Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Many surprises from the Glasgow Eye Infirmary

A few years ago I decided to try to find the site of the original Glasgow Eye Infirmary.

As a tiny, I’d spent more time in there than I would have wanted to, and all to no avail.

I was small enough then to be more worried about having my eye popped out and left dangling down the front of my face than anything that might actually have happened to me. As it was, the worst was just having drops to dilate my pupils.

It was a slightly strange and surreal place to visit, with most kept in semi-darkness, to make sure those dilated pupils stayed dilated as you moved between consulting rooms, which were usually even darker.

After repeated tests, sessions of “Read this”, look at that, and people staring in my eye (only one was an issue) the end result, after months/years, was… nothing. Well, nothing apart from being sent for glasses (and they never did pop my eye out).

When I had a quick look online for its address (some years ago), I was informed that it had closed. There was also some confusion – the address attended was Berkley Street (which runs behind the building) and not Sandyford Place, where the main/front entrance lies. Assuming I was right about that, I’m guessing this was an outpatient entrance, intended to avoid the main entrance. (See more info below, about a fire in 1971, found later).

The buildings began as a domestic terrace (built 1842-1856), and the infirmary began buying the houses there in 1928, establishing an outpatients department and nurses’ home.

This information comes from a number of sources:

The infirmary was founded in 1824. In 1874 it moved into purpose built accommodation in the West End of Glasgow at Berkeley St which, by the late 1880s, had over 100 beds. The infirmary continued to run an outpatients department in the East End. In 1945 the Spencer Research Committee was formed with capital of over £12,000, to oversee research within the infirmary. In 1971 the entire in-patient accommodation at Berkeley St was destroyed by fire, Notably, an outpatients department continued there. From 1948 to 1974 the Glasgow Eye Infirmary fell under the Board of Management for Glasgow Western (later Western and Gartnavel) hospitals. In 1974 it was placed in the Western District of the Greater Glasgow Health Board, and in 1993 it became the responsibility of the West Glasgow University NHS Trust. In 1998 the functions of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary were re-located to Gartnavel General Hospital.

Looks like I eventually found the reason for the apparent address confusion, and why it only exists at Sandyford Place now.

The info I was given a some years ago turned out to be poor, and suggestions that it was closed and demolished were even further out.


I discovered the place a few days ago, completely by accident, while waiting for the lights to change at the junction of North Claremont Street and Sauchiehall Street. Glancing over to my left (where Sandyford Place begins and runs parallel to Sauchiehall Street) I saw what looked like (and of course was) the porch over the entrance to the infirmary.

Not only that, when I made my way over for a closer look there was no mistake. The building I had been given to understand was gone was not only still standing, but still had its name picked out in a huge mosaic panel mounted at the top of its facade.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

While this was evening (getting dark), and the camera I had was not intended for detail, you can still see this closer view shows it is a mosaic, and is also, unfortunately, decaying.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

The building facade.

Click for bigger.

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

I’m reasonably sure that the entrance porch originally had ‘GLASGOW EYE INFIRMARY’ along its edge, but can’t verify that.

I thought it still had this lettering, but when I got closer was disappointed to see that this was nothing more the edge of the porch covering, which had been folded over to finish it off.

One side view, spoilt by a car I couldn’t wait until it left.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Better luck on the other, blotted out by a car and van when I arrived, both left at the same time, leaving the view clear.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

I can’t be sure, but on the other hand, doubt if anyone is making a light fitting like this today, but the single light on the underside of the porch looks very much as if it has survived since it was installed when the porch was installed.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Fun fact

One amusing discovery I made while looking for historic detail on this building past was that the online directories which have no human intervention or checking still list this address as ‘Glasgow Eye Infirmary’ and give its opening hours.

Good luck to anyone who trusts these useless directories, which I generally see as little more than scams to collect money for equally useless click-based or similar revenue harvesters

This is now what was referred to as a VD Clinic, an STD Clinic, but now goes under the heading of a Sexual Health Centre.


So, I had to be a tad careful when taking pics of the entrance, as people were coming and going, and I didn’t relish the idea of being thought to be photographing someone who didn’t want to be seen pictured in the doorway of such a place.

As it was, the most amusing thing was the traffic consisted mainly of people who looked just like the sort you’d expect to be seen at such a place, and not the plain, ordinary, boring people.


Dec 4, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hill House will not be the only house ‘under glass’

I’ve already written a few posts about plans to save Mackntosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh from further decay thanks to Scotland’s assorted weather extremes, by enclosing it in a transparent box. This will prevent the rain getting at it, but allow the air to pass around it to help dry it out, and stop the water trapped by the materials from causing further damage, then allow rectification.

However, the idea of enclosing a house in this way is not, it seems, entirely new.

After losing touch with the excellent Atlas Obscura web site, I recently managed to get the link working again, and set up to deliver itself to me regularly. I’m amazed at how it keeps getting (so many) interesting places added, and the fact that Scotland appears rather more often than I would have expected. Beware! This is a web site you can lose a lot of time looking at, if you let yourself be diverted.

Almost as soon as I got back to it, the house of a former Argentinian president (Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Argentina’s seventh president) popped up, because it stands protected within a large glass case. Sound familiar?

Sarmiento lived with his family in this house after his tenure as president, from 1855 until he died in 1888. He chose a quiet abode in Tigre, a city within the delta around the La Plata River. Trees he planted still stand around the property, and the house still holds some of its original furniture. The building, which became a National Historic Monument in 1966, now functions as a museum.

Sarmiento House – Tigre Partido, Argentina

Sarmiento House Museum

Sarmiento House Museum – Niels Mickers (CC by 2.0)

Nov 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 2 Comments

They always do stuff when I’m not looking

Got a (pleasant surprise) when I returned to Parkhead Cross recently.

Having becomes so used to dodging the scaffolding at the bottom of this building in recent years, it took a while for me to work out what had changed!

The missing scaffolding at ground level was the obvious difference, but then I realised the rest had gone. I’d become so used to the frame added to the top of the tower I’d stopped looking as it was so depressing to see it up there.

Now it’s all gone, and we can see this very attractive red sandstone building in the clear once more, without obstructions.

Parkhead Cross Restoration

Parkhead Cross Restoration

A closer look at the top of the tower, no longer decorated with scaffolding to hold it together.

Interesting to note they’ve lined the compass points with the sides of the building, which is quite close to reality, but I believe it should be a touch clockwise (as seen from above) to have them correctly aligned.

But it’s still near enough to be just fine for anyone that does look at it, and believes it.

Still, it’s better than it was, as the older pic (below) shows this feature was previously even further out, and rotated anti-clockwise from its new alignment.

Glasgow Parkhead Cross Restoration Detail

Glasgow Parkhead Cross Restoration Detail

From the archives, a view of the same thing with ‘extra bits’ – added after (if my memory is at all correct) a bit fell off, fortunately not hitting anyone just before it reached the ground.

Parkhead scaffold

Parkhead scaffold

When I checked, I found this was actually a B listed building, with some notes about the corner.

Crawford and Veitch, 1905 (dated). 4-storey and attic corner tenement with renaissance ornament and decorative sculpture, square corner towerv with distinctive bell-shaped cupola of Scots renaissance type.

I’ve never looked, but there also mention of surviving Art Deco tiles in one of the closes.

The scaffolding in the street was always in the way for a clear view, but I will have to have a closer look at the closes (sorry) to see if those tiles are on view, or sealed behind the security door most tenement closes have gained over the years.

Sep 21, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

An oldie in Oswald Street

I once thought it would be a nice idea to catch views of some the old surviving buildings in Glasgow.

That was so long ago, cameras only had film in them, and the electronic bits only controlled the exposure.

But even that far back, I gave the idea up after only two weeks (or weekends to be accurate) since it quickly became obvious, even then, that most of the crusty, wrinkly, old buildings were long gone, leaving (mostly) those that had survived with some sort of use, or those that were abandoned, derelict, and featureless. Utilitarian types with nothing to distinguish one from another. The type where a pic of one is a pic of all.


It’s still possible to find a few surprises, such as this fragment I spotted by chance in Oswald Street.

There’s a nice sandstone building to its left – but much of the rest is gone now, with new builds having taken most of the street over in recent years.

This is close to being a gap site.

Oswald Street Remnant

Oswald Street Remnant

It shows another ‘feature’ I once thought of wandering around the city and collection from old buildings, but I was too late for that one too, most having weathered to the extent that they were almost invisible to the camera, even if the eye could still make them out.

Almost gone, this is only visible evidence of the once common signs painted on many of these buildings in their day.

I looked at the rest of the façade, but the decayed surface had lost any details that might once have been visible.

Oswald Street Sign Remnant

Oswald Street Sign Remnant

The shop unit on the right hasn’t seen a decent/real occupant for years, and remains unoccupied.

I suspect if the two remaining units ever go, this would soon become a proper ‘gap site’ which would be easier to sell.

Sep 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Remember this Argyle Street building?

I noted a long-abandoned building which seemed to have managed to survive despite the fact that it was lying empty.

50 Argyle Street And Miller Street

50 Argyle Street And Miller Street

The above was noted towards the end of 2017.

A few weeks ago I caught it looking a little different.

50 Argyle Street A

50 Argyle Street A

I couldn’t see or find anything obvious relating to what was happening, but now have come across more details.

Just three years ago plans were lodged to knock down the prominent B-listed former commercial premises on Argyle Street at Miller Street and build student accommodation.

A report at the time concluded, after intrusive investigation, that the building had “come to the end of its useful life”, was “incapable of repair short of complete dismantle/reconstruction” and should “therefore be demolished”.

That application was later withdrawn, the building changed owners, and now a new proposal to convert the upper floors into 21 flats has been drawn up. Retail space would continue in the ground floor and basement with three flats on each of the remaining levels.

A document submitted to Glasgow City Council by ZM Architecture explaining the new development states: “In 2015, the previous owners proposed to demolish the building and the justification for this was based on detailed findings and a structural /economic assessment of the repair works needed to deal with a corroded structural frame.

“The scaffold that has been erected around the building for advertising…has allowed our conservation team with engineers David Narro Associates , to make a detailed independent assessment of the issues highlighted and the conclusion we are reaching is more favourable and that the building can be saved.

“Scaffold access has allowed tests to be carried out, a full stone fabric condition survey and structural frame opening up. This work is ongoing and a detailed stone enabling contract is to be organised so that full refurbishment of the façade can be undertaken with known risks and methods for stone replacement and treatment for frame conversion.

More details can be found here.

HISTORIC Glasgow Building Judged To Have “Come To End Of Useful Life” Can Be Saved

Aug 19, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

They really are refurbing the Burrell building

While it’s handy to have the media reports on things that fall within one’s sphere of interests, it’s also slightly worrying that one must depend on the competence of the reporter or writer concerned.

While most are reputable, it’s always possible for an innocent mistake to be made in a report, or some detail to misinterpreted – both are thankfully rare, and nearly always corrected. But, while some are properly corrected (with an alert or acknowledgement of some sort), some media sources still just edit the original quietly, leaving the only clue to be a change to the publication, triggered by the edit.

Then there’s the more insidious ‘Sponsored Article’ which may really be an ‘Opinion Piece’ for some activists or agenda group masquerading as a legitimate article, or simply a blatant advert sneaking behind a similar masquerade. Thankfully, even if they have sold out by currying such drivel, most reputable media sources also flag such content (usually to be found at the foot of the article, together with the source or author’s name), but not until the end – so always check the end of suspicious content before reading, so you can choose to skip it.

It was a whimsical remark about trusting media tales that made me think about the above, after taking the opportunity to take a spin past the Burrell Collection, or rather its building, in Pollok Country Park recently. It’s no secret that the collection is currently closed while the building is upgraded, and the closure for the £66 million revamp is set to last for four years, from 2016 to 2020.

I didn’t manage to work out an easy way to get there (since being priced off the road), and didn’t manage a revisit before it closed, but found an acceptable solution recently, and took the chance to test it out, albeit on a really grotty evening.

So, I can say I’ve not only read about the Burrell’s refurb and upgrade, I’ve actually seen that it’s real!

Wish I’d thought of this long ago – it really is years (many) since I last saw the collection, now have another two years to wait, and may not last that long!

The building is ringed by a perimeter security fence.

Burrell Collection Building Works

Burrell Collection Building Works

And there’s no way you’re going to sneak in the front door either.

Burrell Collection Building SealedII

Burrell Collection Building Sealed

Aug 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

New Police Scotland building in Dalmarnock

While it may seem that I favour only old building as I collect the odd image or two around Glasgow, this is not actually true.

What is true is that I actively seek anything that has managed to survive, and record it before it disappears for whatever reason.

What is also true is that there are few modern buildings worth effort of ‘collecting’ in the east end of Glasgow. Most offerings are just mass-produced flats or housing, generally following the pattern of previous years, and perhaps only differing in the material and methods used. I just don’t get to the areas where the new building are going up around Glasgow, and the city centre. On the few occasions I’ve seen the city centre riverside area, I barely recognise it – I wouldn’t know what to treat as ‘new’.

I will grant exemption to that generalisation to the buildings constructed for the ‘Athletes Village’ for the silly Commonwealth Games of 2104. Although I did collect pics of a number of those new building once the security cordon was raised and the people of Glasgow were allowed back onto their own land, I never got around to pulling the collection together and using the pics.

I was probably still suffering the effect of having to keep walking past the disgusting ‘Red Shed’ aka Emirates Arena dumped on Parkhead. Still looks like a ghost town down there, with vast, empty car parks – and the only possible benefit being a health centre stuck on the back, part of the deal for building the shed, and razing the existing community facilities to make space.

Moving past that, there is something a little nicer, and probably more useful – a new (or not so new now) Police Headquarters building, delivered to replace the Pitt Street premises that were in the city centre, which was probably not ideal.

Apparently I should be referring to this as ‘Riverside East’ (is that ‘Sales & Marketing DepartmentSpeak for Dalmarnock?), perhaps trying to connect the lowly east end with Riverside in the west end, where Riverside Transport Museum lives.

Planned while the Scottish police were still Strathclyde Police and before Police Scotland arrived, the building is home for around 1,100 (police officers and civilian staff), and cost around £24 million.

Police Scotland Clyde Gateway Building

Police Scotland Clyde Gateway Building

Despite the appearance of four ‘layers to this structure, it actually has five floors within.

I’m sure this building will not be to everyone’s taste, but I like its simplicity, and easy appearance to the eye.

I don’t know any structural or operating details of the building, but assuming the environmental aspects have been adequately addressed, with all that open glazing, it must be nice to work in, and have a view.

In my time, I’ve been landed with too many laboratory and controlled environments, buried deep inside buildings, with absolutely NO connection to the outside world, let alone a window!

Police Scotland Clyde Gateway

Police Scotland Clyde Gateway

Jul 31, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Old survivor hangs on in French Street

Dating from 1889, built as a Barrowfield weaving factory (which included the buildings behind as the total works site), this survivor from the past features polychrome brick, and the sort of geometric pattern that Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson would have recognised.

Built for John French and Son, power-loom muslin manufacturers. Records show the polychrome brick decoration costing some £700 in 1891. That would be around £85,000 in 2018.

It’s nice to see some love extend to old building like this, still in use, not abandoned and decaying. Hopefully this will last.

Obvious features are the modern roof, which looks pretty good, and extensive structural bracing of the end wall.

Safe to assume that if that hadn’t been added at some point, and this building had not been some sort of occupation and been in use, it would have disappeared long ago.

The grey lighting on the day didn’t do the building many favours, and the polychrome bricks don’t look as bright as they could on a bright day, and the decorative brickwork (between the ground and first floor) is all but invisible in this low contrast scene.

French Street Weaving Factory

French Street Weaving Factory


Jul 29, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Baltic Street Thomas Stoddart (beds)

I’ve pictured this abandoned factory in the past, and after the command to “Send in the wreckers” to clear Dalmarnock for the dopey 2014 Commonwealth Games nonsense, remain surprised to see this (and the adjacent old building) were left standing, given the urgency with which adjoining land was cleared – then left barren, and still standing barren in 2018.

Funny how none of the people who made a fuss about the clearance back then have ever been heard of since.

Given how loudly they were shouting back then (and some demanding silly money), one might think they’d still be protesting today.

There is now a new school being built in the distance, and the ‘new’ old people’s home that was boarded up as soon as it was built now seems to be in use. Or is it just staffed? There was an episode of “Yes, Minister” where they had a terrific new hospital, with some 400 staff, and no problems – it also had no patients!

Back in Baltic Street, the Stoddart factory just seems to sit there, barely changing – if you don’t count the increasing amount of plant life it seems to be supporting these days.

Now that I’m getting better at correcting images for perspective, I though I’d have a quick run at this one, and correct the converging verticals which are hard to avoid with any reasonably tall building.

Baltic Street Stoddarts

Baltic Street Stoddarts

Jul 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Baltic Street update (still good)

Last time I wandered around Dalmarnock, I was a little glum to see that a little garage might have closed – or at least never seemed to be open whenever I was there.

There goes Dalmarnock

There’s better news after the most recent bit of wandering, and I can say it is still on the go.

And there’s a decent number of cars scattered around that are being worked on. Nice.

Now that Google has expanded its historic imagery, I can also add that the sign has been up there, just the same, since at least 2009.

One day, I’ll work up the courage to pop my head in the door and ask if they have any electricity in there.

I kid you not, the place looks as dark inside as it looks in the pic, despite that floor to roof door being open.

Baltic Street Garage

Baltic Street Garage

Jul 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Cambuslang Lodge pic in a narrow street

That went surprisingly well.

I’ve looked at a lodge building in a Cambuslang side street – Tabernacle Lane – and wondered how to take a pic.

It’s a narrow street. Two cars could pass without a fight, although there’s only room for one since the street usually has them parked along one side, leaving the other side as a single lane for access either way. As a pure guess, that mean only about 5 metres from the façade of the building until your back hits the opposite wall.

A 24 mm lens captures some, but this is most it can see, in a single shot.

Cambuslang Lodge Wide

Cambuslang Lodge Wide

Time for some magic, and a test to see how good it might be.

By taking a number of pics across the façade, these can be stitched together to form a view of the whole.

I got quite close, but I’m still finding it difficult to guess how much extra I need to include around the edges, to avoid missing any coverage, and the resultant black areas. In this case, I was just a little short of material in the bottom left and right corners.

Cambuslang Lodge Stitched

Cambuslang Lodge Stitched

On the other hand, I DID get the whole façade, the missing parts are outside the desired area.

And it’s considerably better than was achieved with a single wide-angle shot.

Unlike most panoramas, which usually only combine images horizontally, I can also do this vertically, and for any number of images, but found the less I use, the better. The single wide shown first is actually one of the shots merged into the stitched view.

Just my luck as usual – as I was leaving, a woman arrived and removed the car blocking the view of centre bottom of the building.

Jun 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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