Scots TV star Sanjeev supports community efforts as Springburn celebrates past and future

25/08/2023
Left to Right: Sanjeev Kohli and Frank McGowan

NORTH GLASGOW took centre stage last Saturday, as residents from SPRINGBURN and the surrounding areas came together to take over the entire town centre, transforming Springburn Way, Springburn Shopping Centre, and nearby Springburn Parish Church into a rich celebration of history, the arts, culture, and innovation. 

Now in its second year, the Springburn Community Street Festival drew a record-breaking crowd of over 5,500 people from across the city, bringing much needed footfall to local shopping areas, while marking a pivotal moment for the people of Springburn, who are determined to reclaim their identity and counter years of negative headlines, which have focused solely on deprivation, poverty and the area’s decline since the destruction of the community with the build of the infamous M8 motorway in the 1960s. 

The festival boasted more than 50 + food and community stalls from local organisations, such as; African Challenge, Men’s Shed, Chinese Recreation Centre and North Glasgow LGBTQ+ – with attendees enjoying amongst other things a pop-up community cinema, interactive games, a puppet show, face painting, and a collection of vintage vehicles, including a fully restored 1959 Glasgow Corporation Bus, and the real-life “Herbie” from the beloved Disney classic “The Love Bug”. 

Local BAFTA celebrated filmmaker Frank McGowan and Scottish comedian Sanjeev Kohli presented on the main stage at the event. 

The duo, who first met at BBC over a decade ago and both hail from North Glasgow, introduced an impressive line-up of artists and performers from nearby SPRINGBURN AUDITORIUM CIC, and spoke passionately about their roots – emphasising the significance of community and celebrating the wider achievements of Springburn and the surrounding areas. 

Still Game star Sanjeev said: “It’s important we come together and celebrate where we are from and what we have, and what we can achieve. Springburn has such a rich history of innovation. It blows my mind that locomotives which were made here are still being used all over the world today, and the first ever British motor car rolled off the assembly line right up the road at Springburn Park.” He added: “Everybody I’ve ever met from Springburn is an absolute diamond. I’m proud to be from North Glasgow, and love coming back whenever I can.”

Part of the wider plans for festival organisers at SPIRIT OF SPRINGBURN – a group of locals focused on the regeneration of Springburn’s high street, is to promote the story of Springburn – including its “past, present and new possible future” – with plans to transform the area through support for local enterprise, engaging with schools and marginalised communities, and a focus on innovation, the arts and culture, are well on the way to success. 

Springburnite Helen Carroll, Chair of Spirit Of Springburn SCIO, remarked: “Our mission is to focus on a brighter future for Springburn while showcasing the Springburn story and connection to its iconic past.” She added, “The festival offered us a glimpse of the Springburn that the older generation may remember, with a bustling town centre again, new shops, and people coming together to celebrate.” 

The Old Springburn Library on Ayr Street is at the heart of the vision of SoS, as abandoned now for over two decades, it is planned for it to be repurposed to serve the community once again and establish a new business innovation district, digital radio station, community action group, and even the launch of a dedicated Springburn TV channel and movie studio. 

Festival coordinator Emma Porter, a member of the nearby Springburn Youth Forum and Community Champion for Coop, stated, “this was a landmark year for us, and we only get stronger from here. It was great to be part of something so wonderful and see people so happy. It was a group effort, and the community can look forward to much more from Spirit of Springburn. We took our time to listen to what the community wanted and our charette was at the heart of that.” Spirit of Springburn invites people of all ages from across the local areas to participate in upcoming events and efforts, with the Springburn Community Street festival set to return in 2024 bigger and better. 

78 year old Margaret MackayY, who travelled from Brisbane, Australia to join in the festivities for the weekend in Springburn, said: “It pains me to see the state of Springburn. The motorway tore the heart out of my home. It is truly remarkable to come back today and witness the beginning of its revival.” 

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