Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh’s Hill House preservation features twice in the news

After I mentioned the preparation being made to start work on the protective enclosure Hill House in Helensburgh, it get TWO mentions in the news.

The enclosure is not sealed, but will allow the air to circulate while protecting the building from wind and rain.

In the words of one of the staff, a century of Scottish weather (and unfortunately inappropriate materials) means that the building has become wet, and is being dissolved where it stands.

The enclosure will give it a chance to dry out, and be worked on to conserve it.

In light of the Mackintosh Building fire, it has been pointed out that Hill House will NOT have a sprinkler system, as this could do as much damage to the fragile interior as any fire, if it was triggered.

Instead, staff, monitoring, and plans made with the local fire service will be used to protect the building.

Sadly, WordPress still doesn’t allow BBC video to be embedded, so you’ll have to click on the link to watch.

Protecting Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece The Hill House

While there is a more detailed description of plans here.

Protecting Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece by putting it in a box

05/07/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

New book looks at David MacBrayne ferries

Christie Boy

Interesting to read of the publication of a new book that tells stories of Scottish island life captured by David MacBrayne ferries.

What most are not likely to realise is the David MacBrayne was probably just as active in motor and bus/coach travel as in ferry operation back in the early days of touring in Scotland, during the early 20th century.

Indeed, the cover of the book features a coach, not a ferry!

I have a small collection of books about motor transport photographs taken around the country in those days, when those operating buses and charabancs were real pioneers, and such journeys were real adventures, as the vehicles were far from the reliable devices we are used to nowadays. And, there were far fewer road choices, and nice wide roads connecting destinations. Many were tracks, or single-lane with passing places, and must have been fun to negotiate with buses/coaches.

It’s fascinating to see just how many times the MacBrayne name appears as both buses/coaches and ferries appear in the pics, and their details are given.

But this new book is concerned with the ferries, but I think it is important not to forget that the roads were a vital part of the tourist industry, even back in those early days, as there would have little chance of making the money to pay for both the road and sea based operation of David MacBrayne if the two modes of transport had not complemented one another.

No need for road transport if there were no ferries (don’t forget there were few roads back then), and no need for ferries if nobody could get to them.

Author Kit Fraser has revisited his late father’s memoirs for a book about serving Scotland’s remote communities on David MacBrayne ferries…

The characters and way of life which so defined a disappearing generation of Scots islanders and coastal communities is indelibly forged in its story. This is the iconic Scottish ferry firm whose captains would be treated like “pop stars” in the far flung towns and villages where they provided lifeline links. David MacBrayne, forerunner of CalMac, was an institution at the heart of island life on Scotland’s West Coast for the best part of a century.

That’s the start of a fairly long article introducing the new book, and is worth a read on its own to get a good idea of what the author has covered.

It continues…

And now many lost tales and vignettes of its halcyon days have been saved for posterity with a new book. Christie Boy – A MacBrayne’s Man is the life story of the late company stalwart Chris Fraser, which offers a peek below decks at some of the hairier moments of the firm’s history. And far from a prosaic record of three decades on the waves, this is a soul-stirring elegy to a forgotten Highland way of life, festooned with a colourful array of West Coast characters.

From starting out in 1928 as a manifest clerk on the Mallaig and Portree steamer, the Glencoe, to his ascent up the managerial ranks in the 1960s, serving across the North West from Inverness and Lochboisdale, Fraser’s story has been revisited and revised by son Kit, 23 years after his father passed away. A book of memoirs had previously been published a year before his death.

“The original edition of Christie Boy stemmed from the family’s determination that his many written memories of a Highland way of life long gone and his entertaining tales of West Coast characters should not disappear with him,” says Fraser junior, the former BBC Scotland Drivetime presenter.

“Nearly a quarter of a century later, I realised the case for publishing Christie Boy was just as strong today as it was in the 1990s.”

Stories of Scottish island life captured by David MacBrayne ferries

These are just the more modern CalMac ferries which connect Colintraive to Rhubodach, and I once used regularly.

I seem to have lost the specific data, but I’m pretty sure has to be one of Zak’s pics which I can use, so see more of his work here…

Ships and Boats

Wee Bute ferry

05/07/2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Not a new picture, but not all that old either – the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire LA198 is housed. A late model Mark F21 airframe fitted with the more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine, as opposed to the Merlin, it flew with 602 City of Glasgow Auxiliary Squadron between 1947 and 1949. LA198 was eventually placed in storage, then spent three years as a gate guardian at RAF Leuchars during the 1980s, I’ve read that 602 pilots were the first part-time squadron to be equipped with Spitfires on 8 May 1939.

When I took this pic there was a sign posted nearby to the effect that this gallery had just been re-opened to the public, having been closed for some time for remedial work. I’m guessing this referred to the floor mounted displays and cases – as I took a few pics of the aircraft, I couldn’t help but notice that some years must have passed since it last saw a duster. Not a complaint in any way (it is hanging from the roof after all), merely an observation.

The idea behind the pic was to see if it was possible to get a centred and symmetrical shot from the upper balcony.

It seems it is, and the only thing that is ‘off’ is the 5-blade propeller, which has settled a few degrees away from vertical.

The original pic was surprisingly close to ideal, and needed only a few degrees of correction for converging verticals (which was the photographer’s fault, for not holding the camera properly). I should also have been a fraction further to the right, but this detail was just too fine to see in the viewfinder.

The museum staff seem to have done a VERY good job of hanging the airframe to ensure the wings are truly horizontal.

I had used the tailplane and vertical fin as my references to line this one up.

Click on the image for a slightly bigger version.

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery


Just to be different/awkward (and avoid ‘just’ having the same pic as everyone else, I thought I’d point the camera at the cockpit and aerial suspension system.

It didn’t quite come off perfectly, as it was just an afterthought, but I did catch the bits I was interested in.

Maybe I’ll take some proper pics if I get back.

The cockpit and upper suspension yoke (and you can probably see the need to fly someone up there and give the canopy a once over with some polish 🙂 ).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

This view of the lower wing root suspension is even worse than the first (I almost missed the upper yoke!) as I was so busy looking at the wing root I forgot to keep the camera level.

Let’s call it intentional, and meant to portray the Spit in a dive – or maybe I’ll just level the pic, since it portrays something hanging, and just looks ‘wrong’ with those cable lying at an angle. (So, I levelled, but couldn’t crop fully and had to edit a little, or lose the periscope mirror).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

I was sure I had some earlier pics (taken at the re-opening of Kelvingrove), but guess they are on film, so not readily to hand.

The reason I wanted to dig them out was for comparison.

Stuck in my mind is the image of a number of missing screws I spotted in the pics I took on that opening day, and this new shot clearly shows that nothing is missing.

One day, I’ll get around to digitising my film pics, and will have to check this out.

05/07/2018 Posted by | Aviation, photography, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Today is Apple Turnover Day

05 July is Apple Turnover Day.

Another nice and easy day to celebrate and enjoy.

I wonder why all the good ‘days’ spotted recently seem to be concerned with food?

It’s a good job I don’t put on weight – but I do get glum looking at most of the other ‘days’ that seem to be turning up at the moment.

The apple turnover is really just a variation on and apple pie, but has the advantage of being individual, so you can make other people jealous as you enjoy yours.

I do have just one little complaint though.

Without pointing, I am disappointed with some supermarkets, who tend to deliver lots of turnover, but just ‘threaten’ the interior with some traces of apple. A little more filling would go a LONG way to improving some offerings.

Apple Turnovers

Apple Turnovers

05/07/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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