Video: Friends of River Kelvin make space for new life at Ha’penny Bridge House HQ

By Ian Marland at

WHAT’S THE STORY?

A long-established volunteer conservation group that cares for the River Kelvin in Glasgow is about to sign a long lease on its base on the Kelvin Walkway. Friends of the River Kelvin say that move will give them security of tenure to raise money and to do a lot more with the space they have there.

Although the group has been in the building for the last 20 years, their stay has always been on a short-term basis – which is not ideal if you want to make plans for the future.

At the weekend, volunteers started clearing out the HQ at Ha’Penny Bridge House in preparation for a number of planned – and as yet unplanned – new uses. They set about clearing out unwanted clutter from the building they have occupied for so long.

Secure: FORK is close to signing a new long lease on its Ha’Penny Bridge House HQ.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE?

FORK says it has had requests from various groups to use the base: these include outdoor playgroups and people wanting to run meditation classes. Running clubs also see the house as an idea social point for jogs along the river.

There could even be plans to rig up a screen inside the building to hold cinema events, but that will need some time and money first.

In the past, the wee house has hosted musical nights and arts gatherings – now the hope is that it can do much more.

Graft: Volunteers give up their time to conserve the city’s natural environment.

WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING

Sally Johnston is the chair of FORK. She said: “We are on the cusp of signing a new lease that will mean we can start fundraising to really make this building a community building that can be shared with other people and other groups. So we are clearing out lots of junk, looking at what we repair, what we can re-use and what we can recycle.

“We want the building to be a place where it’s safe. As we are a volunteer group, we don’t use the building as much as we would like to – we are all working in full-time jobs and have other commitments. So we want to get it to a place where it is safe and friendly for other groups to come and use during the week – because it is in such a beautiful place.

“We do get approaches all the time from people who want to run classes, workshops, running groups, outdoor nurseries, women’s groups, meditations classes – we just think we are on that point where we could really open it up.”

Community: FORK plans to open up its base to other groups and uses.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?

One of the first things will be a musical event on Father’s Day June 18 as part of the West End Festival (more details of that will follow shortly). And in the summer, there are plans to hold a Spanish language camp for children (again more details of that will follow shortly). For future events See FORK’s Facebook page (link below) for details.

Hands-on: Cleaning out the gutters at Ha’Penny Bridge House.

WHAT DO THE FRIENDS OF THE RIVER KELVIN DO?

They are one of the most active volunteer conservation groups in Scotland with many members. Based in the West End, the group holds regular clean up sessions along the river Kelvin.

They remove bags upon bags of litter and junk everytime they venture out – usually once a month. While they are based in the city, the group also undertakes clean-up operations outside the city limits.

FORK works with partners including RSPB Scotland and the city council to preserve the natural environment and educate the public. It holds regular social events and attends galas around the West End to spread its message.

Oomph: Slinging out the wellies to make room for new uses.

WHAT’S WITH THE OLD WELLIES?

Oh, they are just surplus to requirements. Volunteers spend a lot of time trudging through water to get at the rubbish that gathers in the waterway.

But they realised they had too many pairs of Wellington boots and wanted to make space for other things. They were giving them away outside Ha’Penny House.


Watch: Sally Johnston explains new plans for the riverside base.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

FORK have a very active Facebook page and twitter account. All the information you need should be there.