Animator creates 360 degree digital model of Glasgow's St Enoch Square as it looked in 1900

A skilled digital artist is using virtual reality to bring Scotland’s lost built heritage back to life with a series of interactive videos showing urban environments as they looked more than a century ago.

Digital graphics maestro Ian Young created a 360 panorama of St Enoch Square in Glasgow as it looked circa 1900.

Over the past couple of years Ian Young, from Paisley, has spent untold numbers of hours recreating painstakingly-detailed bygone 3D views of his hometown Paisley and, more recently, Glasgow.

In Mr Young’s latest published effort, a fully-navigable 360 degree panorama of Glasgow’s St Enoch Square circa 1900 created using LightWave 3D software, the viewer is treated to an immersive gander at the square’s many lost public buildings.

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Most notable perhaps is the multi-levelled edifice of the St Enoch Railway Station Hotel. Constructed in 1875, the grand hotel was razed a little over a century later to eventually make way for the St Enoch shopping centre and its loss remains much lamented among those who can recall it.

Occupying the centre of the panorama, the extant St Enoch subway station serves as a helpful reference point within the much-altered urban environment.

To complement his expertly-rendered architectural recreations, which can take weeks and even months to create, Mr Young has also gone to the bother of animating early Glasgow single-decker tramcars, further adding to the sense of realism. In the future, he plans to include animated horses and carts and passersby dressed in the garb of the era.

"St Enoch Square, it’s an enclosed area, perfect for a 360 degree movie,” explains Mr Young. “I never knew there had been a hotel there and that really spurred me on, as I realised a lot of other wouldn’t know about it either.”

In 2016, Mr Young embarked on his first recreation - a faithful digital rebuild of Paisley’s Glen Cinema, scene of one of the worst human disasters in Scottish history. On Hogmanay 1929 a fire broke out at the picture house, resulting in the death of 71 people – 69 of them children. The digital rebuild was gifted to the local museum for education purposes.

Following this initial effort, Mr Young went on to create an annotated fly through over central Paisley in 1900 along the banks of the White Cart, stopping off to take a close look at lost landmarks, including the old Paisley jail, which was knocked in the 1960s.

Soon-to-be-unveiled, Mr Young promises, is a 3D render of the long-since mothballed Cathkin Park, once home to defunct Third Lanark FC.

Possessing a degree in computer animation and experience working as a full-time architectural modeller in Australia, Mr Young says his ultimate dream is to work with National Museums of Scotland and use his creations to help educate the masses.

However, despite considerable online interest in his recreations on YouTube and on social media, Mr Young says attempts to convince museums to adopt the technology in an official capacity as an educational tool have proved unsuccessful.

The St Enoch Station Hotel was built in 1875 and demolished a little over a century later.

Mr Young added: "There are streets and castles around the country that are now completely demolished. I can recreate that, but it simply isn’t done by museums and I don’t understand why.

"It’s basically about recreating streets, buildings that are now long gone. If the technology’s there, then why aren’t we using it?”

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The St Enoch Square subway station building is among the few landmarks that has stood the test of time on the square.

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The digital models can take weeks and even months to create.
Ian Young says his goal is to work with National Museums Scotland and develop the digital models as an educational tool.

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