Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Impressive proposals for Dunoon revival

I have to give a mention to some plans being proposed to revive the fortunes of Dunoon.

A famed seaside town could be revived with cable car to take tourists up a hill, and rollercoaster to take them down, if ambitious plans for a community buyout go ahead.

The town of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, was once a popular spot for Glaswegians to go ‘doon the Watter’, but its fortunes diminished with the rise of package holidays abroad.

The resort, on the banks of the Firth of Clyde, has fallen off the tourist map but hopes are high it could once again become one of the biggest attractions in Scotland.

An ambitious plan, The Dunoon Project, based on a community buyout of the Corlarach forest above the town, could see it become a centre for outdoor activities.

A cable car would be installed to take passengers up the Kilbride Hill which rises above Dunoon to a cafe and observation spot at the top, according to the proposals.

Going down the hill to a base station, there would be the option of a zip-slide ride down the hill over a distance of four kilometres or a trip in an “alpine coaster” – a type of rollercoaster which follows the contours of the land.

Those of a less stalwart disposition could still take the cable car, or ride down on a mountain bike.

Plans to revive Scottish seaside town with cable car and rollercoaster

It’s an interesting plan, and certainly ticks the box for innovation and ‘Thinking outside the box’, but I fear it has missed one  or two small points.

Dunoon’s success in the days of ‘Doon the watter’ came to an end years ago, along with all the other Clyde coast resorts.

Most of those others have seen a revival in recent years, but I’d say they were luckier than Dunoon in that they are nearer, and don’t need such a long ferry trip, or drive.

I suspect that today, people seek more instant gratification, and the 2 hours or so it takes to get to Dunoon before having any fun is a potential barrier to success.

Unlike the others, Dunoon benefited immensely from the 31-year presence of a US submarine refit facility in the Holy Loch from 1961 to 1992.

That’s not coming back any time soon.

Other outdoor facilities, once popular in the area, have also failed to maintain the popularity they once enjoyed.

Castle Toward was once a popular residential outdoor centre, but once it ran into difficulties, all attempts to save it failed, and it fell of the radar.

Last heard of in 2018, it was still closed, but the grounds were open to public access.

If somewhere with an established record for activities couldn’t maintain its position (regardless of whatever politics or intrigue were, or may have been, going on in the background), that’s another reason I have my doubts about a new venture.

Sadly, I have to say I took a very quick trip to Ayr today, and looking at this sad shadow (so many empty shops, and nearly all the new/recent shopping arcades are almost empty too, with hardly any units occupied, and many of those only open for a few days, or with ‘Closing’ signs in the windows) of its former appearance, also suggests trying to revive somewhere as  far away as Dunoon is maybe a great idea, but with little chance.

I got this poster from a now defunct Dunoon web site some years ago, and have had to expand it as the image they had was very small.

This is dated 1943.

Dunoom Lido Poster 1943

Dunoon Lido Poster 1943



25/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, military, Naval, Transport | , | Leave a comment

University of Glasgow Department of Virology

Still to be found (for the moment at least) in Church Street, just off Dumbarton Road, this University Of Glasgow Faculty Building was the Department of Virology.

I hadn’t really noticed it before, being preoccupied with the adjacent multi-storey building, the Pontecorvo Building, Basil Spence and Partners in association with Peter Glover, 1961-1962, which housed the Institute of Genetics, or more interestingly for me, a Paternoster. That item featured in an episode of ‘Taggart’.

As can be seen, these building are now abandoned, and you will also see a demolition contractor’s van parked nearby.

The entire area behind this building (mostly the old Western Infirmary) has already been razed, and cleared for new development.

I assume the two buildings mentioned here will suffer the same fate soon.

Canmore says:

In June 1957 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design the Institute of Virology for the University of Glasgow. The building, situated on Church Street adjacent to the Western Infirmary, was designed during 1958 and the construction was completed by 1962. The new building was to house the first Virology department in the UK, and contained laboratories, research rooms, staff rooms and a library. The four-storey concrete structure is clad in glass mosaic panels and green slate slabs.

In 1958 the practice was also commissioned to design the Institute of Genetics on an adjacent site, but construction work did not begin until 1962. The resulting building, completed in 1966, was a seven-storey structure built with reinforced concrete and clad in glass mosaic like the Institute of Virology.

I also read that the taller building was supposed to be twelve storeys, but Prof Pontecorvo objected to sharing space with other departments, and a compromise was eventually reached, seven storeys still in view, for the moment.

The Department of Virology building’s view is blocked by the narrowness of the street, and it’s usual to take pics from either size, looking along Church Street.

In this case, I was curious to see how my photo-stitching software would handle a set of images taken while standing across the road from this building

It also managed to catch a fair part of the Pontecorvo Building, on the right, which is interesting as it shows that the north face of this building has quite a few windows. If you look at the other side, it looks as if it has very few.

No idea if there was a reason for this.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow University Department of Virology

Glasgow University Department of Virology

This is the more usual view.

University of Glasgow Department of Virology and Pontecorvo

University of Glasgow Department of Virology and Pontecorvo

I even managed a pic from the other side, as noted, few windows.

I’m including this since earlier pics I thought were in here have disappeared.

Dumbarton Road Pontecorvo

Dumbarton Road Pontecorvo

As you can see, the older, adjacent historic building (Anderson College, B listed) is staying.

A modern one, with concrete and rebar, is already going.

Dumbarton Road Demolition

Dumbarton Road Demolition

In the few days since the above pic was taken, this concrete lump has been wrapped in scaffolding and a big plastic bag, to keep the dust down while it is pulverised.

On reflection, I think I should have used this wider pic above, instead of the crop, so…

Pontercorvo context

Pontercorvo context

21/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Maplin and Poundworld – together in death

I’d been meaning to grab this shot of Maplin and Poundworld in our local retail park, since both had folded around the same time, and the shop units have lain derelict since their doors were closed.

So far no takers, so I wanted to take the pic before one, or even both, were taken over.

While I doubt anybody will mourn the loss of Poundworld, which was just a shoddy downmarket clone of another ‘Pound’ outlet, I doubt many in Glasgow will think the same of Maplin.

Poundworld really just gave the ‘Pound’ outlets a bad name. Dismissing the food and cosmetic side, which is just the same stuff in any shop, but at different mark-ups, the hardware they pawned off on unsuspecting buyers was pretty poor. While I often looked, I seldom bought after looking closer. Most looked ready to break or bend the first time it was stressed, and a ratchet strap I did have to buy in an emergency turned out to less than useless. The metal it was bent out of was so thin that the parts which were supposed to latch into one another just slipped past one another.

I also bought one of their bike light sets (just for the tube mounting bracket for the rear light, to fix a damaged one). I could hardly believe the front light in the set used ‘C’ cells and a filament bulb. A candle would have been brighter than this sad joke.

Maplin (in Glasgow at least) was a different matter. Since that went away, I have an embarrassingly large collection of online orders for parts I simply can’t buy in Glasgow, or probably even Scotland (now that I’m no longer in the trade).

I really do remember Maplin from the early days, when I had to get a ‘Grown up’ to get me a postal order so I could buy parts from the original Maplin, as advertised in electronics magazines of the day.

Over the years I did wonder where they were going, as the number of shops grew, and the range of stock exploded.

And, just before they folded, I did wonder about the shops – full of a huge range of stock, but never full of customers, just staff.

Oh well…

Maplin and Poundworld side by side

Maplin and Poundworld side by side



Looks as if I might just have got the above pic in the nick of time.

Passing the same place a few days later, I turned around for a quick look, and the doors of the former Maplin shop were OPEN.

Don’t know what was going on, but something might be about to change.

I’ll have to keep watching.

Forge Retail Maplin Open Door

Forge Retail Maplin Open Door

19/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

If you didn’t get a nice easy pic of Whitevale Baths…

You’re too late now!

Seems I’ve been taking pics of the façade of Whitevale Baths for years, in various formats since they razed the houses between the baths and the Bellgrove Hotel for some unknown reason years ago. I always wondered why, as I remember them being built, and then disappearing not all that long afterwards. I didn’t even notice it, as I stopped travelling into Glasgow along that road for some years, and it was a while before I realised the ‘new’ houses had gone.

I wonder if there was something wrong with them, and they had to be demolished as a result?

Now, they’re building modern flats on the land, and the space around the retained façade of the baths is being occupied by this new build.

It not only covers the open land cleared when the houses I referred to were razed, but they are also building on the land adjacent to the remains of the baths.

So, while you could stand as far away from the façade as you liked to, and take a ‘whole of front pic’ in past years, that option is now gone, as there are flats on that ground. Now, you can only stand across the street and take the pic.

You’ll need a pretty wide lens to manage it now, or some clever panorama/image stitching software to get the shot now.

There will be a side street you can stand in, but I don’t think it will be on the centre line of the baths.

This is what it looks like down there now.

Whitevale Baths Facade

Whitevale Baths Facade

Another ‘loss’

Some time ago, while I was down there I noticed a mural or image on the end wall of the remaining part of the baths’ building.

I never managed to find anything online that referred to those images, or described them, but they’re lost and gone now.

They were on the wall between the baths and the new build seen on the left.

I thought I’d posted the shots some time ago, but clearly never got around to it.

I dug up the images I played around with back then, and picked a few.

Nobody’s going to be taking this view for some time to come, as the ground they’d need to stand on is now full of flats!

Whitevale Baths Facade straight

Whitevale Baths Facade straight

This will be the norm for the next few years (decades), so the ability to take a single wide shots (then correcting), or using special lenses to avoid the distortion will be needed.

Whitevale Baths Facade stitched

Whitevale Baths Facade stitched

Note that both of the above were deliberately framed to avoid having things like lampposts appearing over the subject.

And the last shot goes to…

The Whitevale Baths end wall mural that will never be seen again, and is probably lost.

Whitevale Baths end wall mural

Whitevale Baths end wall mural

Be nice to know something about it, if anybody knows anything.

As noted above, I couldn’t find anything online when I had a look, neither any story or record behind it, or any other pics.

17/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , | Leave a comment

Notre Dame in flames

I wonder how long it will take a certain clique to try blaming the board of the Glasgow School of Art for causing this?

Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral continued to burn Monday night, out of control. By 2:10 PM ET the building’s iconic spire was entirely consumed in the conflagration; the entire roof had collapsed by the time firefighters finally appeared on live video coverage.

A spokesman from the church said the entire wooden interior of the more-than-800-year-old cathedral is burning and likely to be destroyed. No injuries have been reported. The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into the Notre Dame fire, CNN reports.

Paris’s deputy mayor has described the damage to the cathedral as “colossal” and that efforts were underway to save some of the art and artifacts inside. French authorities say the fire is “potentially linked” to the $6.8 million renovation project that had been under way on the church’s 2,400-foot high spire, which no longer exists.

Bear in mind we have now lost a number of historic buildings and collections to fire in only a few months.

I wonder if anyone is thinking of looking for a connection?

Seems the Orange Moron tried to make himself appear helpful by suggesting water bombing the blaze as a speedy way to extinguish it.

Fortunately, those who have brains realise that dropping tonnes of water on a building is a pretty good way to guarantee its destruction.

15/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

What does your cat REALLY do when it goes out?

Not new, but when I was pointed at this and checked the source (for better quality) I was disappointed to see it had evaporated.

So, as this is too good to miss, this lesser quality bit will just have to do.

09/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Lost computer games

Classic, lost, computer games the world has probably spent far too much time trying to beat/play.

As usual, the problem with WordPress is that it doesn’t allow any imgur galleries to be embedded, and since the whole point of these gems is visual, I’ve had to grab them.

The huge original images really are very good, with more detail than these small grabs reveal.

The originals can be found here:

Lost Computer Games

Lost Computer Games

04/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

1980s Garfield phone mystery solved

Have to give this story a quick mention because, Garfield!

The eyes on these phones were a touch of genius.

A French coastal community has finally cracked the mystery behind the Garfield telephones that have plagued its picturesque beaches for decades.

Since the 1980s, the Iroise coast in Brittany has received a supply of bright orange landline novelty phones shaped like the famous cartoon cat.

Anti-litter campaigners have been collecting fragments of the feline for years as they clean the beaches.

But now, the source of the problem has been found – a lost shipping container.

Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years

Wedged in a secluded sea cave accessible only at low tide, it looks as the Garfield phones will be turning up for years to come, as nobody seems to know how many are left in the container.

Garfield Phone Parts

Garfield Phone Parts

29/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | | Leave a comment

My accountant’s office was torched

Reportedly, “Police are treating the blaze as deliberate“.

I saw this being reported at the time, but the first reports didn’t give the name of the business, and the media pics weren’t clear enough to show where the fairly fierce fire was, with some 20 firefighter said to have attended. Simpson’s came to mind, but I couldn’t tell, and only confirmed this when I saw a later story.

Accountants office goes up in flames in deliberate fire

I had to wander along for a look and few pics.

This is pretty sad, there can’t be anything left inside as accountants live off paper, and this building was packed with the stuff.

Simpson Fire 02

Simpson Fire

Ignore the green barriers. They are unrelated to the fire and belong to fibre laying operations in the road.

While I’ve nothing that needs the attentions of an accountant these days, I did consult them some years ago, and even started a little data management program for them (but never finished).

I always liked the building, obviously once a residence but, for as long as I can remember was occupied by this accountant’s business.

It was one of the few early buildings that survived here. Much of the land behind was occupied by the Tollcross Tube Works, closed and razed years ago, with only the offices that once stood at the entrance still surviving, as a row of shops. Most of the nearby land became a housing development.

He (Mr Simpson) must have retired some years ago, as it’s ages since I’ve seen his car there (with its distinctive registration), but we did meet in his office, the room on the left, which retained the original features of the house  – the rest of the place had been converted into office space for the staff, and storage for the files and paperwork.

The attic space had been converted too, and I spent some time working on a computer behind that small arched window that can just about still be seen above the front door.

I wonder if any MPs will try to blame this on the board of the Glasgow School of Art, as they progress with their ‘witch hunt’ and blame game?

I’ve no idea what sort of backups they had, but it’s pretty obvious that this blaze was fierce enough to destroy both paper records and computer records – lending credence to the advice to store backups off site (or in a decent fire safe), in readiness for such an event as this.

Some more views of the aftermath.


26/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

So, that’s what became of the Clydebuilt Museum building

Since I happened to end up in the Braehead shopping centre yesterday, I had to wander along to see what had become of the former Clydebuilt museum building.

I did manage to visit the museum a few times, and it was quite good.

Oh dear.

Capital Shopping Centres, which owned Braehead then, withdrew the museum’s funding in 2010, making one full-time and three part-time members of staff redundant – most of the exhibits were said to have gone to a museum in Irvine. The withdrawal of funding from the museum trust was blamed on a general economic downturn at the time.

The building was a gift to the museum when it opened, and the money from Capital covered wages and general running costs, which would clearly have been in the order of tens of thousands over the years. The Clydebuilt Museum opened in September 1999 and had attracted about 15,000 visitors each year.

Now, it’s a glorified doughnut hut.

Former Clydebuilt Museum building

Former Clydebuilt Museum building

23/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Who stole Queen Street’s CityTree?

Where did the CityTree that was once installed in Queen Street, outside the Gallery of Modern Art, go?

I’m reasonably sure it was there a few weeks ago, when I last passed this way, as the empty space was the first thing I noticed when I passed recently.

Queen Street Mising GoMA CittyTree

Queen Street Missing GoMA CityTree

I did notice what I thought was another one, when I had to wander around Buchanan Bus Station a little while ago, sitting in Killermont Street.

How the above USED to look.

GoMA CityTree

GoMA CityTree


Checking the history of the Glasgow CityTree(s), it seems their time was up in December 2018, so my first thought about the disappearance (somebody pinched the things for their garden) was premature.

Glasgow has invested in (June 2017) two CityTrees, these have been installed on Royal Exchange Square and Killermont Street and will remain in place until Dec 2018.

Pity I didn’t even think to grab a pic of the one at the bus station when I came across the thing some weeks ago.

Now, it’s gone.

Buchanan Street Bus Station Entrance

Buchanan Street Bus Station entrance area

Am I the only one that think this shows up the Green Loonies?

Where were they, when these CityTrees were removed?

They should have been forming a human barrier around them, super glued together, with their arms chained and in tubes to prevent contractors from getting near to remove these valuable ‘air purifiers’.

They should have a had a mob of protesters around them too, with signs declaring how many Glaswegians would die from the massively increased air pollution that the uncaring council’s murderous an irresponsible removal of these CityTrees would cause. Maybe even a few mock coffins scattered around too, just for effect.

AH! No publicity, which is all loony activists are really after.

21/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

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