In the Botanic Gardens the light streams through the glass.
And you may have seen some West Ends but this one is the best
Down Byres Road and Ashton Lane the West End people pass
And the music of the West End plays its rhythm in your ear,
A rhythm built on learning, built on thinking, built through time.
If you want food or drink or conversation find it here;
The West End’s a location where past and future rhyme.
The West End is a novel with a quickly moving plot,
The West End is a film where each location lifts your heart;
It sometimes feels there’s nothing that the West End hasn’t got:
It’s got sleeping places, strolling places, spaces full of art.
So grasp the West End tightly, please don’t sit on the shelf:
Help the West End make an exhibition of itself!
Ian McMillan, Poet-in-Residence
The tenement as a flexible housing unit
Importance of community partnership to drive change
Local cultural initiatives draw neighbourhoods together
The central role of educational in local economy
What is a neighbourhood?
Within the area there are various ‘stewards’, including Glasgow City Council; the University of Glasgow; over 12 residents associations, community councils and friends groups; the West End Festival; the Byres Road businesses; plus individuals and organisations that all take a special interest in the future of the area.
The dominant type of housing is the tenement, comprising self-contained flats of different sizes, some with street level front doors, but not to be confused with the infamous Glasgow slum tenements. It is a model that is not usually found outside Scotland and, undoubtedly, a very successful way to encourage community living and greater social cohesion as well as offering opportunities to change the style or size of housing you want within the same building. The resulting density level helps support a number of thriving businesses. Another notable feature is the good provision of, and investment in, schools and nurseries.
The main campus of the University of Glasgow is in the centre of the neighbourhood and many University academics, staff and students live cheek by jowl. The high number of students appears to be less of an issue than it is in many other cities and large numbers of young people stay after graduation whilst older people remain in the area, often moving to alternative properties.
The tenement serves as a metaphor for the West End as the social and community mix of a typical tenement stair is reflected in the overall make-up of the area. Community leadership and partnership is a feature of development and change in the West End, and there is evidence of a strong civic responsibility that is being promoted from the bottom up. The well-educated members of the community groups play an active role in monitoring Council policy and taking initiatives within their area.
Local cultural initiatives are central to drawing the neighbourhood together and there are a number of artist and music studios, some of which have been starter units for successful Scottish artists. Often these areas disappear in the gentrification cycle, but in the West End the ownership and management will ensure this does not happen and many creative businesses choose the area to live and work. The West End Festival, promoted by local volunteers and professional venues, and managed by a professional director, has built up over a number of years as a nationally significant street and alternative festival event. It is an exemplar of the positive longer-term impact of cultural investment in cities.
Despite its scale, the West End is undeniably a thriving and sustainable neighbourhood.