Transport museum back on track

25 Aug 2008

by Gerry Braiden, The Herald

A public appeal to raise funds for a new museum on the banks of the Clyde has secured £1.6m, with major obstacles delaying its construction by almost three months now overcome.

The steel skeleton of Glasgow's Riverside Museum is currently being erected while a full scale mock-up of a section of the iconic attraction will be constructed within the next two months to give a life-size idea of how it will look when completed. According to the latest report updating the progress of the £85m transport museum, the detailed design work on the display areas, scheduled for fit-out in spring 2010, is now 80% complete, with the design concept 100% finished.

However, work by archaeologists to excavate the site of the museum in search of artefacts left by the area's first inhabitants more than 1500 years ago failed to turn up any significant finds. It was the more recent industrial past that caused the developer, Glasgow City Council, most problems, with the development of the site over the past 200 years leaving a large number of foundations of previous buildings which had to be removed at considerable cost.

The land also suffered from greater levels of contamination than first anticipated, adding to the overall cost and timescale for the project, which will replace the transport museum at Kelvin Hall. The report, which will be presented to councillors later this week, claims that a number of cost savings have been identified to make up for unexpected outlay, including the secondary steel work and ceiling and entrance lobbies.

The council insisted these savings can be made while maintaining the quality of the building.

The museum, designed by acclaimed Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid and scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2011, was originally costed at £50m before rising by 50% last year and has now been given a total "expenditure forecast" of £85m.

A shortfall of £5m, after the council and Lottery made their contributions, is being funded by private donors, businesses and the public.

A trust headed by Lord Smith of Kelvin and including Sir Arnold Clark, Robbie Coltrane, Sir Tom Farmer, Sir Tom Hunter and Carol Smillie has been tasked with finding the cash. In the first three months after its launched last August it secured £1m but the trust insists the donations have not gone cold, that the sum was in line with the appeal's business plan and that the trustees were "very satisfied with the progress to date". A spokesman for the appeal said: "We are already well on our way to achieving our goal of raising £5m towards what will undoubtedly be an iconic museum for Glasgow and Scotland. There is still lots of work to be done but the trustees led by Lord Smith are engaging with businesses, individuals and the Scottish public to bring everyone on board."

Benefactors so far include FirstGroup, HBOS and the Weir Group.

Reproduced with the permission of The Herald (Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd.

  • Impression of Riverside Museum supplied by Glasgow City Council