People’s Palace to stay open after Glasgow City Council approves £350,000 for adaptations

Written by Jenni Davidson on 1 November 2018 in News

The adjoining Winter Gardens will close at the end of the year because of concerns over the safety of the structure

Winter Gardens with People's Palace behind - Image credit: Patrick Down via Twitter

Glasgow’s People’s Palace is to stay open after a council committee today agreed to spend £350,000 making adaptions to the building.

The People’s Palace had been expected to close at the end of the year due to structural issues with the adjoining Winter Gardens glasshouse, which provides fire escape routes for the museum.

However, Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee has agreed to fund work to the museum building so that it can remain open while the gardens are closed to the public.

It is expected that the social history museum will have to shut on a temporary basis while the adaptations are carried out, with work estimated to last eight to twelve weeks.

Glasgow City Council leader Councillor Susan Aitken said: “There was strong, emotional reaction to the possible closure of the People’s Palace, which shows exactly what it means to the people of Glasgow.

“In the circumstances it is right that we have pursued a plan that will allow it to remain open independently of the Winter Gardens.”

Aitken said that while Winter Gardens was also a “much loved part of the city’s heritage”, because of its “ornate and detailed design” it would require a “substantial and expensive programme of repairs”.

The Winter Gardens will close on 31 December after an engineer’s report highlighted public safety concerns with the structure.

In 2016 a pane of glass fell into the Winter Gardens glasshouse and protective netting was installed around it at a cost £270,000 to prevent further incidents.  

Since then the gardens has had to be closed during periods of high winds or heavy snow.

But now the sealant used to hold thousands of windows in the glasshouse in place has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced – with repairs predicted to cost between £5m and £7.5m.

The plan put before the committee suggested that the current situation was an opportunity for a “complete review of the purpose and function of both buildings” as well as the city’s other historic glasshouses and a follow-up feasibility study will now look at how to make them sustainable for the future.

Aitken said: “At this point it is also right that we take stock and look for sustainable options for both the Winter Gardens and the People’s Palace.

“This has to be part of a wider look at all our glasshouses and other built heritage.

“It is not enough to keep pouring money into our historic buildings and hoping for a different outcome, both physically and financially.

“We need to think creatively about how we use our built heritage so that the architecture that everyone in the city enjoys does have a sustainable future.

“This will be no easy task, but developing a heritage strategy will help us to determine what we need to do protect these buildings for generations to come.”

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