Greens: Glasgow City Council must protect Egyptian Halls

For immediate release 31 May 2011

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, today lodged a motion at Holyrood calling on Glasgow City Council to protect the Grade A listed Egyptian Halls on Union Street. The property, designed by Alexander "Greek" Thomson and built in the 1870s, was described last year by the Secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland as "the finest surviving example of an Alexander Thomson commercial building", and "of the first international importance". (2) Campaigns to protect the Egyptian Halls and other Alexander Thomson buildings in Glasgow have been led by the Alexander Thomson Society.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"This magnificent building has been empty for too long, but that is no excuse for demolition. Thomson has left a legacy to Glasgow at least as influential as Charles Rennie Macintosh's, and we owe the Alexander Thomson Society a debt of gratitude for their tireless work to protect this legacy. Glasgow City Council must reject this application to demolish the Egyptian Halls, and must also redouble efforts to work with the owners to ensure the property is not just kept standing and derelict but is instead fully and sensitively restored. The Egyptian Halls have had a troubled history to say the least, but if revitalised and brought back into use, this landmark building could be the centrepiece of efforts to boost both conservation and business in the heart of Glasgow."

The text of the motion is as follows:

S4M-00094 Patrick Harvie (Scottish Green Party): That the Parliament recognises the cultural value of Glasgow's Egyptian Halls, a Grade A listed building designed by Alexander "Greek" Thomson, which is recognised as an architectural treasure of the city; deeply regrets the loss and dilapidation of other Greek Thomson buildings over the years, such as Caledonia Road Free Church; is concerned that the current owner of the Egyptian Halls is seeking permission to demolish the building, which it considers would deprive Glasgow of yet another part of its architectural heritage; considers that the owner of a culturally significant building bears a special responsibility for its protection and restoration, and that this responsibility cannot be divorced from the benefits of ownership; calls on Glasgow City Council to refuse permission to demolish the Egyptian Halls, and on the owner of the halls to work with the council and others to fully restore the building, and thanks the Greek Thomson Society for its work over many years in protecting and promoting Thomson's life and work.