Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Buildings around George Square due for revamp

George Square 2015

George Square 2015

I misread the title of an article related to George Square recently, and thought that some magic had been invoked to get £70 million allocated for revamp – after all, it’s only been about 3 years since some people had a fit over a mere £15 million being spent on a facelift. Well, to be more accurate, the problem was really caused by some fool who thought it would be a good idea to completely redesign the landmark. Fortunately, the resultant outcry of public opinion (the crazy plan had been made without any proper public consultation) meant the council had to drop it, and settle for tidying up the existing layout.

While the square has seen some radical changes to its layout, that plan was “a step too far” as it would have completely repurposed the area.

New George Square design unveiled ahead of vote by Glasgow City Council

George Square facelift approved

But this was not the Square, and instead referred to some of the building around it.

And that’s no bad thing. While it’s a while since I looked at them, and most are looking good, one or two are a little tired, and I barely notice them as they are not even in use. Anything that can be done to save them from dereliction or abandonment has to be a good idea.

The business is gone now, but I do remember getting a surprise when despatched to look at a faulty printing machine some years ago, and found myself descending into the bowels of one of those buildings. When it closed a few years ago, I think it featured in the news, as it was quite an operation to remove all the machinery.


Planning proposals have been submitted for a £70m refurbishment of historic buildings at Glasgow’s George Square which have lain empty for decades.

The buildings sit at the north east corner of the square, between George Street and Martha Street.

Developer Chris Stewart Group wants to create apartments, a hotel and student accommodation, offices, and a pedestrian lane with cafes and bars.

It is now seeking planning permission from Glasgow City Council.

Mr Stewart’s firm wants to create a “George Street Complex” which would see two listed buildings renovated for five-star serviced apartments and commercial offices as well as the construction of a new hotel and student accommodation.

The plan includes a pedestrian lane with restaurants, bars and cafes and a central plaza.

It is thought that the development could eventually support about 320 jobs in the city centre.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick is backing the scheme.

“These development plans offer an opportunity to regenerate a prominent city centre site, part of which has been left derelict for more than 80 years,” he said.

“From a series of run-down buildings and an empty patch of land, the plans will create an area that thrives with people and businesses.

Via BBC News:

George Square site in Glasgow earmarked for £70m revamp

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | 1 Comment

International Cat Day

International Cat Day…

No more need be said🙂


August 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Eilean da Mheinn (Harbour Island) is for sale for a mere £500,000

Seriously small cash for your own island, even compared to some sales I’ve noted in recent years, and with some prices having to be cut by that amount in an attempt to generate interest among potential buyers.

There is a tiny problem with this tiny island, and that’s its degree of privacy and/or isolation.

As can be seen from the pic below, you may not be on the mainland, but under some criteria, I suspect you would not even be considered to be on an island since you are just not sufficiently far away. I have read of some larger, populated islands that are not much further away than this, and they either do not qualify, or have to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to get grants and other payments that would be more or less automatic if they were further out to sea.

View of Crinan Harbour, and the Eilean da Mheinn, from the ridge above.

View of Crinan Harbour, and the Eilean da Mheinn, from the ridge above.

Per the selling agent’s blurb, it’s been owned by someone who just liked being there, and is now a ‘fixer upper’. Or, if you’re like me, just ready to move into as a bargain, not inflated by some damned developer who has ‘upgraded’ it, and inflated the price to make a quick profit.

Harbour Island is reached in a matter of minutes by boat from Crinan Harbour and is therefore a fantastically located private haven without being too remote.

Its coastline is rugged with wild gardens and woodland inland all of which attract a spectacular array of wildlife and seabirds.

The house comprises around 1000 square feet and is single storey built under a slate roof. Although in need of significant improvement, it offers flexible accommodation all on one level, with access from a porch to the side which leads to the hallway with two storage cupboards. The hallway gives access to all the main rooms: a sitting room with conservatory off, kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom with separate WC. There is a wooden outbuilding with guest room and shower room, a boathouse and slipway. The house, outbuildings and grounds are in need of significant improvement but Harbour Island offers a wonderful opportunity for a nautically-minded new owner to make their mark on this unique place.

Harbour Island, Crinan, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8SW. Offers Over £500,000.

Via Private Scottish island with three bedroom cottage up for sale: The Scotsman

Have fun, as commenters have pointed out one or two little ‘oopsies’ in that article.

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Censored and blocked by New Scientist for asking for an explanation

e92TpMR9Be careful what you say around New Scientist – they clearly believe in censorship of anything they don’t like.

I recently (as in last week) got fed up seeing them repeat the same posts a few hours after they tweeted about an article being published. At first I thought they were updating the material, but then I checked, and found they were simply repeating or duplicating the tweet made 5-12 hours earlier. Sometimes more than once.

I tweeted a question asking why they were doing this, but never received the courtesy of a reply – or even ‘Sod Off!’

I then posted the same question, and the time since the original tweet was first seen, whenever I spotted a duplicate.

When I didn’t get a reply, I made my questions more direct, but never abusive.

Since this morning, I’ve seen no new tweets from the venerable New Scientist, and when I checked my Twitter account – found I was minus one account I had been following. You guessed it… NO New Scientist in the list any more, and a check shows I have been blocked and barred from seeing any of their tweets.

Customer service at it best.

Never the courtesy of even a single reply, or even just acknowledgement.

Just thrown out unilaterally.

I might add I complained to The Telegraph a few weeks back, when its @TelegraphWW2 Twitter account started spewing out current news (which I’m not interested in) instead of the promised archival material from World War II.

I emailed their digital support, and got an explanation that the WW2 account had developed a problem they could not fix.

After a day or so, they stopped tweeting current news via the account – sadly, no WW2 material has appeared either.

I guess they know how to treat their ‘customers’.


June 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

How I was (not) totally ignored by The Telegraph and Twitter


TelegraphWW2 Twitter account

I’m suffering a double dose of disappointment at the moment.

I usually find most web sites I drop a note advising of problems with their content at least offer the courtesy of an acknowledgement, and even the odd ‘Thank You for bothering’. But complete ignorance is unusual.

I used to look forward to seeing archive material from The Telegraph, tweeted to their account as depicted in the attached graphic, but a while ago I realised I was getting nothing more than a daily dose of trash news via dozens of daily tweets from this account.

I’ve spent the past week trying to do the ‘Right Thing’, and replied to every tweet they sent, asking then to explain the connection between current daily news trivia and World War II.

No response or acknowledgement whatsoever – not even ‘Get Lost!’

At the same time, I’ve used Twitter’s own ‘Report’ option to alert them to the fact that The Telegraph is tweeting material unrelated to the account, and is also spamming (by repeating most of the tweets at least once).

Twitter doesn’t offer any feedback for reported material, but the account is still present and continuing the same abuse almost 2 weeks after I started reporting it.

I’ve also emailed The Telegraph’s digital services department a number of times, with each email creating a unique automated case – none of which have yet produced the courtesy of a reply from the department.

Ah well… shame.

At least I know I tried.

Two weeks of trying is enough – I don’t care now.


After I started blogging about this in more public arenas, I suddenly got an email response (after almost 2 weeks), and the modern day news trivia being tweeted under the guise of WW2 archive material also stopped at the same time.

There have been no more of these modern tweets for more than 24 hours

The email said the digital folk at he Telegraph were aware of an issue, did not know how to fix it, but were working on it.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Finally, birthplace of Peter Pan officially classified as ‘rescued’

I made a mistake 6 years ago, not a bad mistake, but something that did make me think I had made a mistake.

I made my first post about the restoration of Moat Brae House.

Since then, I’ve made a further 6 posts (not including this one) about the house, a derelict Georgian townhouse with garden which is said to have inspired JM Barrie to write Peter Pan.

I’m not even a Peter Pan fan, and was actually attracted by the sad tale of the derelict, yet famous house which dates back at least a further 5 years. Even then, it was in the news for being abandoned and vandalised, with nobody seemingly willing or able to rescue it, and demolition becoming a distinct possibility.

After my first post I started to spot more detailed mentions, and started to write about them, and then began to think I had caught a monster by the tail, as having started to mention it whenever some advance was made in the rescue, I found myself worrying about missing the next one, and having an incomplete story.

However, sense eventually prevailed, and once it had a famous sponsor – Joanna Lumley – I decided to stop worrying and let it run its course until something major happened, and it did:

A campaign spearheaded by actress Joanna Lumley to secure the future of Moat Brae House in Dumfries has announced that £5.3 million is in place to turn it into a centre for children’s literature and storytelling.

The trust behind the initiative has also announced that the new attraction, expected to attract more than 40,000 visitors a year, is due to open in 2018. That is three years later than planned when details a proposed overhaul were first unveiled in 2011, when the project had a £3.5m price tag.

The B-listed building, which was designed by Dumfriesshire architect Walter Newall and dates back to 1823, has been made wind and watertight, and had a new roof installed since being taken over by the trust.

The restoration project, which will get under way 
within the next few months,will see the creation of permanent and temporary exhibitions, a children’s library, education workshops, a cafe and a shop.

Via: ‘Birthplace of Peter Pan’ saved for nation after £5.3m appeal

So, while it’s far from over, the project has moved on from one of rescue to one of eventual completion.

Thank goodness!

Oh well, here we go again…

Now all I have to worry about is spotting news of the opening.

Moat Brae

Moat Brae © Copyright Darrin Antrobus

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | 1 Comment

Security guards still like to harass photographers

While it may be true to say that past incidents have resulted in the police becoming better educated regarding the law regarding photography in public places, it seems that private security guards (aka ‘jobsworths’ or ‘thugs’ depending on who you speak to) remain ignorant of his subject, and still think that seeing someone with a camera pointing in their direction gives them carte blanche to assault them, seize their gear, and demand to see any pictures they have taken.

For the record, they have no such authorities, and are potentially committing offences if they do.

I’ve mentioned this before here and here for example, and thought we were moving into better times.

It seems not: Photographer hassled by Port of Tyne for filming a sign on a wall

A photographer in a public place was called a “lunatic”, “detained” by private security guards and had the police called on him after he videoed a wall outside the Port of Tyne.

Footage posted to YouTube by 24-year-old media production graduate Alan Noble shows two security guards employed by the Port of Tyne remonstrating with him on a traffic island next to a roundabout by the port’s entrance.

One guard, with blue eyes, grey hair and wearing a blue fleece and lanyard clearly marked with “Port of Tyne”, can be clearly heard on the video.

He told Noble: “You’re taking photographs of an area under the protection of the Department for Transport and if you don’t move you’re going to be arrested.”

Here are the videos:

I’ve been harassed too

For the second time, I was recently subject to similar harassment while out for a walk with my camera.

I had stopped to take some pics (actually, I had stopped to see if I could photograph something in the distance with long lens).

A massive 4×4 passed me, pulled up along the road, then reversed back to me.

The window slid down, and the driver asked “Can I help you?”

Not knowing who this stranger was, I replied “No”, and asked that he “Go away.”

He then gave me the Third Degree and a hard time as he was the owner of the house I happened to be standing outside at the time I was looking through the viewfinder, and he demanded to know why I was taking pictures of his house.

Of course, since I wasn’t taking pics of his house, and told him so, this just upset him more as he seemed convinced I was lying.

He got even more ticked off when I pointed out I was in a public place and could take pics of whatever I could see.

I don’t have a mobile phone, but honestly would have called the police, as his attitude was threatening.

And all because he happened to pass me in the street, looking into my camera while standing at his house.

The first time?

Years and years ago – I was thrown out of Princes Square, a tacky shopping centre in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street.

I’d gone along on the opening day just to take some pics of the new place, and was quickly approached by two security guards. They didn’t even ask what I was doing, merely asked me to stop taking photographs and leave (implied, “Or else”). Since the centre is private property, I had no problem with the request.

I was a little shocked and surprised though, being more used to places like the Metro Centre in Gateshead, where they positively want folk to take pics and publicise the place.

In the days of film cameras, they even had a stall that sold disposable cameras to people who had not brought their own!

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Find wartime bombing sites in Aberdeenshire

Two Google maps showing areas where raids were carried out during World War II have been created using records from the time.

One map shows areas where bombing raids caused damage and can be found here, and shows all the known attacks from 26 June 1940, until the last raid on 21 April 1943.

Some of the areas affected are quite small, so it’s best to zoom in on any area of interest as the marker may not be visible when he map is zoomed out to cover a wide area.

The other shows areas where enemy aircraft carried out attacks, and can be found here, and shows those recorded in the Aberdeen County Register of Air Raids and Alarms from 1940 – 1944.

Via: Map charts WW2 bombing of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

March 3, 2016 Posted by | council, military, World War II | , , , | 2 Comments

Missed me – again

I still find it intriguing that my varied walking routes, which I change every few weeks to stop becoming bored, mean I see changes I would not see happening gradually.

They also mean I see some significant changes, not least of which is the way road barriers are trashed when I go back to a route, indicating vehicles went onto the footpath at speed.

I noted one in Baillieston a while back.

They didn’t replace the barrier, but it looks as if they later added a more substantial bollard to the corner.

Guess what?

Yup… when I went back to this route, the bollard had been flattened too.

Clearly needs MORE foundation!

Baillieston Bollard Down

December 3, 2015 Posted by | council, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

St Peter’s featured on BBC Radio 4 Today programme

St Peter’s excerpt from the Today programme.

St Peter’s College: Scotland’s ‘Inca ruins’

Plans are being announced for a series of sound and light shows in a ruined Scottish seminary that supporters of the brutalist style say is an architectural masterpiece.

St Peter’s College – built mainly of concrete 50 years ago – has been abandoned for a quarter of a century. The shell of the complex survives in woodland outside Helensburgh.

Scotland Correspondent Colin Blane reports:

BBC Radio 4 – Today, 02/12/2015, St Peter’s College: Scotland’s ‘Inca ruins’

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment