Water Works blooming big lunch 20 June 2015

On a wonderfully sunny day at Water Works the community came together to celebrate The Big Lunch - and all that’s been achieved in transforming this once derelict sewage works into a stunning wild flower and nature beauty spot. 

A bath with the words 'Open Day 20th June, 12pm-3pm
Partners and young people who have driven the project with East Renfrewshire Council invited families and friends to enjoy the site, alongside members of community who’d not visited before.

Around 100 people enjoyed activities including wild flower face painting, seed ball-making (and throwing) with harvested Water Works seed, a wild flower photo shoot and plenty of cake, thanks to Craigs Cakes

A bright creative cake for the open day
Seed ball making
Water Works’ transformation is nothing short of remarkable. Sharon McIndoe from Barrhead Centre (below pic, second from left), one of the partners involved in enabling access to Water Works, told me that she still remembers the smell from the sewage works. Now it’s a fragrant, colourful, glorious wild flower oasis.

The impact of Water Works

The creation of Water Works from 1.5 hectares of vacant land has given Barrhead a genuine boost. Locals have taken back the space and transformed its use to serve the community once again. Just one example of a enthused local resident is Mark (below) who visits with his family every day. 

There’s a disproportionately high proportion of derelict land around Barrhead – and that has had negative effects on surrounding communities. By providing a space that supports healthy lifestyles and food growing, Water Works is helping to address some of the inequalities. 

It’s a visitor attraction for people in Glasgow and wider parts of East Renfrewshire – and has acted as a stimulus for new development and investment. An amazing £740k-worth of Regeneration Capital Grant Funding has recently been awarded and will achieve the transformational change of the remaining Glasgow Road corridor area by bringing more land back into productive use. There are future plans to link the cycle and walkway along the Levern to Glasgow, thus creating more active travel opportunities to Water Works.

Community togetherness

Community engagement and partnerships have and continue to be a key element of development and extensive work has been undertaken with groups that focus on wellbeing. 

These include Richmond Fellowship Trust whose clients access the site to boost their outdoor activity and mental and physical health. Coach House Trust, a voluntary organisation promoting inclusion, uses Water Works to provide gentle exercise and East Ren Council organises various walking groups. The site is also becoming a vibrant event space, with Grinagog Theatre performing in 2014 and Eco Drama visiting with their edible set.

It’s also a place for learning: through their involvement with Water Works Barrhead High School pupils have and will continue to attain their John Muir Award; apprentices at West of Scotland College  gather credits towards their building qualifications, and the Saltire Volunteer Award Scheme rewards volunteers. Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) apprentices have led tree felling and clearance work and managed the nurturing of the 16,000 plug plants from seed activities with young people from Barrhead High School and local youth groups.

There is more to come in the wider regeneration for Barrhead – Water Works has been shortlisted by the Scottish Quality in Planning Awards in the community involvement category and thanks to Men’s Shed, whose bee hives sit on an adjacent space, soon Barrhead will even have its very own honey!

Bee on Viper Bugloss

Oxeye Daisy
Pictures: Ross Fraser McLean/Studio RoRo

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