The owner of a bar destroyed in a helicopter crash that killed ten people says he hopes a multi-million pound revamp of the site will ensure its name remains in the heart of Glasgow forever.
Speaking ahead of the tenth anniversary of the tragedy at the Clutha, Alan Crossan revealed his vision to knock down the pub and replace it with a complex – housing a music, arts and drama hub as well as apartments.
The space will also include a permanent memorial to the ten people who lost their lives when a police helicopter crashed through the roof of the busy bar on November 29, 2013.
More than 100 people were enjoying a night out at the pub when the helicopter, returning to its base on the banks of the River Clyde, crashed through the roof.
Seven customers – John McGarrigle, Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Samuel McGhee and Joe Cusker – died.
Helicopter pilot David Traill and crewmates Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis also died.
“On the night I was here within 15 minutes,” Alan Crossan, the owner of the Clutha, told STV News.
“I was standing across on the other side of the river. It was the oddest thing to be looking at.
“I could see the reflection of the blue lights on the water and it was cold. Then my mind would go back to all the horrors going on inside the pub. I can still see that scene in my mind.”
This Wednesday marks ten years since the helicopter fell from the sky. In the decade since, the Clutha Trust was formed.
The charity has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local causes. The total transformation of the site is a new dream.
“After the accident we were smothered by love and kindness from people in Glasgow and they helped us a lot and what we are trying to do now is redirect that to people in need, whether that is the families affected by the tragedy or just others who need help,” Mr Crossan said.
“When I first came into the pub the week after the accident. There was a hole in the roof and water was running down the wall. Half of the pub was destroyed. We were just looking at it in total disbelief. I felt like the walls were crying.
“It was just a horrible, horrible experience so what we are trying to do it come out of that and make this new vision and dream that we have to the place special. It will be special, it will always have the memories and we will create a lot of good for our community by doing this.”
The new Clutha would be a multi-storey complex with a bar, a 300-seat community theatre, facilities for young people interested in learning music, art and drama, and, above that, 144 serviced apartments.
“The big reason for this is to secure the future of the Clutha,” said Mr Crossan.
“Where we are right now is a very prominent site in Glasgow and I have been approached by a lot of developers over the years who have offered me a lot of money for the site.”
“It will cost in excess of £20m but there are investors out there.
“The current set up was always temporary. The Clutha is through there. It has never been opened since the accident and this was a temporary arrangement with the council.”
At the back of the new development, ten guitars will be sealed into the wall to create a memorial for the victims of the tragedy.
“I said at the time it’s the people that make this pub,” said Mr Crossan.
“It didn’t matter about the bricks and mortar. This will always be the case and this is what makes the Clutha special.
“What I wanted to do was always make sure that there is a Clutha here and this is the only way I can do that. People need to trust me that I will design it in a such way that that reflects what the Clutha and it will be here forever. Not only that it will earn a lot of money for the charity. The charity will run the Clutha, which it does just now.”
To make the plans a reality, the pub would have to close for around 18 months.
Mr Corrans wants to temporarily relocate it onto a boat on the River Clyde.
“The Clutha means the Clyde,” he said.
“There is a boat over in Amsterdam at the moment and we have been to see it and we hope that we could bring that up the Clyde and use that for the year that the Clutha would be closed.”
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