Bringing the Olympia back into use

It took almost 12 months of hard work behind the scenes before Clyde Gateway was able to reveal the proposals for bringing the Olympia back into use. The project managers had to balance the wishes of the community to have as much use as possible of the building while ensuring that the construction, operating and running costs were realistic and would not become a drain on the public purse.

In May 2011, the main contractors, CCG, moved on site and began the restoration and re-building work. The public was able to share in the excitement of the enormous task in February 2012 when the Olympia dome was put back in its rightful place at the top of the building in front of a large crowd of onlookers and a film crew from BBC Scotland.

Behind the scaffolding and the banners, other equally important tasks are nearing completion and the building will open its doors to the public again later this year.

Scottish first for Olympia as film archive comes to Bridgeton

The new Bridgeton Library at the Olympia has been unveiled as the first ever British Film Institute (BFI) Mediatheque in Scotland, with the opening set for Friday 22 February.

Mediatheque offers the opportunity to enjoy highlights from the BFI National Archive, the world’s greatest and most diverse collection of film and television. From home movies to feature films, documentaries to kids’ TV, many titles have rarely been seen since their original release or broadcast – if at all. There are currently just five Mediatheques in the UK - London, Derby, Cambridge, Newcastle and Wrexham - all of which offer free access to a very diverse range of over 2,500 complete films and television programmes - from vintage Morecambe and Wise, Monty Python or Top of the Pops to Edwardian natural history features such as 'The Open Road' a journey through Britain filmed in colour in 1925, from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Film buffs can enjoy silent black and white movies from the turn of the 20th Century to more recent contemporary films from highly acclaimed British directors, while telly addicts can feast on soap operas, plays, documentaries, light entertainment, classic comedy and famous adverts.

The Olympia facility will also offer access to 'Scottish Reels' which is a specially commissioned collection of Scottish film and television drawn from the Scottish Screen Archive as well as the BFI Archives with footage spanning back as far as 1901.

Highlights of Scottish Reels include street scenes in Glasgow from 1901, early colour footage of tartans from 1906 and 1950s colour travelogues recording Scotland’s epic landscapes. Sean Connery makes a rare television appearance in The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967), a documentary he directed about the decline of the Glasgow shipyards.

There will be a rich vein of political television drama including the groundbreaking Culloden (1964) and The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1974), while big screen classics are also celebrated with films such as Ealing’s subversive comedy of whisky smuggling in the Hebrides Whisky Galore! (1949), the chilling occult thriller The Wicker Man (1973), Bill Forsyth’s delightful comedy Local Hero (1983) or Danny Boyle’s thrilling debut Shallow Grave (1994).

Ian Manson, Chief Executive of Clyde Gateway said "This is something really special. It is a coup for all concerned that Scotland's first Mediatheque is to be located right here in the heart of Bridgeton. It also provides a fantastic and very fitting link to one of the former uses of the Olympia which I know will please many of our local residents.

"The Olympia is already proving to be a building which has captured the attention of people all across the country and the addition of the Mediatheque is bound to add to that. The opening next month will be another very proud day for everyone who has worked tirelessly to help transform the image, perception and fortunes of the Clyde Gateway communities."

Scotland's first Mediatheque will contain 16 viewing booths in a specially fitted room on the ground floor within the Bridgeton Library. Users will also be able to enjoy the range of hot food, snacks and beverages available from the Cafe which looks directly out from the Olympia over Bridgeton Cross.

Further information on Mediatheque can be found at the BFI Website

Library at Bridgeton Now Open

The brand new, state of the art Bridgeton Library in the Olympia was officially opened today. The ceremony was performed by Councillor Archie Graham, the Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor George Redmond, the Vice-Chair of Clyde Gateway and Mrs Grace Donald, an 88 year-old lifelong resident of Bridgeton who was a frequent user of the Olympia in its heyday as a cinema.

Councillor Archie Graham said “Libraries are at the very heart of our communities throughout Glasgow and the new Bridgeton Library will deliver more services for and on behalf of local people than ever before. New life has been breathed into the Olympia which has recovered all of its former glory and the new library will ensure it will play a vital role in the life of Bridgeton for generations to come.”

In addition to being the Vice-Chair of Clyde Gateway, George Redmond is also the councillor for the Bridgeton and Dalmarnock area. He said "The opening of the library is the latest chapter in what is becoming a thrilling story associated with the regeneration of the local communities. There is an incredible transformation underway across the whole area but I've no doubt this £10m investment to bring the Olympia back into use is the one that has got local people most excited. This fantastic new library really does have the best of everything and I have no doubt it is going to be very popular with residents of all ages".

The involvement of Grace Donald in the opening ceremony was not just about providing a link with the building's former uses but in recognition of a lifetime's involvement in working with and for the community. As members of her family and many of her friends looked on Grace said, "This has been a very special day. For years the Olympia was a big part of my life to me and I spent many a happy time here on nights out at the cinema with my husband and my children. I was really upset when it closed its doors all those years ago as it was a really lowpoint in Bridgeton's history. I never dreamed that I'd ever get back inside the building and it's a big thrill to see what Clyde Gateway and Glasgow Life have done. I've lived here all my life and I know that Bridgeton Cross has never looked better."

As well as an extensive range of books, newspapers and magazines, the library will have 32 PC’s, online learning, a community room and will deliver computer courses, reader development programmes and a Children’s Area. It also offers an enhanced business resource for Glasgow firms and access to a rich collection of local and family history resources.