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Greenock’s Beacon Arts Centre takes shape

August 1 2012

Greenock’s Beacon Arts Centre takes shape
A new waterfront arts centre, new home of the Greenock Arts Guild, is taking shape in the Inverclyde town.

Designed by LDN Architects, with Buro Happold as structural engineer, the Beacon Arts Centre is being funded by Inverclyde Council and the National Lottery.

It is sited on the historic East India Harbour, adjacent to the Custom House, and is intended to give fresh impetus to a waterfront cut off from the town centre by a busy dual carriageway.

When finished it will accommodate a 500 seat auditorium, 130 seat studio theatre, three rehearsal rooms a restaurant and bar.

The £7.8m scheme is scheduled to complete this summer.
A corner fly tower is intended to give the build prominence
A corner fly tower is intended to give the build prominence
The adjacent custom House has already been converted to business units
The adjacent custom House has already been converted to business units


Rem Koolbag
#1 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 1 Aug 2012 at 17:19 PM
Why have I not seen more of this scheme until now?

Looks fantastic. Materially sophisticated, nice massing. Would be good to see plans of how it works internally.

Nice one - thanks.

A nice touch too on the comparison shots from CGI to reality.
#2 Posted by Bill on 1 Aug 2012 at 21:41 PM
More info at
Fitz Hat
#3 Posted by Fitz Hat on 2 Aug 2012 at 08:00 AM
There's been an incredible amount of money plowed into Greenock in recent years, and it's still a failing town. With the risk of sounding cold-hearted, isn't this just another white elephant waiting to happen?
Rem Koolbag
#4 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 2 Aug 2012 at 09:34 AM
It generally takes more than just money to make a good place. Community engagement (works both ways) and plenty other factors come in to play.

Don't know the area at all - what sort of thing is going on?
#5 Posted by wonky on 2 Aug 2012 at 11:51 AM
Places like Greenock, Port Glasgow and Clydebank in the western extremities of the city alongside places like Wishaw, Coatbridge and Airdrie on the opposite side of the metropolis all expanded by a consequence of supplying the booming industrial behemoth that was the Second City of the that industrialization has all but vanished what exactly is the purpose of these places or for artificially sustaining their population by pumping public money into them? This might sound offensive to people who live in these places: but why not accept they have no real future and attempt to entice people to a new life back into the city?
Glasgow would benefit in a swell of new tax payers into its coffers as well as an influx of new workers- people living close to their workplace has to be good for the environment rather than the present greenbelt sprawl of the existing suburban car centred hinterland...maybe the city could offer substantial relocation packages for people and families to move back to the city, particularly to those with little opportunities in out of town housing schemes. Of course there are real limitations to such a scenario, one being hard cash and the other the inevitable claims of social engineering that would ensue. Yet it is a sobering thought when you consider the levels of public subsidization that will be thrown into propping these places up well into the future.
Rem Koolbag
#6 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 2 Aug 2012 at 12:53 PM
Creative, daring solutions have no place in this debate wonky.

Seriously though - you raise a very good question, and one that would make an excellent jumping off point for a whole study of the subject.

A sort of tactical retreat from the areas, giving them over to farmland/nature once again. Moving the people back to the city to reinforce it as a larger, yet more contained urban block.

Very interesting.
Partick Bateman
#7 Posted by Partick Bateman on 2 Aug 2012 at 13:25 PM
I think that is called "Managed Decline"
I Heart Gourock
#8 Posted by I Heart Gourock on 3 Aug 2012 at 16:47 PM
Not all of us Greenockicans need to travel to the big cities to get decent work! In fact you'll find a number of decent employers in Greenock and the surrounding area. I have lived in the South side of Glasgow and in most areas of Inverclyde... you certainly don't get the community spirit that you see in Inverclyde in the south side of Glasgow! I'd be gutted if I had to move back there! Judging by the success of the old theatre in Greenock I think the Beacon will do very well.
PS Not all the money came from the government - the local euromillionaires helped out too!
#9 Posted by Wulliemac on 3 Aug 2012 at 16:56 PM
A lot of ill-informed and ignorant opinions being expressed here. This theatre will replace the 450 seat Arts Guild Theatre which has served the community of Inverclyde for 67 years. The clown above who thinks it's a daft idea to 'artificially' sustain communities such as this and questions their 'purpose' would seem to deny any community which is not a city or massive conurbation their place in our society. Why shouldn't these places have the same leisure opportunities than the larger metropoli?

The particular area in question has massive socio-economic challenges which would not be solved by decanting the 80000 who live there to Glasgow and thus leave behind a coastal landmass which could then be restored to some Elysian Utopia. What planet are you on mate?

This £10million project has been in development for 8 years and has attracted support from a diverse cross-section of funders and supporters including Creative Scotland, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Scottish Government to name a few. It will have one of the largest stages in Scotland including full counterweight fly gallery, 2 trapdoors, a hydraulic, retractable orchestra pit and a cafe and bar which looks out over the River Clyde to the Argyll hills. The project has been approached by the National Theatre, Scottish Opera, the LSO and many others - all of whom see this for what it is - one of the most exciting (and probably one of the last) new, purpose-built arts centres anywhere in Scotland. If it were being built in Morningside or Kelvinside we wouldn't be having these negative and, frankly, stupid opinions expressed. The people of Inverclyde - who happen to CHOOSE to live there very happily - deserve such a facility just as much as those in more affluent and less socially challenged areas.

Far from putting forward a 'creative, daring solution', the likes of which was tried in vain by those who cleared the Highlands 300 years ago and by the Germans in the 1930s, why don't you appreciate this for what it is? Something which will be a catalyst for urban regeneration and social improvement.
I Heart Gourock
#10 Posted by I Heart Gourock on 3 Aug 2012 at 17:12 PM
Wulliemac, very well put. Thank you. I can't wait until it opens.
Something I would suggest is improving the transport links between Glasgow and Inverclyde... so the people of Glasgow (and beyond) can better enjoy the wonder of Inverclyde.
Rem Koolbag
#11 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 3 Aug 2012 at 17:41 PM
keep the heid Wullie!

If you note, although I said creative and daring I was also the first to praise the actual scheme. In terms of responding to the idea of retreating from areas/towns etc, I was taken up in the theory of the concept - not gearing ready for the Greenock Clearances.

I was also asking for examples of the investments in the area and thanks for detailing some more - very interesting all in.
#12 Posted by Williemac on 3 Aug 2012 at 21:50 PM
No worries Rem. I'm keeping my Kool now and thanks for your support. I just don't get the 'why support dying communities' bit. It we upheld that mantra the Olympics would be in Hampstead instead of Stratford.
Jimbob Tanktop
#13 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 4 Aug 2012 at 18:02 PM
I think the argument of seeking to falsely sustain towns and villages is one to be made, but certainly not for a region such as Inverclyde.

True, it's suffering now with the decline in traditional industries, and the local council seemed for a time to lurch from one disaster to another, but given the location, available workforce, and as Williemac pointed out, the sense of community, I would have thought that if we assume Scotland will achieve at the least further devolution of power (which will hopefully be followed by most of those being devolved to local authorities), I believe areas such as Inverclyde face a vibrant and prosperous future.

It's one thing for a former mining village with a population of a couple of hundred to face the reality of a future as a commuter town, but if places like Greenock are to be thought of like that then that's a gigantic political and economic failure, which has to lead to a change in how our economies are funded and the mindset of local politicians.

If not, where does the line get drawn? Does someone in London decide that Glasgow or Manchester are no longer viable and everyone be decanted south? Will Berlin one day decree the whole of the UK insolvent?

PS - I like the scheme. It's good news that the arts are still being funded in spite of the ongoing economic gloom, and that Greenockians will have a good theatre to serve them. All they need do now is fund some of the area's excellent local writers to create plays fill it.
#14 Posted by wonky on 5 Aug 2012 at 21:38 PM
Its always good to get balanced feedback from an idea suggested merely for debate. I lived in south side of Glasgow for many years and witnessed many vibrant communities there, as no doubt there is in Inverclyde. To say otherwise is just crass. I can understand people love of place. Sometimes it can even seem inexplicable to others, who see no visible evidence for such lofty feelings, or for others who were not born and brought up in that place. But many failing places, and Greenock in particular, have many great attributes, such as remnants of wonderful architecture, wonderful industrial history, famous historical personages ie James Watt, and a magnificent natural setting overlooking the Clyde Estuary but that doesn't detract from its very many urgent and endemic problems.
Greenock still has an artificially high rate of population, when you consider poor ever-contracting work opportunities, disappearing industrial infrastructure and its geographic remoteness. So many of these similar ageing industrial satellites are dependent for their continued existence upon a shrinking public transport ( people will continue to pay less tax in the future) and inevitably the car- with rising fuel prices I really think this is unsustainable. So if you live in a lovely plush part of Greenock or a posh area of Gourock and are lucky enough to have a decent job, a car and money then life is peachy...if not then what? Can we not even consider that the long historical bubble of the industrial revolution concentrated many people in dispersed area because of a specific demand- and that these places are now have unsustainable populations?
On these pages you can see plans for a grotesque white elephant named Winchburgh far outside Edinburgh-another planned commuter belt car centered domicile built on green belt land. Just what the world needs. We are living a fantasy if we think we can sustain a car centered living in a private suburban bubble existence...we cannot all have two cars, a three bedroom house and a garden. Increased sustainable densification of urban areas has to be the solution to many of our problems. Why is we see few of these problems on the Continent? This mindset is an Anglo-American bubble fantasy that will inevitably burst when it touches against the hard surface of the basic realities of the economic and natural world.
The sagacious savant calling himself Williemac says I'm guilty of denying small towns/places a place in society- where exactly did I say that? Elgin, Hawick, Montrose, Haddington, Kelso etc are all fantastic communities with semi-urban ways of life that Glasgow and other big cities cannot compete with. But these are places that have fairly low sustainable populations with little or no stress on public infrastructure. They are also places that are the cultural centers for a largely sparse semi-rural hinterland and are far away from a very large city not to have become threatened by superannuation: the fact is that Greenock and other post-industrial satellites in the conurbation exist at their present size in order to feed a demand in Glasgow.
That demand no longer exists.
Greenock and Piasley in particular are very large towns with artificially high population rates when you consider their dwindling wealth generation, which increasingly results in inevitable deficit. They have vast sprawling towns with streets that are often unused and buildings/shops boarded up because there is no demand. This is true even for Glasgow, as many streets become neglected and dilapidated. Greater density of these town centers will add greater vibrancy to active areas; with abandoned streets given over to more creative and experimental ideas.
Why shouldn't these places have the same leisure opportunities than the larger metropoli?
Who is going to pay for these facilities williemac? The increasingly unwilling taxpayer? Is there a big enough population to sustain it? Does the existing population really demand it? Do many of the people who live in places with such high unemployment have the loose change to use these facilities?
Many people who are lucky to have a job and earn enough travel to Glasgow either buy public transport or car to work, play, shop or for that likely to change?
To compare what I suggested to Nazi Germany and the Highland Clearances is just unbelievable- what planet are you on? Of course like so many modern people who believe in democracy I am endorsing Social technocratic are a number williemac...why is it that anyone who suggests an idea that might be outside the restricted remit of stereotypical liberalist utopian ideology is somehow a demented sub-human fascist?
Obviously I am not talking about EVERY person leaving Greenock etc en masse. What I proposed was some sort of package or offer put by Glasgow to many citizens of these places as a means of starting a new life. It wasn't long ago people wanted to move out of Glasgow to go to EK or Cumbernauld. The reverse may be possible if people are given the incentive and the CHOICE. Glasgow could compete for the future of surplus populations in these towns or those living in borderline poverty/unemployment etc- for these people are an invaluable massive potential resource. Maybe many people in these areas could benefit from a new life and new hope in the big city if their towns cannot offer it to them.
#15 Posted by Spoon on 5 Jan 2013 at 16:44 PM
I'm sorry but this building is just plain ugly! The view of it from the Rue end street is horrendous. I wish the tried to make it tone in with the Custom house which lies next door. All in all a carbuncle!

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