Documentary Photography & Multimedia

RED ROAD UNDERGROUND

The last inhabited block of flats was finally emptied of its residents in March 2015 officially ending the Red Road Flat’s existence as a 1960s utopian housing idea. Only asbestos removal and stripping of this last block stands between it and the complete annihilation of what was once one of the UK’s largest housing schemes and home to over 4000 people. This last block stubbornly held on for several years whilst the rest of the blocks around it were stripped back to their skeleton structures and two other blocks were demolished.

Even the ground beneath Red Road hasn’t survived the onslaught of demolition. Beneath the flats once lay an abandoned and hidden underground ‘bunker’ of leisure that once served as the ‘local amenities’ for the small town of people who once occupied the flats. A nautically themed bar called The Brig was a local pub like no other, without windows, with a boat themed decor and a dark alley way entrance beneath the flats that only Red Road residents could find, or were brave enough to enter. Next door to that was a staggering 1000 seated Mecca Bingo Hall that was open all hours, enticing Red Road’s ladies and others from further beyond.

Closed in the 1990s the Bingo and the Bar lay empty, flooded and partially fire damaged until their doors were opened up briefly by the demolition contractors in early 2011. Inside the bingo hall the ceiling had partially collapsed, the floor and walls were soaked in water and damp rolls of bingo books stuck to chairs like glue. But the wall mirrors, sparking in the reflecting contractors lights and the red and green wallpaper still gave the place an 1980s glamour feel to it. You could imagine the hall packed out with hundreds of chain smoking ladies gambling away small fortunes.

Next door in the Brig bar, all things of value were gone and it had the presence of a post apocalyptic bar fight in which no-one survived. But amidst the chaos some tables and chairs sat upright with shot glasses and someone’s keys sat on the bar next to an empty glass. You could imagine it just being closed yesterday never mind 20 years or so before.  

The residents who lived in flats in the 1980s and 1990s who would have frequented ‘Red Road Underground’ moved from the flats long ago taking their memories with them. Even if it remained opened the last remaining residents of the Red Road flats, all asylum seekers, would have little use or interest in bingo or a nautically themed bar anyway. As a concept it was doomed for eventual failure – it was a social experiment of a bygone era that wouldn’t survive. Much the same as the Red Road flats themselves sadly. As of March 2015 The Bingo and the Brig bar have now been completely demolished. Left behind is a gaping hole, making an ideal burial plot for all the other flats when they are finally brought down, changing Glasgow’s skyline forever.

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