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Traders fear for Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street as it’s left reeling from string of disasters

Sauchiehall Street in the aftermath of the fire (Ross Crae / DC Thomson)
Sauchiehall Street in the aftermath of the fire (Ross Crae / DC Thomson)

BUSINESSES around the Glasgow School of Art fire yesterday warned they face ruin in the wake of the blaze.

Traders in Sauchiehall Street, one of Scotland’s best-known thoroughfares, were reeling after the third major incident in four years.

In March, a fire ripped through Victoria’s nightclub, spreading to neighbouring buildings, and forcing the closure of an entire block of the street.

That block remains cordoned off, and as of yesterday morning, a second section of Sauchiehall Street was also closed.

Kevin Chan, 48, owner of the Steak & Cherry restaurant, said: “It’s definitely affected us because people can’t drive and park here.”

Iftekhar Ahmed, 42, charge hand at The Hill bar, said: “All we saw was smoke last night. A lot of businesses and restaurants on Sauchiehall Street have already been affected by roadworks.

“Now they’ll close the whole street and it will affect our business because this is the main artery of the street.”

History in flames: Heartbreak as Glasgow’s iconic art school lies in ruins after second devastating blaze

Alisha Sekhon, 22, working in Garnethill Store, said: “The firefighters have been here last night and we’ve been helping them to fill up their water tanks.”

Hassin Mohammed, 42, owner of nearby Turkish Style Barber, said: “We usually have lots of customers come in on a Saturday morning but it’s very, very quiet. The atmosphere feels very strange.”

Sunday Post columnist Donald MacLeod, who owns the Garage nightclub, and is convener of a trade body for the city’s nightlife and concerts, described the fire as a “gut-wrenching blow for Glasgow”.

“Sauchiehall Street is the heart of Glasgow’s nightlife scene, there’s so many good bars and venues and we’re all devastated by the news,” he said.

“For everyone connected to the art school I can’t begin to imagine what they are going through, but the nightclub Campus and the ABC are just as important for the culture of the city.”

Yesterday, the leader of Glasgow City Council said a taskforce would be set up on Monday morning to start a revival of the street.

After a visit to the scene, Susan Aitken said: “We are going to put a Sauchiehall Street taskforce in place, which will be multi-agency with partners across the city, to plan the future of the street – what happens now and how we get it back to its former glory.”

Art world united in grief and disbelief over Glasgow School of Art fire

The Art School

Glasgow School of Art is renowned around the world with experts hailing it as architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece.

In 1897, Rennie Mackintosh, right, was commissioned to design the building by the art school’s director Fra Newberry. Yet, when it was unveiled in 1899, the building was deeply unpopular.

Not only that, it was only half-finished because the original budget only covered half the plans. It was finally completed in 1909 and became a much-cherished part of the city’s culture – as illustrated by the outpouring of grief and shock in the aftermath of the first fire, which broke out on May 23 2014.

That fire, caused by a faulty projector, destroyed the library, regarded as one of the finest examples of art nouveau in the world.

Painstaking restoration work was due to be completed by February next year.

The school has produced many leading artists including Peter Howson and David Shrigley. Other famous former students include actors Robbie Coltrane and Peter Capaldi.

Experts ask what safety systems were in place to prevent catastrophic Mackintosh Building blaze

The Venue

The O2 ABC may not have the architectural kudos of the iconic Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, but it has had a colourful past including a spell as a circus and an ice rink.

Built in 1875 as The Diorama, it gained popularity as Hubner’s Ice Skating Palace.

Hengler’s Circus moved in around the turn of the Century and became hugely popular for daring animal acts with wild lions.

It closed in 1924 and underwent a rebuilding programme which saw it reborn as the Waldorf Palais de Dance before becoming a Regal Cinema in 1929, finally becoming the ABC.

The music venue was opened in 2005 after a huge refurbishment.