2-year city saga that surfaced in George Square

THE revamp of Glasgow's civic centrepiece, George Square, has been one of the most controversial and protracted sagas of the past two years.

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Fraser Bruce and Ewan Bruce changed the look of George Square
Fraser Bruce and Ewan Bruce changed the look of George Square

Council chiefs had to back down from replacing the historic statues after a public outcry.

Then a much-vaunted design competition was scrapped by Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson after tenders had been submitted and the winner announced.

Police were called in to investigate at one point before a "compromise" temporary facelift was decided on at a cost of £500,000.

Last year the square became grey, in keeping with the nearby statues and buildings.

But if anyone thinks Glasgow's infamous 'Red Square' has gone for good, they should think again.

Grey bauxite was shipped in specially from Communist China to change the look, but the red asphalt that was laid in the 1990s is still there - it has just been covered over.

Fraser Bruce, the man whose company was responsible for the work, said 67 tonnes of stone had to be imported to complete the job.

He added: "They could only deliver it in two loads because they couldn't find enough aggregate for us."

Mr Bruce explained that importing material is often necessary because so many UK quarries have been over-used in the past.

He said: "There are British-based alternatives that aren't as good, they aren't as colourful.

"It is cheaper but they just don't look the part."

Mr Bruce. 66, is originally from Rutherglen and his company, the Fraser Bruce group, is based in Stirling.

He added: "With the Commonwealth Games coming up, Glasgow had originally thought of refurbishing George Square totally but at the moment I don't think the finances are there, nor the time.

"They want to have the square looking pristine but without spending too much money on it.

"Our main aim on the square was to get rid of the red tarmac that created such a stir when it was first laid.

"It was always seen as a political step by the previous local authority.

"Lots of samples were carried out and the city council eventually chose the aggregate and colour that they wanted.

"They wanted it in many ways to tie in with the existing colour of the war memorial and of the City Chambers buildings.

The company had a core squad of six men working on the square for two months, finishing the work two days before the Great Scottish Run.

Mr Bruce said: "We got lots of comments initially from the councillors. They were the first ones we had to please and they were absolutely delighted.

"The feeling from people I've spoken to, taxi-drivers or others, is that it's a big improvement, it looks so much better now.

"There is a real pride in completing something like that. I love the thought that I have been part of something that will stay in Glasgow for I don't know how long.

"One problem area, though, was where the public wanted to feed pigeons. We would clean the area, somebody would throw bread on to the cleaned area, then the pigeons came along."

iain.lundy@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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