Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

For those suffering People’s Palace Winter Garden withdrawal symptoms

While the People’s Palace is only close until April to allow modifications to be carried out to entry/exit facilities, there’s no escaping the extended closure the Winter Garden will endure until anything up to £7.5 million is ‘magicked’ to allow extensive maintenance work to be carried out the 100+ year old ironwork and glazing.

I took a casual walk around the beds shortly before many of the plants were removed and sent to other glasshouses.

Strangely, unlike some moronic attention-seeking MPs, I anticipated that Glasgow City Council might do something.

Quite why I should be smarter than an MP I don’t really know.

Then again, I don’t get any free publicity, or noticed by media by making a fuss one way or the other.

These pics are not really in any special order, not have they been processed to get the best out of them – they’re just a photographic memo.

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You can see the later appearance of the beds when I caught them being cleared shortly before the closure day.

11/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Is MP Paul Sweeney just making stuff up as his Winter Garden claim dies?

It’s said that one of the ways to detect lies is to see if the story you are being told keeps changing, since anyone telling the truth doesn’t have to keep changing their story as it pulled apart, so they have to make it up as they go along.

I spotted some apparent rubbish being spouted by some MP called Paul Sweeney yesterday, and published some of my own pics taken recently in the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace.

Today, after the leader of Glasgow City Council issued a statement debunking his claims, he decided to…

Change his story (his original claim was that the heating had been turned OFF).

Labour MP Paul Sweeney raised concern for the gardens’ exotic plants after claims the heating had been turned off and all active maintenance halted.

He said the move would be considered “an appalling act of civic vandalism”.

But Susan Aitken, the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council, rubbished the suggestion and accused the MP for Glasgow North East of “making things up”.

She tweeted: “The heating will stay on, the most important species have been moved to other glasshouses & the remainder will be maintained as required.”

Mr Sweeney responded: “Not according to a senior official in the parks department who I spoke to today.

“The heating has been turned down to a ‘minimal level’ and they said they won’t be maintaining remaining plants as none are regarded as of ‘horticultural value’, but that is beside the point isn’t it.”

Row after MP claims plants at Glasgow Winter Gardens will die due to closure

Give it up man –  you’ve been caught out.

Nobody votes for a liar.

This isn’t the ‘Old Days’, when all you had to do was kick Glasgow Council and nobody checked what was being said.

So long as it was bad or negative, everybody just believed it whether it was true or not.

SOME of us have moved on.

Winter Garden Plant Removal

Winter Garden Plant Removal

04/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow City Council’s rebuttal of MP Paul Sweeney’s fantasies

I’m beginning to think my recent suggestion that Glasgow City Council is just an easy target for anyone wanting to get themselves noticed by making some daft claim about it, misrepresenting its actions, or just plain making stuff up, is closer to reality than I thought.

I make no secret of listening to such people years ago, shaking my head, and going ‘Tut-tut’ as I read their brave outbursts against the council of the day – but I’d also have to say that I never checked any of their revelations as they never referred to anything that mattered to me, or that I cared about.

These days, there seems to more appearing that I do have at least a slight knowledge of awareness of, and the signs are not good – for those telling tales about Glasgow City Council.

Recent irritations came from cycling activists, then there was more nonsense from pollution campaigners. Both notably attacking the council, rather than supporting policies it is actually implementing, and saying it is doing nothing, or not enough (in their view).

Now, a MP has decided to get a free ride and some publicity to make his name with claims that Glasgow City Council is destroying the plants in the People’s Palace Winter Gardens, which have just been forced to close on safety grounds.

Accusations by a Glasgow MP that all heating and maintenance of the People’s Palace Winter Gardens has ended have provoked outrage in city residents.

Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow North East, hit out at Glasgow City Council in a tweet, where he claimed that all tropical plants in the winter gardens would die after the heating was turned off.

The tweet read: “Shocked to learn that all heating and active maintenance of the People’s Palace Winter Gardens has been ended by Glasgow City Council this week.

“That means all the tropical plants contained inside will now die off. This is an appalling act of civic vandalism and must be stopped.”

He could have CHECKED BEFORE TWEETING.

Instead, he chose to profit from the claim first, and got this response while spreading his name.

Hundreds of Glasgow residents replied to Mr Sweeney’s tweet to express their anger over the alleged decision.

By running with the allegation, he gets a free publicity, and wins fans.

Once thrown, mud sticks, and few of those who responded to his tweet will care about what followed as they join the ranks who ‘Shoot first and (don’t bother to) ask questions’ later.

However, Glasgow City Council has denied the claims, saying that the heating has not been turned off and many of the plants have already been moved to other gardens across the city.

A spokeswoman said: “This is not true and we have not turned the heating off in the Winter Gardens and have no intentions of doing this.

“We want to reassure any concerned citizens that we have already moved the plants of significant horticultural value, as previously agreed, to our other glasshouses across the city and we will continue to maintain any remaining plants.”

Frankly, I’m not really even interested in what he said/claimed afterwards.

All quotes from…

Glasgow City Council hits back at MP’s claim of ‘appalling act of civic vandalism’ at People’s Palace

He, and others like him, should be forced to declare details in public, identify sources, and provide evidence, since they are MPs and should be fully accountable. Not just open their mouths and let their bellies rumble!

I knew this was nonsense, as I had visited the Winter Garden just before it closed, as seen in previous posts, and also took pics inside.

These show how many of the beds had already been cleared of plants even BEFORE the building was closed to public access.

Had I known they would come in useful to counter the scurrilous publicity-seeking allegations made by Paul Sweeney, I’d have taken a lot more, but they were just taken as part of a collection for a later post about the days before the Winter Garden was closed.

Winter Garden Plant Removal

Winter Garden Plant Removal

 

Winter Garden Plant Removal

Winter Garden Plant Removal

 

Winter Garden Plant Removal

Winter Garden Plant Removal

 

Winter Garden Plant Removal

Winter Garden Plant Removal

I don’t usually support calls for people to lose their jobs, but I can think of at least one who’s demonstrated enough lack of trust to suffer that, and maybe at least one other – IF what that one said was to be believed.

03/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Bad news for the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

Coming as no great surprise to anyone familiar with the building and its recent history – and well-meaning, but perhaps a little over-ambitious building regulations (and insurance demands), there was bad news for not only the Winter Gardens on Glasgow Green, but also the People’s Palace, to which they are attached.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above Winter Gardens

Peoples Palace and Winter Gardens

Unless you have been walking around with your eyes shut, your fingers in your ears, and singing LALALALALAL… then you should NOT be surprised to read that Glasgow City Council has finally had to call time on public access to the poor old Winter Gardens, and consequently, the People’s Palace too. That, unfortunately follows due to the location of the building access points. There’s only one main front entrance, while the rear exits (which can serve as emergency exits) have to be reached by going into the Winter Gardens.

The Winter Gardens have closed a number of time in recent years, and for fairly extended periods too, as glass has fallen from above.

It doesn’t take the greatest imagination to realise the effect of such a fall onto a visitor, and what would be said of Glasgow City Council if it allowed such a thing to happen on its watch. However, with limited funds, repairs can only be carried out for so long.

You have noticed that all such venues in Scotland have FREE ENTRY, haven’t you?

That means they are paid for out of council funds, with no additional cash from admission fees (only donations).

One day, patches and fixes can no longer be applied, and as we are seeing now, a day of reckoning eventually arrives.

(I don’t there is a Scottish museum or similar venue that has not eventually needed tens of millions invested in updating – see Kelvingrove, The Burrell, the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, fand the Museum of Transport, Riverside, for example).

Sad to say, but no great surprise to me, even as this news was announced, instead of doing something useful, those who love such excuses to apportion blame, complain, seek for heads to roll, and (for want of a better description) merely ‘bash’ Glasgow City Council were quick to jump into action.

I will largely ignore them, if possible. As with the fire at the Mackintosh Building, their calls for a witch-hunt or similar are simply no help at all, and distract from the real efforts needed.

This was a few years back, at an earlier closure, when the gardens could still be observed from the gallery.

Glasgow People's Palace Winter Gardens closed

Glasgow People’s Palace Winter Gardens closed

This should be a reasonably chronological listing of articles to date, releases as the story broke:

18 October STV Winter Gardens to close indefinitely over £7m repair bill

18 October BBC Winter Gardens to close for £5m repair programme

18 October reGlasgow ICONIC Winter Gardens Closing Because Of Safety Concerns

18 October The Scotsman Dismay as Glasgow’s People’s Palace and Winter Gardens close

18 October The Scotsman Glasgow’s People Palace and Winter Gardens to close ‘indefinitely’

18 October GlasgowLive ‘Disgraceful’ – Glasgow reacts to closure of People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

19 October The Scotsman Leader comment: Glasgow People’s Palace closure would be symbol of austerity

19 October GlasgowLive Glasgow lawyers consider legal challenge to closure of People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

19 October GlasgowLive Petition launched to save People’s Palace and Winter Gardens from closure ‘for the city of Glasgow’

So…

The ‘help and support’ the council has been offered from the above includes:

Comments of ‘disgraceful’.

A legal challenge to the closure announcement.

A petition telling it things it must be painfully aware of.

None of those would seem to be of any help in raising the £5 to £7.5 million said to be needed.

A pity those people could not put in the same effort to doing something useful.

This reminds me of the days I had to shut down a company early, and make most of the staff redundant. It would have been nice to use the “Thousands of pounds we were sitting on” as directors to tide the company over, but were obliged to use it to pay their legally-required redundancy payments, and then get kicked by them for ‘firing’ them.

You can’t win when you are responsible, and people who are NOT responsible are free to criticise with no comeback.

I wonder if anyone actually believes Glasgow City Council WANTS to make these closures?

Or, are they aware that there are even more demanding projects around, like the £6 million needed for repairs to the tidal weir, which will rise by another million to £7 million?

I think many people forget that despite their belief that Council/Government pots are bottomless, they’re not, and there really are budget in place limiting available funds.

Some people would do well to remember that the Council is spending on many projects around the city, each of which has people who think THEIR project is MOST important, and deserves the money over and above others.

I could name a few, but it would be pointless, and only serve to upset those named.

Peoples Palace fire alert

Peoples Palace alert

I’m not interested in ANYONE making a politically motivated point, some clever/stupid legal point (seriously, what are you idiots going to achieve by challenging a Council decision to close a building on the basis of public safety?), or just using this as some handy excuse to indulge your hobby of licking the Council.

Show me something useful, like fund-raising or the route to some grants or suchlike, and I’ll notice you.

STOP WHINING.

STOAP GREETIN’ LIKE BIG WEANS.

STOP KICKING PEOPLE AND DISPENSING BLAME!

GO DO SOMETHING USEFUL!

21/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Sad new about Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary near Oban

Sad to see that declining visitor number mean the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban can no longer carry on, and has announced its closure.

Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary to close at the end of October

The Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary has been educating and entertaining local families and those visiting the area since opening in 1979.

Sadly visitor numbers to the attraction have been in decline and after comprehensively reviewing every possible option, there isn’t a viable way to sustain the significant investment that is required in order to keep the sanctuary open.

Therefore we have come to the sad conclusion to close the sanctuary on the 31st October 2018.

The closure announcement in full

The Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary

No doubt the ‘animal rights activists (aka ‘loonies’) will be dancing with joy at the news.

I don’t think I ever made it along to the centre in the days when I used to be a fairly regular visitor to Oban.

Just bad timing, as I don’t think it got a lot of publicity at the time (and don’t think it ever did, more’s the pity).

Sea Life Sanctuary Pic

Sea Life Sanctuary Pic

08/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

I guess Lightburn Hospital will be gone when I need it

It looks as if Glasgow’s Lightburn Hospital, which serves the east end, is finally going to succumb to closure – something which has hung over it existence for some years.

For various reasons ranging from age, illness, and through to accidents, my elders and betters were lucky enough to be tended to in Lightburn, so were never far from home,  there didn’t seem to be any problems with the staff or operation.

While I’m still some way off repeating any of the successful ploys they used to get in there, it looks as if I won’t be so lucky when the time comes, and I’ll have to find an alternative, or enjoy being transported around.

A community hospital in Glasgow’s east end, which provides rehabilitative care for older patients, has been earmarked for closure.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the service model at Lightburn Hospital no longer fitted with modern healthcare.

It said a health and social care hub would be set up with £40m.

Parkinson’s UK criticised the proposed closure and said the hospital provided essential services to vulnerable people in a disadvantaged area.

NHSGGC said inpatients across the north east of Glasgow would be served by “fit-for-purpose” facilities at Stobhill Hospital.

‘National strategy’

It said local care homes would be commissioned to provide an extended level of care to inpatients, not requiring acute facilities.

More patients would be discharged from Glasgow Royal Infirmary directly to home, with additional support if required.

Stobhill Hospital would provide day hospital and outpatient services, it said.

Finally, it said Parkinson’s services would be delivered from Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

NHSGGC chief executive Jane Grant said the proposals were consistent with national strategy to shift care from acute hospitals to community services delivered by health and social care partnerships.

“The proposed hub will give real opportunity to further integrate health and social care services to the benefit of patients and service users.”

She said the decision followed a three-month consultation, which included service users.

Previous closure plans

The Scottish government rejected proposals to close Lightburn Hospital in 2011.

Via: Glasgow east end hospital set to close

I realise that’s a long quote from the new item, and the article is even longer.

But it’s hard to see the logic after the last closure threat of 2011 was countered by Nicola Sturgeon, who was then health secretary, and said local people’s interests were best served by maintaining Lightburn Hospital and its healthcare services.

However, in August 2016, NHSGGC (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde) announced plans to consult on proposals to close or cut down on some in-patient and maternity services.

The latest decision by the health board to close Lightburn Hospital is to be referred to Health Secretary Shona Robison.

We can only wait and see if NHSGGC’s assertion that after only five years, the service model at Lightburn Hospital no longer fits with modern healthcare.

The entrance to Lightburn Hospital on Carntyne road:

Lightburn Hospital Entrance

Lightburn Hospital Entrance

I had intended to take a pic of the covered entrance to the hospital itself, as I’d sat there for many hours during visits (handy for keeping out of the rain), but as you can see, lots of greenery screens it, especially that tree at the centre of the turning circle, notably larger than it was when I was last there.

Lightburn Hospital

Lightburn Hospital

One important point these days, its car park, a place I would once have needed a season ticket for, had tickets been needed or charges made.

I mention it as a great convenience for visitors, after noting the horrendous stories about hospital parking I see in media these days, especially for hospitals in the city such as Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where there are not only charges, but it would seem a lack of spaces and poor access for those who have to attend.

While I can park some way away and walk (and have done this during recent visits), for those not so mobile, it must be hell.

When I had to take someone there for tests, I found it hard to conceive of them getting there on their own, they just would not have been capable. Fortunately, the doctor put us in touch with, and arranged, for a volunteer ‘taxi’ (someone who gave their time freely and used their own car) to provide transport to and from GRI. I don’t know hoe I’d have coped otherwise. Sure, I could have driven the person there, but what do I do on arrival? Put my car in my back pocket until I need it again? I couldn’t leave them on their own for a moment, standing lost in the street, yet had nowhere near the relevant door to leave my car (or even stop) so I could walk or wheelchair them to the door.

Lightburn Hospital Car Park

Lightburn Hospital Car Park

17/08/2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Is Baillieston closing for business?

Unless there’s something unusual or interesting I don’t usually bother about the steady coming and going of business or shops on the ‘Main Street’.

These tend to balance out, with a few empty shops, the occasional new arrival, and the occasional closure maintaining a steady balance.

But last night was a bit different as I took my regular wander through Baillieston, with two obvious losses (three now that I think of it), and the realisation that there may be a fourth I had not noticed.

The first obvious one was the bookies, really, a betting shop closing?

I’m more used to being surprised at seeing them being granted permission to open in Shettleston in recent times, there are so many, and within sight of one another too.

That makes this closure in Baillieston all the more of a surprise, unless they’re moving or refurbing. But that seem unlikely as I recall the place being gutted and upgraded not so long ago, when all the old computer gear was dumped in the road. And it didn’t even seem to close for that. There’s a note stuck to the window near the door, but it’s just security details.

Betting Shop Closed

Betting Shop Closed

Next one I came across was this former ladies clothes shop.

Oddly enough, as I’ve been passing this in recent weeks I’ve actually been thinking how remarkable it was that it was still there after so many years, and how the window displays were always fresh and clean. Many long-established little shops let their window displays slip, get untidy, out-of-date, and even dusty, dirty, and faded as they are neglected, but not this one.

Looks like my thoughts were similar to Murray Walker’s ‘Kiss of Death’ or “Commentator’s Curse” which often applied when he suggested someone was about to win an F1 race – which would almost immediately cause their car to fail in some dramatic way.

Terrible lighting and compact camera made for a terrible pic – the sign is still there, above the door, but the colour combination just comes out as a smear with its little sensor. I also thought there was a hole in the roof before I tweaked the image, but I believe is/was actually a chimney, centre front.

Chambers Fashions Closed

Chambers Fashions Closed

The other two that came mind were the pub at the bus stop. The Circle Bar if I recall correctly, appeared to close then was open on odd days, then closed completely and became a shop.

Caught in this Google view from 2016 being converted into a shop full of bongs:

Pub to Shop

Pub to Shop

The other one is, or was, the  grossly over-priced designer brand label ice-cream shop. (Sorry, nothing against the shop, just the concept of a brand names and labels that have silly money premium prices attached.)

This moved from a smaller shop in the busier middle of the Main Street to this once derelict former TV shop a while ago.

The place has been closed for a while now, and the shutters are up. I had wondered if they were maybe just on holiday, but there’s no sign or note obvious.

A pity, as it always seemed to have a steady stream of customers, I thought it was ‘safe’ – perhaps not sustainable. Despite the name, it is a Scottish brand, based not that far away, and while I see they offer help to start a business, I don’t see any mention of the ‘F’ word (franchise – can be expensive).

Maybe business is really good, and they’re having a looooooooooooooong holiday.

Again, Google has to rescue me as I’ve never pointed a camera this way:

Ice Cream Parlour

Ice Cream Parlour

I’m there all the time, so any changes or updates will be added below.

Updates

As par a later post, the Ice Cream Parlour has moved back into the busy body of the main street, away from this quieter spot, and is installed in a shop that sells trendy stuff.

The betting shop is indeed gone, as estate agent’s signs were bolted on to the front a few days later. No real surprise, more that it lasted so long, as two others sit beside one another in the busier part of the main street, and are next to a pub.

Thinking back (I’m not a betting shop person) I have memories of a fourth one that opened across the road from those two, but was hardly there long enough for me to remember it quickly.

24/07/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hunter Wellies finally confirm their status as fashion toys rather than serious footwear

Hunter Wellington

Hunter Wellington

The once famous and reliable Green Hunter Wellington boot has confirmed its status as nothing more than an over-priced fashion toy, a plaything for wasteful celebrities, as it prepares for its appearance in the glamorous world of fashion, and display by models on the catwalk at London fashion week later this month.

Models will be wearing a new “bespoke” version of Hunter’s original boots, and completing the rural look with a “water-resistant original clear smock”, also made by the company, as part of its autumn-winter 2014 range.

Hunter wellies get re-boot at London fashion week – The Scotsman

The company is not the original though, which collapsed into administration in 2006, and was bought out of this status two years later,  as Hunter Boot Ltd. This company closed the original plant at Heathhall, near Dumfries, ending production in Scotland, relocated it headquarters to Edinburgh, and shifted production (apparently not the manufacturing plant and equipment) to China. The plant was sold of, and seems to have gone to Serbia.

By 2012, turn-over was almost £75 million – but customers were finding their Hunter Green Wellies were falling off their feet and leaking – I’m not saying this, those who post comment on the original story are:

Hunter Wellies wade off into the sunset

You can still buy proper wellies made using the original equipment, as it seems that the former Hunter production equipment was bought up and moved to Serbia, to a company named as Tigar Corporation:

TIGAR

(Comment are closed on this post, but can be made on the originalHunter Wellies wade off into the sunset )

04/02/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archeolink to close two years after it closed

It’s a little over two years since I wrote about the closure of Archeolink, so I was slightly surprised to see a new item about the plug being pulled on the former attraction.

Then I realised that it was yet another crazy council related story, this time Aberdeen City Council.

I’m beginning to see why some spend their life posting derogatory stories about councils… there seems to be a ready source of material for the lazy writer from this source.

Looking back at my original item on Archeolink, it looked as if the centre, described as “lurching from one financial crisis to another” after being opened in something of a fanfare attended by Tony Robinson of Time Team fame, had been closed, and then failed to attract any interest by anyone willing to take it over. I thought that was the end of it.

Archaeolink was billed as a Prehistory Park where visitors were invited to Travel 10,000 years in one day from the Mesolithic to a Roman Marching Camp, aimed at charting the North east’s Stone Age, Pettish and Roman past. It featured a reconstructed Iron Age farm and a walk to the remains of an Iron Age enclosure and hut circle

I’m forced to make some guesses here, as this isn’t anything like the businesses I have been involved with, but while a normal owner would presumably have wanted, or been forced, to divest themselves of the costs and responsibilities of owning the dead site, Aberdeen City Council has been sitting on it since the place closed. In the midst of the supposed recession, I have to assume the land and any assets that were on it have done anything but appreciate. So there will be two years of depreciation – a figure that can only be guessed at.

I do know the council poured £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money into in 2005, as it was failing to attract anything like the visitor numbers it was supposed to.

There also the cost of ownership:

Stephen Archer, the council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, states in a report to the area committee that the former tourist attraction is still costing the council in the region of £30,000 a year in rates, insurance, repairs and security costs.

Mr Archer added:

Archaeolink opened in 1997 as part of an initiative to enhance tourism in Aberdeenshire. The then council contributed in excess of £2million to the project and this was matched by European Commission funding.

The subjects were leased to a trust whose purpose was to advance the education of the public in archaeological, prehistoric or historical objects. From the outset, visitor numbers never met projections and, consequently, since opening the council has supported the project with funding of £1.96million. In February, 2011, Aberdeenshire Council agreed to reduce funding for the visitors attraction budget and subsequently the facility closed.

If it were not for the obvious addition of staff wages and other running costs, the council might almost have been better keeping the place open. They might have made some money instead of pouring more into the pit, and it might even have magically turned itself around and risen from its own ashes.

Or not.

Via Aberdeenshire Council to pull plug on Archaeolink – Top stories – Scotsman.com

Forgetting the council, it’s still a shame to see another museum (if we use the term generally) being lost completely.

There’s seldom news of a new museum opening successfully, and more often than not, we notice and report of attempts and intentions to establish such a facility, only for it to collapse after year or two, or for it never to be heard of again.

Iron age round house at Archeolink by London looks, on Flickr

Iron age round house at Archeolink by London looks, on Flickr

31/05/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Closure threat to University Marine Biological Station Millport

I’ve been watching developments regarding the future of the University Marine Biological Station Millport for a while, in the hope that something might have been resolved after the news that it had lost major funding and the likely result would be closure.

The station is the third-largest employer on the island in the Firth of Clyde, with 30 permanent staff, and attracts more than 1500 undergraduate students every year to carry out field work in the island’s coastal terrain. It also contains a museum and public aquarium that are one of Millport’s biggest tourist attractions.

A study by Jura Consultants in 2010 found that UMBC was responsible for 10 per cent of all employment on Great Cumbrae and contributed around £400,000 to the local economy each year.

Just two weeks ago it was awarded £100,000 from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund towards renovation costs.

Closing the facility would also end more than 125 years of history that began when marine biologist Sir John Murray set up a floating laboratory at Port Loy in a disused barge.

Twelve years later local man David Robertson persuaded investors to fund a permanent research station at Millport.

It gained university status in the 1970s and has provided facilities for undergraduate, MSc and PHd students as well as hosting school field trips from around the country.

Via Threat to island jobs as Millport marine biology centre loses funding | News | Glasgow | STV

That news story appeared back in December 2012, just two weeks after the centre was awarded £100,000 from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund towards renovation costs.

Petition

An online petition, which was collected in six days, was presented to First Minister Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Mike Russell on Thursday (January 17):

Last week, 42 Scottish marine academics, from six universities, signed an open letter to the Scottish government demanding “rapid” action to save the station.

Mr Russell responded by saying he had called a meeting of all those involved, including local MSP Kenneth Gibson, to discuss the situation.

Mark Blaxter, who co-ordinated the petition, said he was “humbled” by how many people had signed the petition.

“In only six days, thousands have registered both their dismay and their resolve, and are united in asking for swift action to save the station,” he said.

17 January 2013 – News of a Petition to save Marine Biological Station Millport

Millport biological marine station

Millport biological marine station © Richard Webb via geograph

Accommodation for those visiting the station is in a purpose built hostel, to the right of the station and just out of sight in the picture above. The station began in the centre building, but soon grew out of the space available, and the similar building to its right was later added to provide the space needed for its work to continue.

28 January 2013 – Video report on the station: Cumbrae marine research centre under threat of closure

Without wishing to sound critical of those speaking, they seem to suggest that the island and town are wholly dependent on the presence of the station, which some might say could be interpreted as damaging to the island’s much better known role as a holiday and tourism destination. The report suggests “Residents on the Isle of Cumbrae on the Clyde say the possible closure of a marine research centre will devastate the island’s economy”, and one lady was quoted on camera as saying “Might as well do away with the whole town.”

However, it does indicate how strongly they wish the station to remain in place, and that is important if their campaign is to succeed. Many similar efforts fade and fail because nobody cares – apparently not so on Cumbrae.

30 January 2013 – Redundancy talks mentioned in the video followed quickly: London University begins redundancy talks at Millport marine biology centre | News | Glasgow | STV

07/02/2013 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daldowie Garden Cafe has been and gone

I’m sometime down at Daldowie Crematorium quite often, not only for personal reasons, but because the grounds offer easy access to some interesting areas of the banks of the River Clyde, and the path of the National Cycle Network – Route 75, and Clyde Walkway which runs alongside at many places.

I didn’t manage to get there very often during 2012 though, but always try to wander along at New Year. Last year was memorable due to the snow and frozen ground, which made the walk to the river easier (despite the snow) since it effectively ‘fixed’ the wet and boggy ground found in many places away from the established tracks. Wellies are essential unless you want to walk back home with soggy feet, if you are not visiting in a dry summer). The frozen snow of Christmas 2011 also helped cover the many deep holes which can often catch the unwary, and if you miss spotting one, can find your leg disappearing almost 2 feet or more into a void. In summer, these can be hidden by clumps of grass and other undergrowth.

It was too dull and wet to have look at the river this year, so I just wandered around the gardens, and went to look at “The Garden Cafe” which I had spotted built into a room at the rear of the crematorium building. I’m always there ‘after hours’, to avoid disturbing any parties there attending ceremonies, so the place was shut, but it was obvious that it was in use, from the items on the tables and the counter.

I thought it was a good idea, as the place is nice and quiet, and while I am just around the corner and minutes away, I could see how those travelling some distance to visit the Gardens of Remembrance might appreciate having such a facility to hand – especially with our weather, which can change at the drop of a hat.

Sadly, it seems it was not sustainable, and when I walked around the back of the building, it was gone, together with its sign(s). I guess the number of people using it was just not enough to pay for the cost of supporting it and keeping it staffed.

A look through the window showed the counter was gone, and only a few of the tables and chairs were left scattered around the room, which was otherwise empty.

I shouldn’t really have been too surprised.

When I used to frequent a number of small (and maybe not so small) museums around the country, most of which are now gone, chatting with the staff suggested that they could only keep their cafes open on the basis of keeping them full, and that basically translated into special events, bringing in a lot of day visitors, or pre-arranged coach parties – neither of which is likely at a crematoria.

Good job I had a camera in my pocket the first and only time I saw The Garden Cafe, or I might not be able to convince anyone it was ever there…

Garden Cafe Daldowie

Garden Cafe, Daldowie Crematorium, 2012

Garden Cafe Daldowie

Garden Cafe, Daldowie Crematorium, 2013

02/01/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

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