Heritage Lottery Fund Helps Govan to Take Next Step

Fabulous news. Heritage Lottery has earmarked £1.8 million to take forward a second phase of Govan Cross Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). We are absolutely delighted.

The THI (a partnership between Heritage Lottery and Glasgow City Council) aims to breathe new life into Govan by improving the attractiveness and offer of Govan’s unique historic environment in order to attract new residents, jobs and visitors that will help sustain and boost the prosperity of the former shipbuilding community.

Included in the award was development funding of £50,000 to help the THI progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. This will be matched with £47,000 from Glasgow City Council.

If approved, this project will be the second phase of the already highly successful Govan Cross THI, which has operated in Govan since 2009, and would result in major regeneration investment continuing in Govan until 2021.

Bailie Liz Cameron, Executive Member for Jobs and the Economy at Glasgow City Council, said: “This decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund confirms the confidence they and many others have in Govan’s future and allows Govan Townscape Heritage Initiative to move onto its second stage. We are very grateful for the support of the HLF as a key investor in the THI to realise those opportunities for the benefit of Govan and the city. ”

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The regeneration of town centres is an obvious way in which we as an organisation can make an important contribution to improving the economy of an area and the standard of living for the people resident there.

“Investing lottery money to revitalise historic buildings at the heart of a community, not only makes a place more attractive to live, visit and invest in, it also provides jobs and training opportunities for local people. We are delighted to make this award to Govan as part of our on-going commitment to preserving Scotland’s heritage in a way in which is relevant to the needs of today.”

The second phase of the THI project aims to carry on the regeneration work instigated in the first phase and will include a wide range of projects. Plans to support community-led proposals to convert the vacant ground floor of Govan Old Church (pictured) into lettable commercial space will be the top THI investment priority. The income generated would be ploughed back into maintaining the important A-listed church building and heart shaped graveyard as the home of the Govan Stones collection.

Govan Old Church, alongside the recently completed Fairfield Heritage Space, will be a significant visitor attraction for Govan, helping to increase footfall and local spend through greater demand for local services.

Investment is also earmarked to carry out essential repair works on many of the signature listed buildings that help define Govan’s unique character, including the Govan New Church Halls at Govan Cross. This will help maintain Govan’s unique architectural legacy and ensure it acts as an asset for the current generations.

A further round of shopfront improvements will continue to transform Govan’s streets, replacing inappropriate modern frontages with those of traditional design and materials. Complemented by public realm improvements such as new paving and street lighting, the shopfront investment will improve the attractiveness of Govan’s streets as a shopping destination, and the THI also aims to work with property owners to bring more vacant shop units back into commercial and community use.

A diverse programme of community heritage events is also planned to get people involved in learning about and looking after Govan’s exceptional built environment in meaningful ways that help promote Govan’s on-going regeneration.

There has been £4.6million investment in the Govan Cross THI to date, a pivotal project in the on-going regeneration of Govan. Completed projects include the restoration of important landmarks including the Pearce Institute, Pearce Statue and Aitken Memorial Fountain, the transformation of public space at Govan Cross and revitalisation of surrounding streets.

One of the biggest successes has been the arrival of Café 13, a new independent café trading from the first THI funded shopfront improvement project. The new café, a favourite amongst locals, has helped change perceptions of Govan for the better, completely transforming the look and feel of Govan Cross from roller-shuttered dereliction to cosmopolitan café culture.

Govan is a remarkable place, with an ancient history dating back to early medieval times that was followed by a second period of prosperity in the 19th century, when its position on the River Clyde allowed it to become a world shipbuilding centre.

The legacy of both these eras is still evident in Govan today, from the elliptical grave yard at Govan Old Church and the exceptional collection of Viking and early Christian carved burial stones that have endured there since 600AD, to the eclectic and often flamboyant architecture and monuments created by Govan’s Victorian captains of industry, and the tenements built cheek by jowl with heavy industry to house the thousands of workers that designed and built some of the finest ships the world has ever seen.

Govan’s history, and the unique built form and community pride it created, is an asset that can be used to harness positive change for the people of Govan today. Go on, get into Govan.