Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

George Square goes pedestrian on 20 July for Clean Air Day

After the previous news of suggestions and support to ban traffic from George Square, it seems Glaswegians are to get a taste of what the square would be like if traffic restriction were put in place, and the area was pedestrianised.

Glaswegians will be given a preview of tentative plans to pedestrianise George Square this week as traffic is banned from entering the area.

In celebration of Clean Air Day, Glasgow City Council will be forbidding traffic from entering the city centre location this Thursday (June 20) from 9am to 4pm.

George Square east will be closed in its entirety for the day, while George Square south will allow no waiting, loading or unloading from 3pm on Wednesday (June 19) to 4pm on Thursday.

Several companies will be in attendance at the event to promote public transport and leaving the car at home. They will range from bus operators such as First or Stagecoach through to smaller companies such as bike-only delivery start-up, Eco Runners.

There will be musical performances, displays of electric vehicle, car clubs and an electric taxi. People will be able to try out eBikes and conventional pedal cycles and there will be details of the ‘City Ways’ cycle paths initiative.

Picnic tables will be set out on George Square east with it closed to traffic, allowing people to eat out in front of the City Chambers.

City centre road closure offers a preview of a pedestrianised George Square

George Square (not) Grass

George Square (not) Grass


19/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Here come the spaceport naysayers

I wonder why it’s taken so long for the spaceport ‘Naysayers’ to break cover?

And why is it the Green Loony MSP that’s promoting them too?

At least it’s in keeping with my general observation that no matter how apparently ‘good’ something is, you can always be sure there will be Naysayers pouring cold water on it.

Sadly, it also seems to be becoming the norm for objectors to be backed by Green MSPs too, who just seem to latch on stories that will get them noticed in the media.

However, the research by Prof Mike Danskin, of Heriot-Watt University, and Geoff Whittam, of Glasgow Caledonian University, casts doubts on claims that 40 “high-quality jobs” would be created by the scheme, suggesting “the jobs which will be available to local people have been stated as housekeeping and security”.

The academics also express concern that far from bringing jobs and prosperity to the area, the spaceport would obstruct the development of more appropriately-scaled businesses.

The paper questions the focus by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on the A’Mhoine site over others and suggests a previous report overstated the level of community support while not paying enough attention to infrastructural issues and environmental designations.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said: “I hope Highlands and Islands Enterprise reflect on this important study.

“It casts doubt on the purported economic benefits that constructing the spaceport at A’Mhoine will bring and highlights that it could cause considerable environmental damage.

Experts cast doubt over Highlands spaceport plan


These proposals did not appear overnight, or even a few months or years ago.

Where have these experts (and their supporters) been during that time?


The answer is no

18/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S43

It’s the first anniversary of the big fire, and it seems it’s not been forgotten.

Although there’s little external evidence of ongoing activity at the remains of the Mackintosh Building (I know, I’ve been past it a few times, with little new to see), it seems that work is still being undertaken on a daily basis to make the structure safe, and parts are still being deconstructed.

Glasgow School of Art has re-affirmed its commitment to restoring the Mackintosh building, one year after it was ravaged by a tragic fire.

On the evening of Friday June 18, 2018, firefighters raced to the city centre blaze which had engulfed the Mack. When the fire was finally extinguished, a scene of devastation was left behind.

Ever since, Glaswegians have been left wondering whether we will ever see the Mack in its full glory again – the building was just months away from completion after being gutted during another major fire in 2014.

Yet Glasgow School of Art has this week confirmed to Glasgow Live the school’s intention to restore the building in honour of Charles Rennie Mackinstosh.

They said: “The Glasgow School of Art is committed to rebuilding the Mack as Mackintosh envisaged it. We will be bringing it back for our students, for the people of Glasgow and the wider world.

“This Friday will see 2019 Graduation which will be a day of celebration for our amazing students following a hugely successful Degree Show. Many will them will then be exhibiting work in London at the annual graduate showcases.

“We are focusing on this.”

However investigations into the fire continue, with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service both involved – it is still unclear what sparked the blaze, with the building then under the day-to-day control of Kier Construction.

When asked by Glasgow Live what stage their inquiries are at, an SFRS spokesperson commented: “The investigation is still ongoing”.

Glasgow School of Art committed to restoring Mackintosh building one year after fire

Investigators are entering the final phases of their probe into the fire which devastated Glasgow School of Art.

The world-renowned Mackintosh building was extensively damaged when a blaze broke out on 15 June last year.

A year on, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said several hundred tonnes of debris still had to be removed from the remains of the building.

Neighbours of the art school told BBC Scotland they were eager to find out the results of the investigation.

Investigators have examined two sectors of the building following the removal of 400 tonnes of charred wreckage, according to the Scottish fire service.

They have also scoured hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and taken witness statements.

But before the final stages of the investigation can take place, more debris needs to be taken away from the “complex site”.

SFRS Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart said the fire service was working alongside on-site contractors to have the “significant volume” of remaining fire debris removed.

He added: “The fire investigation remains focused on likely origin and cause – but against the backdrop of an unprecedented large scale fire scene within a complex and challenging site.

“Our fire investigation team is working hard based on what remains within the building once the debris is removed, alongside all other evidence available to them.”

The probe is being led by fire service group manager David Dourley, who said the final phases of the investigation would be “challenging” due to the volume of debris.

“It is also a challenging site and we will require, at times, to work within confined spaces,” he said.

“But safety is paramount and each time we move to begin an excavation or go onto the site we will consult with Glasgow School of Art and also the on-site contractor.”

Earlier this year, the school of art was criticised by Holyrood’s culture committee, which found bosses did not give sufficient priority to safeguarding the building.

It has also faced criticism from some local residents and businesses who were unable to return to their properties for several months.

Ms Simpson said: “I want to know who is responsible for the fire because it is somebody’s fault. There is somebody, or a variety of bodies, that were to blame but you need to see the facts first before you start shouting ‘it was your fault’.

‘Final phases’ of Glasgow art school fire investigation

Probe into Glasgow Art School fire moves into final phases

And the ‘forgotten’…

To many Glaswegians, the major fire at the School of Art may seem like it was just yesterday, but for the residents of Garnethill this has been the longest year.

12 months ago, on Friday June 15, the area was devastated by a huge blaze which engulfed the heart of the community – the world renowned Mackintosh building.

Not only did the residents have to suffer the sight of ‘a fireball falling from the heavens’ on their very own doorsteps, some were unable to access their homes for three months in the fall-out from the fire.

Yet there is finally hope for those living in Garnethill and optimism for the future. During a deeply traumatic time, community spirit has never been stronger.

In the week in which Glasgow Live reported the School of Art’s unequivocal commitment to have the Mack reconstructed “as Mackintosh envisaged it”, we had the opportunity to speak to chair of Garnethill Community Council, Jane Sutherland, about the experiences of the area’s residents over the last year.

Recalling the night of June 18, Jane said: “It was very frightening – it was a very scary night.

“We were all out on the streets, watching a fireball fall from the heavens. It really was terrifying.

“The firefighters looked like they had water pistols on it. It was an absolute inferno. I think they expressed on the night that some of them had never seen anything like it. I believe it was visible as far afield as Motherwell. It really was like a volcano.”

While the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland’s investigations into the blaze continue, the scars of that evening are still understandably apparent, yet there’s a sense from Jane things are starting to move in the right direction.

She explained: “I think there is a traumatised community.

“As you can imagine, it’s been an exceptionally challenging time, for all of the residents in Garnethill and for all the people who work here as well, because access to Garnethill is very restricted and that’s the ongoing day-to-day problems.

“It’s also been difficult with access because of the Sauchiehall Street Avenues project – slowly that’s all opening up and that will see a boost and an improvement to the fabric of the neighbourhood – bring a bit of cheer to faces.

“It’s been really hard-going with all of that building work and all of the building work going on at the Mack and the Reid Building. Renfrew Street is still closed, and looks like it might be for sometime yet, which restricts access.

“The thing is not just to dwell on the challenges of it, how hard it’s been – it has been shockingly hard – it’s the efforts the community and the Art School, all kinds of groups, have been working very, very hard since the fire to improve the community relations and see what good we can bring out of this.”

And in spite of initial difficulties, the relationship between the School of Art and local residents has now strengthened, while the city has given its backing to local community projects helping to renew Garnethill’s sense of purpose.

Jane added: “Since November, I think the Art School have recognised their communications with the community wasn’t as good as it should have been. I think they’ve made sterling efforts to really integrate into the community here, and offer opportunities for practical help and assistance.

Glasgow Art School fire – traumatised Garnethill residents reflect on ‘shockingly hard’ year

I’ll just leave these here…

Remembering the Glasgow Art School fire – one year on from devastating blaze

02 ABC one year on from Glasgow Art School blaze – here’s what’s happening


Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street


16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buchanan Wharf development seems to be trying to save buildings at risk

While the damned ‘activist’ types whine about buildings that are not being used, or potentially being lost (while not actually doing anything useful, other than whining and giving the rest of us sore heads), I prefer to watch what might be being done to help.

A while ago (say a year or two) I started passing through the Tradeston area, which is now known as the site of a development known as Buchanan Wharf. Very derelict and run down, I noticed the worst of the remaining building were slowly disappearing – but not all – even though at least one was looking very ‘At risk’, yet surprisingly remained.

As recently as 1950 there were 73 buildings on the area bounded by Clyde Place, West Street, Kingston Street, and Commerce Street 0 the area where Buchanan Wharf is now being constructed. The buildings provided a variety of uses ranging from engineering sheds to offices.

Dating from the 1870s, two remain, with one marked for transformation as part of the plan, while the other had an uncertain future. Now it seems that building may also have a future.

The so-called Beco building on Kingston Street is the only part of the three-block location that is so far not part of the transformation which will include a campus for Barclays Bank that will accommodate thousands of workers.

But the latest statement about Buchanan Wharf submitted to Glasgow City planners explains: “It should be noted that Drum [Property Group] and Barclays [Bank] now have a degree of control of the Beco building.

“As part of the overall regeneration, the developers and Barclays are committed to saving the Beco building and will continue to negotiate to acquire residual ownerships and look at other options of achieving full control with the City Council.

“Securing the future of the Beco building is very much part of the holistic approach which Drum and Barclays are taking towards the regeneration of this part of Tradeston.

“The Beco building is decaying and has been vacant for several years; due to vandalism and neglect its appearance and condition is very poor.”

The statement continues: “Its appearance and also its condition has led the Beco building to be included in the Buildings at Risk Register.

“Currently, the upper floors are thought to have been laying vacant since at least 2004 whilst the ground floor is still in use.”

BUCHANAN Wharf Developers ‘Committed To Saving’ Second Listed Building At The Tradeston Site

I had intended to grab a pic as I’ve passed through this area recently, but can’t make it at the moment.

Instead, I’ve (hopefully) embedded Google’s oldest Street View images of the area.

These date back to 2008, and show the place was already derelict, and if you zoom into the white sign with the blue writing, you’ll see that the place was supposedly already being regenerated.

11 years on – not a lot had changed, other than the land being used for car parks wasn’t being used for car parks.

Worth bearing in mind when various Green Loonies tell you Glasgow is congested and the place is jammed solid with cars. They really are overdoing their message nowadays, and don’t seem to have realised the place is half-empty!

But if they admitted that, well, they’d have no reason to make irritating whiny noises and be permanently angry.

16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Woolworth’s in Ayr

I thought I’d take a pic f the former Woolworth’s in Ayr’s High Street.

Obviously, I know it had closed some years ago, and had been along the street way back then and seen the desolate place.

I didn’t think of taking a pic then, and was really left feeling a bit glum, having spent so much time in there, and had latterly come to appreciate just how much ‘old atmosphere’ the place had, as I don’t think it was ever modernised or refurbished internally, at least not up to the last time I was able to wander around the place. It might have been altered after that.

What I hadn’t been aware of was the razing of the shop’s site a few years ago.

This is what the old shop looks like now.

Ayr Woolworths

Ayr Woolworths

Well, I think I got there just a little too late.

The site was part of historic/archaeological survey (2017), and it was interesting to see they listed some of the other names that used occupy the site.

I’d forgotten them, but the report reminded me of: Burton’s and Shoefayre. I’m sure there were more, especially in the later years when premises changed hands more frequently, but those two were noted.

If you want a reminder, Google’s Street View archive will get you back to 2008, while the pics it has from 2017 actually caught the demolition in progress.

Those pics even show the Burton sign painted on the upper part of the old building.

15/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

For a brief moment, I made the mistake of thinking somebody might have been doing something useful at Tollcross Winter Garden (other than perhaps demolishing it).

When I passed recently, there was a small ‘cherry picker’ parked alongside.

But, it looks as if someone was just using the roof overhang as a shelter to keep the rain of their ‘toy’ and keep it dry (not a very good idea, given the quiet nature of the spot, and the number of vandals that party there given that there is no lighting).

It was gone a few hours later, and I haven’t seen it again.

Mind you, given where it was left, the locals could easily have had it dismantled during the night, and sold all the parts as spares!

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

14/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

New east end cycle route – I put my foot in it!

It’s remarkable – all I have to do is make a statement about something…

And I’ll be given the equivalent of ‘A poke in the eye with a sharp stick’.

Yesterday, while considering the ambitious plans for new parks and other goodies running from the river to Kelvingrove Park, I mentioned that plans for a cycle route along London Road seemed to have sunk without trace, after being expected to see a start as early as the second quarter of 2019.

I’m thinking of one project local to me, which I was following, and looked as if it would be underway by now (middle of 2019), but has seen no activity, or apparently any update info regarding its progress, or not.

Sooner, rather than later please (I’m looking at backers as I say that, NOT the council).

Of course, as soon as I committed my thoughts to print, in less that 24 hours I was proved wrong.

Construction on phase one of new sections of the East City Way is due to start at Mount Vernon, in January 2020 and be completed by June 2020. Applications for funding to progress phase two and three designs have been made to active travel organisation Sustrans.

The plan is for East City Way to stretch for seven kilometres from Bridgeton to Mount Vernon, with work carried out over the next three to five years.

NEW 2.2-Kilometre Segregated Cycle Route Proposed For Glasgow’s South Side

Ah well, I may have been a day early with my negative thoughts, but at least the East City Way looks as if it is going to arrive, if a year later than expected. And anything up to another six years for the rest!

Guess I’ll just have to wait that little bit longer before this view becomes a reality.

Proposed Layout London Road

Proposed Layout London Road


13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh 150 – apparently good news follows after two years

Although I thought I had been lucky to notice that 2018 was to be noted as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 150th anniversary and be marked by a number of events, I managed to miss them all (suffice to say a couple of little accidents meant I was stuck indoors for some time).

Two years on, it seems things went well, even without me 😉

A recent article notes:

A campaign celebrating the legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh has boosted visitor numbers to Mackintosh attractions in Scotland by more than a quarter.

Today – the architect’s birthday [07 June] – new results showing the success of Mackintosh 150 and Beyond have been revealed.

It has helped to attract 1.2 million people to venues he designed – a 29% increase compared with the same period last year.

The campaign was focused on promoting venues and events in and around Glasgow and the west of Scotland to visitors in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee.

It was also aimed at encouraging UK short-break visitors to make a Mackintosh-inspired trip to Glasgow in 2019.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh campaign boosts visitor numbers to attractions in Glasgow

Not around back in 2018, I wonder how many come for a look?

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue

13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Work starts on flats with no car parking

I mentioned the slightly odd approval for a development with flats which had no provision for car parking (for the residents).

I noted this only because I’ve become used to reading planning applications which have been refused for ignoring parking requirements in the past.

Work has started on the site, and the tatty advertising that was strung across it by nearby shops is gone, although it has revealed some equally disgusting/garish advertising, but at least it will soon be hidden by the new building.

Watson Street development underway

Watson Street development underway

13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Will I live long enough to see ‘New’ Glasgow?

While it’s the apparent norm for the usual naysayers and negative types to simply sound off against Glasgow City Council as that’s their real pastime, I don’t subscribe to such party lines.

The sad truth is that the council is usually just the nearest ‘whipping boy’ for everyone to reach for, and those who are really to blame for any planning failures get a free ride as nobody bothers them, brings them to task, or holds them accountable.

After all, it’s a lot easier to just cite ‘The Council’, or say ‘Nay’, than spend time researching.

I’ve noted previous news promising development and reenergising High Street, and land to it east.

Now there seem to be even more impressive proposals seeking approval for the area to the south, as articles appeared regarding parks running all the way from Saltmarket to Kelvingrove Park, including the area on the opposite side of the river, and even bringing back water taxis.

Water taxis and huge new park planned at River Clyde

River Clyde at Glasgow City Centre set to be transformed by running parks and water taxis

‘River park’ proposed for Glasgow city centre

Proposed plans to transform Glasgow’s St Enoch ‘welcome but long overdue’

I’m intrigued by the way the last two articles listed appear to centre on the St Enoch area, since the plans are MUCH more extensive (and the ‘overdue’ due bit is just… silly – every plan is always too late for somebody).

It’s notable that past errors are being paid attention to, as the council carries out public consultations for some time in advance of such announcements. Some years ago, it was becoming clear that even potentially positive proposals were being rejected, or objected to, simply on the basis that they appeared to be being handed down as council decrees, which people had no say in.

A new park running along both sides of the River Clyde in Glasgow is set to be approved by councillors.

Improvements to the M8 motorway, water taxis and sports activity on the river are also expected to get the go-ahead.

The council said “strong support” was received for its proposals during a consultation process.

The park would run from Glasgow Green to the Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove, while “beautiful, small-scale buildings” would pop-up along the riverbank for shops and leisure facilities.

An idea of how the new park might look - Glasgow City Council

An idea of how the new park might look – Glasgow City Council

Nice pic, shame about the too tall buildings though.

It’s not my intention to be negative, rather to point out (again) that the council is not wholly responsible for such plans, although it has the important job of approving them, and mediating them, to ensure they are compliant with legislation and local demands. And, unless it’s a council project, it doesn’t fund it either, but has to act to facilitate finances (it’s complicated, or another story for another day).

I’m thinking of one project local to me, which I was following, and looked as if it would be underway by now (middle of 2019), but has seen no activity, or apparently any update info regarding its progress, or not.

Sooner, rather than later please (I’m looking at backers as I say that, NOT the council).

12/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Time to plan that pre-tour viewing of Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross

Although the tour is yet to be approved, now may be the time to plan that trip to have look at Dali’s iconic Christ of St John of the Cross in Kelvingrove.

It seems another tour has been submitted for approval, and set before Glasgow City Council for approval.

Salvador Dali’s famous painting – Christ of Saint John of the Cross – could be leaving Kelvingrove Art Gallery to go on show at exhibitions in England and Spain.

Glasgow councillors will decide whether to approve two short-term loans when they meet on Thursday.

The iconic work would play a key role in the opening of a Spanish gallery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, before going on display in Dali’s birthplace, Figueres, Spain.

A report to councillors values the shipment at £30 million.

The Auckland Project, ran by Auckland Castle Trust, will see a Spanish gallery open in Market Place, Bishop Auckland, in summer next year.

Dali’s painting would be available to view from July 1 to October 2, 2020.

Auckland Partnership Trust is collaborating with organisations in the UK, such as the National Gallery, as well as in Spain and America. Glasgow City Council is currently seeking verification of the Trust’s Accredited status, as “it does not currently appear on the Art Council England’s online Accredited Museums List”.

The second loan would see the painting visit the Dali Theatre Museum in Spain between November 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.

It could lead to partner opportunities which would support Glasgow Museums’ preliminary exploration of a possible Dali exhibition in Glasgow, the report reveals. In most scenarios, Glasgow Life’s head of museums and collections has delegated authority to agree loans.

However, permission must be granted by Glasgow City Council to lend Christ of St John of the Cross.

Dali’s famous painting could be leaving Kelvingrove Gallery for tour of England and Spain

Such tours and loans represent major undertakings, and it’s worth looking for videos which show how the staff prepare and pack works such as this to ensure they travel safely.

It’s interesting to see that the story has added references to the sort of criteria which apply to loans such as this.

“All risk measures are incorporated into a formal contract, a lending agreement, with the borrower which must be agreed by both Glasgow Museums and the borrower, and be signed in advance of release of any artworks,” Mr Letford said.

“The painting is conservation assessed as fit to travel and will have a full written condition report which is used as a benchmark against which all checks are made during the loan period.

“The painting has been fitted with laminated low reflective glass to provide additional protection while on display.

“Each venue will be assessed by Glasgow Museums to ensure that all requirements for the protection of the artworks can be delivered.

This includes environmental, security and operational provisions.

The painting does not have the laminated glass fitted while on display in Glasgow (although there are other security features around it), and had been attacked there more than once, but this was many years ago.

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

12/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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