Thursday, 13 March 2014

Greenock's Flatiron Building

New York and Toronto have their flatiron buildings - they are tourist attractions in their own right and must have been photographed millions of times.  Greenock has a building which is just as magnificent and is a wonderful (almost) triangular shape.  Here it is -

Not quite something tourists would really want to photograph!  The building was once a sugar refinery (or sugarhouse, as we call it) here in Greenock.  It is one of my favourite buildings in the town, despite its derelict appearance.  It is a fabulous shape and the brickwork is wonderful.

Built in the 19th century, it was the Glebe Sugarhouse in the days when sugar refining was an important industry in Greenock.  I've already written about Abram Lyle and the connection with Tate and Lyle sugar.  You can read it here.

The building has been unused for some time now.  It has been left ruinous.  Pigeons fly in and out of the broken windows.  It lies among waste ground abandoned and forlorn.  The windows facing the street have now been boarded up.  An Aldi supermarket has now been built right in front of it.

It is situated right across the street from the container terminal which is where the large cruise liners dock when they visit the west coast - bringing thousands of tourists to the area.  What a great first impression  …………………. not!

But how wonderful it could be and what a great asset for Greenock if only someone with money and vision would take it over.  Personally, I would turn this building into a heritage centre for Greenock.  I would have a first class café, with some pretty little shops on the ground floor.  Arts, heritage centre and gallery on the upper floors.  A bar and restaurant on the top floors which would have amazing river views! It could be magnificent!

In the meantime, I pass by and dream. 

I even think that it may be haunted ………….....!

The Greenockian


  1. that has such character. love how it is so aged. i wonder why someone doesn't snatch it up & make a cool business in there. that would be super smart. i know that name. but why? i really dislike when tidbits of info. are in your mind but you can't recall them when you need them. happy thursday. ( :

  2. I love the look of this building. It has great character. The arched windows are wonderful. Hopefully someone will restore it.

  3. I think your dream is a perfect one for the place. I ADORE flatiron buildings, and they seem to pop up everywhere...some larger and in better repair than other. It is so sad to see this lovely structure in such disrepair. Hope someone buys it before too long and fixes it up.

  4. It would be filled with high end lofts if it was here in Toronto! It's beautiful.

  5. I love it! It would fit in perfectly in Toronto's Distillery District. Too bad the windows have been broken. I can't believe no one is converting this to something useful.

  6. I look forward to you winning the lottery for this grand old building to be restored. Sounds good anyway

  7. I have loved this building for years and have always called it Greenock's Flat Iron Building. I'm glad other people share my feelings.

  8. When on holiday in Wemyss bay Schotland one night we wanted to eat out somewhere... we went to a very good little pizza restaurant just across the aldi in a town called Greenock.
    Immediatly when parking on the aldi premisses my eye caught that great old looking building standing out between so many other buildings.
    This was the Glebe sugar refinary.
    I noticed some folks having a little bussines inside on the lower flor of the building so i could have a glimpse for just a few moments.
    I think this building is stunning and it hurts seeing it deteriorate.
    I hope there will come a time someone finds the time and money and courage to restore this to something great.
    It hadms all the potential!!
    Greetings from the netherlands
    Steven veldhuizen

  9. We went on a cruise this year and stopped by Greenock. We loooooooved the building and if I had the money I‘d love to restore it. I have some ideas for it (including a café, restaurant, museum and hobby store). I‘d love an apartment there too. Again we didn’t win the lottery, but we’ll dream on. Many greetings from Germany, Dorthe


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