Helensburgh celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2002, based on receipt of a
royal charter as a burgh of barony on 28 July 1802. Commemoration of this
is not our main purpose as we could just as easily celebrate the 225th
anniversary this year of the advertisement of land for feuing in the
Glasgow Journal of 11 January 1776 but, given the
looks pretty awful at the moment, it's a good
enough theme to work around. Now is also a good time to take stock of what
Helensburgh was, is and may become. Sir James Colquhoun's original vision
of a textile manufacturing town was never realised. The days of pleasure
trippers are also gone and land reclamation has left the waterfront a less
than impressive line of shops facing a mass of concrete. The last remaining
focus here, the pier, has just been approved as the site of a supermarket.
If it's not industry or tourism for the future, then what?
Argyll and Bute Council recently published a draft Structure Plan, savaged
by the Plain English Campaign and most other organisations as unreadable,
suggesting housing is the way forward. This sees Helensburgh's main purpose
as a dormitory town for Glasgow with 700 new houses by 2020 and a near 10%
population rise. This ignores the fact that councils closer to Glasgow
already believe they will meet the needs of the city. It also ignores the
lack of amenities in the town for those already here. The supermarket plan
provides for a wholly inadequate sports centre and swimming pool as the
sweetener for planning permission; the town's secondary school requires
urgent replacement but nothing has been agreed; parking in the town does
not support the current level of car use; litter bins are a rare sight
because they cost too much to empty. There is no cinema and the other
leisure opportunities available locally can probably be gauged by the level
of vandalism on the waterfront and in the town's Hermitage Park. Where the
council does speak clearly, for example in rejecting applications by the
town's churches,(see featured story), who, contrary to the health
recommendations of Scottish and UK parliaments, are trying to cash in by
becoming antennae sites, it is ignored and is in danger of being seen as an
irrelevance. If you want to contribute to the debate on the town's future
send us your thoughts.
The main purpose of this site is a visual approach to local history using
image maps and databases to look at
changing townscapes and building use.
Combining architectural and economic history with a high level of
interactivity the project aims to interest everyone from schoolchildren
through family historians and homesick expatriates to town planners and
social historians. We hope Helensburgh will be the first of many such
projects and, again, we would be happy to
hear from you if you have
photographs, documents or other information of relevance.
Mammon and the Masts
Helensburgh councillors find themselves apparently powerless to stop developments by two unlikely "neighbours from hell". St Columba Church in Sinclair Street and the United Reformed Church have both decided that the most appropriate, and lucrative, symbols to adorn the tops of their buildings are mobile 'phone masts.