Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Springburn Public Halls, Glasgow
Details:

Architect: William B Whitie
Sculptor: James M Sherriff
Location: 11 Millarbank Street
Date built: 1899-1902


Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
The gift of Sir Hugh Reid, owner of the Hyde Park Locomotive Works and a great benefactor to Springburn, Whitie 's Renaissance design won a competition in 1899, and was exhibited at the RGIFA and published in Academy Architecture in 1900 (Cat. no. 527). The building was opened on 16th May, 1902.

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
The sculpture alludes to the district's industries and to the building's function as a concert hall. Occupying niches on the Millarbank Street façade are two Classical maidens with attributes representing Locomotive Building (holding a model locomotive and wheel) and Engineering (with a machinery component and anvil).

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
High above them, in a huge broken pediment, the building's function as an entertainment venue is advertised in the high-relief putti and festive and fruity garlands, and its central shield and tablets inscribed: Music, Song and Story.

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
Prominent amidst the sculpture scheme is the Glasgow Coat of Arms surmounted by a half-length figure of St Mungo (Glasgow's patron saint) giving his blessing to the enterprise and holding a bronze crozier. This group is displayed above the main entrance.

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
Symbols from the arms have also been extracted and distributed elsewhere on the building. The tree motif appears on the shield in the pediment and, appropriately, is used to symbolise The Tree of Knowledge , whilst the Bird, Bell, Salmon and an Oak Leaf, illustrating episodes from the saint's miracles and life, are carved on cartouches on the Keppochill Road façade.

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow. Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.
After years of disuse and decay, and the destruction of its fine interior, efforts were made in 1999 to highlight the building's plight and its value to Springburn and the city's architectural heritage. The building was eventually demolished in December 2012, its statues having been rescued and placed in storage prior to the destruction of the rest of the building's carved ornament.

Springburn Public Halls, Millarbank Street, Glasgow.

Sources:

  • B , Vol. 76, 17 June, 1899 [competition results], p. 592;
  • B , Vol. 77, 10 October, 1900 [foundation stone laying], p. 348;
  • AA , 1900 (I), pp. 110-111;
  • B , vol. 82, 24 May, 1902 [halls opened], p. 525;
  • GAPC , 20 May, 1902 [Sherriff identified], n.p.;
  • H , 17 June, 1999, News, p. 10;
  • Lack (ed) (1999), pp. 20-1;
  • The Glaswegian [Springing life back into Springburn], 25 January, 2001, p. 5;
  • VM : C1800;
  • Williamson et al. ;
  • H , End of road for historic building, 28 December, 2012, p. 11;

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