Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls recognized among the most at risk cultural sites in Europe
Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s A-listed masterpiece, the Egyptian Halls, has been shortlisted by the pan-European heritage organisation, Europa Nostra, for its 7 Most Endangered programme
The former warehouse on Union Street, Glasgow has now been empty for 40 years, and this magnificent building has fallen into decay. The SPAB collaborated with the Alexander Thomson Society on the application for Egyptian Halls to be shortlisted by Europa Nostra, as the window to save one of Glasgow’s most significant buildings is rapidly closing.
Completed in 1872, Egyptian Halls hosted public gatherings, musical performances and over 50 stalls selling goods from around the world. The five-story building was built in a Classical style with an unusual combination of Greek, Egyptian and Assyrian detailing.
The condition of the building is deteriorating rapidly. Much of Thomson’s original interior has been lost, but currently the building’s principal facade remains almost intact. Planning permission has been granted on several occasions to convert the building into a hotel, but these have stalled due to a lack of available public funding. The SPAB has nominated the site with the support of the Alexander Thomson Society, who support research into finding a realistic alternative use for the building.
The final list of 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe will be announced in March 2020. To demonstrate public backing for the building to be saved, an online petition has been set up: http://chng.it/KXKpZCsbDt.
The Alexander Thomson Society, in partnership with the SPAB, will be running a mini conference in Glasgow in spring 2020 centered on the re-use of old buildings. Speakers include Niall Murphy from Glasgow City Heritage Trust and Sara Crofts, Director of the Institute of Conservation. There will be an opportunity for a guided tour of the site, in addition to an exhibition showcasing the submissions for the ‘Reimagining Egyptian Halls’ competition.
Notes to editors
The SPAB is Britain’s oldest building conservation charity. It was set up by William Morris in 1877 to oppose the destructive restorations of the Victorian era and promote the alternative of “conservative repair”. By law it must be notified of applications to demolish listed buildings in England and Wales and comments on hundreds each year. Today its broad remit is to advise, educate and campaign. The Society also trains architects and craftsmen; produces a range of helpful publications and campaigns on issues like VAT. It also has a separate section devoted to wind and watermills.
The 7 Most Endangered 2020
The 7 Most Endangered programme is organised by Europa Nostra, the Voice of Cultural Heritage in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute. It is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The 7 Most Endangered programme, launched in January 2013, is a civil society campaign to save Europe's endangered heritage. While not providing direct funding, it raises awareness, prepares independent assessments, proposes feasible action plans to mobilise public and private support. You can read about the positive impact of the scheme here. An advisory panel, composed of 15 international experts, selected the most endangered heritage sites on the basis of their historic and cultural value and the urgency of the threat they are facing, as well as the community engagement, the commitment of public and private stakeholders, the long-term sustainability and the socio-economic potential of the site.
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