Glasgow 2014: Red Road flats demolished for opening ceremony


Glasgow 2014: Five Red Road flats will be demolished live during the opening ceremony, as James Cook reports

Blocks of flats which have been part of Glasgow's skyline for almost 50 years will be blown up as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Five of the six remaining Red Road flats will be brought down in just 15 seconds in the biggest demolition of its kind ever seen in Europe.

The event will be shown live on a 100m (328ft) wide screen at the Celtic Park ceremony and to a huge TV audience.

The 30-storey structures were built in the mid 1960s.

The original eight tower blocks housed more than 4,000 people and were once the highest flats in Europe.

Regeneration project

They are being demolished as part of a Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) regeneration project.

Eileen Gallagher, chairwoman of the Glasgow 2014 ceremonies, culture and Queen's Baton Relay committee, said: "By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn't stand still, a city that is constantly regenerating, renewing and re-inventing itself."

The first Red Road flat was demolished in June 2012

"Glasgow's story is always one of its people; their tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions. Marking the end of Red Road is very much a celebration of all of those things."

The first tower block was brought down in June 2012. The second demolition took place in May last year.

Homes evacuated

The five tower blocks will be brought down simultaneously during the opening ceremony on 23 July.

One tower block will remain which is currently used to house people seeking asylum in the UK.

As part of the ambitious operation, 887 homes will be evacuated from the surrounding area with an exclusion zone around the whole site.

Letters from Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson are being hand delivered to local people in the surrounding area on Thursday morning informing them of the plan.

Image of the screen at Celtic Park The demolition will be shown live on a 100-ft wide screen at the Celtic Park opening ceremony

Mr Matheson said Glasgow was going to "wow the world" during the opening ceremony.

"Red Road has an iconic place in Glasgow's history, having been home to thousands of families and dominating the city's skyline for decades," he said.

"Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the games."

Residents from homes being evacuated will be invited to watch the opening ceremony at one of two events organised in the local area, or at an event at Glasgow Green.

'Special place'

The Red Road flats have been a iconic presence on the Glasgow skyline for almost 50 years and inspired many books and films.

In 2006, director Andrea Arnold used the flats as the setting for her Scottish Bafta-winning film, Red Road.

Alison Irvine's 2011 novel This Road is Red was based on interviews with people living there.

GHA chairman Gordon Sloan said: "The Red Road flats were very popular in their day and hold a special place in many people's hearts.

The second demolition took place in May 2013

"But they are just no longer viable as modern homes and GHA made the decision to demolish them as part of the wider regeneration of the north of Glasgow.

"We will bring them down in strictly controlled conditions, with the expertise of our contractor Safedem."

Games organiser Glasgow 2014 said the demolition would only take place during the opening ceremony "if and when it is safe to do so".

Safedem plans to use more than 1250kg of explosives to bring the five tower blocks down.

'Bold statement'

Commonwealth Games Minister Shona Robison said: "This spectacular start to the games within the opening ceremony will send a strong signal about the power of the Commonwealth Games.

"For many people, these games are more than sport, they are a chance for regeneration, renewal and having better places to live and work."

David Zolkwer, head of ceremonies and artistic director for Glasgow 2014, said the demolition would be "a bold and confident statement".

"By sharing the blow down with the rest of the world, I hope it will be seen as the noble, respectful and celebratory send-off that it is intended to be," he said.

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games will be held at Celtic Park on 23 July. The games will run until 3 August.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Glasgow 2014, Glasgow City Council and GHA should be embarrassed. As a city resident for 40 years from birth, this is the craziest idea yet! Has anyone in that shambles of a Council forgotten these flats became notorious for their poor design, deprivation and high crime? Senior City Council Director says it will be "fun and their centre piece". OMG! How do we put a stop to this idiotic idea?

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I won't be watching the games based on this decision alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    I was born in Rye Road in a tenement next to Burnie Court, played in the building site and later had a paper round with all the customers living in the falts
    Remember arguing with Micheal Martin, a city Councillor at the time about the state of the blocks and that someone was going to be killed in a fire there, it was only the following week that a 12 year old boy died in a fire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    Is there anyone else out there like me that is a bit sad about it as one of the many who helped to put them up, the tallest in Europe at the time. There were 2 steel companies involved, I worked for Redpath Brown, whose erection was truly vertical (my job as junior engineer to check that). The other was Flemings who got it a bit wrong at first and theirs had to be straightened up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    What a great idea! Removing an eyesore and creating a spectacle!


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