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Report - Gray Dunn & Co; Glasgow - April 2015

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by Idle Hands, May 4, 2015.

  1. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    I’ve been meaning to take a look in here for a few years now but it never seemed to happen – possibly because I doubted it would have much to offer. I’d have liked more to root about in and I’ve certainly done more interesting industrial sites than this, but it’s still worth a climb about for an hour or two.


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    History

    Gray Dunn & Company was founded in 1853 and soon found favour with Queen Victoria, who issued it with a Royal Warrant. Despite its original factory burning down after just thirteen years it was rebuilt in 1882 with the distinctive and dominating concrete framed south block added in 1934. The company maintained a landmark presence on Glasgow’s Stanley Street throughout its history, a veritable array of household named goodies rolling off its production lines all the while.

    Gray Dunn Caramel Wafers are still fondly recalled by people of a certain age. I’d never heard of them – clearly I’m too young – but I was certainly familiar with another of their notable products, that staple of the eighties school lunchbox: the Blue Riband. Two thousand of those reportedly came off the production line every minute.

    In the first of a series of changes of ownership, local biscuit kings the Bilsland brothers acquired the company in 1912, while Rowntree’s took it over in 1978. Rowntree’s were subsequently swallowed up by Nestle a decade later, but in 1997 the operation was subject to a management buyout that saw it return to private ownership. It wasn’t exactly a smooth operation and even at the time of the takeover the factory was recovering from a major fire on its wafer production line. By 1999 the company was courting financial disaster and handed a £1.75million rescue package from the Glasgow Development Agency. It wasn’t enough to save it and in January 2001 the receivers were called in, with 86 people immediately handed their P45.

    Despite optimistic efforts to find a buyer, 148 years of biscuit manufacturing at Kinning Park ground to a halt that June when the remaining 129 devastated staff left. Generations of the same family had worked at Gray Dunn and the camaraderie between the workforce reportedly remains to this day as they reconvene at intervals to enjoy social get-togethers and reminisce.

    The intervening years haven’t been kind to the factory buildings, once the pride of Glasgow manufacturing, now an embarrassing ruin at the gateway to the city. Back in 2008 plans were put forward to transform it into offices and self-storage space but nothing came of them, and now the low-rise buildings to the rear have been demolished. All the steel framed windows in the south block have been wrenched out leaving the brickwork falling away into the street.


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    I wasn’t really banking on much from this, save for a nice view from the roof, so that’s exactly where we headed first. Although the scaffolding gives the impression that it is holding the building together on the motorway side, it’s actually a solid concrete frame:


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    Up top though you can see how shot the outer leaf brickwork is, spilling itself onto the scaffold decking along with the steel cladding…


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    For a building that closed 14 years ago these records suggest that the lift was still being serviced as recently as 2010:


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    I seem to be building up a collection of brick shots. These come from the Darngavil Brickworks in Lanarkshire. The village of Darngavil no longer exists.


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    Functional it may have been but there were still some Art-Deco sensibilities to the thirties wing, like this skylight:


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    And although you could hardly see the walls for the largely nondescript graffiti in places, there were also some hidden works of art waiting to surprise you:


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    Back at ground level we took a look at the fuel tanks, what’s left of the boiler room and the engine workshops before heading for the older buildings:


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    Now as I said, the site is virtually devoid of anything that gives away its history these days, but what it lacks in depth it goes some way to making up for by the sheer cavernous nature of the buildings. They seem to go on and on, and there are a few bits and pieces that still give you an idea of what went on where. These departments were housed in the south wing:


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    Heading north into the older buildings the whole feel of the place changed to reflect its more traditional construction…


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    Then finally there were some offices towards the back end of the site, but nothing really of any note to see:


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    So there it is, Gray Dunn & Co. I reckon I was about five years too late but it actually gave more than I was expecting for something so obviously ruined.


    In case you’re wondering, those Caramel Wafers are still made today and sold in your local cheap supermarkets. I’m eating one right now…


    Thanks for stopping by.​
     
    clebby, mw0sec, Taz M.S. and 3 others like this.

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  2. Bolts

    Bolts 28DL Regular User
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    Nice shots, enjoyed looking at this :thumb
     
  3. Speed

    Speed Got Epic?
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    Great report. The details totally make the place, especially the signs.
     
  4. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thank you guys, much appreciated :thumb
     
  5. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    That's great, all the details captured. Nice work.
     
  6. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks Dweeb :thumb Yeah it's lost in such a vast ruin but there's just about enough left to read the building's history.
     
  7. Seffy

    Seffy Bally up lads!
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    Although at a distance it might seem there isn't much to this place, I too rather like it. Well captured :thumb
     
  8. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers Seffy :thumb
     
  9. kingryu

    kingryu 28DL Full Member
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    Looks good to me. Shame I'm so far away.
     
  10. pigdog

    pigdog 28DL Regular User
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    nice
     
  11. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks chaps :thumb

    Thanks Kingryu - I bet there's loads down your way I could say the same about!
     
  12. nsdev

    nsdev 28DL Full Member
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    Nice work. Seen it from the motorway and always wondered what it was. Now I know, thanks, lovely job!
     
  13. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Nicely captured you have some cracking shots there,
    I love the signs,
    Cheers for sharing :thumb
     
  14. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Yeah it's pretty imposing isn't it! They wrapped it in commonwealth games banners last year - presumably to disguise it. You should take a look next time.

    Thanks Miss Mayhem. There's very little left apart from those signs!
     
  15. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Another lovely set IH, I bloody love your photos they are always that little bit different :thumb
     
    Idle Hands likes this.
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