By Peter Cassidy
With one loud bang that could be heard for miles around, hundreds of houses and a million more memories disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Three of the four multi-story Tarfside Oval flats that had been towering over the Cardonald skyline since the 1970’s, were turned to rubble as hundreds looked on last September. The tower block flats that stood 22 story’s tall and once housed over 500 people were at one time considered an integral part of the local community. However the widely held belief from people who stayed there or nearby is that the flats had been on a steady decline for the last 20 years, culminating in a reputation for crime and drug use.
The last remaining multi-storey on the site at Tarfside Oval was left standing for another four months and had to be taken down bit by bit using an ultra-high-reach machine due to the close proximity of nearby homes.
A culmination of the noise, dust and potential danger to the public from the remaining crumbling building left people living nearby dismayed at the length of time it had taken. By December most of the flat was still standing and residents were starting to wonder if they would ever see the end of them.
Cathy Spelling who stays nearby said: “I am glad that’s most of it away now. The dust that has been coming from it and the noise they make every day really has become a bit of a nuisance. When they are drilling you get all the stoor and dirt going everywhere.
“It’s been going on for about a year now since they blew the other ones up. I think they have been taking it down brick by brick. It’s just as bad as when the flats were first going up because I was here when they were building them.
“I have seen a lot of changes around here- too many in fact. I don’t necessarily think it’s really been a good thing the flats coming down as it doesn’t seem to have made any difference one way or the other.
On the day the first three flats were blown down you could feel the anticipation in the air from early in the day.
Hundreds of Cardonald locals had lined the streets to get one last look at the crumbling flats standing over the much more modern looking Cardonald campus of Glasgow Clyde College.
One family who had stayed in the flats for 20 years had some good memories from their time staying there but were in agreement that the demolition was for the best.
Lynne Piper said: “They were really good flats at one time. When I first moved up there, there was no concierge or anything and everyone just cleaned their own landing and passed it on to the next person and it was kept nice with wee rugs and plats and things like that. Then gradually there came more trouble, mostly with drug dealers and addicts.
“Taking them down is the best thing that could happen to them now.”
Mark Fielding, who was with Lynne, said: “All of us came from the flats and we were up there for 20 years. To be honest the drugs killed it. The decline started about 15 years ago and the last 10 years was the worst they had ever been. There had been 5 or 6 murders up there in the last decade alone.”
But taking a look at his daughter, who was also there to see the flats she was born and brought up in being tore down, He said; “She was born there so it wasn’t all bad for us.”
The teenager agreed that there was as many good memories as bad and laughed as she added: “I just watched my whole childhood being blown up.”
By mid-day there was a helicopter hovering above the flats as the crowds continued to build. A horn indicating 10 minutes to demolition brought the expectant crowd to their feet. Then with one loud bang the three notorious tower blocks were brought down in the blink of an eye as smoke and dust rose in their place.
Local woman Amanda Brown also came along with her kids to see a part of the area’s history being reduced to rubble.
Amanda who spent three months staying in the flats not long before they were consigned to history said: “I was only in there for three months and you used to get a lot of the kind of people you don’t want to be there, like drug addicts always approaching you and asking you for stuff and it could be quite intimidating.
“You just had to try and keep yourself to yourself. You were afraid to leave the house at times. There was always loads of trouble and the police were always there so I was very glad to get out when I did.”
“I had the wee one while I was staying there so I will always have that one good memory at least, but as soon as I moved in I wanted to leave.”
The flats came into the control of the GHA in 2003 who are planning to replace them with 50 new houses in a five million pound development of the area. If given the go ahead work on the new houses could begin as early as 2016.
340 neighbouring properties had to be temporarily evacuated to allow the 60 metres tall buildings to be brought down safely.