Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

It’s like demolition is following me nowadays

It’s beginning to feel as if I should be eyeballing everywhere I look at these days, and pick the ones that are not going to be there the next time I look.

The most recent surprise was an old Cash & Carry on ground between Shettleston Road and Old Shettleston Road. When it was open, I think it was The State Cash & Carry, notable to me years ago as my grandfather managed to convince them to sell him his pipe tobacco at cost. This came in uncut chunks that muggins was given the ‘privilege’ of cutting up and turning into something that could be crammed into his pipe. This was no mean feat as he liked the black stuff, and this was more like a lump of black gum or tar than tobacco leaves.

Anyway, the place was gone when passed recently, at night, and I only managed to pass again in daylight and grab a pic of the razed site. Watch this space for some houses/flats?

While there was only a scabby old brick wall to be seen, I’d at least liked to have had a ‘before’ pic.

Shettleston Rd Fennella St Demolition

Shettleston Rd Fennella St Demolition

We might be in for a small flurry of new builds here.

There used to be Halfords just along the road, and it vanished while I wasn’t looking too, which is to say I had no reason to go in for ages, then it closed, and after lying shuttered for some years, was also razed recently.

I can’t lay hands on a pic of the place when it was open, so this one of the dead and shuttered remains will have to do.

This was classed as ‘Slightly Irritating’ since they do have a decent range of cycling spares, something I find myself in occasional need of recently, but now have to make my way to Rutherglen for.

While there are some nearby shops dealing in cycle parts, 9 times out of 10 they don’t have what I want, or when I hear their price I need an ambulance to help recover from the shock. Cycling seems to be very expensive if you don’t shop around, or go online.

Halfords Closed

Halfords closed

Then, a few weeks ago my next wander down that way showed it to have been removed without a trace too.

Halfords Demolished

Halfords demolished

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

Changes at Carntyne Road and Todd Street

I’d forgotten all about a set of pics I collected by chance at the junction of Carntyne Road and Todd Street, showing some fairly major works underway.

I guess this is to make way for more houses, as the estate established here a few years ago is steadily expanding, and the raised areas that once supported the rail tracks and bridges here must be a nuisance for the developers.

The use of raised earth banks with stone facings and retaining walls seems to have been a common choice for the many rail bridges that passed over roads like this. There used to be a few of these near my home and it was fun to wander along the derelict track (both the rails and the actual bridges were gone before we moved nearby) and see into the back gardens of all the houses the track had run past. I think the biggest surprise was finding the number of people who had fairly ordinary houses, yet manages to squeeze some sort of pool into their back garden. Not swimming pools, or fish ponds, but paddling pools.

I was surprised to find that the Google Street View car had been there just before me, and caught the road diversions in place, just before the plant and machinery arrived.

I’m due to pass here again some time soon, and expect this work will be finished, so I’ll be able to get a fresh ‘After’ view, and maybe post it a bit quicker, for comparison.

First up was the view along Carntyne Road, with Todd Street crossing in the foreground.

Carntyne Rd Todd St

Carntyne Rd Todd St

According to the yellow sign, the disruption was planned to run from 24 October to 04 December.

Then looking the other way, along Todd Street, across Carntyne Road.

Todd St Carntyne Rd

Todd St Carntyne Rd

I’m quite glad to see this gone, the giant billboards are abhorrent, but at least sometimes amusing, legit, and paid for.

The old bridge walls were often hijacked by pervasive fly-posters, stealing the wall space, making the place look cheap and untidy, never cleared away by the council, and always advertising crap.

February 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rothesay’s West Church set to be a partial survivor

It’s not been that long since I finally decided to give the unfortunate West Church in Rothesay a mention.

After many years of doubt, and not a little controversy with conflicting views, the church is now set to take on an altered appearance to render it safe:

Councillor Robert Macintyre, chair of Bute and Cowal Area Committee, told The Buteman: “The building standards section of the council have been in continual discussions with the structural engineer to establish the absolute minimum of work and most cost-effective way to make the building permanently safe.

“It has been decided that the roof of the main church building must be removed as soon as possible and the remaining walls lowered to a safe height.”

Via Partial demolition for former Rothesay church – The Buteman

I hope the cats that once called it ‘home’ have somewhere to go (of course they do).

It used to be fun watching them, and even thought they were too wary to let strangers near them (although the ladies that looked after them were, of course, tolerated), they would jump up on the car and stare at the occupants…

Maybe they thought we were in some sort of ‘Travelling Zoo’, and were placed there for them to look at!

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | 1 Comment

Demolition imminent for McColl’s Hotel in Dunoon

The issue of a warrant for the demolition of Dunoon’s McColl Hotel would seem to signal the end of a landmark.

While I wasn’t likely to stay there, the large white hotel building (visible on the left in the pic below) was something of a regular and welcome feature on a drive along the road past Dunoon, as it loomed ahead as you drove around Castle Hill, and below Highland Mary.

It’s nothing special, just one of those things that sticks in my mind.

There appear to be no current plans in place to replace the building:

The demolition of the hotel was described as ‘imminent’ in a response to a query by Cllr Mike Breslin to Brian Close, Planning Officer with the council for Bute and Cowal. The application does not include the Rosegarth Hotel site, adjacent.

Mr Close also told Cllr Breslin: “This will be closely monitored by Planning, Public Protection and SEPA in terms of waste material and burning on site.”

Mr Close continued in his response to Mike Breslin: “It is unfortunate that the applicants do not currently have a scheme on the table to develop both the McColl’s site and Rosegarth site.

“We have urged them to enter into pre-application enquiry discussions regarding suitable redevelopment of this very prominent and sensitive site.

“We would probably expect at this stage, blocks of high quality residential flats rather thann replacement hotel buildings, but future development options lie with the owners.”

Via THE END OF MCCOLL’S

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Any love for the former West Church lying derelict on the Isle of Bute?

Any love for the former West Church in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute?

It’s one of a number of similar derelicts you can find on the island if you go for a wander, but is the only one I see being picked on in the media.

I’ve known this one for years, as it lies on the edge of once hidden car park. Access was via a narrow gap between two building on the main street, but was made easier when a second access was created using the space left at he front of the church, when it fell out of use.

It was a handy place to park off-street many moons ago when we stayed in a nearby attic flat. In later years it served as a handy place to stop for lunch, being close to the shops for some food (if we had no sandwiches), and a kiosk on the esplanade that sold giant mugs of tea (albeit in a plastic cup) to help wash it down.

Going back to the church, it was taken over by the local stray cats, and they were adopted by the ladies that look after and feed such lost souls, and make sure they see the vet. It used be fun spotting them, but they were generally wary of strangers, so little or no fun playing with them.

But the building has been derelict and abandoned for years now, and concerns are growing over its condition. Some are calling for it to be demolished, while others are trying to find a use for it, or maybe just part of it.

As always, not being there, or being involved, makes it hard to get at the truth.

Are those calling for demolition after the ground for themselves for some reason?

Are those who want it retained just sentimental, and have no idea how safe it is after years of neglect?

And now those who live nearby are claiming nobody is listening to them.

But I doubt that (since we are obviously hearing their story), and suspect more likely a desperate reporter who wants some clickbait for an attention-grabbing headline. Rather than reporting concerns, I suspect leading questions were asked, and that legitimises the application of some ‘artistic licence’ after the writer raises the issue… after prompting those being interviewed.

That said, I do have to be fair and say that there is a tenement block to the immediate right of the church, on the hidden side in the pic below. But I’d still take the view that claiming they are not being listened to is wrong on the neighbour’s part – what they really mean is that they think their voice is the one that should be heard, and those seeking to retain or re-use the church should be ignored. I don’t have a pic to hand, but you can see the building if you look in Street View.

What we are seeing is merely due process being followed, and they don’t seem to like that since they are not being given blanket priority without debate.

Here are the most recent news articles that appeared this month:

Former Rothesay church beyond help, says councillor – The Buteman

Can former Rothesay church really be saved? – The Buteman

‘No-one listening to us’ say West Church neighbours – The Buteman

Decision soon on fate of former Rothesay church – The Buteman

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | 3 Comments

A little demolition in Tollcross

Although there’s been quite a lot of demolition around the east recently, even though I tramp around the street quite a lot (since I have to walk to fetch all my shopping) I seldom come across any actual demolition work in progress. It’s rather like the parks, maintained by the council, I seldom see anyone actually carrying out the work, just the piles of cuttings they leave behind for collection.

I’m not sure of the build dates of the housing shown below.

My best guess is that it postdates the more widely publicised sandstone Victorian tenement, which came to an end some time after the turn of the century (c. 1900), which can be seen in many of the date stones these older buildings.

The newer houses, which I’m guessing (but have never seen such a claim) are supposed to be a sort of pretend granite look-a-like or similar, seem to pre-date the 1930s, which I can say because I have seen them under construction in aerial photographs of other features in the city, when they and there estates were caught in the same pics, and where those pics carry accurate dates as to their origin.

However, unlike the sandstone tenement, I’ve never come across any specific history or description regarding the background our history of these later grey building.

But I have seen comments from people who lived in them, usually in forums and discussion groups, and most them are less than memorable – in other words, they didn’t like them, and thought they were rubbish.

We’ve had many books and articles on the sandstone tenement – maybe someone who knows more about these grey building should write a book (or point me at it, if I’ve missed it so far.)

I’ve watched these former homes slip into dereliction over the past months, being abandoned, then boarded up, then having the glass removed from the windows. It looks as if these are being taken, rather than just stoned/broken.

I didn’t see the start of this work, as I wasn’t along this way for a while, so I went round the corner for the second pic, which shows the building just prior to this work.

Interesting to note that it’s the newer buildings to the right that are being razed, while the older sandstone examples to the left are staying in place.

Tollcross Demolition 2014

Tollcross Demolition 2014

Tollcross Derelict 2014

Tollcross Derelict 2014

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Inverkip landmark to bite the dust on July 28 2013

While the haters will no doubt be dancing (naked?) around the ceremonial fires and sacrificial altars where they probably consigned various offerings to a bloody death as they invoked various incantations, the Black Arts,  and any number of mystical spells to make the chimney at the former Inverkip Power Station disappear, I won’t be joining them.

For those who want to witness the loss, then they need to be in sight of the action which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 10 pm (22:00 just to be sure.)

Via Final part of Inverkip Power Station to be demolished – Local Headlines – The Buteman

Also Demolition date for Inverkip Power Station chimney

Caught with the Waverly passing, from Zak’s excellent collection of images from Bute: Zak’s Photo Galleries at pbase.com:

Described as Scotland’s tallest free-standing structure, and the third tallest in the UK (until the 28th, at least), it rose to 236 m (778 feet) and was described as having some 1.4 million bricks and 20,000 tonnes of concrete within its walls. All seemed good reason to for keeping it, and if we listen to the Green Loonies, then this act of mindless destruction will produce a mass of pollution, waste energy, and create a huge pile of spoil to be dealt with. A task that will consume yet more energy to grind the result of the demolition into aggregate, as seems to be the norm.

Come to think of it, I pass a large pile of such material every day I go to the shops. Created when an office block was demolished, the resulting pile of crushed debris has lain untouched on the abandoned site for months. Maybe they left it there for the next occupant, to save them transporting aggregate… to build another office block.

While Scotland has become a tourist industry in recent years, I can’t help but feel that there’s no real innovation in the thinking of those responsible for bringing increasing numbers of tourists – and their wallets of course – to the country. They call for a 50% increase in the money taken out of those tourists’ wallets by 2015 (sorry, that seemed to change to 2016 while I wasn’t looking), yet offer little new to attract them. And a look through this blog will show that they don’t do much to support existing attractions, as I think I write too often about places closing, generally due to lack of funding or investment. Whether that’s down to them being unpopular, or badly managed/promoted is a moot point – all to often the notice of closure seems to bring about a campaign and lots of complaints about the closure. Seems nobody cares until it’s too late, and the places are heading to the wall, then there’s outrage.

I sometimes consider the drive to get people to come here is driven by too many ‘Old Men’ (and women). I might add I don’t mean that merely in the ageist sense, but in the way their heads work. There’s a lack of innovation and a tendency to rely on anything that grows from ‘Heather and Tartan’, and drives visitors into hotels. Traditional tourism venues get promoted, and I seem to recall hotels were all adding aromatherapy and corporate event facilities in the mid noughties onward, only to find they were largely ignored.

We had news of a castle owner adding a mini-tank driving facility in the grounds of a castle he is trying to raise money to restore. Instead of support, he was criticised for bringing something “Out of character” to the grounds around the castle ruin. Presumably allowing the castle to continue to decay due to lack of funds until it becomes a pile of rubble is more acceptable to the locals, and “In character.”

I see the demolition of the Inverkip chimney as a lost opportunity.

To build such a thing today would be out of any attraction builders’ pocket (unless they were an American billionaire megalomaniac who thinks he owns Scotland and could build a golf course on it while abusing the locals).

But it would be ideal to turn into a viewpoint, with the view it already has along the Firth of Clyde and the surrounding lands – and unlike Glasgow’s embarrassing shame seen the shape of the Glasgow Tower, it’s not likely to break down and be deemed so unsafe that no-one could ever ascend it.

There’s also the extreme sports and adventure types, who I am sure could come up with ways to use it as a climbing tower. For those who don’t appreciate the scale of this chimney, it’s huge. Climbers could use the outside in good weather, while the interior could be kitted out for use when the weather wasn’t quite so good – a handy option to have in Scotland.

I can’t help but think that if this chimney was overseas, or in Russia or the Ukraine for example, then it would be turned into something productive.

Hint:

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Demolition order for Kirkwall Sector Operations Room

Although some two years have passed since The Orcadian first reported on the proposal to demolish the Kirkwall Sector Operations Room, also known as the Black Building, Orkney Islands Council is only now being reported to have signed the demolition order. This could see the site cleared and developed for flats, with the proposal made in 2007 indicating 12 self-build serviced sites were being suggested for the area.

During the war, this room would have functioned as the main communications centre for the Orkney Islands. The building earned its local nickname simply from its appearance, which was a consequence of its exterior finish.

The building also served as a repeater station after the war, when the GPO used part of the space to house their equipment.

Kirkwall Sector Operations Room, the Black Building

The Black Building © Mark Crook

Although the building and its contents (communications equipment) are believed to have survived relatively intact for some years, its sale during the 1990s is reported to have left it open to vandalism, with the structure being stripped bare, and the remaining shell and surrounding grounds used as a dumping ground. Pictures of the interior taken in 2001 show it to have been stripped down to the brickwork and supporting steelwork, and that the brick and concrete shell of the building is intact. Originally located within a high fenced enclosure, this is also reported to have been vandalised. Much of the bomb-proofing was stripped from the roof, and was stacked somewhere in the industrial estate at Hatston to the northwest.

The Black Building now has its own page on Facebook, and an online appeal has been launched.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Appeal, Aviation, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

AA Battery Bellsmyre razed

Following on from the recent losses of RAF Tain, and the Gourock Decontamination Centre, under the pretext of them being “eyesores”, we now wave goodbye to the remains of the World War II anti-aircraft battery at Bellsmyre, which have been razed as part of a local development of the surrounding area.

Two of the batterys gun emplacements

Two of the battery's gun emplacements

The site was also of importance as it was one of a small number of World War II batteries which was converted in the postwar years to serve as a Cold War anti-aircraft battery.

These batteries, and the later purpose built postwar anti-aircraft batteries, were intended to provide a defence against Soviet bombers which were believed to form the major threat in the event of a nuclear war, however this thinking was soon considered to be flawed, as the bombers could fly at altitudes which defeated the range of the guns. Changes in technology rendered these defences obsolete almost as they were built, and the threat moved from bombs to missiles – either ICBM (inter continental ballistic missiles), or shorter range missiles deployed from submarines, which could roam the seas virtually invisible and undetectable, and launch their missiles with little or no chance of detection, and less chance of being countered. Defences had therefore to be aimed at the missiles, not the launch system, and this meant only minutes to take action as these approach at speeds of thousands of miles/kilometres per hour, hence the origin of the “Three Minute Warning”.

Postwar engine room

Postwar engine room - added to power the later battery's computer and radar controlled guns

Until such times as Google and Co update their aerial imagery from the area, the battery site can be seen in the aerial view below.

You can actually see greater detail in the Multimap view (but the embedding doesn’t work within this blog), however the view below still shows the engine room to the southeast, and the emplacements to the northwest. The line running between the two is a later drain unconnected to battery, and cut through it in later years.

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gourock decon gone

We waved a sad goodbye to one of our member’s finds last month, with the discovery that local requests to have a wartime decontamination centre demolished had been acceded to, and the the centre had been razed and the ground cleared to remove all evidence of its existence because it was “an eyesore”.

Until Google decide to update their aerial imagery, you can see an aerial view of the “eyesore” below, and how prominent this wartime artefact was in terms of public view – provided you knew where to look through the trees, or off the road:

The centre would have dealt with the victims of a wartime gas attack, something the authorities of the time played on heavily, with everyone being issued with a gas mask which they were obliged to carry, however there was never a civilian gas attack made by the enemy during the course of the war – although there were plenty of bombs and incendiary devices dropped.

Victims would have been received at the centre, initially stripped of clothing and contamination, then showered to remove and hopefully neutralise the agent concerned. Following treatment, they would have been issued with clothing donated to the organisations such as the Red Cross, since their own would have been destroyed by incineration.

This was the theory, never put into practice.

In reality, things would have been much more complicated. The most common agent, mustard gas, remains active when dropped, and is not simply a gas as such, but a liquid which can be dispersed as an aerosol or spray, and as a gel. Because it remains active, it can deny access to an entire area until it has been decontaminated, thereby consuming resources.

More dangerous still is the effect of the persistent material, as an individual can enter such an area and become contaminated with the substance without being aware of fact since it can penetrate clothes and skin with little visible evidence. The effects can take some hours to develop, resulting in huge weeping blisters. Treatment at this stage is generally too late, and ineffective, as it needs to be administered before these signs become visible. While mustard gas contamination itself is not intrinsically fatal, the after effects and  complications can be, and exposure can lead to blindness and extensive scarring

The canopied reception area

The site had one building which is believed have been the main reception where administrative duties would have been carried out, and two decontamination buildings where the victims would have been tended to.

One of the two decontamination buildings

One of the two adjacent decontamination buildings, with their water storage tanks still visible on the roof

Local recollections of the centre say it was located here so that it could be used to treat sailors who had been contaminated by gas attacks at sea.

Later still, during the 1950s and the period of the Cold War, it is said to have been updated in order to provide the same decontamination function, but this time in the event of a nuclear attack.

Latterly, it served as little more than a storeroom, used by local groups and the council’s gardeners.

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Cold War, Lost, World War II | , , | 3 Comments

Historic Scotland needs to get realistic

While there can’t be any argument with the principles that Historic Scotland upholds with the regard to the protection and preservation of listed properties, the time is surely coming when their policies have to be better tempered to meet not only the needs of the buildings they seek to protect, but also those who choose to live in them, and become responsible for their upkeep.

There’s no shortage of horror stories to be found of nationally significant A, B and C-Listed building being lost forever, because the owners simply don’t have the financial resources to meet the demand of Historic Scotland, and make repairs and restorations using period methods and material, both of which can be horrendously expensive when invoked in today’s economic climate, and where labour and material costs have multiplied many times by comparison with the day when labour was cheap, low-paid, and available in almost endless amounts.

While there may be a case for A-Listed buildings of national importance – and which can attract public and private funding to support them – lesser structures, and B and C-Listed properties need to see some sort of relaxation of the rules to allow them to be saved by owners with more modest resources.

As it is, owners can make repairs using modern materials, and run the risk of ending up in some sort of legislative confrontation, or they can do nothing or abandon their property (if they can afford that) and leave it to ruin and decay. At best, this ends up as a compulsory purchase (unlikely as council budgets are as strapped for cash as the owners), or compulsory demolition if/when the property falls into such a state of disrepair as to become dangerous.

Certainly, in the case of lesser known B and C-Listed building which are getting older by the day, the time is coming where the option of repairing or maintaining them using sympathetically chosen modern methods and material is preferable to having them abandoned or poorly maintained due to the cost of applying traditional, period workings.

Surely it’s better to have the structure retained, looking correct, even if it may not be 100% original under the surface, than being converted into a pile of rubbish while nothing is done and it is left to decay.

We managed to do this with Classic Cars many years ago, and even badly restored examples are now welcomed, as enthusiasts realise that as they may become more valuable over time, they can be better restored to their original condition as funds later permit, whereas if they had been left to rust and decay, then they’d have been scrapped, and gone forever, without the option, or even opportunity to better restore them.

The BBC carried out some short interviews with poperty owners stuck with the problem of being required to carry out specialist repairs which were well above the budget of less original work:

Tough rules on materials, design and permission could be pricing the average Scot out of restoring their own built heritage, a BBC investigation has found. Lesley Riddoch reports.

Rules ‘hamper restoration’

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , , , | Leave a comment

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