Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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


August 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

July 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


July 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

July 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

July 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.

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

50 Argyle Street – Derelict Bank of Scotland – redevelopment underway

Although I’d read about this building having been bought, and redevelopment set to begin, sceptical me forgot about it until this chance pass one recent night.

It’s lain unused for so long, nicely decorated with some murals, that even reading such news is no guarantee of action, as a look at similar reports will confirm if you pay attention to them. Good ideas unfortunately become bad ideas when the changing demands and promises of market prediction come into play.

But, this one seems to have arrived in reality.

As usual, I can’t be bothered hunting through the planning applications to see what’s being done, so I’ll just be trying to remember to have the occasional look and see what eventually arrives.

I ended up with two pics.

First was a wide or landscape view, not too bad for perspective distortion (corrected) but couldn’t really catch the full height of the building.

50 Argyle Street A

50 Argyle Street A

I tried the same view in tall or portrait orientation, which gave a little more of the taller part of the building, but was harder to correct and process.

50 Argyle Street B

50 Argyle Street B

This one proved educational for me.

I normally work with the hi-res original, which is huge compared to the version that ends up in the blog, and carry out most of the edits there.

I’ve always wondered if the difference was visible if the edits were carried out on a smaller version.

I got the order of work wrong with this, and had to redo all the edits (I had reduced the size before realising I hadn’t corrected the alignment) – the final result was embarrassing mush.

I guess it DOES make a difference – especially with low light images.

May 27, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

There goes Dalmarnock

I was never hugely familiar with Dalmarnock, but did come to recognise quite a lot of it when I started walking there some years back.

I almost remember seeing a couple of high flats that once stood there, but saw more of them as piles of rubble coming out of a rock crusher after they were demolished.

I found a school there, closed, derelict, and also demolished shortly after I tripped over it.

There was one factory that managed to survive in Springfield Road (my company even did some work in it, but I never visited) – until the dopey 2014 Commonwealth Games had it eliminated. A pity, since it was vaguely historic and a little interesting, being nicely built in sandstone – but that didn’t save it as it stood in the way of the athlete’s village, so became a ‘Dead Man Walking’ and gave its life for the silliness.

Nearly all the sandstone tenements in the area were eliminated, only a few still stand at Dalmarnock Bridge. A few early 20th century houses that had somehow been missed in an earlier round of demolition were mopped up at the same time.

While I never saw the power station that sat next to the bridge, I did see the wall that once bordered the river, and even had jetties for coal deliveries (I think that only happened once in its life though – rail was the normal route. But, like the power station, that vanished too, again thanks to  the stupid Commonwealth Games.

There was one Stoddart’s bed factory down there, but that stands long abandoned and derelict now.

Probably thanks to that larger building, some smaller industrial units have survived alongside.

But a recent wander there suggests they’ll be for the chop soon, as they were occupied, but it’s so long since I was there during working hours it looks to me as if they are now abandoned too.

I used to spy inside this body shop as I walked past, there looked to be some interesting chassis lying around, as if someone did some serious racing as their hobby. But, the last few times I passed it didn’t even look as if they had power – although it was open and they were working, there were no lights on.


I’ve no idea, but the place has been closed whenever I’ve passed recently, and the state of the old sign suggests “There’s nobody home”.

Baltic St Body Shop

Baltic St Body Shop

The sign.

Rough Sign

Rough Sign

May 10, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The Monteith (most of it)

I first grabbed a pic of The Monteith back in January 2017 – when I noted it was boarded up, and suggested that it was not likely to survive, having been modified for use as a men’s hostel.

This means the interior is likely to have been extensively modified over many years to provide accommodation (like a guest house or hotel conversion, only not as nice), and restoring or repurposing it would probably be horrendously expensive – with the added costs of meeting current building legislation.

I took another pic in January 2018 – but it looked just the same, and was just as boarded up and derelict.

I haven’t been back since, so this view taken 5 months later (not surprisingly) confirms my prediction of January 2017 with the old hotel building surrounded by scaffolding to make sure it is safely – erased.

It never really had a chance.


Don’t miss one of the reasons for its former existence as a men’s hostel, which was conveniently left in sight at the bottom left of the pic.

(If you actually think I staged this – do you really think I’m even going to touch a bottle which has had the lips of a Glasgow ned around it?)

That said, as I reached the Crown Plaza Hotel on the Clyde Walkway last night, there was a teenage girl hauling a huge backpack sitting in front of it – and nursing a (large) bottle of Buckfast.

Tourist backpacker?

Following advice given on local things not to be missed?

The Monteith

The Monteith

The other side, in case it’s gone before I pass again.

The Monteith Demolition View

The Monteith Demolition View

May 10, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Old buildings in Calton

I’ve largely given up on the potential for visiting or studying old buildings in Glasgow.

Most that were derelict or abandoned have been razed in recent years, with the reasonably reasonable aim of improving the appearance of the city, and making it more attractive.

At the same time, I think a number (especially along the river and close to the city centre) which were only recently vacated (as businesses closed) joined them, presumably on the basis that they would never be occupied again, and were not suitable for conversion to flats.

While a number remain, they’re probably earmarked for conversion to accommodation, or will join the first two groups I mentioned if plans fall through, or they’ve not already been converted (not forgetting some are still in use).

So, it’s nice to dive down some streets that are not exactly on the ‘beaten track’ or normal routes, where it’s still possible to find some oldies.

I found this pair down Stevenson Street in the Calton,

The first one started life around 1914, as a grocery warehouse for Andrew Cochrane & Son Ltd, with an office block to the right.

In those days, the growing population of Glasgow helped several large firms of grocers and provision merchants to grow and open branches all over the city, and they needed to warehouse their stock. Those companies set high standards of hygiene and value for money. The firm was still there in 1966., but like most of those multiple grocers and provision merchants were swallowed up by larger concerns in the 1950s and 1960s, as the pattern of grocery shopping moved towards supermarkets.

The two blue signs identify two different occupants: John C. Walker Ltd, Established 1888 (contemporary with Cochrane); and Kemray Hair Care Products. The latter seems to be long gone, with no online references noted.

20 June 2016: Local planners advise building warrants for the demolition of the two Cochrane warehouses has been approved.

Stevenson Street Warehouse

Stevenson Street Warehouse

Not much better in some respects, but since I had to take a wonky wide-angle shot to get it all in, I took a linear shot as well. Maybe better for scale.

Stevenson Street Warehouse

Stevenson Street Warehouse

Masonic hall

Adjacent to the warehouse is an old masonic hall, built after the warehouse and dated to 1936 from a foundation stone in the front wall.

Stevenson Street Masonic Hall 1936

Stevenson Street Masonic Hall 1936

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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