Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S32

Back in the news, at Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee has been taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the second blaze at the Mackintosh Building.

On Thursday it heard from independent fire, security and resilience adviser Stephen Mackenzie.

Speaking about the equipment, which relies on cooling mist to extinguish flames, committee member Tavish Scott asked Mr Mackenzie: “The committee wasn’t told it was removed after the first fire and we are all puzzled as to why it would have been removed. Why would it have been removed?”

Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m also puzzled as an expert.”

The MSP asked whether the system should have been retained until a replacement was developed.

Mr Mackenzie replied: “Categorically I’ve stated there should have been a temporary or phased installation and that could’ve been part of that basis.

“I’m incredibly puzzled to now hear that this has occurred.”

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

The committee also heard ventilation ducts which allowed the fire to take hold in 2014 were still in place at the time of last year’s blaze as they had been due to be rectified at the end of the restoration project.

Contributions continued with further comment from another expert.

Dawson Stelfox, a conservation architect at Consarc Design Group, gave an insight into fire safety assessments during the construction period and suggested the system should be reformed.

He explained: “At the moment the statutory position on that is that a fire risk assessment has to be done, but the focus of that is on life safety, is on getting people out of the building in time, and it’s not on asset safety, it’s not on protecting the building.

“I would suggest to you that it is worth the committee looking at changes to requirements and fire safety assessments during the construction period to also take into account fire asset safety and fire spread.

“Fire-stopping during construction is not an easy thing because it might continually be disruptive and have to be put back into place, but I would suggest to you that there hasn’t been enough focus on achieving compartmentation fire-stopping during the construction process.”

The Glasgow School of Art added information about advice it was given.

Referring to the mist suppression system, a Glasgow School of Art spokesman said: “As a result of the 2014 fire, considerable elements of the system were destroyed or damaged. The GSA sought expert advice which indicated that this system was unusable.

“As you would expect, the GSA wanted to take advantage of improvements in the technology and install the best system for the building.

“The installation time for the replacement system in the post-2014 restoration would have been broadly similar irrespective of the type of system commissioned.”

Fire expert ‘puzzled’ over art school mist system

Interesting to note that STV’s headline stated…

A prevention system that survived the first fire was ripped out before the second blaze.

While the text of its article went on to state…

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

Frankly, this smells of a common trend I’ve highlighted in media coverage recently, with a ‘clickbait’ headline claim which is NOT backed up by detail in the article.

Expert ‘puzzled’ by Glasgow art school fire system removal

Odd that the media has apparently ignored earlier sessions of the committee’s hearings.

Nothing they could use in those to get a ‘clickbait’ headline, or whip up some ‘Trial by Media’ goodness?

MSPs today heard the final session of evidence in their investigation into the fire which gutted Glasgow School of Art last year.

The Parliament’s Culture, Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee heard from Historic Environment Scotland and fire safety experts at 9am this morning in its last hearing.

The Committee will now deliberate upon the evidence it has heard and consider the future of the Art School.

MSPs deliberate over Glasgow School of Art’s future after hearing final evidence


No significant changes seen when I’ve been past the building remains recently.

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street


Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove organ recital

I seem to have used quite a few of the various pics collected at a Kelvingrove organ recital, but I did have quite a few and needed to clear down the useless/spoiled ones, so thought I might as well make a slide show of what was left.

They’ve picked the wrong link (an archive) for the recital dates and info on Kelvingrove’s web page, this is the correct ‘live’ link for upcoming recitals…

Organ recitals at Kelvingrove

The lighting is interesting, and if you are feeling keen, there’s probably plenty of opportunity to play with the views and be ‘artistic’, as I did with a few, just for a bit of quick fun to see what might come out.

If you see the fairly large gentleman caught in my pics arriving, I’d say you’re in luck. Of the few I’ve managed to catch, he’s probably been the best, and got more applause than the others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I didn’t notice the monitors above the doors had changed for the recital.

Normally just showing rolling info about Kelvingrove, during recitals they show the manuals/keyboards, and the pedalboard area.

These monitor pics are from a different recital!

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Manual Monitor

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Manual Monitor


Kelvingrove Organ Recital Pedalboard Monitor

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Pedalboard Monitor

Some people…

Mobile Phone Zombies

Mobile Phone Zombies

None wearing earphones 🙂

Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery became the Glasgow Green Viewpoint

Some years ago I discovered an ‘Undocumented Feature’ in the People’s Palace, and eventually rattle off a couple of Blog posts about it, so won’t repeat the tale here, these are the originals…

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery is an official thing now

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery – Part 2

Although they still don’t seem to do anything to promote the existence of this feature, it seems it has undergone ‘rebranding’ at some point, and is now the…

Glasgow Green Viewpoint.

People sPalace Glasgow Green Viewpoint

People’s Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint


People's Palace Viewing Gallery doors

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery doors

Still the same view 🙂

People's Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint View

People’s Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint View

A tad wider.

Click for bigger.

People's Palace Glasgow Panorama

People’s Palace Glasgow Panorama

Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Time to make events pay their way, NOT the hosts – especially when our Winter Gardens are rotting

I wonder if people are generally aware that lucky events like the Commonwealth Games (dumped on Glasgow in 2014), The Olympic Games (probably never coming to Glasgow, thank goodness), and now the first ever World Cycling Championships (set for August 2023, don’t have to PAY for the privilege of disrupting the cities they take place, or all the work needed to allow them to take place.

Glassgow was ‘taken’ for something like ÂŁ300+ million by the Commonwealth Games, and is now being asked for ÂŁ15 million in advance of the cycling event.

As usual, the promoters are blackmailing the hosts with promised of wonderful returns and benefits which they will lose out on if they don’t throw money at the organisers, and bring the event Glasgow.

GLASGOW councillors are being urged to approve ÂŁ15million towards the city hosting most of the events in the first ever World Cycling Championships, taking place in August 2023.

The world governing body for cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), revealed last year a plan to combine around a dozen existing individual cycling world championships into one major event every four years.

Following an approach by Glasgow and EventScotland, the UCI has given an exclusive opportunity to Glasgow/Scotland to present its case to host the first championships. The final submission, including funding commitments from the major partners, has to be made by February 2019.

A report to city councillors stated: “This will be the biggest cycling event in the world with over 100 countries represented and over 200 World Champions being crowned during the course of the Championships. The huge media interest will guarantee worldwide broadcast coverage delivering massive international profile for both Glasgow and Scotland.

CHANCE For Glasgow To Get On Its Bike For Historic Hosting Of World’s Biggest Cycling Championships

I’m not even going to waste more of my time digging into this.

You can read more of the fantasy in the linked article. It’s pretty much a self-explaining fiasco.

What I will say is that it’s a scandal that I would NOT mock dopey MP Paul Sweeney if he questioned it with the same vigour he did after hearing ‘tale telling’ about the plants in the People’s Palace Winter Garden.

But, I doubt we’ll hear as much as a squeak.

That this famous and long established Winter Garden should be languishing in closure for the lack of ÂŁ7.5 million while there is a farcical demand for ÂŁ15 million to be poured into a transient event that lasts for a few days is little short of shameful.

And gets even worse when we reflect on the dead shell that was Tollcross Winter Garden, closed after some 2011 storm damage, and could not be spared a penny when the millions were being squandered on the Commonwealth Games, and in particular the swimming pool in the sports centre only a few metres from that glasshouse.

As they say…

Somebody need to GET A GRIP!

Tollcross Winter Garden – ignored while millions were spent on an adjacent Commonwealth Games venue…

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

People’s Palace Winter Garden – closed while ÂŁ7.5 million is searched for, but ÂŁ15 million is being demanded for a cycling event…

Closed Winter Garden North

Closed Winter Garden North

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Dippy arrives in Kelvingrove

I was silly enough to think I might have been able to catch Dippy’s arrival and assembly at Kelvingrove.

Between the weather (it both did get cold, AND snowed) and other issues – probably not going to happen.

However, it seems out local media are a bit closer, and it’s easier for them to play catch up with the beastie.

After sailing across the Irish Sea, Dippy the Natural History Museum London’s famous diplodocus, has arrived at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The awe-inspiring dino is being delicately unpacked by a team of specialists who are tasked with piecing together the iconic dinosaur cast.

And never one to miss an unveiling, we at Glasgow Live were given access to see the incredible creature take shape earlier today.

We sneak behind the scenes as Dippy the dinosaur takes shape at Kelvingrove

Well, I guess I just have to go with this pic again.

Maybe I’ll get a ‘filled’ version.

Kelvingrove Entrance Hall Occupation

Kelvingrove Entrance Hall Occupation

On a positive note, it was interesting to spot Jessica from “That’s TV”, and her video camera, caught in the GlasgowLive video – recall she tried to interview me at the new Mackintosh statue.

On the downside, it’s always sad to see someone who has no idea about what Health & Safety actually means, and see all those people dressed up in hi-vis jackets and hard hats. It may look good, but I’m pretty sure if they had somebody that knew what they were doing, then the staff would not have been dressed up for looks, but equipped with personal protective equipment more suited to the job of assembling a model dinosaur.

I just find this irritating.

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Cunningar Loop upgrades given permission to proceed

When things move fast, they really do move fast.

Last time I observed that the park/attraction at Cunningar Loop could almost have been described as barely complete, yet plans were already being submitted to change/improve it.

The changes have been approved, including a community bothy, garden , and an elevated walkway with viewing tower.

A report by South Lanarkshire planning officers stated: “It is noted that the proposed development would allow the provision of improved public facilities within Cuningar Loop. As such, the principle of the development is to be supported in this case.

“It is further noted that the proposed developments would not have any adverse amenity impact on the surrounding area. No letters of objection have been submitted in respect of the proposed development.

“A protected species survey have (sic) been provided to demonstrate that there would be no adverse impact.”

GO-Ahead Given For Viewing Tower, Tree-Top Walkway And Community Bothy At River Clyde Urban Park

There are some brilliant aerial shots of the place in that article – I’m guessing reGlasgow has a drone, AND an approved operator for commercial use.

I’m a little surprised to see so much interest in a relatively new feature.

Perhaps it indicates MORE such places are needed, or wanted.

Having been there a few times since it opened, I think the park is perhaps a little smaller than the developers imagine it to be.

As it has become more popular, I’ve found it can sometimes become a little too densely packed with visitors on a nice sunny day, and their children running around. That’s not to be taken as a complaint, merely an observation given the space available, and how close people get when it’s busy.

It’s nice to go to a park and enjoy some open space – but if there’s no open space?

I’d like to think the planners will be wary of any future developments cramming more features or attraction in.

Cunningar Evolve Sculpture

Cunningar Evolve Sculpture

Artist’s impression, on a quiet day.

Viewing Tower Image J M Architects

Viewing Tower Image J M Architects

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Night bridges – St Andrew’s suspension bridge

The other bridge I managed to catch before my ‘Night bridge’ pic collecting was curtailed, the St Andrew’s suspension bridge on Glasgow Green.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge Night

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge Night

I was a little disappointed to see that around half of the lights on this bridge had failed, but then wondered if that might have been a good thing, given the amount of processing I found was needed to kill of some of the glare from those that were left.

It’s nice to see something that retains some fairly noticeable colour when seen at night.

I should make a note to go back and do a set of pics on the lights fitted to this bridge. They are unusually large, and for external fittings, also very clear. Looking too closely at such fittings often shows they are discoloured, cloudy, or even frosted, and not really great subjects.

Stepping back, I couldn’t decide if the wider view was better than the close-in first shot just of the bridge.

So, it doesn’t cost anything, and I collected the wider view too.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge Night Wide

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge Night Wide

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Remember how I always say you can’t satisfy ferry campaigners?

Although I no longer get to use Clyde ferries, I still watch the news about ferry campaigners and activists, and have done so for well over twenty years, over which time I have come to conclusion that NOTHING can be done which satisfies them.

They just love to spend their time whining and complaining.

Years ago it used be RET (road equivalent tariff), with endless calls for its adoption to reduce ferry fares and increase visitor numbers to increase tourist visits and bring more money to the islands.


Ticket prices on some ferry services could be increased to help mitigate high demand at peak times, the Transport Secretary has said.

Speaking at Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Wednesday, Michael Matheson said peak-time pricing could be introduced to better manage capacity.

Increased tourist numbers during the summer period have been highlighted as a key concern for island residents, who have previously indicated difficulties in acquiring a ticket to travel during busy spells.

Higher fares could be introduced on Scottish ferries to manage tourists

Oh joy.

Now we can all sort of whining and claims that fares have been increased on the wrong routes, that some community or another is being disadvantaged, or even deliberately targeted to ruining it in preference to another.

The possibilities are endless.

We need…

A user survey.

Free Sheep Ferry

Free Sheep Ferry

I’ve told the sheep ferry story somewhere else in the blog, where you can find it.

Jan 17, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Dog and Cone – compact beats dSLR

Looks like the saga of ‘Dog and Cone’ is over, and with an unexpected winner!

This started with chance observation when I stopped to collect a pic of mural I had missed.

PLEASE check the pics in that first post, just to get a feel for how small the subject ‘Dog’ is.

Things got more serious when I went back for a better pic of ‘Dog and Cone’, and brought home pics where the compact BEAT the dSLR for image quality.

I didn’t really believe my own results, and resolved to go back for a rematch, but early sunsets and high buildings at the site meant I just didn’t seem to be able to get there when there was a decent amount of daylight and, once again, the results were poor, despite using a dSLR and a long lens.

I finally managed to get back to the spot during the day, albeit an overcast one, and repeat the pics, which I took using both dSLR and compact with long lenses (both referred to as superzooms).

I’m seriously shocked, and I took the pics!

Despite being vastly superior in terms of sensor size and sensitivity when the light is failing, the dSLR has simply NOT been able to match the compact for this shot, no matter how much I fiddled with the settings.

I tried reducing the ISO the dSLR wanted (I usually let it alter this within set limits), but this just brought camera shake and blurring instead of noise.

The lighter compact was able to reach more than twice the zoom length, with lower ISO/noise, and catch this one.

If nothing else, I really did learn something with this shot.

So, first the dSLR’s best of the day, after processing.

Dog and Cone by dSLR

Dog and Cone by dSLR

And now the compact’s effort, also processed.

Dog and Cone by compact

Dog and Cone by compact

Seriously, this is down to the location and lighting

I’m sure some of you are now shouting at me, calling me ‘Useless’, and suggesting I just didn’t try.

Had I not taken all these pics myself, I’d probably be one of those doing so.

The more usual scenario is that the dSLR (with large sensor) beats the compact without any effort being needed, which is not really any sort of surprise. The one qualification I would add is that in daylight, both can be comparable, even at full zoom. However, once the light starts to fade, the compact is normally the first to struggle, and detail starts to go. Vibration and camera shake can be better using the compact as it combines optical and electronic stabilisation, while the dSLR usually just has optical stabilisation.

Probably the best illustration is seen in pair of pics I took of a detail at the top of the organ in Kelvingrove.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get a decent pic from the opposite end of the entrance hall.

See some earlier pics of the wider view showing how far away the organ is from the balcony the pics are taken from.

I tried taking pics of the figures at the top of the organ, using the compact, on a number of occasion, always with the same result.

(Ignore the colour, the camera is currently set for ‘Vivid’ shots due to the dull grey outdoor light we have at the moment, and the organ has coloured highlights).

I’m not sure why, as this result is considerably poorer than experience suggests would be expected. However, similar shots along the galleries follow this example, so my guess would be I’ve found the light and contrast level that the compact’s autofocus system just doesn’t like.

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail Compact

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail Compact

Last time I was there, I managed to pack the dSLR and superzoom.

Unlike ‘Dog and Cone’, this result WAS as expected, and the dSLR focussed and exposed with no anomalies.

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail dSLR

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail dSLR

Note that I never use a tripod, so all these shots are hand held.

Jan 16, 2019 Posted by | council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove’s dinosaur takeover

I recently mentioned the imminent arrival of Dippy the Dinosaur to Kelvingrove, but hadn’t really looked at the dates and failed to realise just how close this event was.

Dropping in for the daily organ recital yesterday, rather than the usual seating layout provided for visitors, I walked into a brick wooden wall as soon as entered the main entrance hall!

I knew it was big, and this just confirms it.

Kelvingrove Entrance Hall Occupation

Kelvingrove Entrance Hall Occupation

Below is just a random shot taken during a recent recital, with a less extreme wide-angle lens than the above, which barely managed to catch the whole of the works enclosure in a single shot. I really didn’t want to go the extent of stitching multiples, but still had to hold the camera above/behind me to get the shot, and hope it was all in frame.

Kelvingrove Organ Recital

Kelvingrove Organ Recital

With more effort, I get this (seen in a previous post about an experiment), can be clicked for bigger.

It will be interesting to see how well this works once Dippy arrives, and the view will be from the side gallery, to  get Dippy’s length  in one shot.

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Stitch

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Stitch

I guess the balcony I’m standing on will be busier than usual for the next few months.

The nice people did offer more info, and an apology 🙂

Dippy on Tour Kelvingrove Apology

Dippy on Tour Kelvingrove Apology

Jan 15, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Night bridges – Polmadie

I had intended to try for some ‘better’ night shots of some bridges over the Clyde, but, as usual, some unrelated problems kicked the idea off the table, but I did collect a few of my more usual handheld captures.

I had read that the new Polmadie footbridge had new LED lighting installed, but a daylight inspection didn’t identify how this was installed.

Once I saw the thing at night, it was obvious.

The lights are fitted internally, within the handrail, and fire downwards through holes in its underside, which was why I didn’t spot them first time around.

Surprising sky in this view, as it was almost as black as the ground when I took the pic, but looks almost bright in the finished shot.

Polmadie Footbridge Night

Polmadie Footbridge Night

Jan 13, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

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