Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Did I find some of George Square’s original Christmas Bells? (Yes I did)

Wandering along one of the routes I’ve not seen for some months, I was surprised to something I thought I was unlikely to see again (and wasn’t lying here until recently).

If I’m right, and these things are pretty rare and recognisable, it’s a pair of animated bells from the string which once hung around George Square as part of its past Christmas Lights.

Unlike the lights seen today, which can probably be assembled from various lighting modules found online, George Squares original Christmas lights were actually made locally, by Glaswegians, and formed the basis for many later display elements seen elsewhere. Prior to that, many of the features were obtained from Blackpool’s illuminations once they had been retired when those were updated. (That wasn’t just true of Glasgow, as I used to visit other illuminations, and slowly began to realise I was recognising items I’d seen before, in larger displays elsewhere).

Many of the elements were based on steel frames with rope lights attached. The rope lights were made of lights strung inside a clear plastic tube. Great fun for those who worked on them since they carry mains voltage and are joined by waterproof connectors. Well, you know what THAT means in Scotland – NOTHING’S waterproof in Scotland 😉

They were substantial, and stored from year to year for reuse, until the budget was steadily reduced, the street displays disappeared, and George Square became the centre of the council’s Christmas display.

Unfortunately, this find was sitting just behind a metal grid fence, so the pics aren’t the best thanks to its presence in front of the bells.

Click for bigger (sharper than the resized version below, and shows more detail).

George Square Bells

George Square Bells

I’ve passed the link to this post and pics on to someone involved in building these things many years ago, and will hopefully find out if they actually are what I think they are.

Update

Remarkably,I was right, and those are a couple of sections from George Square’s original home-brewed Christmas lights.

The story behind them, and their history is both fascinating and surprising.

I had no idea about their background.

If you have an hour or so to spare, and are in the least interested, I thoroughly recommend sitting down with your favourite treat, and enjoying this video from someone who knows better than me.

Incidentally, if you’re not familiar with these videos, I might add that there are more which show some more recent gems and reveals about the squares slightly more recent festive lighting.

 

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18/08/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S46

Something a little different this week, as we move from consideration of the fire(s) and move onto intrigue – and a certain MP whose names seems to pop up in the media with some regularity these days.

I could be wrong, but with a crappy memory like mine, anything you can remember between appearances must be appearing fairly often.

Seventy staff have left Glasgow School of Art since the building suffered a second fire amid accusations of bullying and intimidation.

Forty staff have resigned since the blaze at the world-famous building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, while 30 have been made redundant.

Six have signed confidentiality agreements with pay-offs to departing staff totalling £210,000.

It is unclear, however, if figures from the school’s HR department include the resignation of director Tom Inns who, sources suggest, received £250,000 when he left suddenly last year.

Investigations continue into risk management at the school before it was destroyed by fire in June last year and a report from by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on the cause and origin of the second fire is expected within weeks.

MP Paul Sweeney believes pay-offs and confidentiality agreements must be scrutinised as official inquiries continue into the blaze and management of famous art school.

He said: “This speaks to a culture that is clearly not transparent. Light is the best disinfectant and a full independent public inquiry is long overdue.”

A former staff member at the school said many colleagues had left because of the management culture, including allegations of bullying and a lack of leadership from the art school board.

Seventy staff leave art school after second fire

Since this could go legal, I’d better not comment – or just suggest thinking of alternative reason for their departures is also valid.

I’ve taken a few spins by the remains of the old place, but other than some detail changes around the edges, the view is now pretty static, and taking more pics is pretty pointless as the changes would be next to impossible to see.

I think the perimeter has been further tightened, and some access gates removed from the fence.

It’s all pretty quiet to, with the most activity I saw recently being a (polite) comment emanating from one of the Portakabins (presumably housing some site security) as a girl walked up the hill during one of the now long distant heatwave days we had a few weeks ago.

Mackintosh Scott Street

Mackintosh Scott Street

18/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An update of ‘Not my accountant’ fire recovery

I thought it was time to do something a little better than the usual grab shot as bus whizzed past the remains of ‘Not my accountant’, or Simpson’s, just along the road.

As I think I hinted at in previous posts, it’s very much ‘Business as usual’ there, and they’re re-established in some smart looking prefabricated buildings.

I’m wondering if they’ll just carry on in these, or if the cottage style building (behind) will be restored so they can return ‘home’.

I’m wondering if Mr Simpson has retired, as his car was fairly easy to recognise in the days I was visiting the place, but I haven’t seen it there. Although I’m not past the place nearly as often as I used to be.

Not sure if I was spotted taking pics, but I thought all the staff came to the window and stared at me as I started taking them – so I had to casually walk away, looking interested in something else, and go back a few hours later. Didn’t fancy the hand on the shoulder, and hearing ‘Ello, ello, ello, what have we here?’

Simpsons Hired Office

Nice to see the larger ‘Business as Usual’ sign, with the original home-made example still on the door, now getting a little damp thanks to our recent weather.

Love the huge luxury toilets too.

Interesting to see that the fire seems to have killed the site’s electricity supply.

I’d have thought it would be easy to tap into the incomer, but I noticed that there was a generator set running to the right of the temporary building, fenced off in the green area seen at the centre of the first pic.

Hope things are going well.

18/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh look! A bus gate

But, don’t look too hard for it – they’re (almost) invisible.

It’s some years since we got a so called ‘Bus Gate’ in my corner of the east end. In fact, I’m still waiting to see it.

The only reason I know it’s there is because of the squeals and whines I seem to recall from some who objected to it.

Far from being a physical ‘gate’, it’s nothing more than a curve in the road with an extra set of traffic lights supposedly deterring drivers from taking the main street (where all the shops and wandering people are), and diverting via a more direct and less congested parallel street, leaving the main street for buses/shoppers.

With no control or penalties for driving along the main street – lazy idiot drivers continue to squeeze along the main street along with the buses (and everything else), leaving the parallel road as quiet as it ever was. But, at least we can cycle along it in relative peace. It’s almost twice the width of the main street too, even with cars parked along both sides. Before I was priced off the road, I used it anyway. It was, and still is, the smart way to go – which is presumably why all the dummies fight for space to get along the main street!

I mention this because I’m intrigued by news of a bus gate arriving in the city centre soon (September)…

TRAFFIC restrictions on two streets near Central Station in Glasgow City Centre come into force early next month.

‘Bus gates’ are being introduced on Union Street — from Gordon Street to Jamaica Street — and at Oswald Street, from Midland Street to Argyle Street, from Monday 2 September.

Between 7am and 7pm, only buses, taxis, private hires, cycles and goods vehicles will have access.

The council is advising motorist to use Wellington Street/Robertson Street as an alternative for southbound vehicles, and York Street/West Campbell Street for northbound vehicles. Diversion signs will be in place during the initial period of implementation.

TRAFFIC To Be Curbed On Two Busy Central Glasgow Streets

Click map for bigger.

Midland Street Bus Gates

Midland Street Bus Gates

This looks like it still misses a couple of really busy spots – that Hope Street section along the western side of Central Station is often jam packed with taxis, reducing the road to only two lanes, and that soon come to a halt as they manoeuvre, and buses stop, as it leaves only one lane for traffic flow. Stop a bus in that remaining lane, and the whole place stops. I’m not complaining, just making an observation being in a bus on that street almost every morning.

So, I’m wondering if someone has a plan to expand the ‘gate’ area one day.

It seems that with the current implementation, the bus gates can carry up to a total of 360 buses every hour at peak times and will act as a traffic filter that allows access to these streets for buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, bikes and goods vehicles.

The council says:

These new measures will improve journey times through the city centre and help to make the bus a more attractive travel option in Glasgow. Reducing traffic in such a busy part of town will also reduce the emissions that pedestrians breathe in and simply make it safer for people to walk around.

The Midland Street section is intriguing (part of it sees the bus, or cyclist, travel AGAINST the flow of traffic along a one way street), and an almost daily bus run for me, so I’ll be able to see what difference, if any, there is once these ‘gates’ come into play.

I’ve cycled on some parts which will fall within the gate controlled area, but only out of curiosity, since it’s possible to miss out this fairly busy section by following cycle routes along its edge.

It may be a few metres longer than staying on the road, but unlike some cycling activists, I value my health more than making a point, so the few minutes longer it might take (if the lights go against me) are well worth the investment.

Who knows, come September everyone might be able to relax in Midland Street, and enjoy the new murals as they amble through, rather than belting through as fast as they can while trying to beat the lights.

 

18/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

   

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