Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Turnbull Building resurfaces

Recently, while walking along George Street, I thought things looked ‘different’.

It took a moment to work out just what had caught my eye, but I eventually realised that the barriers and fences which had been screening the Alexander Turnbull Building for the past few years were coming down – an obstacle in place since around 2015.

From the original story about the building’s redevelopment, it should now be student accommodation with 83 en-suite studio bedrooms, a gym, TV room, and study. Strathclyde University bought the building back in 1975, before which time it had been the offices of a tobacco company, and used as a warehouse.

The architects noted that the internal space was compromised and that the existing roof was in poor condition. In order to maximise the usable space, the existing roof and chimneys were removed and replaced with a modern lightweight roof extension which carried on the existing vertical lines of the building. Modifications were carried out on the ground floor, with a shopfront, hardwood timber screens, and larger doors to increase its usability.

I can’t recall the interior (singularly unmemorable I guess), but I did have to attend a short series of lectures as part of the business section of my course at Strathclyde, and I do have memories of being in a very small room with no windows. Other than that, the place was pretty much an anonymous black hole on George Street, with little more than the sign above the door indicating it was part of the university.

It’s hard to get a decent pic. It’s a tall building with no option to ‘step back a bit’ – shops and others building line across the road.

A decent wide-angle lens would help, but be a tad expensive.

As it was, I ended up taking about a dozen shots across the façade, and stitched these together to get my shot.

It also looks as if my perspective correction tool only offers pincushion correction (it doesn’t actually specify). While the final stitch has maintained the verticals with reasonable accuracy, the horizontal distortion remains strong. Applying my usual perspective correction to seemed to be working… until I noticed the sides were being curved to the same degree as the roof was being straightened, with no options to adjust these separately. Oddly, this is the first time I’ve seen this effect.

I guess I’ll have to hunting for a free correction tool for barrel distortion.

I’ve got other image distortion tools, but they are entirely manual, and just take too long use accurately.

Regardless of the bendy pic, it’s still nice to see that a building can be refurbished and repurposed, rather than being razed.

Turnbull Building

Turnbull Building

Frank Burnet and Boston, architects, 1897. 6-storey and attic, red sandstone ashlar Baronial office building. Irregular 7-bay elevation with squat 2-stage tower rising from eaves to right. Altered ground floor with large vehicle entrances to end bays, central main entrance with polished pink granite surround, consoled pedimented rouch-arched doorway. Sculpted tympanum, depressed arch fanlight.

All windows bipartite with fixed upper part, narrower at end bays. All windows modern pivot plate-glass. Cornice over ground, mutule cornice over 1st, 3rd and 4th floors with windows divided by giant order engaged composite columns. Heavy cornice over 4th. To right, octagonal turret with bracketted (sic) balustraded parapet. Brick flanks, some box dormers, slate roofs.

Information from Historic Scotland, 6 September 2012.

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July 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seldom seen sculpture hidden in back street – Scottish Ambulance Service

After the clues (first, second, third) the answer.

The Scottish Ambulance Service building is in Maitland Street, near the National Piping Centre in the adjoining McPhater Street.

This pic shows the sculpture that started the clues, and the red cross that symbolises the building and service.

However, as noted earlier, this is now derelict, having originally been sited here as an emergency centre for use during a disaster or similar.

Now, it’s a potential disaster as it can be found in the Buildings at risk Register.

It notes the building origin and past:

Glasgow Corporation offered the St Andrews Ambulance Association the site at Cowcaddens for the Ambulance Association and the St Andrew’s and Red Cross Scottish Ambulance Service. The two services were linked by an integrated lower block although the linking door itself has now been blocked up. While the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association continues to occupy its half with the principal façade to Milton Street, the Scottish Ambulance Service who took over statutory provision of ambulances in 1974 now occupies the other half to Maitland Street.

The Cowcaddens site is significant as it was specifically planned to contain emergency services within one compact area. This continues today (2004) with the police station and fire station located in adjacent blocks. The contractor Logincon Ltd went into liquidation in 1970 and Drummond Lithgow were appointed to continue the work. The building was opened by HM the Queen Mother on the 26th June 1970 and the plaque then unveiled is located in the main hall. Recreational competitions amongst the emergency service staff and others were a frequent occurrence in the building. The hoist in the main hall was used to assist with setting up emergency situations. (Historic Scotland).

But by 2010 (first risk record) it was noted to be on offer for sale or lease, and reports now indicate it is decaying and deteriorating for lack of maintenance.

Scottish Ambulance Service building

Scottish Ambulance Service building

This is the more usual view as seen from Cowcaddens Road, with the adjacent Piping Centre just out of sight to the right.

Scottish Ambulance Centre 2

Scottish Ambulance Centre

I have to admit it was something of a surprise to spot this building for the first time a few years back.

I seldom have any reason to walk around this far from the city centre and the shops, so had just decided to wander around – and got a reward for doing so.

It’s a pity this area is now rather isolated, with few reasons for anyone to cross over Cowcaddens Road. Apart from the aforementioned Piping Centre, it looks as if it’s mostly flats. The rest looks fairly deserted and derelict  –  but to be fair, I’ve not had the opportunity to go back and have a closer look.

It’s always a shame when the commissioning occupant leaves a building such as this, purpose designed for their particular operation. It makes it difficult for anyone else to take it over, as the chances are it will need a complete and costly refurbishment to make it fit for purpose, not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also for usability and functionality, making it even more expensive and unlikely.

With no VAT relief on such costs, it becomes easy to see why many apparently sound building end up being razed to make way for new build, which does come with various tax, and other, benefits can which ultimately make it a better option.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Seldom seen sculpture hidden in back street – clue 3

Following on from Monday’s first clue to the location of a sculpture and its building

And yesterday’s second clue

Today’s offering is a more obvious clue, and is mounting high on the building.

It may not face the city centre either, but at least is side-on, so is, at least, not totally hidden.

As a further hint, I’d say it’s a shame that a building created in the 1970s, and a pretty good-looking one at that (to me at least) is already an abandoned derelict considered ‘At Risk’ barely 40 years later, well, I’d say we’re doing something wrong.

It’s rather like St Peter’s Seminary, but at least we know the various reasons which led to that failure.

Today’s clue…

Oddly, very much like yesterday’s, only different…

Glasgow Big X 2

Glasgow Big X 2

No more clues – remaining details would give it away since they would include words!

Reveal will be the day after tomorrow, on Friday.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Seldom seen sculpture hidden in back street – clue 2

Following on from yesterday’s first clue to the location of a sculpture and its building

This is a more obvious clue, especially to anyone familiar with the area.

That said, despite the size and prominence of this feature, it is even MORE hidden than the sculpture chosen as the feature for this short series of posts. In fact, it is actually completely invisible from the city centre side as it is on the OPPOSITE side of the building, so faces AWAY from the city.

That’s a bit of a shame, especially since it could disappear – being on a derelict building ‘At Risk’.

It could be sold and demolished to make way for something more… useful… since it has not found a buyer, or been converted for some other purpose in the past few years. Even plans to refurbish it proved groundless, apparently applying to the adjacent structure only, omitting this one.

Enough for today – another bit as a clue tomorrow.

Glasgow Big X

Glasgow Big X

July 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Seldom seen sculpture hidden in back street

I came across a building (which I can’t describe in this post, but will do later) in an area of Glasgow that is now quite isolated, but was originally selected as it gave necessary access and space for its purpose.

Today, changes to the surrounding area mean that the poor old head has to be scratched for a moment or two, just to work out how to get to the building when looking at it from the nearest main road – well I did, since the spot is not one I’m not too familiar with, and it’s also on the opposite side of the road from what could be referred to as the ‘busy city centre’, and that road can be a busy one to cross if you have no real reason. I usually don’t.

On the plus side, I found they had at least provided a path through some trees and bushes, so it’s not necessary to follow the road, or go hiking.

Pic below is detail of the sculpture mentioned, clipped from a larger pic.

Do you recognise it?

I’ll add another detail from the building tomorrow. Incidentally, it’s now abandoned and derelict, and I see is also now considered to be ‘At Risk’.

Glasgow Sculpture X

Glasgow Sculpture X

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Salvation Army building in Tollcross Road

When I collect pics of interesting buildings I can usually find some sort of reference in archives to their history, and get an idea of when they were built and who was responsible for them.

This one is in Tollcross Road, not far from Parkhead Cross, but other than what can be seen on the façade, that’s about as much as I’ve ever come across, or can say about it.

As far as I can tell, apart from the façade, the rest of the building appears to fairly utilitarian, and is really just a hall with a decorative front.

The ‘doo’ (Glaswegian for pigeon) eyeing up the door looks just about as mystified as me about this building’s past.

It doesn’t even have some sort of date stone, so the best indications of its age are the Art Deco style letters carved above the entrance, and the pair of Art Nouveau stained-glass windows above that. Windows and doors below are modern refurbishments.

So, guess broadly around the first third of the 20th century, and this is no surprise, given the age of similar building in the area.

Tollcross Road Salvation Army Building

Tollcross Road Salvation Army Building

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Peacock’s Tearooms

Oddly, this post isn’t actually about the subject (or some such confusing thought) – but more later.

I always have to stop and look at the derelict building shown below, and it’s only recently I learned it was originally Peacock’s Tearooms, with a glazed shop and entrance on the right, and another shop occupying the left third or so of the ground floor.

Above, old pics of Argyle Street show the tearoom, with tables and other decor visible.

Today, it is a derelict on the Buildings at Risk Register, with the upper floor disintegrating – note the scaffold poles poking the windows aside the two uprights – although the ground floor is still able to support a shop.

Although it is still standing, plans were submitted for its demolition and replacement by flats as recently as 2013, but this seems to have come to nothing as the upper floor continues to decay.

Former Peacock's Tearoom in Argyle Street

Former Peacock’s Tearoom in Trongate

I hadn’t looked for this detail before, so it seemed silly not to note them here.

The REAL reason I was about to make a post arose while I was just looking up at the derelict first floor while I was passing.

On this occasion the light, and where I was standing, were just right to show off a fine wrought-iron balustrade fitted to the parapet along the top edge of the adjacent building to the left of Peacock’s:

Warehouse left of Peacock's Tearoom Trongate

Warehouse left of Peacock’s Tearoom Trongate

There’s little info on the building, other than noting it was a warehouse.

It might have been part of the development mentioned for Peacock’s. but that was earmarked for demolition, the façade of the warehouse was earmarked for retention.

A little closer, and why not?

I continue to be impressed by digital image sensors, as detail that would have been lost due to strong backlighting with film (unless preplanned) can be seen in the balustrade urns, and without making any special exposure corrections.

And, if you think this looks distorted – you should have seen it before I played with it!

Balustrade

Balustrade

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

The changing Sanmex Chemical Works building

There a really interesting and attractive building (still) standing on Dalmarnock Road, just a short way from the bridge over the river, and near the big new Tesco that opened a little while ago.

Unless somebody tells me otherwise, I’ll assume this building was (or is, since the company is still in business) the company’s offices, since the factory itself lies and extends into the land behind this building.

Having seen a photograph of the place from 1966, a number of changes are apparent:

  • The gate on the left was not present, and the wall was flush with the façade.
  • The wall on the right (actually a later building) was not present, as there was a gate there.
  • A chimney rose from the rear left of the roof.
  • A complete upper storey and pitched roof has been trimmed from the block on the right.
  • The extreme right was a matching but smaller version of that on the left.
  • The street lamp is a recent addition (there was one next to the gate on the right).
  • The dark rectangle on the left face, running the height of the building, was a large vertical SAN-MEX sign, now blank.
  • Further signs identifying the business were painted between the two storeys on the right.

While the remaining façade is reasonably attractive, the rest of the building is less so, having been rendered over the original brickwork, water has been seeping behind this over the years, and it is discoloured and damaged.

As for the chemical works behind…

Sanmex International is a perfume retailer which supplies a range of fragrances!

That rings a bell, as I think I had to visit the place once in my life, and the smell was of bathroom soap.

Sanmex Dalmarnock

Sanmex Dalmarnock

Although I knew this area had changed considerably (and I don’t mean the clearance for the 2014 Commonwealth Shames), mainly from looking at the few remains of Dalmarnock Power Station (which was only a matter of metres from this spot, but even those few relics were surgically cleansed for the Shames), I had no idea just how extensive the industrialisation of this area had been until I look at old pics of Sanmex, which naturally included the surrounding area.

It was almost saturated with works, and the tenements were buried amongst them, and the many rail tracks.

If you are interested, but have never looked up the online records and pics, it is well worth the effort.

This area has changed MASSIVELY in only a few decades.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Just a gate – all that’s left of Loancroft

It was pure chance that I learned these gates were the only remains of a big house (mansion or villa) in Baillieston.

These pillars and some wrought iron fencing are all that remains of Loancroft House, which is now the site of the present Loancroft Care Home.

Loancroft Gates

Loancroft Gates

I can’t remember where I found this note about Loancroft, and searching online is futile since all the property and estate agents have their useless house sales web sites forced to the top any searches for a house, so ruin the usefulness of search tools.

That’s not helped by Loancroft House not being mentioned in the most common historic online references, since it’s long gone, nor does it appear in an old book which lists many of those that are gone, but has pictures and prints of many.

So, other than the name, and the gates, there’s not much I can add regarding the history of the old house.

If you anything, you could do worse than share it in the Comments below.

May 13, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Alternative Belgrove Hotel view

While most views of Glasgow’s well-known Bellgrove Hotel tend to favour a frontal view of the building and feature the name, I noticed that the demolition of what was quite new housing on the Gallowgate left a clear view of the side elevation of the hotel.

For those unfamiliar with this Glasgow icon, I should offer full disclosure and identify it as a Men’s Hostel, one which can be found to attract adverse publicity in the local media.

I don’t usually see this view, but found it by chance when taking a shortcut across the ground where the house had once stood.

This view would have been impossible, even when the hotel was first built, as a street ran along the side of hotel, with tenements across from it blocking any view, as can be seen in original B&W views from the past.

Bellgrove Hotel side

Bellgrove Hotel side

More usually seen as (one my old pics – this tatty view is now refurbished to match the above):

Bellgrove Hotel

Bellgrove Hotel

Part of the refurb included the addition of glass panels to the doors, revealing a surprisingly well-lit reception.

The downside is that I now have to remember to cross the road when passing – the last three times I passed the new glass doors I found it was a handy way for a ‘resident’ to stay out of sight and jump out just as you get near, and ask for 2 pence.

Seriously, 2 PENCE!

That’s really what I get asked for if I’m careless and forget to cross the road before reaching the door.

Best avoided at weekends too, if there’s a game on at Parkhead, in which case the residents just stand outside asking for money as the mass of fans pass.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 1 Comment

The Monteith

Possibly another one of those things that can be passed many times without being seen.

This is a building called The Monteith.

While referred to as a hotel in records, it was really a men’s hostel. Reports of its performance can be found online at the moment, and unlike some such hostels which are still operating in Glasgow, appears to have had a reasonable reputation.

It can, for the time being at least, be found at the corner of Monteith Row and Monteith Place, near The Barras. But, given it is the last single standing building in an area that has been cleared of all similar structures, and has been closed and sealed at some time in the past few weeks, I think its days must be numbered. It has a minimal entry in Canmore, and is not mentioned in the Buildings at Risk register.

At a guess, it will disappear quietly and without much fuss, and there may even be plans in hand, since I saw some small diggers working on the surrounding ground not too long ago. It may have been unrelated work, but then again, it was happening just before the place was closed and sealed.

It’s probably been hashed around inside, and would be nightmare to re-use, given how changing building regulations can force radical restructuring to maintain compliance, things just become uneconomic unless grants are flowing freely. Simplest option is to give up and close.

The Monteith

The Monteith

This was actually another exercise in perspective and distortion, as I couldn’t find a position to get properly inline with the centreline of the building.

In this case, while the software would automatically convert the skewed view into a near perfect rectangle, this often results in a view which just looks ‘wrong’.

They eye is used to seeing a perspective view, and having perfectly vertical sides on a building is impossible, unless looking at plans.

So, in this case I took over and introduced a deliberate convergence into the view, to recreate the inward slope of the sides which is seen when looking towards the top of the building. It really does make the pic look a lot better, and more natural.

February 1, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

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