed to complement,
Glasgow’s post-war housing needs. In the private sector Glasgow also has evidence of the successful regene-
rather than overshadow, the successful low-rise public and private housing that already exists in the wider area.»
ration of Seventies high-rise office blocks. The conversion of Charing Cross Tower into a hotel shows that
demolition is not the only solution to the redundant tower block problem.
John Jeffries, GHA’s Investment and Regeneration Director said; «The Red Road flats are an internationally famous symbol of 1960’s housing design and today sees the beginning of their end. The 1,300 flats packed tightly
Whether the Red Road flats do actually need to be demolished or some really creative and imaginative designer
into a site in eight 30-storey tower blocks are part of the housing legacy that GHA was set up to tackle.»
could transform them into something else is a debate that unfortunately will never take place. It is certainly
ironic that a set of high-rise towers which became an infamous icon of Glasgow’s modernity will be demolis-
Springburn MSP, Paul Martin, said: «This development will herald a new beginning and a new vision for Red Road
hed when, at the same time, another high-rise design is set to become a symbol of Glasgow’s post-industrial
and Barmulloch. There is a great feeling of community in the area and this gives us the chance to build on that.
regeneration, but they don’t really make a good comparison. Not unless heights make you delirious.
«We have a superb opportunity to move forward and create a new neighbourhood that will complement other
homes in the area. It is time for action and I am looking forward to seeing things happen.»
Glasgow City Council Leader, Charlie Gordon, said: «The demolitions at Red Road mark a spectacular end to
one era in Barmulloch’s housing history and signals a new era of 21st Century regeneration for Barmulloch, led
by local tenants.»
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Red Road Flats – Herald letter
Comments
Neil Craig
Neil Craig
http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2005/03/red-road-flats-herald-letter.html
http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2005/03/red-road-flats-herald-letter.html
22 March 2005
21 July 2005
Today’s (22/3/5) Herald has this letter from me about the impending Red Road flats demolition (Red Road was a
I have been told by 2 Glasgow politicians whom I respect that the maintenance costs of these flats are higher than
giant group of flats, allegedly the largest in Europe, built in the early 70s when flats were very PC – now flats aren’t
the rent – which I must admit I find surprising.
PC & they are coming down):
However the punch line has to be that if the occupants & potential purchasers are happy with this then who am I
Dear Sir,
to complain? While I know this article gets fairly regular referrals (1 of them from New Zealand so a different Red
Before knocking down the 1300 Red Road flats, which in the normal world would presumably be valued at about
Road) I must take the lack of comments as indicative.
100 million pounds, we should be sure this is the best option.
It would be cheaper to give these flats gratis to their owners (or to the neighbours of those who would rather be
rehoused) with a strongly enforceable factoring agreement – there are many factoring businesses in Glasgow which
would be keen to solicit such a contract from each building«s new owners. Another alternative would be to sell
the vacant blocks at auction allowing private enterprise to refurbish & resell at the market rate – we are told the
location is not ideal but it should be remembered that Red Road is within 2 miles of the city centre & 1/2 a mile
of 2 motorways.
Both options would obviously be cheaper than what is proposed. In worst case it saves the not inconsiderable cost
of demolition. The primary advantage is that, in a world where house prices are skyrocketing because of shortage,
Glasgow would retain 1300 homes. For the council the long term effect of 1300 extra community charge payments
each year would be substantial.
«I would not like to think that these options have not been examined because councillors have a dog-in-the-manger
attitude that because they have failed to make a success of these spectacular homes private individuals should not
be allowed to either.»
Yours Faithfully
Neil Craig
They cut the last paragraph marked «» which removes exactly what I do suspect about Labour councillors ideological position to free markets. I noticed that, at the start of the 2nd para I said «owners» could be given the flats
when I should have said «occupiers» – nitpick. There may be a reason why this would’t work – for example that the
buildings are structurally unsafe because of vandalism or initial council jerry building but I would like to see that
proven before blowing 100 million.
The Herald also carried pictures of the Red Road site & «the city’s trendy Glasgow Harbour site» & they do indeed
look remarkably similar.
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Red Road
http://www.pixelsurgeon.com/reviews/review.php?id=1118
The scripts can take their starting point in one or more characters or they may be subjected to an external drama.
having appeared in Miami Vice, Blade II, Pearl Harbour and Gladiator, but even so this is surely his most challenging
The characters can also participate in a form that is governed primarily by neither characters nor plot.»
career role. What I’m trying to say is that the film is superbly put together, from the acting – which is superb, and
feature’s a fine supporting performance from Martin Compston as Stevie, to an extent an extension of Compston’s
The films take place in Scotland but apart from that the writers are free to place them anywhere according to
Liam in Ken Loach’s superb Sweet Sixteen – to the almost flawless direction and camerawork. It’s a very mature and
geography, social setting or ethnic background.»
accomplished production, with a tight script and a great location, but it falls just short of true excellence in felling
unnecessarily drawn out at just under two hours in length.
So begins «The Rules» for «The Advance Party», a collaborative film project began by Danish writers/directors
Lone Scherfig (Italian For Beginners) and Anders Thomas Jensen, whereby three debut directors and producers are
It is a very British tradition to build a film around four or five very powerful and sometimes disturbing scenes, inters-
paired up and given a basic backstory of seven characters, then asked to write and direct a film about characters of
persed with brooding, seemingly improvised conversation and lingering shots of symbolic architecture or ostensibly
their choice. Luckily, all three directors (the next two films will be from Morag McKinnon and Mikkel Noergaard)
inconsequential extras, but sometimes it just doesn’t work, and I’ve no doubt that tighter editing could have cut Red
chose different characters to be central to their respective stories, though all seven characters must appear in each film
Road down into a more compelling and striking 90 minutes. It’s a minor gripe given the otherwise brilliantly cons-
(played by the same actors). Needless to say that Red Road, directed by Andrea Arnold, is film one in the trilogy.
tructed production, and it certainly wouldn’t stop me recommending Red Road, a film that marks Andrea Arnold
out as a significant new addition to the revitalised British film scene.
Fresh from picking up the Jury Prize at Cannes – where Oscar winning short film director Andrea Arnold daringly
chose to make her debut feature film’s debut critical screening – Red Road is the story of Jackie (Kate Dickie), a
Red Road (2006)
CCTV operator responsible for monitoring the (back)streets of Glasgow. It’s clear immediately that there’s some-
Director: Andrea Arnold
thing peculiar about Jackie, she’s a little distant, her relationships with other characters are unemotional to say the
Stars: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston
least, and she’s clearly not happy, despite deriving a certain amount of voyeuristic pleasure from watching the same
Genre: Drama
people patrol familiar routes around the city.
One evening, whilst watching over a young girl alone on the notoriously rough «Red Road» estate, she espies a face
from her past that both shocks and distrubs her (Tony Curran). The rest of the film follow’s Jackie’s pursuit and
obsession with this man, and I’m afraid that if I say any more, I’ll spoil it.
Aside from Jackie, the central character of Red Road is, unsurprisingly, Glasgow’s notorious «Red Road» flats: 1,300
homes squeezed into eight tower-blocks, the tallest residential buildings in Europe when they were built in the
1960s and that now house (among others) refugess, asylum seekers and ex-cons. They’re a colourful setting both
figuratively and literally – given that each block has a menacing red-stripe running the full 31 stories – and are a
perfect setting for the dark and murky tale that unfolds in Andrea Arnold’s script.
The most astonishing thing about Red Road is that almost everyone involved is a feature film debutant, from writer/
director Andrea Arnold to Kate Dickie, whose TV roles are, though similar in tone, a world away from her role as
Jackie. Tony Curran brings big-screen experience in his role as Clyde, the mystery man in Jackie’s CCTV monitor,
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Recherche
Glasgow
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© www.glasgowguide.co.uk;
hollowhorn, flickr
© bobbyneng,
flickr; www.glasgowguide.co.uk
© www.glasgowguide.co.uk
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Glasgow Housing
Residential Development: Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland
http://www.glasgowarchitecture.co.uk/glasgow_housing.htm
Glasgow Housing – Tower Blocks
Red Road Flats
The city is well known (in Scotland at least) for the Comprehensive Redevelopment Areas which decimated
Glasgow Housing Association has announced plans to pull down the city’s notorious Red Road scheme as part
slums in the fifties and sixties, replacing them with brave new world tower blocks and slab blocks. Some ex-
of a £60m redevelopment. The eight skyscrapers – 1,300 flats packed onto this small site in these eight huge
amples above from just south of the Crown Street area (left) and from the Gorbals (right). Queen Elizabeth
tower blocks – among Britain«s tallest, are expected to be demolished over the next decade.
Square housing by Basil Spence was demolished and has now been replaced by a CZWG masterplan (led by
GHA confirmed the first demolition at the site, one of two 27-storey slabs, as it announced record investment
Gordon Duffy now of Duffy & Batt).
in a new scheme for Balornock and Barmulloch. Detailed plans for Red Road Flats will be a matter for future
consultations and the area’s tenants group.
Glasgow Council Housing – History
Around 600 low-rise private and social-rented homes will be built, filling in the spaces between Red Road
In 1946 a plan was published by the Clyde Valley Regional Planning Advisory Committee, which had been set
towers and brownfields left by bulldozers tearing down an earlier generation of tenement homes.
up during the war. It suggested the dispersal of 550,000 Glaswegians into New Towns at East Kilbride, Cumbernauld, Bishopton and Houston. Glasgow at tha time had a population of around 1,130,000.
However much of the slum clearance was allowed through removal of people to outer Glasgow rahter than
outside the city. High-rise flats were to be built in the inner zone. The outer zone would consist of new estates:
Castlemilk, Garscadden, Nitshill and Priesthill, and part of Pollok. Glasgow City Corporation opted in the
end for overspill with building in outer Glasgow. Overspill went to new towns: East Kilbride, Cumbernauld,
Glenrothes and Livingston.
Glasgow signed overspill arrangements with around 60 other councils across Scotland, in addition to the new
towns. The furthest overspill we are aware of is the Riverside Drive estate in Haddington, East Lothian (where we
live). The outer Glasgow housing was for Easterhouse, Drumchapel, Castlemilk and Pollok. The comprehensive
development of central Glasgow areas was the largest of any city in the UK and thousands of tenements were
demolished, principally in the fifties. The key area redeveloped was Hutchestown and the Gorbals. In 1947, city
councillors visited Marseille to inspect new tower-blocks devised by Le Corbusier. By 1979 Glasgow had more
than 300 multi-storey tower blocks.
The Red Road flats at Balornock were, at 31 storeys, the highest in Europe. The first residents were welcomed
in 1969, and the blocks were completed in the summer of 1971. However, by 1975 complaints were starting to
emerge re the Red Road flats from residents.
The motorway network strangled the city, looping round the north and west sides of the city centre. The
most disliked section was the Charing Cross part of the inner ring road, linking the Kingston Bridge to the St
George’s Cross interchange in 1972.
The Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal (GEAR) project was set up to redevelop 3500 neglected acres in the east
end; it was finished in 1987. Bridgeton, Dalmarnock, Shettleston and Parkhead were revitalised through private
housing development. In 2003, Glasgow Council’s 84,000 homes were transferred to Glasgow Housing Association, a not-for-profit social landlord.
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Are we learning to love the high life?
Barry Didcock
http://www.sundayherald.com/50974
31 July 2005
Graffiti-daubed hellholes or design classics for swanky urban living? Barry Didcock considers society’s
«Cities need to show a little leadership and it seems right that, in terms of high-rises, Edinburgh is thinking
continuing edifice complex
about the where and the if,» says Fraser. «But everything depends on context. There are few places in the
Forget the rather infrequent bus services or the apparently random rubbish collections – the single greatest
centre of Edinburgh where a tower would work.»
conundrum facing modern city dwellers, it seems, is what to make of the high-rise tower block. To say
That said, Edinburgh city centre could be described as the world’s oldest cluster of tower blocks. Even by
we have a love/hate relationship with these concrete monoliths is an understatement. To some, they will
the time Robert Louis Stevenson published Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes in 1879, the high-rise »lands» he
always conjure up images of Nelson Mandela House, the fictional London council tower block that housed
described were already hundreds of years old. «To this day it is not uncommon to see eight or 10 windows at
Del Boy and Rodney in Only Fools And Horses. For these detractors, the world of the high-rise is one in
a flight,» Stevenson wrote. «The poor man may roost up there in the centre of Edinburgh and yet have a peep
which the lifts never work, the roofs leak and undesirables lurk in graffiti-daubed corridors.
of the green country from his window.»
But there is a growing band for whom the high-rise is a covetable design classic, offering the prospect of
It’s a point that isn’t lost on Malcolm Fraser. »In terms of a love-hate relationship with high-rises, we go back a
loft-style living with great views but without the hefty price tag. They’re the ones who will whitewash
long way. It’s not just a post-war, modernist phenomenon,» he says. «If I look out of my office, which is in the
every wall they haven’t already knocked down and then try to sand the floors – the sort of people who
Old Town, I’m looking down into a canyon which is no less thrilling than anything you’d see in Manhattan.
know the difference between Le Creuset and Le Corbusier.
There were people living in 11-storey buildings here in the 17th century. The Scots, of all people, know how
No matter which camp you fall into, it’s hard to disagree on one thing: as property prices continue to rise
to live in high-rises.»
and urban space becomes ever more precious, there are serious issues concerning the way our cities are
As for the bad reputation that high-rises earned in the 1960s and 1970s, Fraser thinks it was fully deserved.
developing and where we house the people who fill them.
«They were built stupidly and shoddily without enough care or money invested in them. But there’s no reason
For architects, town planners and property developers, the problems are even more severe. The architectural
why they shouldn’t be built well and be loved and be interesting things. I sometimes suspect we haven’t learned
profession was vilified in the 1960s for putting up tower block which were poorly sited, badly designed
enough to stop making similar mistakes again, but I have no problem with them in principle.»
and without proper amenities. For the generations of architects who succeeded them, the term «high-rise»
Glasgow doesn’t have Edinburgh’s centuries-old tradition of high-rise living. Instead it has some 250
was closely followed by the words «never again». But today, as thinking on high-rises comes full circle, the
«multis» which were mostly built in the 1960s, making it one of the most built-up urban environments in
architects and planners of the 21st century find themselves, once again, looking upwards.
Europe. The highest of these – the now infamous Red Road flats in Barmulloch – extend to a whopping
Even with the architectural ifs and buts about high-rise blocks finally resolved, other questions remain:
31 storeys. The city’s landlord, the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), is in the process of evaluating
when, how, where? That last is the most contentious of all and explains why the Edinburgh World Heritage
its housing stock and is midway through a consultation process to determine which of the high-rises has a
Trust has just unveiled its so-called development masterplan. It is designed to safeguard the capital’s
future – and which don’t. The ones that do will have money spent on them. The rest will become dust.
famous skyline and protect it from the sort of high-rise development that the city saw in the 1960s.
Last month, the GHA pronounced sentence on five double-block multis in the city’s Sighthill area. They
Complementing this is the council-initiated strategy being drawn up by landscape architects Colvin &
join a list of seven other condemned high-rises which include the Red Road flats. A further 60 high-rises
Moggridge to look at where tall buildings can be inserted into the city centre without spoiling that skyline
could also go.
and – perhaps more importantly – identifying other areas in the city where high-rises will be less of a
John Rooney used to live 16 floors up in the Red Road flats. Ironically, he describes the experience as a
problem. One such area is the new development at Western Harbour, a project which stretches up the coast
low point in his life. «I couldn’t say I enjoyed it,» he says. «I got out as quickly as I could. There’s nothing
from Leith to Granton and which aims to create a vibrant waterfront playground to rival those in Barcelona,
about it I miss. Well, I suppose the view was good.»
Lisbon and Copenhagen.
Still, Rooney put his time in the tower block to good use, penning the hit Scottish Television drama, High
Award-winning Edinburgh architect Malcolm Fraser is right behind the council’s tall buildings initiative.
Times, which follows the lives and loves of various characters living in a fictional Glasgow high-rise. By
With a built heritage such as Edinburgh’s, he thinks the city fathers are right to be cautious and entirely
the end of the last series, the tenants had been decanted while improvements were carried out on the block
correct in focusing new projects on specific areas.
but they’ll be back in their homes – and on our screens – early next year.
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Rooney isn’t the first writer to find dramatic potential in high-rise living. JG Ballard used the multi-storey
only in the last five years that housing developers have started to say that the city’s vibrant enough now,
building as a metaphor for a lawless society in his nightmarish 1975 novel, High-Rise, set in a luxury tower
so we can start to go up the way. So I think high-rises have definitely got a future.»
block. The previous year The Towering Inferno hit cinema screens all over the world, based on two novels,
In a sense, Glasgow is ideally placed to enjoy a high-rise building boom. Although Byfield has more than
The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N Scortia.
enough multi-storey blocks to be going on with in peripheral schemes, the city’s famous grid system
Others have found comic potential in the multis. Only Fools And Horses was only partly set in a high-rise,
makes it the perfect spot for the landmark buildings of the 21st century. Cities like Manchester are surging
of course, but more recent sitcoms such as 15 Storeys High (written by Mark Lamarr and Sean Lock) have
ahead with massive building programmes, but Glasgow, with its in-built North American feel, really could
used the tower block as a central theme.
become the Manhattan of Europe.
Rooney is aware that the high-rise is coming back into vogue as new city-centre projects get under way.
Fraser agrees. «Manchester has really reinvented itself, not through spin, but through being pleased with
But he thinks they can’t entirely salvage the reputation of the tower blocks that are already here.
its metropolitan ambition. It’s a proper, dense city as opposed to the low-rise sprawl of London. And I
«I suppose it’s a sort of retro fashion. Architects are looking at high-rises again and looking at the mistakes
think Glasgow wants a bit of that action and to demonstrate it in its architecture. It goes very well with
they made first time. But I think the existing ones are still seen as dumping grounds for asylum seekers
the character of the city, with the grid and the nature of the people.»
and refugees.»
One note of caution, though: we must learn from the mistakes of the past. «It’s very important that the
So would he ever live in one again? «No, I’m getting to that age now that I just want a house with a garden
ground level is considered, that high-rises are not surrounded by windy plazas, that we don’t get carried
so I can sit out on a nice summer’s night.»
away by looking down at them, god-like, as tiny things on architects’ models,» says Fraser.
Rooney might change his mind when he sees what is being built on the banks of the Clyde. Plans have been
One other thing would help too, he thinks – more women architects. Currently only about 15% of the
unveiled for a 262ft tower at Custom House Quay, part of a £200 million development which will include 388
profession is female, which perhaps explains the number of phallic shapes popping up on our skylines.
flats. Nearby are two more swanky developments: a 124ft building on Clyde Street, housing 52 flats over 13
«There are architects and developers who just like the big size,» says Fraser. »I find that unfortunate though
storeys, and a 150ft cigar-shaped building on Dixon Street, housing 43 flats. That second structure, designed by
a little inevitable.»
Glasgow architects Park and Page, has already been compared to Sir Norman Foster’s award-winning Swiss Re
It’s what’s known in the profession as an edifice complex, but it doesn’t have to be like that. »I can think
building in London (better known as The Gherkin).
of tall buildings which are more feminine and empathetic and not easily characterised that way.
In almost every city in the UK you’ll see the same pattern being played out. Hundreds of people will turn
«Most of what went wrong in the 1960s – most of what has always gone wrong with architecture – is that we’ve
out to see an unloved 1960s high-rise levelled by a few well-placed explosive charges while across town
always done that big, thrusting male thing. We’ve forgotten that buildings are for people,» admits Fraser.
their fellow citizens are queuing up to buy flats in a brand new high-rise development.
So, as Glasgow’s Sighthill flats are prepared for demolition, and the foundation stones are laid on new high-rises
For Stuart MacDonald, director of The Lighthouse, Scotland’s centre for architecture and design, it’s a
across the country, let the cry go up: the high-rise is dead, long live the high-rise!
glaring contradiction: why is one section of the community so eager to be rid of high-rises that they cheer
when they are dynamited, while another section is prepared to spend large amounts of money acquiring
a flat in one?
«A lot of it comes down to people’s stereotype of their ideal dwelling. Some people still have this picturesque
idea of the cottage they drew when they were in primary school – it’s got a door in the middle, windows
on either side and a garden all the way round. Then there are others whose knowledge of architecture and
the built environment is slightly broader and who have other aspirations.»
One man who is bullish about the prospects of the tower block is Bill Byfield, GHA’s head of property
programmes. «I think what we’ve got here is a high-rise renaissance,» he says. «Look around Clydeside: it’s
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About the Gorbals – History
http://www.gorbalslive.org.uk
The very beginning
Urban decay and high-rise solutions?
The Gorbals was originally a single-street village. It grew up around the River Clyde’s most westerly crossing point
During the inter-war period, as with many other inner city areas throughout Britain, it all started to break down.
– a bridge completed in 1345 by Bishop Rae of Glasgow. Five years later, a leper hospital dedicated to St Ninian,
Building decay, overcrowding and poor sanitation got worse and little was done to address the problems. These
the name of a terrace today, helped plague victims from the city across the river. After the Reformation, in 1579,
became widespread in the Gorbals. Government legislation after the Second World War indicated a general desire
the church feued the land to George Elphinstone, a Glasgow merchant. His tower house in the village Main Street
to turn this around. It proposed the comprehensive redevelopment of large chunks of cities and towns. Targeting
survived in one form or another until the 19th century. The magistrates of the City of Glasgow received a Crown
its huge housing problem, Glasgow Corporation’s own redevelopment programme was ambitious. It earmarked 29
Charter in 1650 to buy the land now occupied by Kingston, Tradeston, Laurieston and Hutchesontown. The village,
areas across the city as Comprehensive Development Areas (CDAs) – Hutchesontown, with part of the Gorbals,
thought to be mainly thatched houses lived in by maltmen and brewers, was extensively damaged in 1748 by fire.
was to be the first. By the early 1950s, of Glasgow’s 1,085,000 population, an estimated 600,000 needed rehousing.
The smallest parish in Scotland
However, the need to reduce excessive population densities called for imaginative solutions. Within the city boun-
The Parish of Gorbals was formed in 1771 from a small part of Govan Parish. Probably the smallest in Scotland,
daries, the CDAs could only accommodate 250,000 people. Estates on the edge of the city, Castlemilk, Drumchapel
the parish tightly surrounded the old village, and its burial ground you can still see today. At this time its po-
and Easterhouse, could take another 100,000. Topography, and «green belt’ to avoid urban sprawl, restricted greater
pulation was about 3,500 and it grew by another 3,000 over the following twenty years. The area to the west
numbers. So, 250,000 were expected to move outside the Glasgow area altogether. New towns were created: first
of the line of the present Eglinton Street as far as West Street was transferred to the Trades’ Houses in 1790,
East Kilbride and Glenrothes, followed by Cumbernauld, Livingston and Irvine. «Overspill agreements’ with local
the origin of Tradeston. The rest of the area to the east became the property of Hutcheson’s Hospital. Towards
authorities as far away as Arbroath, Stranraer and Wick, allowed for further moves. The extra expense of building
the end of the 1700s the village’s main industry was weaving. There were 556 looms in use in the area. Other
high-rise was justified as it seemed the only way to accommodate the 250,000 people. They estimated two-storey
trades were there too – gunsmiths, nailers, shoemakers, tailors, wrights and cotton spinners. Around 60 public
development on the same area would only house 75,000. Detailed surveys in Hutchesontown showed that residen-
houses supplied «refreshment’. Govan Colliery in the countryside to the south employed 200 men and used a
tial property, some not very old, was in poor condition in terms of structure and sanitation. The system of factoring
steam engine to raise coal the 600 feet to the surface.
had broken down and years of private landlord neglect had made things worse. Flats had also been subdivided in
Into the 1800s and 1900s
many cases. The population density was 458.6 persons per acre compared to a modern suburban density of 30 per-
After the land transfers, the area experienced a time of rapid growth. The patrons of Hutcheson’s Hospital promo-
sons per acre. Imagine that with only one toilet for every three houses! The Secretary of State for Scotland approved
ted the development of Hutchesontown with its main streets Adelphi Street and Hospital Street. Hutchesontown
the plans for the CDA in February 1957. With Queen Elizabeth Square high-rise blocks at its centre, the plans
Bridge meant Crown Street became the main thoroughfare. This crossing is now Albert Bridge.
accommodated 10,000 people – significantly less than the previous 27,000 in the same area.
To the west, Laurieston developed as a fashionable suburb on land sold to James Laurie. Its streets were named after
Urban decay revisited in the 1980s
English nobility, starting with Carlton Place along the riverbank in 1802. The Industrial Revolution changed the
By the 1980s, the area had an air of neglect and dilapidation. The redevelopment of the area had stopped and the
character of the area. Govan Ironworks, better known as Dixon’s Blazes, appeared next to the colliery. Buildings
effects of poor building specification were apparent. Empty ground with single-storey street corner pubs remained
were demolished to allow for railway lines, elevated on stone and brick arches. A grid-iron layout of four-storey
after the demolition of tenements. Deck-access blocks lay uninhabited and the area gave a dismal and depressing
tenements grew up through the 1900s to house local factory and cotton mill workers. Glasgow City Council took
impression. The population of the area was 85,000 in 1931. By 1952, this was down to 68,000. In the 1980s it had
over the administration of the Gorbals in 1846 – its City Improvement Trust demolished Main Street, including
crashed to 10,000. Shops were difficult to keep going, schools were relocated or closed, and places of worship closed
Elphinstone Tower, in the 1870s. Gorbals Cross became its new focal point complete with clock tower and un-
their doors. In 1980, after a great battle and rent strike, the council bowed to tenant pressure to rehouse remaining
derground public conveniences. The architecture of Alexander «Greek’ Thomson also appeared in the area. The
tenants from flats in Crown Street riddled with condensation and water penetration. Options to refurbish were dis-
Gorbals developed into a busy place. Its wide streets, such as Crown Street and Cumberland Street, bustled with
missed and the 759 deck-access flats were demolished in 1987. Once again, the area was in dire need of regeneration.
commercial activity. By the 1930s its 90,000 population was served by 1,000 shops and 130 pubs. It had become a
The council had to find an overall strategy to reverse its decline.
true community with a mix of a succession of immigrant groups: Highlanders, displaced by sheep, land confiscation
and poverty; Irish fleeing famine; and Jews leaving behind persecution in Europe.
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Comprehensive regeneration into the 21st century
Recognising the mistakes of the 1960s, a council-led working group formed in 1986. This was followed by the
Crown Street Regeneration Project and the New Gorbals Housing Association. The emphasis today is on recreating
more traditional streets and clearly defined open spaces. The architecture in the early Crown Street developments
was relatively conservative. However, it has now moved on and there are some exciting examples of design, such
as those in McNeil Street. Coupled to better building materials and maintenance regimes and greater attention to
detail, today’s architectural innovation should stand the test of time better than that of the 1960s. The developments
re-introduce four-storey tenemental housing, a new shopping street, east-west streets with central parking, and large
communal back garden areas. Severe unemployment is being tackled through the Gorbals Initiative, a local enterprise company, which provides access for local people to nearby job opportunities and stimulates the local economy.
It is based in the former Adelphi Secondary School. ll in all, great efforts have been made to make the Gorbals a
vibrant, thriving community. The evidence is clear. Take a look at the area now through our «virtual tour» among
the old and the new. See for yourself the Gorbals of today.
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The Gorbals: A New Glasgow Suburb
Ian R Mitchell
http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/out/outdoors/thegorbals.html
Ian R Mitchell looks at an area undergoing another of a long line of historical redevelopments.
A little south Cavendish Street, where Eglinton Street and the Gorbals – ends at St Andrews Cross, lies a row of
rather scruffy shops. Here until 1992 one of the premesis housed the offices of the Jewish Echo, Glasgow’s own
In the early years of the nineteenth century the burghers of Glasgow looked across the river and saw, adjacent to
English-language weekly Jewish newspaper, published since 1928, when it replaced earlier Yiddish publications.
the existing village of Gorbals, a prestigious example of Regency town-planning rising on the southern bank of the
As the Glasgow middle classes left Laurieston, their houses became sub let and occupied by new arrivals, amongst
Clyde. The aristocratic names of its streets reflected its aspirations; Bedford, Eglinton, Norfolk. After two chequered
whom the Jews from eastern Europe were to be the most prominent. By 1885 half the children at Gorbals Pri-
centuries, half way through which the Gorbals became identified as one of Europes worst slums, the wheel is tur-
mary School were Jewish. The community about 10,000 souls - was large enough to support the building of a
ning if not full, at least part circle, and the area is again being developed as a desirable place to live.
synagogue in South Portland Street, the establishment of a Talmud Torah school and a Zionist reading room. But
Emerging into daylight at Bridge Street Subway station on Eglinton Street, such an urban renaissance is not
organisations which integrated the Jews into Glasgow life were also founded, such as the Oxford Star Football
immediately apparent, as around you lie large tracts of derelict land, functioning mainly as commuter car parks.
team, and the Jewish Lads Brigade, which boasted the only all-Jewish pipe band in the world. Greens Kosher
But two centuries ago this area was the site of the development of Laurieston, Glasgows newest suburb, which
Hotel in Abbotsford Place was a point of arrival or transit for many Jews fleeing persecution first from Czarist
the Laurie brothers hoped would make their fortune. Carlton Place, fronting the Clyde, was the jewel in the
Russia and then from Nazi Germany. Glasgow Council organised meetings in 1892 to protest against persecution
crown of this development and thankfully is fully extant today, though functioning as offices not as the original
of the Jews in Russia, and in 1933 boycotted German goods in protest against Hitlers anti-semitism. Many of the
housing. Laurieston House here was deemed grand enough to host George IV on his projected Glasgow trip
Jews worked in the sweated trades and were active in the early trades union and socialist movement, like Manny
of 1822 only he never visited the city to see the interiors which had been done by the same Italian artists who
Shinwell Glasgows adoptive Jew and Red Clydesider, while others like Isaac Woolfson made their mark on the
decorated his own Windsor Castle.
business world or in the arts, such as the sculptor Benno Schotz.
Though much of Laurieston was never built it is a mistake to see the area falling immediately into decay. Much qua-
At the gushet of St Andrews Cross, Pollokshaws Road leads back north towards the Gorbals, passing the fine old
lity middle class housing continued to be erected after the Lauries plans were abandoned, such as Abbotsford Place
Abbotsford School (up for sale) on our left, set amidst piecemeal housing development and land that has lain
in the 1830s. Each dwelling here had 7 or 8 rooms, with a mews for the horse-carriage out back. Examination of the
derelict for over 30 years before arriving at Gorbals Street, where we enter territory with a much more ancient
mid nineteenth century censuses shows that Laurieston retained its middle class status until well after many think,
pedigree than Laurieston, which we have just walked through.
and it was only the development of the suburban railways, connected to new housing around the Queens Park area
The Gorbals has medieval origins, and was at one time Glasgow’s leper colony. It grew to a population of 5,000 by
to the south, that caused the middle classes to finally leave the area. In 1872 Tweeds Guide to Glasgow and the Cly-
1800, and had swelled to 36,000 by the time it was annexed by Glasgow in 1846. At this time Gorbals Cross was still
de described a walk down Eglinton Street, and noted the many graceful buildings in this fine street, recommending
a cluster of buildings many dating from the seventeenth century. But the old baronial dwellings had been subdivided
to the tourist a circular walk through the area - which he would hardly have done, were it a slum.
into festering slums and the back lands were breeding grounds of squalor. This situation worsened when Gorbals
Heading south down Eglinton Street today is sadly not the experience it was in Tweed«s time, and virtually
became one of the favoured settlement areas for the impoverished Irish immigrants who poured into Scotland from
nothing remains from that period, indeed from any but the most recent era. Passing a couple of disused 1930s
the 1840s. One observer commented, «we are really grieved to part with some of these old landmarks of the city,
cinemas leads you towards a landscape of derelict railway viaducts, waste ground and some examples of 1970s
and we cannot help urging the proprietors of such houses as exist to pay some little attention to them, and above all
housing at its least imaginative. At the corner of Cavendish Street is a 1980s red brick dwelling, admittedly
to prevent them falling prey to the hordes of Irish immigrants who have a fancy to burrow in these ancient spots.»
better than its 1970s neighbours, but a mere shadow of what it replaced. Here till 1980 stood one of the glories
of Alexander Greek Thomson, his Queens Park Terrace block of middle class tenements, constructed from
But those which did not fall into ruin were swept away by the City Improvement Trust from the 1870s, and by
1856 – 60. Though subsequently suffering multiple occupancy and deterioration, their demolition by Glasgow
1900 the area around Gorbals Street was entirely tenemented. The amazing thing is that this Gorbals too has almost
District Council was one of the greatest acts of vandalism in the city’s history. Thomson, probably Glasgow and
totally vanished in its turn. On Gorbals Street remains one empty and derelict tenement, and nothing else, except
Scotland«s most original nineteenth century architect, lived in this desirable area himself, at Apsley Street from
at its southern end a pub which brazenly states its alliegances to Celtic F.C. (unsurprising given the fact that Celtic
1847 – 57, when he designed Queens Park Terrace.
greats Pat Crerand and Charlie Gallacher hailed from the Gorbals though its most famous sporting son was the boxer
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Benny Lynch, now commemorated in Benny Lynch Court in Hutchiesontown), and the shell of the former Citi-
It is worth taking a sidetrail off Ballater Street to Adelphi Street and the St Andrews Suspension Bridge over the
zens Theatre, which has had its exterior in the form of a set of statues, moved inside for safe keeping! The Citz was
Clyde; amongst the tree lined river banks one could almost imagine oneself by the Seine. Crossing Ballater Street
originally the Princess Theatre, more in the music hall tradition, till it was taken over by James Bridie the playright
again into McNeill Street there lies a mix of renovated and new build housing, with imaginative street furniture.
in 1945. Now, under Giles Havergal it is one of Europes most renowned theatre companies.
The remaining high rise blocks here (not everyone hated the high life) are being re-clad to soften their look and
To the north of the Citz, across what once was Gorbals Cross and is now a windy, littered set of traffic lights, lies
blend with the new buildings. You can wander for ages around Hutchesontown with profit, but eventually you
the Glasgow Central Mosque. Though you will see few Asian faces in the Gorbals today, it was initially the main
should emerge onto Caledonia Road, beside the Southern Necropolis, which thankfully appears to be getting better
area of Asian settlement in Scotland, with up to 10,000 living there, and it even boasted a newspaper, The Young
maintenance than formerly. Here in lair 3971 lies the vault of Thomas Lipton, the Gorbals boy, born of poor Irish
Muslim. When the tenements were demolished the Asians had little claim on, or desire to live in, the new council
immigrant parents, who became a millionaire by the time he was 30 with his chain of grocery shops.
housing, and, like the Jews before them, moved out. Nevertheless, the new mosque was built here and opened
On the north side of Caledonia Road are found some of the larger new houses, built in a stunning style that
in 1984. One inadvertant side-effect of redevelopment in the Gorbals has been to turn what was once Glasgows
gives the lie to those who think modern architecture is worthless; these buildings would grace any European city.
most cosmopolitan inner city area, into now what is probably its least.
Across from them, next the Necropolis, is the site of Dixons Blazes, closed in 1962, now a rather unlovely trading
From the former Gorbals Cross, Ballater Street leads into Hutchesontown. Although this too was begun as a pre-
estate. But just adjacent, like something out of Athens or Rome, stands the shell of Alexander Thomsons Caledo-
stige development, it appears to have gone down market long before Laurieston, despite its facing Glasgow Green.
nia Road Church (the tenements he built flanking it are long gone.) When this church lost its congregation, it was
Possibly the opening of Dixons Blazes iron works in 1839 on the southern edge of Hutchesonstown, on the site of
bought by Glasgow Council with a view to restoration. This never took place, and instead the building became a
Dixons existing coal mines, had something to do with this. Although we should remember that the Victorians didn’t
target for vandals, and now all that remains are the walls and spire. So little survives in the Gorbals of the historical
have our anti-industrial bias, and indeed Dixons Blazes was something of a tourist attraction. Tweed comments,
built environment that the salvation of this church must be a priority: indeed, given Thomson’s status, it must be
«the stranger who wishes to see in full operation one of the most extensive and important of local industries, should
a national and international priority. This will give Glasgow Council the chance to atone for its other Thomson
spend an hour or two in visiting the works, admission to which will readily be granted on application.»
sins, and the church could be the focal point of the new Gorbals itself, if and as re-generation spreads westwards
Certainly Hutchesontown became much more industrialised than Laurieston, with low paid unskilled and
from Hutchesontown, towards central Gorbals and Laurieston.
semi-skilled work predominating. (Dixons higher paid workers lived in Govanhill, an area of better quality
Walking along Cumberland Street, however, there is little sign of this, and we are back in the planning blight of the
working class housing to the south of the Blazes.) By 1900 this poverty, allied to overcrowding which was phe-
1970s. There is not a single house in this part of the former bustling thoroughfare; the abolition of the street was
nomenal even by Glasgow standards, meant that the area had infant mortality and premature death rates many
probably the greatest crime of 60s / 70s redevelopment: its rediscovery a main virtue of new architecture. At the
times the city average. Even in 1951, the Gorbals had a population of 50,000 in what one writer described as
end of Cumberland Street we are back on Eglinton St, and once again near to the Subway or one can walk a little
the area of an average dairy farm.
further to Carlton Place, and view Laurieston House, and see what George IV missed. Crossing the river by the
Hutchesontown area was carpet bombed by the developments in the 1960s and 70s, and there was hardly a single
suspension bridge reminds you that, however hard life was in the Gorbals, it was always only 10 minutes from the
historical building left standing. Little more than the odd public building – such as the public library, and the pre-
city centre, and 10 minutes from the Green. And maybe this time, after Regency suburb, Victorian tenement slum
dominantly Catholic Churches for this was the heart of Glasgow’s Irish community – remained amidst the tower
and Concrete Jungle, the planners have got it right in the Gorbals.
blocks erected at that time. The old tenements were replaced by experiments in social engineering which were
of limited success. The notorious Hutchie E maze of precast concrete wind tunnels was rendered rubble as early
as 1987, while the knighthood - winning Basil Spences Queen Elizabeth Court tower blocks followed in 1993. In
consequence the population of the Gorbals has been reduced to 10,000 by 2001 – 20% of what it had been half
a century before. It is Hutchesontown which is undergoing the most intensive redevelopment of mixed housing
association and private housing, and walking around the area is an uplifting experience, showing of the advantages
of coherent and human scale town planning. There is even a new hotel in the area, taking advantage of the Gorbals
proximity to the town centre.
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Messerscharf
Mikael Krogerus
NZZ Folio – Die Schotten
Juli 2006
Glasgow ist Europas Hauptstadt der Morde.
«Was macht man, wenn man in einer Gang ist?»
Die Täter sind oft Kinder, ihre Waffen Messer. Unterwegs mit Gangs.
«Wir verteidigen unser Revier gegen andere Gangs, und wenn wir einen erwischen, verprügeln wir ihn.»
Von weitem sehen sie aus wie Kinder. Sie sind zu dritt, vielleicht 11 oder 12 Jahre alt, die Haare kurz rasiert,
«Womit?» Die Jungs benutzen eine Reihe mir unbekannter Ausdrücke, erst später verstehe ich, dass jede Waffe im
die dünnen Körper stecken in Trainingsanzügen. Zügig überquere ich die Norfolk Street im Glasgower Ar-
Glasgower Dialekt einen eigenen Namen hat: «Chibs» sind Waffen zum Aufschlitzen, «Tools» sind stumpfe Schlag-
beiterstadtteil Gorbals und steuere auf die Halbwüchsigen zu. Die Jungs schauen mich an. Wir sind 20 Meter
gegenstände wie Planken oder Hämmer. Lange Messer heissen «Stakeys», Äxte nennt man «Choppers». Dean langt
voneinander entfernt, ich werde nervös. Soll ich umkehren? Wegrennen? Meine Schritte werden langsamer,
mit grosser Geste in seine Tasche und zückt ein Springmesser, die Klinge misst 5 Zentimeter. Auf die Frage, ob ihm
ihre schneller. Ich bleibe stehen. Der mittlere bellt etwas zur Begrüssung: «Haaaw, you, giiies fägg!» Er spricht
schon mal etwas passiert sei, krempelt er den Ärmel seiner Trainerjacke hoch. Von seinem knochigen Ellbogen zieht
Glasgower Dialekt, ich verstehe kein Wort. Die beiden anderen kichern und tauschen Blicke aus, ihre Gesichter
sich eine rote Narbe bis zum Bizeps.
sehen seltsam alt aus. Der mittlere nimmt einen Schritt auf mich zu, ich weiche zurück.
In Glasgow gibt es mindestens 180 Gangs mit gesamthaft 2000 Mitgliedern. Die Gangs heissen im Jargon «Teams»
Alle drei sprechen jetzt durcheinander, die Angst lärmt in meinem Kopf: Ich könnte ihnen mein Portemonnaie
oder «Schemes», die Mitglieder «Neds». Das Young Valley Team in Maryhill, die Young Kimbo Kills in Govan und
geben. Oder ich könnte mich wehren. Ich bin einen Kopf grösser als der mittlere ... Aus den Augenwinkeln sehe
das Young Hill Team in Drumchapel; manche dieser Banden existieren seit über 60 Jahren. Gewalt hat in Glasgow
ich einen Mann, der kurz zu uns herüberblickt, dann weitergeht. Mit lauter Stimme sage ich: «Ich bin Journalist»,
Tradition: von Pub-Fights über Drogenkriege bis hin zur legendären «Razorblade-Gang» hat die Stadt alles gese-
es klingt schwächlich. Es ist mein erster Abend in Glasgow. Und ich habe Angst vor 11-Jährigen. Glasgow ist die
hen. Bis heute hat sich nur eines geändert: die Gangs haben Internetauftritte. In einem Chatroom schreibt «Killa»:
«Hauptstadt der Messer» (BBC), die «Hauptstadt der Morde» («Guardian»). 2005 gab es durchschnittlich jede
«We rip yer toung oot and make u eat it if u try touchin’ Kean.» («Wir reissen dir die Zunge raus und zwingen dich,
Woche einen Mord und sechs Mordversuche – mit Messern. In den letzten zwanzig Jahren ist die Mordrate in
sie zu essen, wenn du Kean etwas tust.») Ob die Websites die Wirklichkeit widerspiegeln, ist umstritten. Die Polizei
der Stadt um 83 Prozent gestiegen. Angriffe mit Messern haben in den letzten acht Jahren um 350 Prozent zuge-
lässt die Sites nicht sperren, um nicht den letzten Kontakt zu den Kids zu verlieren.
nommen. Mehr als die Hälfte der Morde gehen auf das Konto jugendlicher Gangs. Kenny MacAskill, Sprecher des
Nur wenige Klicks von den Tätern entfernt findet man die Website der Opfer. Auf www.glasgowsurvival.co.uk
Justizministeriums, sagte kürzlich: «Wir sind in einer Messer-Pandemie.» Die Polizei kündigte an, massiv dagegen
listen anonyme Schreiber Berichte von Gang-Übergriffen auf, zeigen Fotos und mit Mobiltelefonen festgehaltene
vorzugehen. Bisher mit wenig Erfolg. Kein Tag vergeht, ohne dass die Presse Überfälle, Bandenkriege und immer
Videos von Schlägereien, ferner gibt es auf der Site Verhaltensregeln und Hinweise auf No-go-Areas. In einem der
wieder Messerstechereien meldet. Ganze Bezirke gelten als No-go-Areas. Es sind die Endstationen der Buslinien:
abscheulichsten Beiträge ist das «Chelsea Smile» beschrieben, eine Foltertechnik, bei der man mit einem Messer
Drumchapel im Nordwesten, Castlemilk im Süden und Easterhouse im Osten.
dem Gegner die Mundwinkel einige Zentimeter aufschneidet. Dann tritt man ihm zwischen die Beine. Er schreit,
Ich will ihnen meinen Presseausweis zeigen und hole mein Portemonnaie hervor. Darauf haben sie gewartet. Meine
öffnet dabei reflexartig den Mund, und die Wunden reissen auf, bis zu den Ohren. Die Narbe sieht aus wie ein
Angst wird zu Panik. Plötzlich tauchen zwei weitere Jungs auf, sie sind etwas älter, der eine fragt mich, wer ich sei.
fratzenhaft verzerrtes Grinsen.
«Ich recherchiere über Streetgangs.» – «We’re the Gorbals Sooside Cumpies», sagt der mittlere und grinst stolz. Die
Einer der besten Kenner der Glasgower Gangszene ist David Leask, Reporter bei «The Herald», Glasgows wich-
Stimmung entspannt sich auf einen Schlag, die Jungs kichern, alles Gefährliche fällt von ihnen ab. Sie sind wieder
tigster Tageszeitung. Er war es, der im April die «Gang Map», eine Art Strassenkarte aller Glasgower Gangs, ver-
Kinder, und ich bin wieder erwachsen. Der eine heisst Dean, er ist dreizehn, Martin und Ken sind zwölf. Die beiden
öffentlichte. Er war es auch, der die Berichte der Polizei publizierte, in denen das wahre Ausmass der Missstände,
älteren sind um die zwanzig.
aber auch die Hilflosigkeit der Behörden festgehalten wurde. «Es gibt mehrere Gewaltniveaus», erklärt David Leask,
Die jüngeren besuchen die Schule, die älteren haben keine Arbeit und «werden auch nie eine haben», sagt Ty.
«die Kämpfe der 10- bis 14-Jährigen, da wird viel gedroht, manchmal auch geprügelt, die Verletzungen sind relativ
Unter der Woche rauchen sie Hasch, am Wochenende trinken sie, am liebsten Buckfast (15-prozentiger gesüsster
harmlos. Dann gibt es die Älteren, bis 20-Jährigen, die sich freitagabends betrinken und gegenseitig jagen. Die
Wein). Wenn sie nicht auf der Strasse sind, schauen sie DVDs – «Action und Pornos». Ken grinst, Dean schlägt
Verletzungen sind zum Teil verheerend.»
ihn ins Gesicht, alle lachen. Es sind halt Kinder. Sie beginnen ständig aus dem Nichts zu streiten, schreien sich an,
Manche der Jugendlichen sind Laufburschen des organisierten Verbrechens, die meisten aber treibt vor allem
schlagen sich über den Kopf oder ins Gesicht und legen den Streit urplötzlich bei. Mit der Zeit reden sie immer
eines in die Gewalt: Langeweile. «Recreational violence» (Gewalt als Freizeitbeschäftigung) ist eine Wortschöp-
schneller, immer lauter und sind noch immer kaum zu verstehen.
fung der Glasgower Polizei und bezeichnet die regelmässigen Gangfights. Am schlimmsten sind die «Afters»
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(«Nachspeisen»), Racheaktionen, bei denen Gangmitglieder einzeln gejagt und erstochen werden. «Wir haben
Potential» der Stadt erkannten. Mit einer sieben Millionen Pfund teuren Imagekampagne wurde die Stadt general-
jährlich zwischen 60 und 100 Morde. Seit zwanzig Jahren. Gewalt wird bei uns vererbt, genauso wie Armut oder
überholt. Der Slogan der Berater lautete: «Glasgow miles better.» Die nuschelnde Lautverschiebung im Glasgower
Arbeitslosigkeit.»
Dialekt machte daraus: «Glasgow smiles better.» 1990, als Glasgow Weltkulturhauptstadt war, kamen 9 Millionen
Wer 999, die Notrufnummer der Ambulanz, wählt, wird mit dem Glasgow Royal Infirmary verbunden. In dem
Touristen. In die Vororte fuhr niemand. Diese galten Ende der 1990er Jahre als die «schlimmsten Slums Europas»
prächtigen Ziegelbau im Westen der Stadt wurden letztes Jahr 1301 Opfer von Messerstechereien versorgt. Randy
(BBC). Die Lösung: Man baute wiederum neue Häuser.
Crawford, einer der Chefärzte der Unfallchirurgie, sagte gegenüber der Presse, eine solch «hemmungslose Ge-
Wenn man heute durch die Aussenbezirke Glasgows fährt, sieht man nirgends herumlungernde Menschen-
waltorgie, so übel zugerichtete Jugendliche» habe er in der westlichen Welt noch nie gesehen. Seither ist es schwie-
gruppen, auch keine rivalisierenden Gangs, keine heroinsüchtigen Halbwüchsigen und kaum Graffiti. Statt-
rig, Aussagen von Krankenhausangestellten zu bekommen.
dessen zweistöckige Reihenhäuser mit Vorgarten, etwas verwildert zwar, aber durchaus sympathisch. Die Vorstel-
Ich treffe einen Krankenpfleger, der anonym bleiben will, im «Starbucks» in der Haupteinkaufsstrasse Buchanan
lung, dass hier Gangmitglieder wohnen, fällt schwer. «Man sieht nicht, dass es den Menschen schlechtgeht, weil die
Road. Der 28-Jährige mit den fast mädchenhaften Zügen fingert nervös an seinem Pappbecher. «Es ist noch schlim-
Häuser neu sind», sagt Gerry. «Aber die Menschen hier sind krank, sie sind gewalttätig, sie sterben früh.»
mer, als es in der Zeitung steht.» Er spricht mit einer dünnen, monotonen Stimme, als wäre kein Wort es wert,
Rund 400 000 Menschen leben heute in der Agglomeration. In einem typischen «Outskirt» wie Carlton liegt die
betont zu werden. «Es sind dieselben zwei Probleme: Rauschmittel und Gewalt – das ist nicht neu. Was neu ist,
Lebenserwartung bei 54 Jahren, 60 Prozent der Bewohner sind Sozialhilfeempfänger. Diabetes-II-Fälle sind doppelt
ist das Einstiegsalter.» Es heisst, es gebe rund 50 Heroin konsumenten unter 12 Jahren in Glasgow. Er sagt, es seien
so häufig wie anderswo in Schottland, häusliche Gewalt üblich. In einem der wenigen alten, von Graffiti übersäten
wohl eher doppelt so viele. In Westschottland werden jedes Jahr 300 Kinder heroinsüchtiger Mütter geboren.
Häuser im East End hat jemand an die Wand gesprayt: «In the battle of life, those who want to live die. And those
Aber Heroin sei nicht das einzige Problem. «Ich bin bei mehreren Kids sicher, dass sie auf PCP waren.» PCP (Phe-
who want to die live.» («Im Lebenskampf sterben jene, die leben wollen, und jene, die sterben wollen, leben.»)
nyl-Cyclidin-Piperidin, «Crystal» genannt) ist eine schmerzbetäubende Droge; im völlig unkontrollierten Rausch
Aber woher kommt der Hang zur Gewalt? Armut, Langeweile und eine verrohte Kultur, sagen jene, die mit den
nimmt der Konsument Verletzungen nicht mehr wahr.
Kindern arbeiten. Die Jugendgewalt sei aber nur ein Ausdruck der tieferliegenden «Krankheit», einer latenten Gewalt-
Auch die Statistik über Messeropfer sei irreführend, sagt der Krankenpfleger. Eine Untersuchung in Glasgower
bereitschaft. Die Soziologin Carol Craig spricht in ihrem Standardwerk «The Scott’s Crisis of Confidence» von einem
Krankenhäusern zeige, dass weniger als die Hälfte der Opfer von Messerstechereien polizeilich gemeldet wurden.
«Minderwertigkeitskomplex, der in Gewalt mündet». Professor Phil Hanon von der Glasgow University hat in einer
Meistens kennt das Opfer den Täter und vermeidet eine Anzeige aus Furcht vor Racheaktionen.
Langzeitstudie eine mysteriöse, krankhaft selbstzerstörerische Energie entdeckt, er nennt sie den «Glasgow-Effekt».
Menschen wie den Krankenpfleger treffe ich in den nächsten Tagen viele. Lehrer, Sozialarbeiter, Drogenbeauftragte,
Andere erklären die Gewalt mit der Tatsache, dass Verlierer, Tagelöhner und Verbrecher in Glasgow traditionell
Polizisten erzählen mir ähnliche Geschichten. Für eine offizielle Stellungnahme verweisen sie mich an die Pressestelle
ein höheres Ansehen hätten als erfolgreiche Bürger. «Unsere Vorbilder sind nicht attraktiv, sie sind begrenzt und
des Glasgow City Council oder der Strathclyde Police. Dort gibt es seit langem die ersten hoffnungsvollen Zahlen,
begrenzend», schreibt Angus Calder in «A Scott’s Mind». So ist der grosse Gangster der 1960er Jahre, Jimmy Boyle,
Gewaltverbrechen sind in den letzten 12 Monaten um fast 30 Prozent zurückgegangen. Polizeichef John Carnochan
in den Augen vieler ein Held. Auch heutige Mafiagrössen wie Paul Ferris oder «Tam» McGraw geniessen einen
warnt aber vor vorzeitiger Euphorie: «Vor einem Jahr hatten wir die meisten Morde, dieses Jahr deutlich weniger, wir
merkwürdigen Respekt.
können noch keinen Trend erkennen.»
In den Pubs werden die Theorien gewagter, Allan Brown, Kolumnist der «Sunday Times», erklärt nach dem
Mit dem Fotografen Gerry McCann, der zwanzig Jahre als Sozialarbeiter in Glasgow gearbeitet hat, fahre ich durch
dritten «Rye and Dry» (Whisky mit Ginger Ale): «Das Problem ist: Den meisten Glasgowern gefällt vermut-
die Problemzonen der Stadt. Wir beginnen in Gorbals und dann Richtung Nordwesten nach Govan – hier schlug
lich die Idee vom selbstzerstörerischen Glasgow-Effekt; wir sehen uns gern als tragische Verlierer.» Im Klassiker
einst das stolze Arbeiterherz Glasgows. Als in den 1930er Jahren die Verslumung der grossen Werftarbeiterviertel
«Lanark» zeichnet Alasdair Gray das Bild einer Stadt, Unthank («Undank»), in der die Sonne nie scheint, die
bedrohlich zunahm, entschloss sich Glasgow zum «grossen Reinemachen». An der Peripherie der Stadt baute man
Menschen an schweren Krankheiten leiden, von der Sozialhilfe leben und hie und da auf unerklärliche Weise im
in den nächsten 40 Jahren neue Häuser und siedelte die Arbeiter um. Die Idee war ebenso einfach wie trügerisch.
Boden verschwinden. Im letzten Kapitel kommt die Auflösung: Unthank ist Glasgow. «Das Bild stimmt, ich mag
Man verhinderte die Verslumung der Innenstadt, indem man die Problemfälle in neue Häuser verlegte. Die Strate-
Glasgow trotzdem oder gerade deshalb», sagt Allan Brown ohne Ironie. Bei allem Elend verbindet die Glasgower
gie wurde 1985 perfektioniert, als McKinsey-Berater in einer grossangelegten Untersuchung das «postindustrielle
eine berührend unverbrüchliche Liebe zu ihrer kranken Heimatstadt.
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Das «Youth Complex» ist ein Jugendzentrum in Castlemilk. In einem schlicht eingerichteten Raum sitzen Ju-
In der geschäftigen Argyle Road, im schäbigeren Teil der Glasgower Innenstadt, liegen kleine Trödelläden dicht an
gendliche vor dem TV. Sitzen ist eigentlich falsch, sie rutschen auf ihren Stühlen herum, sind keine Sekunde still,
dicht. Einer verkauft Musikanlagen, Funkgeräte, Luftpistolen und jede Menge Messer. Klappmesser, Springmesser,
schreien durcheinander, man versteht kein Wort. Sie tragen den Ned-Look: Trainer, Turnschuhe, die Haare kurz
Kampfmesser, Sackmesser, Schwerter, Macheten.
rasiert. Einer dreht den TV lauter. Scott McNair, 42, hat heute Aufsicht, er war früher selbst ein Gangmitglied und
beherrscht den Jargon der Kinder, die sich um ihn scharen wie um einen grossen Bruder. Alle zwanzig Minuten
«Wenn die meinen Laden kennen, spar ich mir die Werbung.»
schickt er einen zur Massage. «Es ist ein Wundermittel, das Einzige, was sie beruhigt.»
Aus Mr. Morris’ fleischigem Gesicht strahlt unverhohlene Arroganz.
Viele der Kinder verlassen aus Angst vor Übergriffen nie ihr «Scheme», ihre Strassenzüge. Ein Umzug der Eltern in
«Mit Ihren Messern werden vielleicht Morde begangen.»
einen neuen Bezirk mit einer neuen Gang käme in den Augen dieser Kids einer Exekution gleich, erklärt Scott. Das
«Das ist Unsinn. Noch nie wurde mit einem hier gekauften Gegenstand ein Verbrechen verübt.»
Jugendzentrum ist eine Möglichkeit, sich ausserhalb der Gangstruktur zu treffen. Aber weil das Geld fehlt, wird das
Seine Augen fixieren mich, er schwitzt unter den Armen.
Zentrum wohl nächstes Jahr schliessen müssen.
Wie erklärt Scott McNair die Gewaltbereitschaft? «Viele haben ein Alkoholproblem, manche sind drogensüchtig:
«Wollen Sie wissen, warum sich Menschen umbringen? Warum Sie in der Schweiz kaum Morde haben, obwohl
Speed, MDMA, Cannabis. Und sie sind süchtig nach Gewalt. Das Adrenalin, das in deinen Schläfen pumpt, wenn
jeder Mann ein Gewehr zu Hause hat, hier in Glasgow aber Kinder sich mit Küchenmessern niedermetzeln?
du dich prügelst, ist der stärkste Rausch.» Bei den Gangfights gelte eine Art Ehrenkodex. Letzte Woche wollte er
Wollen Sie wissen, warum in Glasgow der Verkauf von Baseballschlägern boomt, obwohl es keine Baseballver-
schlichten, als sich 14-Jährige mit Baseballschlägern prügelten. Angst hatte er dabei keine, ihn liessen sie in Ruhe.
eine gibt? Die Antwort ist ein Wort: Armut.»
«Die Gangs sind keine Bedrohung für andere, nur für sich selbst.»
Zurzeit läuft eine Messeramnestie in Glasgow. Anonym kann man Waffen bei jeder Polizeistelle abgeben. 1993 gab es
«Warum prügelt ihr euch?» frage ich einen der Jungen.
die letzte Amnestie. Die Zahl der Messerattacken sank im Folgejahr um 26 Prozent. Um danach wieder zu steigen.
«Schätze, es macht Spass, jemanden fertigzumachen, vor dem du Angst hast.»
«Hast du Angst, wenn du allein nach Hause gehst?»
«Jeder hier weiss, dass er eines Tages dran ist. Seit ich denken kann, warte ich darauf, dass es passiert.»
Erst vor zwei Wochen war es wieder passiert. Eine Gang lauerte einem Jungen aus der Gegend auf. Sie umkreisten ihn grölend, schubsten ihn, drohten ihm. Dann stiessen sie ihn gegen eine Mauer. Der Junge wehrte sich
und schlug verzweifelt um sich. Die Schlägerei hätte vermutlich mit einer blutigen Lippe, vielleicht einer gebrochenen Rippe geendet – hätte nicht plötzlich einer der Angreifer ein Messer gezückt. Im Handgemenge rammte
er dem Jungen die Klinge in den Oberschenkel. Der Junge griff sich ans Bein, fiel hin, wimmerte. Da liessen sie
von ihm ab und rannten davon. Das Messer hatte eine Arterie getroffen, der Junge verblutete innerhalb von 15
Minuten. Er war 14 Jahre alt.
Auf der Beerdigung waren Mitglieder der verfeindeten Gangs, alle waren geschockt. «Es sind Kinder, keine Killer»,
sagt Scott, «ihr Journalisten vergesst das oft zu schnell.»
Einer der Jungen im Jugendzentrum hat unbewegt der Geschichte zugehört. «Wo kauft ihr eure Messer?» frage
ich ihn. «Bei Victor Morris.»
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