Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Surprise? The Italian Job coach died in Scotland

We can only wonder at what it might have been worth if it had not been scrapped.

At a time when a rare and original James Bond Aston Martin DB5 is about to go to auction (used by Eon Productions to promote 1965 film Thunderball) and is expected to raise anything up to £5 million (and ‘ordinary’ example might make at least £750,000 at the moment), it seems the coach which was seen hanging precariously over a cliff edge at the end of The Italian Job had an interesting life afterwards, but was lost (scrapped) before film memorabilia ‘investment’ could save it.

“After that, like all movies, you sell off assets that you don’t need anymore and this coach went back to being a passenger vehicle. Up until 1979 that’s what it did and it ended up in Anstruther.”

The coach was used by the Craw’s Nest Hotel, run by the family of radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman, and was driven by her grandfather.

After being converted back into a passenger vehicle, the bus operated in Blackpool, Liverpool and later Kirriemuir in Perthshire where it was used by local firm Meffan for school runs. It was later bought by racing driver Archie Cromar, in Anstruther, and converted — like in the film — into a transporter for his Formula Ford racing car.

The bus had another two owners before it was scrapped by Burnside Motors in Leven around 1990.

Cliffhanger coach from The Italian Job ends its days in Fife

Oops, somebody missed a chance there.

Since the article quoted used the inevitable ‘cliffhanger’ shot, I’ll go with a nice pic of the coach.

Find more views of this lost star in the source.

Italian Job Bedford VAL 14

Italian Job Bedford VAL 14

This story’s not really that unusual for vehicles used in, or produced for, TV and films of the time.

They were often impractical, if not almost undrivable due to the odd styling and modifications carried out, or damage inflicted during shooting.

Many specials were lost over the years, as can be seen in this feature on Straker’s car from Gerry Anderson’s TV series UFO.


16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Transport | , , | 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

There goes Helenvale Sports Complex

While it may have been closed and abandoned years ago, Helenvale Sports Complex lay as a derelict until recently.

Recent news of approval to demolish the place and develop the ground as flats has quickly turned into reality, and what had been left is now nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Parkhead Library still stands on the corner, to the left of the site.

Glasgow Parkhead Helenvale Sports Complex gone

Glasgow Parkhead Helenvale Sports Complex gone

They split the buildings about a week ago.

Helenvale Sports Complex Library Split

Helenvale Sports Complex Library Split

Last look at the remains and entrance before they go.

Helenvale Sports Complex Last Look

Helenvale Sports Complex Last Look

14/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, 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

There’s a surprise (said nobody) as The Buteman ceases publication

The Buteman, founded in 1854, will publish its final edition on 21 June 2019.

The opening para of the article probably says enough:

A weekly newspaper that has been serving an island community for 165 years is to close after a fall in readership.

The Buteman will publish its final edition later this month after its circulation dropped to below 550.

Owners JPI Media confirmed the closure of the paper but did not make any further comment.

It is understood the decision will be explained to readers in next week’s edition.

No jobs will be lost as a result of The Buteman’s closure.

Its sole reporter and its editor are both based in Edinburgh where they work for other titles in the group.

The weekly, which was first published in December 1854, had recently launched a plea for readers to help fill its pages with “local stories”.

The Buteman weekly newspaper to close after 165 years

I’m not sure when the paper was taken over, but the most notable point to me (as a mere visitor to Bute) was the closure of the local office, confirmed in the line “Its sole reporter and its editor are both based in Edinburgh where they work for other titles in the group.”

It was probably hard enough keeping the paper going when it was owned and run locally.

Taking it out of context and turning into a part-time job was probably the death stroke.

I have to confess to always being on the ferry home when I remembered I’d forgotten to buy a copy while I was on the island – except on one rare occasion. That copy will be a collector’s gem now, and is quite old, so will have just jumped up in value!

I used to read the online version.

Until it was taken over by JPI, after which it completely lost its identity.

Previously, I could find local stories and archived material on the original Buteman web site.

Once it had been taken over that site was purged and the information lost, and The Buteman just became a clone of all the other titles in the group.

It didn’t even retain a unique identity.

A few headline stories from Bute would head the list of articles, then they just ran on into stories from the rest of the UK with no apparent differentiation.

I just gave up and stopped even looking.

I was slightly amazed that it ultimately lasted as long as it did after the takeover.

If the new owners had dumped it after a few months, I would not have been even a little surprised.

Intriguing to see the BBC and STV don’t quite agree on how long The Buteman was published – 1854 to to 2019 is (I’ll let you do that one).

The Buteman newspaper to shut down after 164 years

Wonder if anyone got this job advertised back in 2017?

Buteman reporter wanted 2017

Buteman reporter wanted 2017

I wonder if it would still be going to be around had it not been part of the earlier takeovers?

Could it have been kept going if it had stayed small and local?

I always worry when little businesses become part of bigger businesses (as opposed to growing naturally, or accepting that their size is their size, and just getting on with what they have).

05/06/2019 Posted by | Lost | | 1 Comment

The atomic secret of Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi is unfortunately being featuring in the news at the moment…

Nanda Devi: Hopes fading for eight missing climbers

But there was a time when the location was relatively unknown, yet was the subject of a story that would have probably have made even more headlines back around 1965 than it is making today.

NEW DELHI: Even as the world celebrated the golden jubilee of the human conquest of Mount Everest, a legendary Indian mountaineer and a CIA expert have come out with an authoritative chronology of how nuclear devices were planted atop high Himalayan peaks to monitor Chinese nuclear tests in the 1960s.

In an explosive book ”Spies in the Himalayas”, the mountaineer, Capt Mohan Singh Kohli, who had led these expeditions to Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and other summits between 1965 and 1968, and CIA expert Kenneth Conboy chronicle the planting of nuclear-powered monitoring devices by the CIA with the help of intrepid climbers from India and the US.

That was the time when there were no satellites to monitor such developments from the sky.

One of the devices, which could not be planted atop Nanda Devi summit due to bad weather and was left cached on the mountain for the next expedition, went missing.

This caused serious concern about possible radioactive contamination of the environment and, in particular, the River Ganges.

Repeated searches could not retrieve the device which still remains missing, the book, published by Harper Collins, and said, adding that tests done subsequently at different spots indicated there was no cause for alarm.

The highly sophisticated and top-secret mission was kept under wraps for 38 long years, barring a “partial and inaccurate leak” made to a US magazine in 1978, which rocked the Indian Parliament at that time.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then Foreign Minister, declared in London on April 30, 1978, India would recover the nuclear device. To pacify agitated MPs, Vajpayee also made statements in Parliament.

A high-powered committee of scientists, including Dr Atma Ram, H N Sethna, M G K Menon, Raja Ramanna and Dr Saha, was set up to study and assess the risk of the missing device on Nanda Devi, the book said.

While CIA refused to comment on the news, US Congressmen asked then President Jimmy Carter to conduct an investigation.

Kohli also participated in the famous sailing expedition ”Ocean to Sky” in 1977 on the Ganga against the currents. The expedition, led by Sir

Edmund Hillary, was among other things reportedly intended to monitor radioactive contamination on the river as a fallout of the missing nuclear device atop Nanda Devi.

The book also mentions several interesting developments in that period, relating to these expeditions and the plans to install the nuclear monitoring devices.

These included unauthorised climbing of Nanda Devi twice, capture of an Indian Special Frontier Force commando by the Chinese in Tibet, the appearance of an American spy plane U-2 in India on a secret mission, use of the world famous Huskie aircraft for high altitude search up to 22,500 feet and Kohli”s seven close brushes with death.

The legendary Indian mountaineer, along with co-author Conboy, also recalls the involvement of leading intelligence officials, nuclear scientists and dare devil pilots of US and India and the CIA experts who participated in this unusual expedition.

CIA nuclear device atop Himalayas

Another article from the same source…

NEW DELHI: Soon after China detonated its first atom bomb in 1964, CIA tried to plant a nuclear-powered surveillance device atop Nanda Devi to spy on the communist nation.

Though the secret mission failed and the device was lost there, it created ripples in the Indian establishment 12 years later.

The espionage mission remained top secret till April 1978 when a news report published in a US magazine “Outside” claimed that the US intelligence agency had sent a team to set up a remote sensing device atop 25,645-foot mountain in the Himalayas in 1965.

But bad weather halted them 2,000-feet short of the summit and forced them to abandon the 125-pound device containing plutonium 238 that can remain radioactive for about 500 years. When the team returned to the site a year later, the device could not be located.

After a short-term “feckless effort”, the US government gave up its search for the device. Instead, the CIA covertly placed a second snap generator on another mountain, Nanda Kot, in 1967. After serving the agency’s purposes, it was also abandoned a year later, the report had claimed.

The revelations sparked a huge uproar in the country and even forced then foreign minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to say the episode might damage the “recently improving” ties between the two countries, according to recently declassified external affairs ministry documents.

The documents, available with National Archives, show how the Indian embassies abroad, especially in the US, had become active and kept on sending notes explaining how the issue was being played up by the media there.

At the time of this discloser, foreign ministry officials here were apparently unaware of the fact that the Nanda Devi mission was actually a joint collaboration between India and the US, according to the declassified documents.

CIA tried to plant surveillance device atop Nanda Devi

I’ve gone with somewhat longer than usual quotes from the source since I note that nearly all the other accounts I have bookmarked since coming across this story about 10 or so years ago have largely evaporated from the net.

Nanda Devi uncredited image

Nanda Devi uncredited image

The image came this info:

In addition to being the 23rd highest independent peak in the world, Nanda Devi is also notable for its large, steep rise above local terrain. It rises over 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) above its immediate southwestern base on the Dakkhni Nanda Devi Glacier in about 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi), and its rise above the glaciers to the north is similar. This makes it among the steepest peaks in the world at this scale, closely comparable, for example, to the local profile of K2. Nanda Devi is also impressive when considering terrain that is a bit further away, as it is surrounded by relatively deep valleys. For example, it rises over 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) above the valley of the Ghoriganga in only 50 km (30 mi).

No wonder they thought of installing a surveillance device powered by similar technology to a space probe there!

The only surprising aspect I note is placing something in that environment, and expecting it to stay there.

I’ve also seen other stories claiming contamination (but none with real evidence), which seems rather unlikely given the construction of such devices. But then again, this was ‘new’ technology in those days, so it’s reasonable to assume the hardware may not have been built in the robust manner seen today.

It may even have just been cobbled together.

I wonder if it might have been copied from a Soviet design?

The Russians were always less squeamish about using nuclear power for remote applications, and used nuclear generators to power remote lighthouses, and have nuclear-powered ice breakers sailing in freezing waters to this day.

02/06/2019 Posted by | Cold War, Lost, Surveillance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

So, others remember Victor Morris too

I recently threw some thoughts and recollections into a post, after seeing the third Victor Morris shop had closed, bing the empire to a final end.

I don’t think anyone has covered the original shop in Glassford Street, at its corner with Trongate, and I only remember it in passing, never having been in it.

I was, for want of a better description ‘Not around Glasgow much’ when the second shop eventually closed, although I was a fairly frequent visitor (did I mention adding a Minox ‘spy’ camera bought there to my collection?).

Coincidentally, I passed the site of the third shop, and grabbed a pic of the remains of the sign sticking out from the wall.

Did the word ‘SPORTS’ just come off by itself, due to old age, or was it deliberately removed after they stopped selling related goodies?

Victor Morris sign

Victor Morris sign

I wonder if I inspired this article, or if its appearance is just (another) coincidence?

Remembering the Glasgow pawnshop institution that was Victor Morris

I never thought of it as a pawnshop though.

Secondhand dealer yes, but doesn’t pawnshop entail putting stuff up as collateral against a loan?

That means you raise money against an item, then reclaim it by repaying the loan plus any interest.

All I ever came across there was buying and selling of items.

I thought…

The core of a pawn shop’s business is making collateral loans. Loan periods vary, but 30 days is typical. When you pawn the item, you’ll get a ticket with details of the object and the transaction terms. You’ll need to hang onto that ticket to reclaim the item. The pawn shop has to secure the collateral, and can’t sell it as long as the loan is outstanding. The shops can sell unclaimed items. You can also sell items to the pawn shop if you prefer.

Well, I certainly can’t pop in and ask my occasional ‘mate’ there now.

The thing I really wonder about is where all the gear that filled the second shop (as seen in the article referenced) is, or went.

The place was crammed with stuff, especially disco/DJ gear and even some pretty nice hi-fi.

I haven’t come across any other places with this gear pouring off their shelves, and as for the online sources… none of them seem to have the same stuff (it’s all generally newer), so where is it? Dumped in the nearest skip?

24/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Just one more Grumpy

Just ONE more.

Apologies for the truly atrocious spelling error made by the originator of this tribute – but it’s the thought that counts.

However, I did feel the need to make one small alteration, as Grumpy was a Lady, and wouldn’t have used language like that 😉

Grumpy Better Place

Grumpy Better Place

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | | Leave a comment

Nardini update (Byres Road)

Not sure if ‘update’ is the right word, but it will have to do after I passed Nardini’s defunct Byres Road venue.

Since I’d never seen the place before that chance spotting, I had a slightly closer look when I was in the area again, and remembered.

It was hard to avoid the reflections on the glass, and see anything, let alone take a pic through the glass.

I didn’t even know what I had until I saw the pic, and found the place had been largely stripped of anything that could be moved, leaving only the fixed part of the servery – the counter had gone, as had whatever seating and tables might have been there.

I didn’t realise there was a rather nice Art Deco mural on the back wall – it was just a blur in the background as I looked inside.

Byres Road Ex-Nardini InteriorByres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Byres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Not ideal, but I tried cropping and enlarging the mural…

Nardini mural

Nardini mural

And what was left of the similarly styled servery…

Nardini servery

Nardini servery

And, of course, since it was added the day AFTER I took the first pic, a look at the sign warning anyone trying to access the place after its closure was confirmed.

Nardini repossesion sign

Nardini repossession sign

Since I had to do a short course on law, I always seem to start analysing such signs for legitimacy, and whether the folk who make them had a clue about the law and what they assert.

In this case, I found myself wondering about what law might be used to make the mere opening of a door illegal.

At least they didn’t make the mistake of referring to trespass.

Scotland DOES have trespass laws (it seems to be a VERY long time since I’ve heard anyone make the bold, but just plain wrong, claim that “There’s no law of trespass in Scotland”), but they’re a little different from the English version. Ours is a little harder to break.


20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

World’s slowest shopfitting

I’m not sure how long ago I got a ‘Hat Tip’ about a new cafe opening in Shettleston, but it was so long ago I was sure I’d missed it after I had to change my route and didn’t pass the spot for weeks/months after being alerted.

I was wrong, and even thought the tip was a dead one, since there was no work evident on the empty unit when I did eventually get back.

But that was wrong too, and I eventually spotted work had started, but seemed to be going very slowly, and again I thought it had died.

Then I passed a few weeks ago, and spotted doors and windows had appeared, together with posters in the windows promising an opening.

That was a couple of months ago. While it’s still not open, work continues as seen in occasional passes, although I’m not passing this way at the moment, so if it suddenly opens, I’ll probably miss it, although work was still in progress when I did pass recently.

The weather was pretty poor the day I was there for some pics, which had to be taken from some distance (due to the road layout), and the poor camera couldn’t cope with the demand, so they’re pretty bad, but at least readable.

At least the slow progress means it should be bright and sunny when I do get opening pics, and they’ll look better (unless we reach autumn by then).

Gia's Italian Cafe

Gia’s Italian Cafe

Poster detail from windows.

Cafe Gia posters

Cafe Gia posters

As an aside, I notice another cafe managed to open and start trading while this one is being prepared.

I only caught it while travelling past, and noted it had opened in one of my favourite shops in Shettleston Road, where I guess the ladies that ran it finally retired. At the same time, I noticed a traditional clothes shop had also gone, presumably as the elderly ladies that ran it also retired.

Both original shops have gone, and I don’t have pics of them.

Learn the lesson that if you think something might disappear, and it should have been obvious these would eventually disappear unless someone took them over, and that was probably unlikely as both were based on layouts that ‘ smart young people’ would have considered obsolete and of no interest… grab a pic or two, just to be safe.

When it’s gone, it’s gone – and you can’t take pics of something that’s not there!

On a positive note, Google’s Street View and timeline mean such thing are no longer total losses when they do vanish without warning,

18/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today IS a sad day, and I AM grumpy

Every now and then I get a reminder of why I don’t like looking at the news each evening 😦

Still a sad day, even if I knew she had health issues, and I wondered how long Grumpy Cat would be with us.

Thanks for the smiles you brought.

Not Always Grumpy

Not Always Grumpy

Grumpy Cat, the feline famous on the internet for her permanent scowl, has died aged seven, her owners say.

A statement says she died on Tuesday following complications from a recent urinary tract infection.

The cat from Arizona had “helped millions of people smile”.

Grumpy, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, went viral in 2012 after photographs of her sour expression emerged online. Her image quickly spread as a meme.

Grumpy Cat internet legend dies

17/05/2019 Posted by | Lost | | Leave a comment

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