A MUCH-LOVED statue which lay damaged and forgotten in storage for more than 20 years has been welcomed home by the Springburn community at last.

Heritage and Hope, a bronze of a father dressed in traditional working clothes sending his young daughter, arms outstretched, into a hopeful future, was designed by artist Vincent Butler in 1989.

Glasgow Times: The statue has been installed temporarily in Springburn Shopping Centre Pic: Gordon Terris

“It was about paying tribute to the area’s heritage but also thinking about its future,” explains Helen Carroll, of Spirit of Springburn community hub. “That is what we are doing here, at Spirit of Springburn – celebrating the past, while doing something about the present.”

Community-led organisation Spirit of Springburn, founded in 2019, works in partnership with other local groups to provide a range of services and activities, including a foodbank.

Glasgow Times: Helen Carroll, left, and Mandy McIntosh who helped save Springburn's Heritage and Hope statue by Vincent Butler. Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times.

“It was really emotional unveiling the statue,” says Helen. “It stood outside Springburn Library and local people really loved it. Then it got vandalised and removed, and it ended up in a foundry in Leith, where it was forgotten about for 20 years.”

Community adviser Anthony Carroll and Springburn and Royston artist in residence Mandy McIntosh tracked it down, managed to secure its return and have temporarily installed it in Springburn Shopping Centre.

“This is a great, positive moment in reclaiming Springburn’s heritage, as other aspects of it - such as the Caley railway works at St Rollox – have been stripped away in recent years,” says Anthony. “People will have the chance to think and talk about what should happen to it now. It’s part of a bigger project, a way to think about the heritage and hopes of all the people who live in Springburn now.”

Mandy, who is currently a PhD student at Glasgow School of Art, said: “Helen and Anthony both work tirelessly in Springburn on welfare, foodbanks and detailed long-term support for some of the city’s most vulnerable people…there are also youth groups and other parties invested in this recuperation. A really important part of this sculpture’s homecoming is how bereft and stripped this community has been over decades – it is very much a grassroots gesture.”

The hub is full of fantastic old photographs and memorabilia from Springburn’s history.

“The area was transformed by the building of the new road – so many houses and shops were torn down,” says Helen, who is also chairperson of Springburn Community Council. “The community has always felt left behind, especially when big decisions were taken, such as the closure of the railway works.”

Springburn was at the heart of the locomotive industry - engines and carriages built at the Glasgow works, which opened in 1856, were sent all over the world. Through changes of ownership, privatisation and two world wars – and latterly servicing ScotRail as a maintenance operation - the Caley was a source of work in the area for more than 150 years. At its height it employed almost 3500 people – often generations of the same family.

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Led by a lone piper, remaining employees left the building for the last time in July 2019, after a fight to save it failed.

Helen adds: “We’re fighting to get back on the map. The statue is a small but important step forward.

“Springburn has a significant history, and we are absolutely determined to keep that alive.”