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The Conservation and Re-use of Pollokshaws West Railway Station: Visit to South West Community Cycles - Tuesday 14 April 2015

Pollokshaws West Station, one of Glasgow's oldest surviving railway stations, is a category B-listed Building and was registered on the Buildings at Risk Register. The project was to conserve the building, giving it a new lease of life as a cycling resource and activities centre for South West Community Cycles (SWCC).

No longer of direct use to the travelling public or the Railways, the former accommodation, such as the station master's living quarters and the first and second class waiting rooms were stripped back to brick shells in the late 1990's. The original timber floors were replaced with concrete ones and the ceilings, windows and doors removed before the buildings were boarded up to the public. The station itself however has remained operational and the underpass, stairs and platforms are used regularly by rail passengers and thus have continued to be maintained by Network Rail and First ScotRail.

The buildings have now been given a new lease of life via its re-use which was project managed by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust (GBPT) for SWCC who are a community based charity that provide low-cost cycling facilities and constructive activities i.e. provision of free bike repairs, low-cost bike hire and sales, training and events etc.

Their principal aim is to engage a broad section of the community, particularly its young people and their families, in healthy and constructive activities to help address issues of poverty and anti-social behaviour. Although there is a high level of interest in cycles in the area, there were very few organised activities to enable their use in a safe and controlled environment until now. Before the station had been adapted for SWCC they had been struggling to deliver their services from a small and very limited base; a small shop and travelling van making it impossible to effectively deliver and expand their existing activities for the benefit a greater number of people.

The station building however, which is ideally located on a busy commuter line, adjacent to a large public park, has created a permanent and ideal base for their operation, providing maximum benefits for the local community particularly its young people. GBPT's role has been to test the suitability of the building for SWCC via a feasibility study; assess the availability of funds and raise them; lease the building; project manage the delivery of its repair and re-use in a sensitive and sustainable way; and the assignation of the lease on to SWCC.

Joint funding and partnership working with First ScotRail and Network Rail has been essential in ensuring the successful delivery of the re-use of this redundant accommodation located within what is a working station and which cost 750,000. It was funded by 15 separate public and private funders. The project has saved an important listed building, improved the local environment and rekindled a sense of place and pride in the area.

Work included the complete repair of the building and a degree of internal remodelling, to provide suitable accommodation and facilities for SWCC. The spaces are now beautifully lined out in timber lining, with meticulous attention to detail. The facilities include: offices; reception and display area; cycle repair workshop; park and ride bike storage; training and educational and outreach resource space and ancillary facilities such as WC's, a kitchen, showers and lockers.

In the building on the opposite platform a café and information point have been provided. The benefits to the local community include; educational services, programmes and facilities; improved community cohesion; promotion of traditional skills and materials; access to sports, leisure and cultural opportunities not previously available (improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and families); improved access to training, volunteer and employment opportunities (building confidence and creating life skills); and promotion of recycling and other environmental measures including biomass heating systems.

Report by John Yellowlees.

 

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