Wednesday, 27 April 2011

New Bridges on the Clyde

When driving on the M8 motorway, one of the few highlights is crossing the Kingston Bridge. For a brief moment a view opens out, up and down the Clyde in the centre of Glasgow. It has been so long since I have strolled along the Broomielaw that there have been a couple of new bridges built in the meantime. It was high time I returned to old haunts.

The Squiggly Bridge:


The first bridge is pedestrian-only, and connects the warehouses of Tradeston with the new financial district that has sprung up along a previously run-down waterfront. I'm not sure of its name, but as the one further downstream is called the Squinty Bridge, I'll call this one the Squiggly Bridge. Its wavy passage across the Clyde does not annoy as you might expect (if one wants to get from one side to the other as quickly and efficiently as possible) and although it looks clunky from a distance, when on it it has a certain grace.

The Squinty Bridge:


The next new bridge, just a mile downstream, is the Squinty Bridge, so-called because it crosses the Clyde at an angle. A quick march and a cup of tea to follow at the SECC, across Bell's Bridge to Pacific Quay, but then an attempt to return along the south side of the river was thwarted by a couple of high metal fences, forcing a detour in to Tradeston. However from the south bank the old Finnieston Crane looks imposing, one of the few reminders of Glasgow's old heavy industry.

Finnieston Crane:


Despite the redevelopment of new bridges, flats, financial backoffices, the SECC and BBC HQ, the Clyde at this point remains quiet, even desolate, the wind whipping up the river and across the deserted promenade. Like the windswept plazas of the new V&A in Dundee, architects with little understanding of the Scottish climate have created an area that is redeveloped yet not particular pleasant for urban living.

Pacific Quay from the Squinty Bridge:


However it is good to see some long-overdue care and attention being given to redeveloping the Clyde, even if it is not quite there yet. I can't help feeling that Glasgow is on the cusp of a big change, one for the better. It has been a city of decay for the last 40 years, and the redevelopments that have happened so far have been largely cosmetic. So the next wave of redevelopment will hopefully go deeper than just new buildings. Red Clydeside died over a generation ago. The time of the green Clyde is surely imminent.

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