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Old Buildings, New Life

Some old buildings have found new life with a different purpose. Here's some of the best of British...

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Òran Mór, Glasgow


Was: A Church

Now: A Bar and Venue

In Glasgow’s illustrious West End, you’ll find the iconic Òran Mór church, opposite the city’s Botanic Gardens. Originally built in 1862, the Church served as the main parish for the Kelvinside area. After lying derelict for several years, the building was bought in 2002 and converted into on of the West End’s favourite bars and venues. The neon hoop that adorns the church spire sums up the meeting of old and new in this popular spot for nights out.

The Baltic, Newcastle


Was: A Mill

Now: A Contemporary Arts Centre

Newcastle is a city that is proud of its industry based heritage. Because of this, many historical buildings have found a new lease of life with new purposes. The Baltic is a classic example of refurbishment and re-purposing. The 50’s facades of the arts centre are a reminder that the building was once a massive flour mill, and the site itself was used as an iron works from the mid-19th century. Today the building is used to showcase the new and exciting world of contemporary art in the North East.

Battersea Power Station, London


Was: A Power Station

Now: Office and Residential Development

An icon of the London skyline, Battersea Power Station is a landmark in its own right. The building has always been recognisable thanks to its four distinctive chimneys that date back to the 1930’s. Though the building house a coal-fired power station, it’s been out of use since 1983. The building has remained iconic thanks to appearing on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals along with an inflatable pig. Today, the site is undergoing a massive regeneration and will soon be home to Apple’s London HQ along with new flats and amenities.

Malmaison Hotel, Oxford


Was: A Prison

Now: A Hotel

For those looking for a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure, there’s no better spot than the Malmaison in Oxford. The building was HMP Oxford until 1997, and has a successful run as a luxury hotel since it re-opened in 2005. The original cells have been expanded into sizeable bedrooms to ensure conditions aren’t too cramped, and the old hanging room is now home to the hotel’s kitchen. Doing some hard time in Oxford has never been classier!

Templeton On The Green, Glasgow


Was: A Carpet Factory

Now: Offices and Flats

Looking at Glasgow’s Templeton, you’d be forgiven for not guessing the building was once a carpet factory. This is thanks to the colourful, Venetian inspired façade that stands out on Glasgow Green, by the People’s Palace. The William Leiper designed factory produced carpets for the best part of a century, until it was converted into a business centre in 1984. Today, the factory houses 143 apartments as well as the WEST brewery and accommodation for Sportscotland.

Cahoots, London


Was: An Air Raid Shelter

Now: A Bar

London in the Blitz seems hard to imagine when you visit the city today. Much of the city’s industrial East End was razed to the ground by the Luftwaffe, and years of regeneration have covered up the past. Every now and then, you get a reminder that London was once a city at war. Cahoots in the Soho area plays up to the spirit of the 40’s, thanks to its location in a former public air raid shelter. The décor, cocktails and music evoke the era well as you can imagine what that spirit of resistance felt like in WW2 London.

The Haçienda, Manchester

Via Flickr: robert_scarth

Was: A Nightclub

Now: Flats

Unfortunately, many feel that the change that happens to old buildings isn’t always for the better as the memories that are held is some buildings are seen as sacred. There’s no better example than the former Haçienda club in Manchester. Funded and ran by New Order’s label Factory Records, the club became the flash point of the ‘Madchester’ scene and is also regarded as being instrumental in the rise of Acid House and Rave music. When the club was closed down and demolished. The site is now home to the Haçienda apartments, which some see as being sacrilege to the memory of the iconic club.

What converted buildings capture your attention? Let us know in the comments!

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