Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

AA Battery Blantyreferme – a quick (re)visit

Fortunate not to have been lost (like some) to redevelopment of the land, or some other major change, the Blantyreferme AA Battery was one that was handy for a visit some years ago, and also revisited by other who were kind enough to offer us their observations from visits made in later years.

You can read the notes made in those previous years here, in our main site.

It’s interesting to note that although our data was taken from public records, none of them seem to have referred to the name given to the restoration, The Whins Site. The alternatives in the records were Blantyre Ferme, Blantyre, or Uddingston.

AA Battery Blantyreferme

I suggest referring to this page while looking at the newer info.

Although I refer to ‘restoration’, be aware this refers only to the current remains, which have been cleaned up and made safe, and does not imply the battery has been restored to its wartime condition.

In fact, the battery site now lies within Redlees Park, a recent development dating from 2008, extended in 2012 to feature the remains as part of the park.

Signs posted at the entrances to the park show the area, and the location of the battery within the park.

Click for bigger – sorry for the reflections, but a protective sheet over the sign makes it hard to avoid.

Redlees Park Layout

Redlees Park Layout

Rather than waffling on, these signs from the restored site give an indication of the site’s structure.

They’re a bit grotty, but the originals are mounted at an angle for visitors to read, so I’ve had to edit them to correct for some hefty perspective distortion resulting from angle they were photographed at.

Click for slightly bigger.

The Whins Anti Aircraft Site

The Whins Anti Aircraft Site

 

The Whins Anti Aircraft Battery

The Whins Anti Aircraft Battery

 

The Whins Fixed Gun Emplacements

The Whins Fixed Gun Emplacements

The first sign is mounted on a viewing platform that overlooks the whole site, as seen in this stitched view.

Click to enlarge this view.

AA Battery stitch

AA Battery stitch

The original battery perimeter fence and gate remain largely intact.

While the original visits showed the local scum was smashing the battery’s remains for fun, they’ve decided to carry on vandalising it with slightly less destructive painting to decorate it to their taste, as seen from the nearby hill.

Battery Gate Entrance

Battery Gate Entrance

As seen from ground level.

AA Battery Site Entrance

AA Battery Site Entrance

There were a number of Tank Traps scattered around the area, and one has been made into a feature, in front of the main magazine building, and workshop to the right.

These traps were simply made, by pouring concrete into cylinder formed by some corrugated iron sheeting bent into circle.

The magazine building is covered with disgusting painted vandalism, which I’ve painted out as I will not give a public showing for the scum to point at say ‘I did that’.

Magazine Workshop Tank Trap

Magazine Workshop Tank Trap

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October 2, 2018 Posted by | military, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

Charles Frank 67 Saltmarket

I wrote a post a while ago, which seemed to get a bit of interest following the news that Maplin had folded, and was closing (everything).

That post had been about the earlier demise of electronics retailers in Glasgow, specifically RME in Stockwell Street.

Responses to those thoughts included mention of Charles Frank, an optical and scientific instrument maker who, together with his son Arthur, had shops in the city’s Saltmarket, and later, Ingram Street.

That venture came to an end in the 1970s, with the shops finally closing their doors for the last time in 1974.

In his time, Frank designed, sold, and repaired photographic and scientific apparatus from the Saltmarket premises, with Ingram Street being described as a more upmarket showroom for the sale of his scientific instruments.

While I was never aware of the Ingram Street venture, I was dragged along to his establishment in Saltmarket, which had become an outlet for various sort of surplus just before it closed. Seems it was fuelled by a flood of high quality ex-military optical and photographic equipment in the postwar years. Frank Ltd took advantage of this by buying at public auctions held by the military which had no use for the items, and then reselling them to the public.

I have (as a child at the time) some memories of the shop and stuff stacked in it. Some large reels of quarter-inch recording tape were bought, and maybe some assorted slide rules, but that’s all that stuck in my mind. I’d always imagined going there when I ‘Grew Up’ – but neither of those ever happened.

See the note at the end of this post – my useless memory had the wrong Saltmarket shop tagged as Frank’s.

I’m amazed at being so wrong for so long – when the dumb strikes, it strikes hard!

I just learnt of my mistake after noticing the ’30’ above its door – Frank’s shop was 67.

Time to start hunting for confirmation, and I did find this old B&W pic on a number of sites, credited to the Jewish Archive, but I couldn’t track down the original, they were all ‘re-use’.

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

That made the hunt a lot easier to complete, and we can see the same shop today.

It’s a slightly bigger image than usual, so you can click for bigger.

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

Intriguing changes – there are now FIVE assorted electrical/electronic control gear boxes planted on this short length of street; the low wall in St Andrews Street (on the left) has been considerably heightened; and the close entrance which sat in the middle of shop (to the right) has had its original width reduced, and is now considerably smaller than it used to be.

My mistake

As noted above, tiny memories are not always reliable memories, and I walked past a derelict Saltmarket shop for years, sadly thinking (wrongly) of it being the remains of Frank’s.

I always thought it was this one, just across from the long-established pet shop in Parnie Street.

(Just how long has that pet shop been there anyway?)

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

When this group of shops was ‘modernised’ some years ago, I was here regularly, and was sad to see a (presumably original) stained glass window above the door to number 30 was gone when the shutters came down to reveal the ‘improved’ premises. I’ve always wondered what happened to that panel, undamaged for as long I watched it. Skipped, or ‘liberated’ by some lucky builder or salvager?

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, military, photography, World War II | , , | 3 Comments

Russian mystery satellite? What mystery, it’s obvious

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following story, and the portrayal of the Russian satellite’s behaviour as ‘mysterious’.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

Mystery Russian satellite’s behaviour raises alarm in US

Surely the solution to this supposed ‘mystery’ is obvious, and our American friend need only look to the north of Scotland to learn why the Russian satellite is moving to an odd position.

It’s angling to keep an eye on the upcoming…

Scottish spaceport

The fantasy view (as a vertical launch facility for microsatellites, it won’t look anything remotely like this fanciful artist’s impression).

Think more along the lines of a portacabin and a lump of concrete.

UK Space Agency Spaceport

UK Space Agency Spaceport

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Scot directs new film about Polish flyers in World War II

Having Polish roots, I came to learn of the Poles part in World War II after Hitler overran the country at the start of his ‘land grab’, and how Scotland came to figure in the lives of many Poles.

Many troops were based in Scotland after being displaced, stationed on the east coast, where there was always the possibility of a Nazi invasion routed via occupied Norway. Much of the coast was formed into a ‘Stop line’ to delay such an enemy incursion, which would allow time for troop movements to the area. Those on a Stop Line were almost certain to lose their lives, were it ever activated.

But their main active contribution was the part they played in the RAF, where their reputation as determined flyers became legendary.

Unfortunately (and note the use of ‘English’ in this quote):

These men were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain yet in time-honoured English tradition, the majority of the population wanted them deported after the war – once they’d fulfilled their usefulness.

“Not unlike what we’re trying to do today with our catastrophic approach to immigration, the Windrush generation and so on.”

The source is a Scottish filmmaker has directed a new film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought alongside the RAF at the Battle of Britain in World War II.

Hurricane is Johnstone-born David Blair’s first war feature.

Starring Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame, the film is about fliers who fought Nazi Germany after escaping to Britain from occupied Poland.

Flying Hurricane fighters for the RAF, they became a key component in the story of The Few.

Blair, who now lives near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire, said that while making the film he was struck by the Poles’ self-sacrifice.

He said: “I knew there had been Poles – amongst others, from around the world – serving in the British armed forces during World War Two but that was about it.

“As I was growing up, there was little inclination in history lessons to point up the contribution made by ‘foreigners’ to our war effort.”

Directing Hurricane, Blair said he learned of the exploits of Poles and service personnel from other parts of the world in Britain’s war-time activities.

He said: “It’s one thing to fight for a cause in a far away land but to do so while all sorts of horrors are taking place back home – of which you have only scant information – made the story heart-breaking – but irresistible too.

“What was taking place in Poland no doubt acted as a spur and incentive for the men to keep going.”

Scot directs new film on WW2 Polish fighters

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Doughnut Day

01 June 2018 is Doughnut Day.

I’m afraid this is another of those ‘wandering’ days, as it falls on the first Friday of June.

Oh! See also Fish and Chip Day, which also falls on this day.

(Today is a VERY good day.)

The history of the doughnut isn’t definite, but it is known is that the holy (small ‘h’) appeared in the US during the mid-1800’s.

The story is that a chap named Hanson Gregory invented them as he hated the undercooked centre and greasiness of existing shapes and options, so he used a tin pepper box to punch out the centres, this allowing the remainder to cook evenly.

Sounds good to me.

I guess I’m pretty traditional, and my favourite doughnut is the plain type, sprinkled or coated with sugar – properly cooked through of course.

Just because it is CALLED a DOUGHnut does not mean it has to be served semi-raw, with half its insides uncooked.

It seems Doughnut Day is due, in part at least, to the efforts of a doctor (Morgan Pett) serving in the military during the first World War, and who wanted to brighten the day of the wounded soldiers he was treating (with a treat).

On his first day at work in a military base, he bought 8 dozen doughnuts and gave one to each soldier he worked on. After giving one to Lieutenant General Samuel Geary (who accepted it in good humour and appreciation for the doctors work, he decided to start a fundraiser, allowing the young doctor to continue to provide doughnuts to his patients.

He also began to work with the Salvation Army which, after a fact-finding mission, determined that the many needs of soldiers could be met by creating social centres to provide various amenities, including… doughnuts. The Salvation Army sent 250 volunteers to France to help put huts together for this purpose, and these soon became a mainstay of military life. On one record day, they recorded some 300 doughnuts and 700 cups of coffee being served. Due to the majority of the Salvation Army workers being female, they came to be known as “Doughnut Dollies.”

Doughnuts

Doughnuts

Those machines

I can’t let this one pass without a mention for the automatic doughnut making machine.

I’m not sure when these first appeared, but I was tiny.

They were a thing of joy to watch when on holiday, or having a day at the seaside.

The baker’s shop (and later snack shops and cafés on the front) put them in their shop windows (or beside the serving hatch if they were really small snack shops), and it was amazing to see the people crowd around the windows to watch the machines steadily churning out perfect doughnuts, and they were… perfect.

They cooked one side, then flipped them over mid-trip the delivery chute, and gave them time to drain properly too, so no greasy slops or soggy dough.

If you saw one of these machines running, you saw what you were getting.

Dipped in sugar, stuffed in a bag, and still warm when you bought them.

Update

If you REALLY like your doughnuts, you can get a bigger version of this machine.

Ladies and Gentlemen…

The Belshaw Mark 6 Robot Doughnut Machine.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | military, World War I | , | 2 Comments

James Keith Gorrie – ‘the nicest man in Glasgow’

There’s a lot of pics of items which can be found in Kelvingrove, but the vast majority are of the same subjects.

While I wouldn’t suggest there’s anything wrong with that, it is also true to say that there are many items I’ve never seen anyone take, or share, a picture of.

Case in point, the display pictured below.

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

March 17, 2018 Posted by | military, Naval, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

Unexploded bombs – an article worth a read

Bomb

Bomb

Unexploded bombs, here mainly referring to ordnance left over and undiscovered since the end of the World Wars, feature in the news for various reasons.

Here, they tend to feature as coastal or sea find, as many thousands of unused munitions were dumped some way off the Scottish coast, intended to be ‘lost’ in deep water and sea trenches – but sea currents are fickle things, with their own minds, so some of these reappear from time to time. And it has been noted that not all dumps were necessarily made accurately, so there’s bound to be material that didn’t go down as intended. It’s also been admitted that some dumps were made early, as the crews were less than comfortable sailing in boats loaded with explosives.

Thankfully, most of these are small, and possibly not viable, but that doesn’t mean they might not be, so should be avoided and reported if seen. Many also contain chemicals that can burn, so even touching them is a ‘Bad Idea’ if they are leaking, and being incendiary devices, even if they don’t explode, if they do go off when disturbed, can do a lot of damage to a person.

As described in the article though, only about 90% of the bombs dropped actually went off, meaning that the of the remainder, those that hit the ground hard, and were able to bury themselves, went deep, and are generally only found when deep foundations are being dug for new buildings.

Small ones are dangerous of course, but nowhere near as dangerous as the largest, which can lead to the evacuation of large areas while they are dealt with.

The MoD told BBC Reality Check that around 10% of the bombs dropped over the UK during World War Two did not explode.

The typical German World War Two bomb was either 50kg or 250kg.

Larger bombs (500kg or 1,000kg) become more frequent towards the end of the war.

London City Airport is the site of the fourth 500kg bomb the MoD has dealt with in the last 15 months.

The others were: Bath (May 2016), Portsmouth (September 2016) and London (March 2017).

Via Unexploded bombs: How common are they?

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Lost, military, World War I, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Kentigern House – too far for many pics

I wonder if anyone ever notices Kentigern House on Argyle Street?

Not many, at least that’s my impression based on how many times I have come across snaps compared to other buildings.

Maybe just too far along from the city centre for most wanderers to reach.

Apparently I will go to ‘The Big Fire’ for even daring to suggest I like it. The local ‘architectural fashion police’ seem to think its horrible.

I guess I’m doubly doomed, since it’s a Ministry of Defence building (MoD), I’ll probably be ‘disappeared’ for taking pics.

I’m not really interested in the politics, but I recall reading it was supposed to see up to 6,000 jobs transferred here in the mid-1980s, probably as one of those plans forced on organisations by those who like to see jobs shared out for no good reason other than they think so. In the end, it seems less than 1,500 jobs came out of the move.

More interesting, there’s a sculpture mounted on one of the walls, just visible left of centre in the first pic below. This is based on the city’s coat of arms, in memory of St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo.

I really must remember to wander closer (or get a longer lens and avoid MoD security staff) and get a proper pic one day.

Kentigern House Brown Street

Kentigern House Brown Street

 

Kentigern House Argyle Street

Kentigern House Argyle Street

Sculpture

Purely out of curiosity, I thought I’d play with a clip of the sculpture, not too bad after a little editing magic, but I can’t really do anything quickly with a flagpole.

I really will have to get along there one day.

Kentigern House Sculpture

Kentigern House Sculpture

February 5, 2018 Posted by | military, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The Doomsday Clock is now at 2 minutes to midnight

It’s some years since I started watching The Doomsday Clock, and it was a little known finger on the pulse of how close we were to the ‘End of the World’.

It’s come to be better known today, so I seldom think about mentioning it, but since it has gone from moving slowly backwards and further from midnight, the past few years have been increasingly depressing, and far from the 17 minutes to midnight we once ‘enjoyed’, as per the title the clock has now advanced to be a mere 2 minutes from midnight.

I wonder how much of this advance is down to the ‘Orange Moron’?

See The Doomsday Clock Timeline

Doomsday Clock Summary

Doomsday Clock Summary

Via Doomsday Clock moved to just 2min to ‘apocalypse’

Who would have thought…

Having lived through the Cold War – anyone would be thinking it would be nice to be back in those days?

Seriously, at least we didn’t have two clearly mentally unstable nut jobs in control of nuclear weapons (and one who has no understanding of climate change and is actively thwarting attempts to reign it in), while another superpower leader is effectively sitting on the sidelines, and would appear to be happy to let the idiots fight it out, and wait to just step in and take over as neither would be able to offer any effective resistance.

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military | | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Will baby SCROTUS throw a tantrum if his toys are taken away?

As an outside observer, I’m amazed (or am I?) that the people of the US have allowed this orange moron to stay in power for so long, and make them look so stupid.

From the days of the Cold War, I had gained the impression the President of the United States had the authority to launch a nuclear strike without asking anybody, or having to seek approval.

Sadly, it seems my impression was correct, and ‘The Button’ is his to press if he so wishes.

I think I felt safer during the Cold War, when we had people like Stanislov Petrov looking after us.

One can only hope that those who might receive the order today, and actually have to initiate the final launch from the silos, have some sense of responsibility, and are not mindless automatons, despite their training and commitment. Or, consider the reality of a ‘Legal Order’ (see Update below).

See These Women Are the Last Thing Standing Between You and Nuclear War

For the first time in over 40 years, Congress has examined a US president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was titled Authority to Order the Use of Nuclear Weapons.

Some senators expressed concern that the president might irresponsibly order a nuclear strike; others said he must have the authority to act without meddling from lawyers.

The last time Congress debated this issue was in March 1976.

In August, Mr Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea if it continued to expand its atomic weapons programme.

Last month, the Senate committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Bob Corker, accused the president of setting the US “on a path to World War 3”.

Via Senate committee questions Trump nuclear authority

Big Poopy Baby

Big Poopy Baby

Update

There was an interesting article that appeared AFTER I noted this: US nuclear chief would resist ‘illegal’ presidential strike order

The top nuclear commander in the US says he would resist any “illegal” presidential order to launch a strike.

Air Force Gen John Hyten, said as head of the US Strategic Command he provided advice to a president and expected that a legal alternative would be found.

His comments come just days after US senators discussed a president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

Some of them expressed concern that President Donald Trump might irresponsibly order such a strike.

Others though said a president must have the authority to act without meddling from lawyers. It was the first such hearing in more than 40 years.

While Senators and expert witnesses agree the president has full authority to defend the nation, commentators have pointed out that because there is no all-encompassing definition of “imminent attack”, the president is not given an entirely free hand.

“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,” Gen Hyten said.

“And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say: ‘Mr President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.

“It’s not that complicated,” Gen Hyten added.

He added: “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

President Trump has not publicly commented on Gen Hyten’s remarks.

He’s probably waiting for somebody to draw them for him, in pictures.

Coincidence!

I featured Baby Poopy Trump on:

World Toilet Day

ROFL

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , | Leave a comment

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