University of Glasgow unveils tower helter-skelter

Published: 1 April 2016

Today the University of Glasgow unveils a well-kept secret: the world’s first helter-skelter inside a listed building.

UPDATE: This story is an April Fool. Currently, the University has no plans to install a helter-skelter in the tower.

Visitors to the University of Glasgow in recent months will have seen the main building’s iconic tower wreathed in scaffolding.

But none have guessed the true purpose of the construction work taking place - to create the world’s first helter-skelter inside a listed building.

Prof Frank Coton leads the welcome for the helter-skelter

For months, construction crews have worked in total secrecy inside the 279-foot-tall tower, erected in the 1870s, to install a state-of-the-art helter-skelter which will be open to the public from the end of April.

Nearly half a kilometre of tightly twisting slide is packed into the historic tower, and the University hopes to attract visitors from around the world to try it for themselves.

Professor Frank Coton, Vice Principal (Academic & Educational Innovation) at the University of Glasgow, said: “They said it couldn’t be done. Then they said it shouldn’t be done. But we did it anyway, and we’re thrilled to be the first university in the world to fuse education and entertainment in such an exciting way.

“Standing at the top of the tower, you get a beautiful panoramic view across the city and the chance to catch your breath before heading down the slide, reaching speeds of up to 25mph.

“Sir Gilbert Scott designed a fantastic main building for us back in the 19th century but it’s only now in the 21st century, with the installation of this helter-skelter, that we can truly say it is complete.”

The notoriously reclusive Phil Tsarina Folios, founder of renowned Croatian architects Prvi Travnja, came out of retirement to lead the pioneering design of the helter-skelter.

Mr Folios said: “Without a doubt this was the hardest challenge of my career. I built my reputation through innovative redesign of historic buildings but this project has given me the confidence to take things to a new level.  Creating an entertainment experience of this magnitude in utter secrecy inside a listed building was frightening, exhilarating, wonderful, so much so that in recent weeks I have taken on exciting new commissions.  I can’t say much about these at this stage but look out later this year and early next for amazing developments at Macchu Picchu, the Colosseum, and Stonehenge.

“I’ve personally used the helter-skelter more than a hundred times to date, and I hope visitors to the University of Glasgow will come to love this installation as much as I do. It’s my gift to the wonderful people of Scotland.”

First published: 1 April 2016

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