THE LAST TENEMENT
WHERE IS IT? South of the river where Gorbals Street meets Bedford Street, just along from the Citizen’s Theatre
Colloquially known as The Last Tenement, this building was the former home to the British Linen Bank. It was designed by the architect firm James Salmon & Son. Credit for the design is shared between William Forrest Salmon, a second-generation architect, and his son James, named after William’s father who founded the practice.
The plans were drawn up in 1894, with construction finishing two years later in 1896. In its day it would have been surrounded by similar tenements of the Gorbals area. However, after World War II the area was dragged through a vast redevelopment that involved mass demolitions of a rich architectural history, lost forever. In their place rose hideous modern tower blocks, while some of the land was left vacant for a proposed motorway extension that never materialised.
The British Linen Bank was taken over by the Bank of Scotland in 1969, serving as a merchant bank until 1999 when it was disbanded. However, the company had vacated the Gorbals Street tenement building long before this, and it has lain vacant for nearly three decades. A modern metal roof was added to protect it from the elements while it was decided what could be done to save the B-listed building, as it stands not only as a prime example of the work of Salmon & Son, but of Glasgow’s proud architectural history. In 2008 John Gilbert Architects were hired by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust to explore possible new uses for the building, but as yet no action has been taken, although brand new houses have been built in the vacant land beside it.
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