Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Go-ahead for £1.5 million Barras area refurbishment

Barras Sign

Following quickly on from the news that an area of Sauchiehall Street is to be refreshed, it seems the area of The Barras is to enjoy a similar spot of ‘Spit and Polish’.

While it’s better than the fate which befell Paddy’s Market, I can’t quite work up the same enthusiasm for this announcement.

Don’t take that the wrong way, the area is in serious need of refurbishment. While much tidying has taken place around it, the core which was once the centre of The Barras has been left behind, and leaves much to be desired.

However, if we leave to one side the market area below and behind the Barrowland Ballroom (and that is sadly much deserted when I have taken a walk there in recent months) then the remaining area of The Barras is a virtual desert, with most of the buildings having been demolished in relatively recent years, leaving only a few of the more substantial structures still standing.

As I have noted in posts made a year ago, it can be alarming to arrive there in the afternoon, say 2 or 3 pm, and find the remaining stallholders in the street clearing up and getting ready to go home, while the few indoor pitches (who now label themselves as ‘Antique Dealers’) are pretty much deserted too.

And one of the oldest original “McIver’s Markets” (the founders were McIver, Margaret to be specific) buildings is really sad now (the one with the bikes on sale outdoors at one corner). While one corner still has some decent books and memorabilia on sale (from some real old original marker ‘characters’ too), the rest of the area is just dead and derelict stalls with broken junk piled up on them, gathering dust. The last few times I dropped in, even that ‘interesting’ corner seemed to have been abandoned, and was covered over with dust sheets.

Maybe I just go on quiet days, or at the wrong time of day.

Frankly, a visit to The Barras these days, for me at least, is actually a visit to Bill’s Tools Store (for any bargains on offer) and a check on Pearson’s, to make sure that’s still there too.

Work on a £1.5 million renovation of Glasgow’s Barras market is set to begin next month after the plans were approved by city councillors.

The plans, which form part of the Glasgow City Region Deal, will see the development of underused space aimed at attracting new businesses and creating a “key gateway” to the East End.

• READ MORE: What does the future hold for Glasgow’s Barras markets?

A report that went before the Glasgow City Region City Deal cabinet said: “The revitalisation of this area is both critical in overcoming barriers to wider development of the whole Collegelands Calton Barras (CCB) area.”

It added: “The overall CCB project will deliver sustainable economic growth in Glasgow and the city region. This will enable the regeneration of sites which are not suitable for development in their current state, including attracting investment that supports high value industries.”

Having been given the green light, the project is targeted for completion by March next year.

Via: Glasgow’s Barras market to get £1.5m revamp

I can only hope they have at least partial success in some sort of revival.

Or maybe we should just be honest, and say The Barras is gone, and has been for years.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perth City Hall designs go on show

It’s a far cry from the first headline about Perth City Halls being proposed for demolition:

Plans to demolish Perth City Hall unveiled

Now the building has a number of proposals for its future:

Proposals for the re-development of one of Perth’s most historic buildings have been unveiled.

The B-listed Perth City Hall, which was built in 1911, has lain empty for more than 10 years and had been threatened with demolition.

However, it was saved after those plans were blocked by Historic Scotland.

It is now hoped the building will help boost Perth’s visitor attractions, with plans to transform it into a venue for the visual arts.

The council said the hall would become a major new venue, displaying museum and art collections alongside iconic loans from elsewhere and touring exhibitions from the UK and abroad.

It will also provide community and learning spaces.

Via: Architects’ designs for Perth City Hall unveiled

No hurry though – The final decision on the design will be made in the summer, with construction expected to begin in 2019.

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs - top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs – top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins – Images via BBC News

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

Sauchiehall Street set for much needed refresh

Until recently, I wasn’t able to get into Glasgow – something of a penalty for someone who not only worked in the city centre, but was also a frequent visitor.

I don’t know how long I was unable to have anything more than the odd obligatory visit on business, but after more than a decade of not really seeing the place, the changes can come as a bit of a shock, and I don’t mean just the demolition and rebuilding seen in some areas.

While those (as I was) who see the place on a daily basis, incremental changes, decay, and just general wear and tear can go unnoticed.

For that reason, I was pleased to see:

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to re-develop Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street to be debated by city councillors.

Members of the city region cabinet have been recommended to approve proposals brought forward by the City Deal team.

Sauchiehall Street as it looks at the moment. Picture: John Devlin

The plans would result in more cycle paths, additional pedestrian walkways, less traffic and more opportunities for businesses.

Work, if approved, would start on the section of road between Charing Cross to Rose Street.

Via: Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street set for £7.2m revamp

I’m sure there will be negative voices against this, but I also suspect they will come from the usual ‘Naysayers’ (those whose response to any suggestions is an automatic ‘NO!’ regardless of the benefits), and from those who see the area on a daily basis, and have just noticed that while it may not be fair to say it is ‘Run down’, it is tired after years of uncoordinated work.

Sauchiehall Street Transformed

Sauchiehall Street Transformed – Image from Glasgow city Council

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross to go on tour

I have a vague recollection of Salvador Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross, going on tour some years ago, but have no notes or mentions of thus from the time, but also from my own less-than-perfect memory, I also seem to have a definite note that the news of the time carried a warning to visitors that they were not viewing the original painting, but a copy commissioned to ensure its absence was not too hard to bear. (I can’t dig up an online note to confirm this, but I doubt I could have imagined both memories. Maybe someone reading this can confirm.)

Purely as a work of art, it is a most impressive sight, and one I was surprised to learn was owned by Glasgow’s Kelvingrove.

(The embedded slideshow below is supposed to be WordPress compatible, but the buttons don’t seem to work – try the source.)

Painted in 1951 and purchased by the City of Glasgow in 1952, it has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.​

Dali’s creation was one of the more controversial purchases made by Dr Tom Honeyman, then Director of Glasgow Museums. It is now widely recognised that Dr Honeyman made a very astute decision. Not only did he secure the painting for less than the catalogue price, that price included the copyright, giving Glasgow a never-ending source of revenue from its investment

However, the painting was not well-received by everyone – students from Glasgow School of Art argued that the money could have been used to purchase work from Glaswegian or Scottish artists.

But, after going on display at Kelvingrove in 1952, the work attracted visitors in their droves as the gallery now attracts millions of visitors per year.

Sadly, the painting’s presence has not been without drama, and it has been damaged twice, most famously when the canvas was badly torn by a visitor wielding a sharp stone. Fortunately, the skilled conservators at Kelvingrove were able to repair the painting and the damage is barely visible.

Tours

September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018.

Glaswegians, and anyone who visits Kelvingrove, might care to take note that while we can wander in for a look as often as we like, with our Scottish National Museums offering Free Admission – ONE visit to the RA will set visitors back a massive £15.50 (£14 if you withhold the donation).

The painting will be one of the star attractions of Dalí/Duchamp, opening on 7 October. The exhibition will then travel to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida from February to May 2018.

I had a look at the Dalí Museum – tickets there are $24.

It will then go on loan to Auckland Castle in County Durham from autumn 2019 until spring 2020.

Via: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

GoMA needs to get a grip

I used to enjoy making the effort to get into Glasgow’s GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) whenever I was in the city centre, but in recent years I’ve begun to wonder why I bother.

All the permanent exhibits have gone.

It has so little to offer it was able to lose the basement exhibition space and turn it into a library.

There used to be an exhibit space on the first floor (there was a Sharmanka installation there) which seems to have gone.

Looking at its web site, all the interesting exhibits seem to be from past years – and I seem to have missed most of them to.

Guess I don’t get the chance to drop in often enough.

But I’m not just ‘having a go’, as the most recent claimed ‘exhibit’ that appeared in the news is really just an insult…

An empty gallery has been unveiled as the latest work by an artist who “cancelled” her exhibition at one of Glasgow’s leading venues.

Marlie Mul asked for no exhibition to be held in the Gallery of Modern Art.

All that will be visible in the gallery are billboards advertising that the exhibition has been cancelled.

People are being invited to “visit and interact with the space” – and suggest alternative uses for the gallery during the five months set aside for the show.

Gallery 1 at Goma will lie empty from Friday until the end of October.

Visitors will instead be greeted by 21 billboards advertising the cancellation of the exhibition by the Dutch artist.

‘Amazing opportunity’

Goma said Mul’s “conceptual gesture” was to act as an “implicit critique of what is displayed within museums and galleries”.

It said that by removing traditional content and opening the space for public use, Mul was “augmenting the institution to question the relevance of an art exhibition in 2017”.

Goma curator Will Cooper said the cancellation was an “amazing opportunity”.

He said: “By removing what would traditionally be considered an art object we are instead presenting the gallery as an empty space, giving us a moment to question the value in turning over exhibition after exhibition after exhibition.”

He added: “We’re excited by the different types of activities that might be on offer during this cancelled show.

Via: Glasgow gallery left empty for ‘cancelled’ exhibition

Since the ‘artist’ cancelled…

Are any sponsorships, fees, or payments cancelled too?

Or are they excluded?

It’s nonsense such as this that turns people off so rapidly when the words ‘Modern Art’ are uttered, and GoMA’s curator commenting that offering an empty space for public use is “amazing opportunity” is just an attempt cover up a disaster by repackaging it an hoping nobody notices.

(I noticed).

I’d say we are being sold short by GoMA these days, and they really should give themselves a shake.

At the moment, the best part is the shop, which is more interesting and inspiring than any of the exhibition spaces – and it’s a lot busier too!

GoMA

GoMA

Carl Sagan

Here’s a suggestion, an exhibit dedicate to Carl Sagan and his Baloney Detection Kit!

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Cute and sneaky trick allows council to introduce waste collection charge

Did you think your council introduced different bins for waste collection because it wanted you take part in recycling?

WRONG!

Highland Council has just given the game away as it get set to introduce a new charge to collect BROWN bins. From the beginning of July 2017, council tax payers can expect to pay an EXTRA £30 per year for the collection of garden and food waste. The service will be optional – take it or leave it.

The council says it expects to make an additional £660,000 through their clever lyengineered additional charge – saying it would have stopped the brown bin collection altogether otherwise:

“The garden waste collection service is not a statutory function which the Council has to provide.”

And who can argue with the council?

Via: Highland Council to charge for brown bin collection

I think this is a dirty and underhand trick, which we may see more councils adopt if nobody in Highland challenges the legality of this collection charge and the council’s claim that the collection concerned is not one of its statutory duties towards its council tax payers.

Beware segregated bins and collections

If your council has given you different wheelie bins for different classes of rubbish, then I suggest you ask your council if it is planning to divide its collections into statutory collections, obviously covered by what you pay for in your council tax, and non-statutory, for which they may introduce an optional additional charge, or you get to keep your own waste, for FREE!

Wheelie Bins - Wheelie Pricey?

Wheelie Bins – Wheelie Pricey?

Seriously council…

If you can pick and choose what you do and don’t charge for…

Can I pick and choose which council services I have to pay council tax for?

I’ve already been told I have to pay for services I don’t use, and never will, because that’s how council tax works.

Heads you win – tails I lose!

May 16, 2017 Posted by | council | , , , | Leave a comment

Burrell Collection building refurbishment gains planning permission

While it would have been a rather odd result, it is nice to see that plans for the £66 million refurbishment of the Burrell Collection building and display areas have gained official planning permission.

Planning permission has been granted for a major refurbishment of the Burrell collection museum in Glasgow.

The £66m project to upgrade the building and provide more display space also received listed building consent.

Glasgow City Council recently approved funding of up to £27.3m towards the cost of the refurbishment.

The Burrell collection has more than 8,000 artefacts, but fewer than a fifth of them have been on show at any one time.

In April 2015, the council provided £5.7m to kick-start the building’s revamp, which houses treasures donated to the city by collector Sir William Burrell in 1944.

Via Planners approve Burrell collection revamp

Burrell building

Burrell Collection, Pollok Park, Glasgow © Iain Thompson via Geograph

While the building will receive a much-needed upgrade to its structure and services, the greatest benefit for the visitor has to be the release and creation of a vast amount of exhibition space – so much of the large collection was formerly locked away in storage, but will be able to brought out and placed on display – the old space only allowed 20% of the collection to be on show at any one time:

When it re-opens to visitors in 2020, the basement of the Category A listed building will become part of the exhibition space, so that 90% of the objects can be viewed by the public.

A dedicated space will also be created for special exhibitions and offices will be converted into galleries.

Now, there only seem to be two problems for me… one, to make it to 2020, and the second, to work out a reasonable means of getting to the Burrell from my hovel in the east end of Glasgow. Banished to public transport, I can’t see a direct route and the various bus and train combination I can find seem to need the patience of a saint to follow, and take forever.

Maybe I should buy a new bike, and make up a flask and sandwiches.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

The intriguing plans for Glasgow’s neglected lanes

It’s a shame that so many people are ready to cast scorn on any initiatives proposed by Glasgow City Council out of hand, without the slightest consideration of their merit. Granted, the council has suffered (and in some cases still does) from the possible existence of ‘Ego Projects’ at the behest of some councillors, but such dismissal is probably as bad as those wayward proposals.

I know, I used to be a member of a forum that enjoyed attacking the council regardless – but then I realised this was just mindless hate on the members’ part, and left.

I’m sure they’ll be having a little ‘hate orgy’ this week, and dancing around burning copies of the Glasgow City Council’s draft strategy and public consultation documents for the improvement of some 90 lanes within the city centre.

That would be a mistake.

While I was initially sceptical after seeing stories about the strategy in the media, actually looking at the detail for myself revealed a sensibly researched review and proposal within this strategy, and one which I hope will eventually come to be financed and adopted.

In fact, the strategy runs to some 90+ pages in a well presented document:

Draft Lane Strategy for Public Commnet (pdf document)

Council approves next stage of strategy for Glasgow’s city centre lanes

I’m familiar with many of Glasgow’s lanes (and seldom venture into them, and certainly not in the dark), and those that come to mind at first are not appropriate for the plan, being the back of many business, or access to their services. They also suffer from one of our good/bad ideas – giant wheelie bins for their waste. Admittedly better than the piles of black bags and waste, they still take up space, and can ‘go walkies’ since few lanes are level – I used to work near West Regent Lane for example. As can be seen, it’s needed for access, and the lane surface is old, failing, and on an incline.

West Regent Lane

West Regent Lane

Similar, but not on an incline, is Renfield Lane, but it has a fine crop of business related wheelie bins:

Renfield Lane

Renfield Lane

These are NOT the lanes of the plan, although it suggests that improving their condition would still make for a better, cleaner environment, provide improved access, and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

In fact, taking the time to look at the proposals without an ant-council bias shows the selection of a small number of lanes in areas where they could be developed as attractions, and turned into public spaces with shops, restaurants and bars.

This has happened in other areas of the city, and those lanes have become favourites with both locals and visitors.

With this in mind, it’s now worth reading the media coverage:

Glasgow’s back lanes in line for Melbourne style revamp

World-inspired revamp for Glasgow’s 90 city centre lanes

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow City Council saves Glasgow School of Art again

I used to be part of a forum that spent much of its time kicking Glasgow City Council, but after I while I came to realise that this was not being done with any sort of rationale or logic, but was merely being driven by a few noisy people whose aim was to run what amounted to anti-council campaign, possibly based on little more than hate or politics, and which simply took almost every decision made by the council… and ranted against it, regardless of whether or not a reasonable person would have approved.

That’s not to say Glasgow City Council is perfect, but after looking at reports of other councils in the media – we don’t actually do that badly, and maybe better than some.

I see the council has just made the news by rejecting a planning application for a block of flats to be built adjacent to the Glasgow School of Art.

While I suspect it would be fairly safe to say there are few (not counting the developer concerned) who would disagree with the refusal, I did note that the report showed the rejection was not carried unanimously, but by a vote 12 to 6 against.

See Planners reject flats beside Glasgow School of Art

It’s kind of hard to see how anyone (from Glasgow at least) without something to gain would be for FOR this proposal.

I’d rather like to see the 6 who voted against being interviewed on TV, and asked to explain the reasons for their desire to see those flats built next to the GSA.

Glasgow School of Art post fire

Glasgow School of Art post fire

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The sorry story of Tollcross Winter Gardens just goes from bad to worse

While poking around for anything online about Tollcross House yesterday, I happened across some more background regarding the disgraceful treatment of Tollcross Winter Gardens.

I always forget to mention that things were going reasonably well for the glasshouse until it was damaged during storms that hit in December 2010 and January 2011, and it was closed for reasons of safety. Of itself, nothing wrong with that – nobody wants to be standing beneath a pane of glass when it decides it’s time to part company with roof it was once an integral part of, and the closure for such repairs is a fairly regular occurrence that the People’s Palace Winter Gardens on Glasgow Green.

But 7 years have now passed in Tollcross, and all we have is a decaying glasshouse and derelict visitor centre attached.

I can’t be bothered shooting video, so the clip below was a handy find yesterday.

Reading into the notes indicates that someone complained about it, and tried to have it taken down.

Glasgow City Council comes in for a fair amount of stick at times, not always justified either as politics plays a large part.

But, it’s hard to see how any other source (or to be fair, a rogue employee just trying to win Brownie Points with their boss or supervisor) would have reason to try to suppress this video.

The comments after the video also note “A group did petition the Scottish Parliament however it was stated that they have no powers to force the council into making repairs.”

There was also criticism of the Visitor Centre appended to the glasshouse as seen today.

Sad to say, I have no idea what the site looked like, or the state of the remains of the glasshouse, although it seem it lay derelict for some 14 years prior to the restoration work carried out before it was reopened in November 2000.

However, I did just come across some old postcards showing Tollcross Park many years ago, and the they show the glasshouse was much larger, with another hall extending to the rear, on the ground occupied by the Visitor Centre today.

It’s hard to recall what was said about it back in the days when the structure was being recovered from that phase of its dereliction, and the Visitor Centre may have been constructed to replace that part of the structure which had, by then, been lost to the preceding years of neglect.

Tollcross glasshouse when complete

Tollcross glasshouse when complete

The Tollcross conservatories were originally erected in 1870 at Redholm in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire. Baillie A.G. MacDonald, of Redholm gifted, them to the Glasgow Corporation in 1898 as a gesture to commemorate his links with the area.

Try searching for ‘Mark Fiddy’ online for information regarding plans to raise more than £800 k to rescue the winter gardens and make it a self-sustaining resource.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tollcross Winter Gardens – Shame of the 2014 Commonwealth Games ‘Lasting Legacy’

I used to enjoy cutting through Tollcross Park, and the opportunity to drop into the Tollcross Winter Gardens.

But, thanks to the ‘Lasting Legacy’ of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this has been denied me since at least February 2013 (I cannot be exact as I stopped walking around the area before this date, as the preparation for the ‘Shames’ was trashing the area, making it anything but a pleasure to walk through), and was the first time I saw how the Winter Gardens had themselves been trashed, while the existing sports centre nearby was having countless thousands poured into it for no good reason, and big red shed was being built along the road, at Parkhead. Seriously, all that money poured down the drain for a few spoilt runners and jumpers, while a real gem like the Winter Gardens was trashed, and no money spent on it as part of the so-called ‘Legacy’.

Things were no better in 2015: Tollcross Winter Gardens – a ‘Lasting Legacy’ to betrayal

Another 2 years, its 2017, and I’m basically just repeating the same sorry story.

I got there too late for this, or even to give it a little publicity, and since I will not tough the toxic f a c e b o o k, I can’t tell if there is any progress (can’t find any more online), but this sign was up at various places around the park and derelict glasshouse:

Friend of Tollcross Park first meet sign

Friend of Tollcross Park first meeting sign

It will be interesting to see if any interest can be raised after what is clearly a blatant betrayal of those who once cared and put in the effort – I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if even those who care choose not to be made fools of again.

Over 17 years ago, this happened:

The Winter Garden in Tollcross Park were last refurbished in the period 1999/2000, having lain derelict for at least a decade, and at risk of being lost at worst, or left to rot at best.

However, funding to the value of £1.7 million rescued the glasshouse then, and it also gained an adjacent Visitor Centre, café, and play area.

I have my doubts if it will be repeated, unless grants and Lottery funding can be found, and maybe more importantly, some way of taking it out of the hands of those who allowed the damage to be done.

It’s really hard to believe I was able to walk into these gardens prior to 2013, give thanks to the good folk who had been able to have them restored AND add a visitor centre (there are also play area which have been lost within the grounds), only to see it all ruined, derelict, and abandoned.

Update

According to the Building at Risk Register for Scotland:

The glasshouses are understood to have been damaged during storms in Dec 2010/ Jan 2011 and have been closed since.

Tollcross Conservatory, Tollcross Park, Tollcross

I had no idea the closure went that far back. Smells like a make-believe excuse to me, after all, why close the Visitor Centre too? It was the part that sold stuff and made money, and was usually full of parents and screaming kids. I guess it operated at a loss, so when the glasshouse closed, its days were numbered.

Still…

Can’t see why money was not made available and throw at for the 2014 Shames, as a tourist attraction, or was considered to be an attraction only for the ‘wrong sort’ of tourist, and not those who were wanted for the Shames?

Tollcross Winter Gardens January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens January 2017

 

Tollcross Winter Gardens Side January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens Side January 2017

 

Tollcross Winter Gardens Visitor Centre January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens Visitor Centre January 2017

 

February 11, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | 2 Comments

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