From the Gorbals to the Caribbean and back again

13 July 2017

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers are helping to bring the Gorbals Cross clock tower and fountain back to Glasgow, 85 years after its demolition.

Working with community groups in Glasgow, and with funding through a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher and Historic Environment Scotland grant, Stevie Anderson and Eddie Horn from the University’s School of Engineering and Built Environment conducted a feasibility study to see if they could provide accurate measurements to draw up plans for a new clock tower in the Gorbals in Glasgow.

Using innovative 3D laser scanning techniques, the team took measurements of a replica clock tower located 4,000 miles away in the middle of the Caribbean.The team visited the Berkeley Memorial, which stands in the centre of the Circus in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis. The memorial features a drinking fountain as well as four clock faces, each one facing one of the four streets leading to the Circus. It was built in honour of Thomas B.H. Berkeley, a former president of the General Legislative Council in the 1880s, from designs from iron founders George Smith and Co.

While in Saint Kitts and Nevis, the team from GCU was given support from St. Christopher National Trust to facilitate access to the monument. 

Built in 1878 by the same company, the Gorbals fountain featured four clock faces, four gas lamps, notice boards, barometers, thermometers and a weather vane and shields bearing the Glasgow coat of arms. The fountain stood on the former Cross at Ballater Street and Main Street, renamed Gorbals Street in 1922.

But rebuilding the landmark has proven problematic since all original drawings and measurements were lost after its demolition in 1932.

GCU Lecturer Eddie Horn said: “Various Glasgow community groups are looking at how to preserve, improve or restore things in the local area. Fundraising has started to reinstate the tower and a foundry in Hamilton, George Taylor & Co Ltd is drawing up plans. We are also working with Glasgow-based visualisation experts Wireframe 3D to develop a virtual reality model. There is increasing support for the project, which was a really interesting one for us, combining traditional iron foundry casting with cutting edge digital 3D scanning and VR.”