Glasgow’s deserted concrete ‘skyscraper’ – the mysterious Lion Chambers

Within the coronary heart of Glasgow sits the Lion Chambers, a constructing which accomplished building in 1907 – and has sat primarily empty since 1995.

A mixture of Scottish baronial and early-skyscraper design, the Lion Chambers have towered over one among Glasgow’s busiest streets for over 100 years. Constructed proper on the flip of the century, the gorgeous white tower was groundbreaking for its time.

James Salmon and John Gaff Gillespie had been commissioned by William George Black, a profitable lawyer and author from Glasgow, to assemble the constructing. Black was a longtime member of the Glasgow Artwork Membership, and included plans for artists’ studios for the highest flooring of the Lion Chambers – with legal professionals chambers beneath, in addition to retail house on the floor degree.



The Lion Chambers have fallen into a state of disrepair (Image: Wikimedia Commons - Lirazelf)
The Lion Chambers have fallen right into a state of disrepair (Picture: Wikimedia Commons – Lirazelf)

James Salmon, commenting on the constructing the next yr, stated: “The Scottish fashion, I imply particularly that of the outdated rough-cast fort, is eminently tailored to a growth suited to strengthened concrete building. The easy corbelling, the small cornices, the straight strains, the rarity of arches and different particulars are troublesome to assemble: above all, the liberty to do something you want.”

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Glasgow Metropolis Council had been recognized to have a very good relationship with the membership which Black was part of, and it was urged that the approval for building might have come from this. The now A-listed constructing was constructed with the patented “Hennebique Ferro-Concrete” system, which makes use of iron encased in concrete to construct the construction.

This course of, which helped the constructing stand out on the time, is a fundamental think about stopping any restoration – with the estimated value of £1.5million far outweighing any income that restoring the constructing would make. By 1991, the co-owners of the constructing had been served with a Harmful Constructing Discover.

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In April 1991, water-pooling, cracking, and spalling impacts had been reported – and the co-owners determined to pursue demolition, although the approval to demolish was rapidly denied because of the constructing’s class A list. The constructing has stored its outer stone work over time, displaying a lion’s head, in addition to the higher our bodies of some Judges of the courtroom.

In 1995, it was reported that the price of restorations would solely lengthen the Lion Chamber’s life by an extra 20 years. Glasgow Constructing Preservation Belief introduced plans in 1997 to develop a centre for younger designers, together with workshop and coaching areas, although these plans by no means got here to fruition.



The last business to occupy the building left in 2010 (Image: Geograph - Keith Edkins)
The final enterprise to occupy the constructing left in 2010 (Picture: Geograph – Keith Edkins)

The higher flooring of the constructing had been all deemed unfit to be used within the mid 90s, although the retail house and basement was used till 2010. It’s attainable that the Lion Chambers are destined to disintegrate, however they might survive – for a sure value.

Glasgow Metropolis Council, Historic Scotland, and Glasgow Constructing Preservation Belief have all been concerned in makes an attempt to push the undertaking alongside – although with excessive restoration prices, discovering a purchaser has proved troublesome. In 2000, the scaffolding that surrounded the chambers had been changed with wire mesh.



One of the busts on the exterior (Image: Geograph - Thomas Nugent)
One of many busts on the outside (Picture: Geograph – Thomas Nugent)

In response to stories, Glasgow Metropolis Council had supplied the property to sellers for £1 to permit restoration, but the deal fell by means of. In 2019, a go to to the Lion Chambers from Historic Surroundings Scotland revealed the dilapidated state of the inside.

With crumbling partitions, water injury, boarded up home windows and leaking ceilings – it’s laborious to see how the construction might get again to its former self.

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