Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Surprise funeral directors

This was something of a surprise, and a reminder that unexpected things can happen when you are not watching – in this case while my regular walking route happened to be in another direction for a while.

Building seen has been abandoned, or more accurately unoccupied, for years.

A long long time ago it was a car dealer’s, might even have been built for that use originally. That eventually closed, then it was a Job Centre for a while. I’m not sure if it was before or after that, but I think it was some sort of office for a while, but was fairly anonymous, so I have little recollection.

It looks as if the agents have decided to divide it up into smaller units, with the funeral directors having established their presence while I was absent, and another premises (no clues yet) being fitted out next door.

Given how long this place has lain empty, I hadn’t expected to ever see anything there again.

Shettleston funeral directors

Shettleston funeral directors

February 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s old meat and cattle market is ‘At Risk’

While I was shopping in Duke Street I happened to turn around while climbing the stairs/ramp to one shop and noticed the slightly raised location provided a view over the now almost completely empty site of Glasgow’s old meat, cattle market, and abattoir.

Now little more than an empty field with some remaining covered pens in the distance, the only remaining building is a sub-station, on the left foreground. Not visible behind the covered area are flats built on that part of the site, which also allowed a significant amount of façade to be retained. The covered area was latterly used as a car auction/market, and having been taken there when tiny, imagined I would be able to go there on my own when I was ‘grown-up’. Well, I was wrong about that!

It seems to have closed in 2001, suffered arson in 2003, then was razed in 2005.

The land has been up for sale for years, since the market was demolished – no takers yet.

I was surprised to see that the canopied area and adjacent façade were considered to be ‘Buildings at Risk’, given how little it represents of the whole site, but then again, why not?

For more details, see Building at Risk: Moore Street Meat and Cattle Markets, Bellgrove Street, Calton

One interesting point was the finish of the walls around the market which, when they surrounded the entire site, matched exactly the finish on the small section of facing still surviving on the front of that sub-station.

Glasgow meat market site

Glasgow meat market site

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh dear… ANOTHER weather forecast was correct

I used to argue and fight with that sad class of person which was not happy unless moaning and whining about how ‘Useless’ weather forecasts and forecasters were, and how much of a waste of time they all were.

They were usually people who could not, or refused, to understand the concept of probability (yet often loved to throw their money at the gee-gees in the local bookies), and loved the sound of their own voice as they presented their  ‘evidence’ to show that the last weather forecast had been ‘stupid’ since it did not rain in ‘THEIR’ street – carefully ignoring the fact that most surrounding areas  were dripping wet.

A couple of days ago we got a warning about Storm Doris, and chilly weather, set to arrive on Thursday.

I could almost hear the naysayers laughing at this foolishness – we were at the time of that forecast enjoying the warmest day of the year so far.


Today is Thursday, and at 7 am I looked out the window – nothing interesting, just the usual rain (remember, this is Scotland).

Two hours later, another glance out of the window, and…

More snow in Feb

More snow in Feb

Be interesting to see how long it falls, and lasts for, since the preceding warm days mean the ground absorbed some heat, and the ambient temp has not fallen to freezing, or below.

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

Revisited: The odd metal post base in Carntyne’s Hogarth Park

I took the opportunity of a spare moment, and an almost dry day, to wander along to Carntyne’s Hogarth Park and try for a closer look at what appeared to be an odd metal post base near the pyramid near the medical centre. Just as well, as it was already turning cold, wet, and windy on the way back, getting ready for Storm Doris to arrive.

Before heading for the object itself, I walked the perimeter in case any further examples lay nearby – nothing was found.

Forgot to take a scale, so a discarded bottle had to stand in, and give an indication of the size.

Base size indication

Base size indication

The top has an internal conical or tapered thread.

Internal conical thread

Internal conical or tapered thread

Below this threaded section, flats for a square wrench have been crimped into the tube, presumably to allow whatever was screwed above to be securely tightened without torquing the base below, possibly damaging it.

Square wrench crimp

Square wrench crimp

Looking down into the tube, it can be seen that this is not solid, and there is a large opening at the bottom.

Significantly, this seems to extend far below ground level – the longest stick I could find nearby was about 1 metre long, and did not meet any resistance when inserted into the hole.

Internal view

Internal view

Referring back to the first view (with the bottle for scale), I did take some tools to clear what I thought was just going to be some grass/earth over a concrete base, but this proved to be completely wrong.

As can be seen in the pic, I cleared the grass only to find there was no concrete below the earth. In fact, it appears to carry on with nothing solid below – probing with stick suggested at least another 0.5 m of earth.

Digging would seem to be the only way to find more – and I’d probably get ‘lifted’ if spotted doing that in a public park.

It’s probably a drill pipe from a land survey

Thanks to a suggestion (from Ray) in the comments below, it looks as if this is just an abandoned section of drill pipe.

And that, sadly, means it has no real connection to the history of the original site.

Looking at land survey drilling rigs, this matched one of the drill pipe sections illustrated, with the narrower drill pipe leading to the larger diameter drill collar, as seen in this illustration:

Drill parts

Drill parts

Sizes vary, but photographs of drill operators with various pipe sections showed this was a typical example.

And does, thankfully, explain why I had the constant niggle and feeling I had seen something similar, but could just not place it accurately enough to identify it.

Since my original conclusions lead to another find nearby, I’ve just left them below.

Conclusions – probably not…

These initial conclusions probably rank more as ramblings now, but since they still provide some more info and another nearby find (by the long gone rail track), they might as well stay.

I had two thoughts based on this little info:

I had wondered about the possibility of an old gas light if the base proved to be hollow, as was found, but this seems unlikely. Why only one, and why there?

On the other hand, the old gas lights were fed from below, via hollow poles which connected to the gas supply below ground, to the lantern on top.

And a conical, or tapered, thread IS used for connection under pressure.

The only support for this might be the presence of a path that seems to lead there (the pyramid can be seen in the background, but this path does not lead to it) – but this path might not even date from the same period, so it not really any help since I can’t find it on any maps either. It also just seem to come to an end at the bend, and does not lead to base, some 30 m away.

Hogarth Park path and pyramid

Hogarth Park path and pyramid behind

My second thought is based on maps of the area, which show an unnamed Chemical Works on this land c. 1900.

This ‘post base’ could in fact be the top of some tank or container left over from the works, hence the hole and unknown depth.

Possible rail connection?

By chance, I came across a third option, and almost fell into it!

A rail track passed about 30 m to the west, as evidenced by this view of the long cleared track, now with a tree in the middle.

Carntyne rail track cleared

Carntyne rail track cleared

The reason I wonder if it may be connected arises from the spot I took the above pic from – where I almost went down a hole covered by undergrowth (cleared away for the following pic).

It looks like a manhole, adjacent to the path of the track, now with no cover, leading to some sort of culvert, now filled with rubbish.

Exposed rail track hole

Exposed rail track hole

Closer view confirms manhole or access.

If you’re wondering why more of the undergrowth wasn’t cleared for better pics – I couldn’t!

I’d only taken some very small hand tools to clear what I thought was just some grass overgrown on the base – but trying to shift the earth found there meant that by the time I’d found this manhole… I had developed some huge blisters on my hand from the earlier effort. At least I had secateurs, and had been able to cut the thorny stuff away (after thanking it for stopping me falling down there while it was hidden).

Carntyne former rail track manhole

Carntyne former rail track manhole

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Changing times – this used to be a risky spot

Funny things people – one minute they’re there… then they’re gone!

When I grabbed the pic below, there were TWO families with multiple kids getting ready to go home after playing on Glasgow Green, but when the shutter opened, they had somehow all managed to disappear behind the entrance pillars – I couldn’t have done this deliberately if I’d been offered money to make the shot.

I’d actually wanted them visible here (I generally avoid having bodies in my pics), at the spot where the much travelled McLennan Arch once stood, to illustrate how this is now a place where families are more likely to be found than questionable ‘ladies’.

In day gone by, they would not have gone there in the dark, and it was best avoided unless looking for ‘business’. I once made the mistake of cutting through there as a short-cut one evening when I worked nearby, only to get chased by a half-naked ghoul in a mini-skirt lurking at the corner opposite that entrance with her ‘sisters’, who looked as if she had just been dragged out of a grave. Sad to say, she was probably 20 (or more) years younger that she looked. If you’ve come across those pics of addicts that American anti-drug campaigners love, then you’ll know what I mean,

Today, I can walk there, play at low-light photography there, and all I have to watch out for is folk walking their dogs, or their kids.

Glasgow Green

Glasgow Green

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Too much tidy – Too little UrbEx

One of the thing I’ve come to regret is the zealous application of ‘tidy’ to the east end of Glasgow, not least of which was driven by the 2014 Commonwealth Games, or The Shames, since it’s shame we had to endure this nonsense for a few privileged folk who wanted to run and jump for a few days, and earn some sponsorship at Glasgow’s expense.

A few years ago I started to walk around the area, and found a few places, either relics of the past, or that I might have wanted to explore. To be honest, the walking was not so much a choice as a necessity, since driving was an expensive luxury that had fallen off my list of options.

Frankly, this was really nothing new, as I’d tried to have a little fun a few years prior to this, and had taken a few trips into Glasgow, with the intent of ‘collecting’ some surviving relics of old city centre buildings – but this fell through after a few weekends, as I found that most building had been cleaned up and tidied of any ‘old’ gems that might have adorned them, or I was finding that building I’d spotted in old B&W pics were demolished or refurbished. Anything left usually wasn’t particularly notable. Of the notable items… let’s just say that they are so few and well-known, there’s no problem finding a pic or record, defeating my idea of finding ‘goodies’.

This came to mind when I happened to pass an old house, now fenced off and almost out of sight behind overgrown bushes and trees. While there’s no legit way for a decent UrbExer to have a look – even the fencing is padlocked and secured by chains – this doesn’t stop or deter vandal, and the place is now completely burnt out and wrecked.

Baillieston ruin

Baillieston ruin

This is one of those things you don’t notice happening.

Looking at this one reminded that I’ve seen quite a few mansions, sandstone houses, or villas, generally from the Victorian era which have lain empty an unsold for years, until they fell into disrepair, abandoned, and then vandalised as they became neglected. Sad to say, sometimes there are stories of tragedies behind them, but it does seem odd that this happens, and a perfectly good house ends up being ruined. You may have seen one in the news, belonging to some millionaire who lost his money, and even left his Rolls in the garage – it was trashed too.

Those I have seen this happen to, around here, have all been razed over the years.

This one gets a better view from above, via Google, than I can get on the ground

Not really much I can do – if the places simply aren’t there, they can’t be explored.

Although I’ve used homes as the example, the real disappointment around the east end its surroundings is the clearance of the industry that used to cover the area. Looking at old maps, even from only a century ago, can show a completely different area, unrecognisable today despite being a major concern in its day.

I wandered behind a park and modern industrial unit and came across a load of substantial concrete beams and other remains along a closed road. There’s no (historic) record of the site online, and I had to use old OS maps to discover this had been a 19th century steelworks.

Guess I should do a post about it one day.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Shocking gun find dug up in my garden – and an old advert found too

I don’t (daren’t) write about guns any more – in Scotland, anything that might attract attention to an interest in guns is likely to end with the ‘gift’ of a mandatory 5 year jail sentence.

While the criminal classes can freely wander around with a gun stuffed down their trousers, beware if you are an old granny that finds her deceased partners rusty old wartime service revolver or similar lying forgotten somewhere in their house. Mention it, or let it be found for some other reason, and her feet will generally not touch the ground as she is rushed into the nearest prison, followed by a media shaming campaign to get her released.

Don’t believe me?

Try looking the scenario up online.

I thought I was going to have to order a false passport and identity last year, and make a run for it abroad, after I dug up some gun parts in back garden. Worse still, it was a machine gun, which would really upset some people…

Plastic BB gun

Plastic BB gun

It’s taken a while to positively identify this, but I was looking through some old advert collections and… there was the same gun, complete!

There was no info about the ad, so I have to guess it (and the toy) date from the 1960s, but may have been produced for some years, and originate in the 1950s.

Sad to say, this was the ONLY part I found, but it cleaned up well, considering it must have been buried there for almost 50 years.

Still, it was a nice change to find something identifiable – usually all I get is tiny fragments not worth bothering about.

Here’s the advert:

Plastic BB gun old advert

Plastic BB gun old advert

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

St Peter’s Seminary featured in BBC’s ‘In Pictures’

I’ll never know why it never occurred to me to make the small diversion that would have let me visit St Peter’s at least once in the past (decades). I truly regret that sin of omission today, when I could have gone there for a look and collected some pics when was somewhat more unknown than it has become today.

It’s not as if I  didn’t know it was there, and must have passed the relevant side road dozens of times most years (totalling hundreds ofopportunities) as we regularly visited Helensburgh for a fish supper, and a relaxing evening just watching the Clyde roll past from the car park.

While the building was an undeniable failure on many levels, much of that was out of the hands of the architects of  the day, and I (for one) would even forgive them the mistakes the made in structure, as regards our wonderful Scottish climate. 5 decades later it’s easy to be smug and point fingers at structure and design choices that were at best naïve, but we lived by different criteria in those days.

20/20 hindsight is only for those who want to feel smug, and get a warm glow from belittling those they should be glad to learn from.

Also, we have little right to do that anyway, given the condition of that eyesore of a skip we allowed to dumped in Holyrood.

St Peter’s still looks better than that thing, even after 50 years of dereliction, and some might say is just about as weatherproof too.

The BBC article is great as it used material not previously seen in most online articles, looks at both the past and present of the site, and considers its future.

If I had one criticism, it would have to be that the title of their offering has absolutely NO reference to St Peter’s in it, and I only decided to open it after thinking the thumbnail was familiar, but I could not place it, so wanted to see if I was right.

Via Life after death? Resurrecting a modern ruin

In lieu of any pics of my own, I’m glad to be able to use this one.

Notably, it show the view FROM the altar as opposed the much more usual one OF the (smashed) altar within the main building.

St Peter's Main Building Interior

St Peter’s Main Building Interior

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could the Maid of the Loch sail again in 2018

Predictions that the paddle steamer Maid of the Loch could sail again in 2018 are probably the most realistic I have seen for the historic steamer since restoration began. Ambitious plans gave a number of earlier dates, but without being critical (just practical) I never expected them to be delivered, mainly due to the cost of the project (funded by donations, grants etc) and the huge amount of work required, which all has to be completed to standards set by outside certification bodies.

Thankfully, the volunteers have never given up, and despite the economic climate being less that favourable over the years, neither did the arrival of funds, even if they were slow.

It’s one I’d love to have had a hand it, but time, and the distance, just ruled it out for me when this restoration began.

Of the 2018 sailing date, this was said:

The summer of 2018 could see the last paddle steamer built in Britain sailing once more.

The Maid of the Loch has been out of use for 35 years.

But enthusiasts working towards a multi-million pound restoration of the vessel believe it could be cruising Loch Lomond again.

They are aiming to raise £1.7m by the autumn which, they believe, could release twice as much again in lottery funding.

If the fundraising drive over the spring and summer is successful, that would release £3.8m of heritage lottery cash.

If all goes to plan, the Maid could be sailing by late summer next year.

Via Old Maid prepares for new lease of life

This promotional video from 2015 is described as having been key in securing backing from Heritage Lottery – it’s also a pretty good summary to, with some nice period footage from the Maid’s first life on the loch (probably from about time  I managed a trip, or maybe two, but I can’t remember).

It’s years (think of the word ‘decade’ and add some) since I last walked on the Maid’s deck and wandered down to the engine room and saw the paddles through the handy observation window provided, during a Doors Open Day opportunity.

Not that I would have forgotten that day, but things got more interesting after I parked in Glasgow, only to find my car battery (which had given no advance warning) suddenly decided to die, totally and completely. Let’s just say I had busy hour or two after that, since I was on my own.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The Scottish wildcat disaster train rolls on

WildcatWhile it’s gratifying to see publicity for the campaigns aimed at saving the Scottish wildcat from extinction, I still fear for its future if those involved cannot be made to form a consensus and work together, instead of forever being seen as being in dispute about who is right and who is wrong, amid accusations of doing harm rather than good with their plans.

There was news that wildcats had recently been caught on camera at two National Trust for Scotland sites in Aberdeenshire, near Drum Castle, and near Leith Hall.

More news described how new 1,500-square-mile conservation zone in Caithness was to be established, joining a similar area already set up in Ardnamurchan, with a long-term plan to see the two areas linked up to created a “truly national” safe area for the species.

Now, here’s the problem:

On 23 April 2016 I noted this (on the Cairngorms National Park Authority web site)…

Statement on behalf of Scottish Wildcat Action:

Eileen Stuart, head of policy and advice at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said: “We at Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) are once again dismayed at the latest statement produced by Wildcat Haven on 12 April 2016. We have a Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan which has been published and been developed by experts in their fields.

“Wildcat Haven’s actions misrepresent the progress we have made in the conservation of Scottish wildcat.  To be able to work with them, we need them to produce evidence and information relating to their activities‎.

Full statement can be read here: Statement on behalf of Scottish Wildcat Action

Then, on 23 August 2016 I noted this (in the news)…

Wildcat Haven says Scottish Wildcat Action is putting mothers and their newborns at risk.

A Scottish Government-backed wildcat protection scheme could be endangering the lives of newborn kittens, a conservation group has warned.

Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) aims to catch and neuter feral felines in Aberdeenshire to prevent them from breeding with wildcats, which are critically endangered.

Wildcat Haven says the group risks capturing new mothers and harming their young by laying traps during the breeding season.

Full statement can be read here: Wildcat Haven says Scottish Wildcat Action is putting mothers and their newborns at risk

Frankly, this behaviour from both sides (and I am not picking one or the other) is just not good enough.

I’m not even going to waste my time writing a new comment today, merely quote what I wrote about 2 year ago, since it seems to have just about the same relevance, and shows that little has improved regarding relations between these two warring factions:

It’s a while since I gave efforts to save the Scottish wildcat a mention, mainly because I couldn’t really see any good news to relate, and because there also seemed to be disagreement between those who should know better.

With extinction so close, that’s a truly sad and disappointing thing to have to note.

On 2 April 2015, we had Scottish wildcat captive breeding plan defended – BBC News

Sadly, this article reveals that rather than get together, various experts have taken up opposing views on whether it is better to create a haven which promotes safe living and breeding areas for wildcats, or to trap them and stock captive breeding programmes.

Surely the issue not for organisation to fight over which is right or wrong, as it should be obvious that a mix is needed. We already have animals in captivity that are breeding. We also need haven areas where animals can be protected and allowed to live and breed. Polarised groups at war only produce one thing – casualties!

I have nothing to add…

And no progress to note.

This recent video looks at not only the Scottish wildcat, but also touches on efforts being made to reintroduce the lynx:

Although it was good that he at least agreed to take part, it was actually sad to hear the farmer’s view on lynx, his dismissal of objective evidence in favour of hearsay and anecdotes, and beliefs influenced by the media and ignorance.

It reminded me of news coverage of a lynx escape from an English zoo last year:

“The animal should not be approached as it could become dangerous if alarmed or cornered.

“Officers have visited two local schools to offer safety advice and reassurance.

“All children at All Saints Primary School are not in school as they are away on a field trip.

“Police are also working with staff at Little Orchard Montessori School to make sure they are kept inside.

“Officers are also going house to house in the area to offer advice and are assisting with the search on the ground.

Via: Lynx on the loose in Devon after escaping from Dartmoor Zoo

After all that, Flaviu wandered around for about 3 weeks and… nothing happened.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Just the one please

I was reminded of days long gone, when milk was delivered to homes every morning, when I spotted what looked like someone asking for “Just the one pint please” in Carntyne – something I guess needs to be explained for some.

Milk came in glass bottles then, containing one pint. No cardboard boxes with one litre, or the plastic bottles also common today. Delivering milk then was also a noisy job, and bad luck if a long lie was wanted in the morning, as the milkman crashed around and the bottles shook and rattled together.

But no such things today, just this attempt at a bit of humour with an old glove stuck on a plastic container jammed in a hedge:

One please distant

One please distant

And getting a bit closer…

One Please

One Please

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | 2 Comments