I was full of positivity when I set off on my Coatbridge Photowalk, you also know a big but is waiting to jump out of these paragraphs , BUT, I made the mistake of parking just off Bank Street, on Ross Street, and on walking around the corner onto the main stretch of Bank street just at the old Sharks gub, I must admit to feeling somewhat subdued at the reality that awaited me.
I really don’t want all my posts to be directed at NLC, as they bring negativity on themselves without my help. However something dreadful is happening to Coatbridge, sadly due to historic neglect and by looking the other way, let me explain. Standing at the sharks mouth and walking 2 feet to where Flossies’ used to stand mentally hurts, what we have is some stunning architecture that has more or less disintegrated over the years, yes, I understand, thankfully, that there are plans are in place to save the essence of this beautiful clump of buildings and maintain the facade. Building from the back to create a wee bit of a controversial homeless unit. Personally, I am in two minds about these proposals, I am delighted that money will be spent to jazz up these iconic Coatbridge buildings, I also agree that Coatbridge also needs a homeless unit due to current social needs. I not entirely convinced that Bank Street is the best place for it though. But you know what I am willing to keep an open mind, especially as it means part saving these buildings.
Turning to face toward the main street is also a cause for concern, and on reflection I’d concede to admitting that the old Royal Hotel, or to us , the old Airdrie Savings Bank and Shunters bar are currently the most important buildings we have, due to old post cards and any requsts for photos on Coatbridge that you type into the interweb bringing up these buildings, as I write this they sit on par with Dundyvan Parish church on my list as must do everything possible to preserve (there are others vitally important to perserve, but I’ll come to those later or in another blog)
Today and for a while, the old ASB lies abandoned, with the eyesore for sale or to let sign clinging to its side like the grim reaper. You don’t know how much I literally pray this gets bought quickly and without grief to save it from the “fires” that seem to be attracted to these vintage buildings. I simply can’t even comprehend driving past the fountain and these buildings no longer being there, this is one of the reasons they now top my must preserve list, sitting right beside Dundyvan Parish Church. It literally sends shivers down my spine to think of them gone.
Now I won’t even go over the Asda side of the Main Street as my feelings are clear on this monstrosity in previous blogs I’ve written links here and here and possibly here. So let’s forget this side for a bit. Your eyes can’t help dart across the road to the main street and the buildings beside Woolworths that are clearly part of original Main Street, clearly of historic importance, and seemed to have caught the vintage fire disease, and this time it’s terminal, they are going, gone, now part photographic folklore like so much of this once beast of a town. Let’s just pray that whatever is replaced there that they don’t use the architects who build the Asda side, I’ll personally tie myself to any fence to prevent that.
let me paint a sombre picture, the very heart of this town which is Coatbridge is flatlining and has been for decades, as I get older I can’t ignore it the way I used, maybe I’m getting sentimental as I turn into Victor Meldrew. What do people think of our once mighty town when they first drive through it?, seen as Bank Street, and Main Street is so close to every main route in and out of the town, they are faced with the buildings on Bank Street looking like a scene from a war film, they enter the main street to be met with the same picture due to the fire which killed another important building. If they aren’t traumitised by this and stay long enough to visit the Time capsule (which is a very popular lesuire facitlty, that can’t be denied) they look at the carcus of another historicaly important bulidng in the shape of the Dundyvan church, so historically important that its the last one of its kind in Europe, think about that, and then think if it was in Edinburgh, it would be pieced back together piece by piece if it was the capital or any other city, money would not be an issue, and it shouldn’t be here in Coatbridge, or even in a country with the resorces of Scotland, the arcitectural genius along with engineering excellence. Scotland can deny and occasionally laugh at both Coatbridge and Airdrie, but these two towns are far more important than the doubters believe, all you need to do is read their history.
After taking all this in, I’m sure you understand why I found it hard to maintain my positivity, at least the Carnegie library project is coming together. For now though I think I’ll finish this blog and leave some photos for you to look at, whilst there is still stuff to look at, maybe by summer I can start again, and things might be different, as I said at the begining, I really don’t want these posts to be anti NLC, as i’m sure they could throw together a beautifully generic letter saying most of these things are out of their control, to an extent I agree, however, I think most of the time they are conviently out of their control, they have more power than they pretend, the nation knows how good they are at doing “deals” maybe they could negotiate a couple that would help perserve the town rather than their pockets, just for a wee change from the norm. Maybe I’m being unfair, maybe I won’t hold my breath either.