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Over 2019, a number of traders came together to improve the overall look and feel of Saracen Street and its environs.

With the support of ng homes, traders established a Steering Group and made a seedcorn funding application to Scotland’s Towns Partnership which was successful.

The Steering Group

Current members are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Omar Afzal (Shopsmart Post Office) as Treasurer
  • Bob Doris MSP
  • Gerry Facenna (Allied Vehicles)
  • Margaret Fraser (ng homes)
  • Melanie Fyffe (Possobilities)
  • Jim Garrity (Pollok Credit Union)
  • Brian Kelly (Eye Pad Optician) as Chair
  • Brian Land (Thriving Places)
  • Dr Iain McHardy (Health Centre)
  • Gary Walker (Gary Walker Butcher) as Secretary

Additionally, there is representation on the Steering Group from Police Scotland.

Primary Partners and Supporters

These are:

  • Glasgow City Council is the local delivery partner for BIDs in the city
  • ng homes is a registered social landlord and anchor organisation in North Glasgow who currently host the BID at their 252 Saracen Street office
  • Scotland’s Towns Partnership is the national towns’ collective; representing and promoting the diversity of our towns and places and supporting those organisations and groups that have an interest in or ownership of them.
  • Scotland’s Improvement Districts is the national centre for Improvement Districts in Scotland. Its key goal is to support Improvement Districts across Scotland to deliver inclusive local economic growth through national strategic guidance, training and practical support to build strong national partnerships.

The Area

Possilparkis a district in North Glasgow and forms part of Canal – Ward 16 which has a population of 25,000[1].

The district has developed around Saracen Street which is the main hub and shopping area and which is well served by public transport. Saracen Street itself developed around the Saracen Foundry of Walter MacFarlane & Co which was the main employer in the area from the 1860s to when it closed in the 1960s.

Once an area of heavy industry, Possilpark was decimated over the last half of the 20th century and still suffers from a prolonged period of disinvestment. Despite this, Saracen Street remains a busy local shopping area with a mix of more than 70 smaller retailers and local businesses ranging from funeral parlours and public houses to dentists, opticians, home furnishings, mini-markets, bakeries, a florist, post office and an award-winning butcher amongst many others.

A number of businesses sit off the main throng of Saracen Street including Allied Vehicles, the largest employer in North Glasgow and See Woo, a large Chinese supermarket.

Housing on Saracen Street remains mainly Victorian tenements with some having Heritage Environment Scotland B Listed status[2]. Surrounding areas include new build houses, a shared school campus with 3 primaries and a nursery, two religious buildings which incorporates community space, a large new health centre and Saracen House, an office and conference facility.

Saracen Street is recognised as the main transport link from Glasgow City Centre through to Springburn and Bishopbriggs – a Gateway to the North, so to speak.

History and Heritage

Walter MacFarlane, who established his Saracen Foundry in the area, named it Possilpark. He grew the area from 10 residents in 1872 to over 10,000 just two decades later as his Foundry grew in size and scale.

MacFarlane produced and sold decorative ironwork to the industrialising world much of which can still be seen in countries far and wide. However, little remains on show in Possilpark.

The layout of the area was described by the then Glasgow Town Council as “one of the finest and best conducted in Glasgow… laid out with skill and intelligence, is rapidly becoming an important addition to the great city.”[3]

But it was the effects of deindustrialisation in the 1960s like many other areas across the UK that accelerated a decline in the area’s fortunes. Nonetheless, over the last few decades an array of community groups emerged with a vibrant spirit providing diverse activity for local people from arts, culture and sport to gardening, growing, cooking and food redistribution amongst many more.

[1] Glasgow City Council Factsheet 2017

[2] 84-238A (even numbers) B Listed by HES; “Probably circa 1880. 4-storey “Thomson-esque” tenement; unusually long, shops at ground, stone-cleaned ashlar above, windows all bipartite or tripartite, with consoled hoods at 1st floor, linked by stepped moulding at 2nd, 3rd floor windows link cill course and deep main entablature; modern 2-pane glazing; stacks; modern roof.” 

[3] Wikipedia, “The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry – Possil”. Glasgow Digital Library.