Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Almost a secret – the Postie’s Box

I quite like to find out secrets, even if they’re not really ‘secret’, or maybe just not well known.

There are a few variations on the derelict example of the box seen below. For example, it has a form of cylinder lock, while others have use a larger mortice design. They also come in larger sizes. Some are post-mounted, such as this rusting example, and others can be found bolted to the side of the familiar red post box. They can be red, like this one, or a plain grey.

This one’s quite stable and solid, despite losing its paint and being very rusty, unlike one along the road from me, which looked nice and shiny, with little or no damage to its paint, yet its support failed completely a few days ago, leaving it lying on the footpath beside its perforated support. They tidied it away before I could get a pic.

Quite a few seem to have become abandoned and unused, and been burst open like this one, and filled with rubbish.

It was a long time before I saw one actually being used properly, by a postie, as storage for their mail bag.

Derelict Postie's Box

Derelict Postie’s Box


November 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | 6 Comments

I found a surviving old factory building – The Sentinel Works

While the city centre may provide a refuge for classical architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries, with many continuing to live on into the 21st century and probably beyond (unlike a certain £400+ million skip built in Holyrood that will barely last decades before becoming an uneconomic wreck), the same is not true of much of the surrounding area’s industrial architecture.

I’ve written before about wasted weekends when I set out with the intent of grabbing pics of such structures some years ago, only to find it was largely a waste of time. Years of ‘tidying’ have seen many survivors being expunged, probably to provide some councillor or politician with proof that they are ‘Doing something’ for the community, and which was highly visible.

Now, such features are probably only going to be found by chance, unless extensive area research is carried out first.

I got lucky when I ended up in Polmadie, much of which has been razed, but has still managed to retain a few old remains which, although derelict, have the benefit of being listed.

Coming over a bridge, I saw the shell of one such building.

Sentinel Works Jessie Street Rear

Sentinel Works Jessie Street Rear

The most noticeable feature in this view must be the remaining cast iron supports which once led the way for a fire escape.

This is a concrete structure (probably why it has survived), based on the Hennebique method of reinforced concrete: Hennebique’s idea of strengthening concrete used steel reinforcing bars embedded within the bottom face of a concrete slab. This originated on a house project in Belgium in 1879 where Hennebique used concrete as a fireproof protection for wrought iron beams.

Concrete is strong in compression, but weak in tension. The bars reinforce the structural area in tension, so preventing early failure.

This factory was built in the period 1903 to 1904 for Alley and MacLellan, engineers, who built some built 500 ‘knock down’ ships – a type which was built, dismantled, and then reassembled on inland waters.

It has 4 storeys containing 12 x 3 bays, large metal-framed windows, and an off-centre entrance bay with wide door having 3 tall lights above, added in the 1930s.

The works are named after the Sentinel steam lorry, developed by Alley and MacLellan, and which was also produced at their branches at Shrewsbury and Worcester.

Sentinel Works Jessie Street Front

Sentinel Works Jessie Street Front

Records indicate that this was the first fully reinforced concrete building with a ferro-concrete frame and panels, and the third oldest  surviving in the UK.

The absence of arches is said to anticipate American-inspired daylight factories by Albert Kahn, using straight lintels.

To the rear lay a foundry, equipped with a light railway.

Owned from 1918 to 1937 by Beardmore, the building was taken over by the Weir Group in 1960.

Like may large buildings, there isn’t enough space to stand sufficiently far back to take a view of the façade, without expensive lenses.

But I can stitch multiple images (only radially though, not linearly), so can catch it all at once.

Sentinel Works Stitch

Sentinel Works Stitch

Just to be complete, I found a public domain Sentinel steam lorry pic – taken in Australia!

Sentinel Australia

Sentinel Australia

October 31, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , | 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

Modern demolition clears a path to an old listed works building

I can’t get used to wandering around some places I’m more likely to be passing through in the dark than the light, so keep spotting surprises that shouldn’t really be (surprises).

Case in point, this derelict yet still attractive works building I spotted through some trees as I wandered into Cambuslang.

I should have seen it before, but the usual combination of dark nights, and our lovely wind and rain usually mean I’m hiding beneath a nice umbrella and comfy hooded jacket. Not helped by the modern buildings (now demolished) which used to screen this turn of the century (c.1900) building from sight in more recent years (visible on aerial images).

Rosebank Works

Rosebank Works

If I’ve identified it correctly, this is the Rosebank Works (Engineering) (Ceramics/Brick Making: brickmaking machinery), of James Mitchell and Son, which seems to have survived until the 1980s – when I note documents relating to it were archived.

That probably explains the decorative brickwork frieze seen towards the top of the front wall, and the central columns made of the light-coloured bricks.

I’ve passed the gate where I took the pics below from many times, but always in the dark, and had no idea this gem was lurking in the distance. All I can usually see here are the signs warning of dire consequences for anyone who dares to enter. There’s not many left, but I do have a vague recollection of many some time ago, presumably when the modern ‘shed’ that once stood in front of this surviving gem was being removed.

It’s a shame, but seeing this one is a rather sad reminder of how few and far between such surviving relics of our industrial heritage are these days.

I probably don’t really need to point out that there is large area of derelict land only a few metres to the west of this building, past a football ground, where NOTHING survives, yet was once the site of a giant Hoover factory employing more than 2,000, but production ended in 2005.

It was a factory of its time (late 1940s), and something of a shed too, so let’s enjoy this earlier design:

Rosebank Works

Rosebank Works


Rosebank Works

Rosebank Works

This post reminded me of how dull and boring walks around this area have become.

Like many, there seems to have been a deliberate effort to purge the area of anything that reminds people of its past, or dare to have an untidy or just ‘old’ building left standing if it can be razed, presumably just to make the place look ‘Nice and Tidy’ for tourists, visitors, investors, or smart young people with money to move into, away from the problems of city living.

August 27, 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!



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

Weird happening at the old pumping station

While passing the old Clyde Ironworks pumping station on the River Clyde last night, something odd happened.

As I came up from the river via the Clyde Walkway and cycle route, as I glanced over at the old pumping station I saw clouds of black smoke apparently billowing out from the roof.

Being late-ish in the evening, my first thought was that I’d come across vandal, possibly having just broken in and set light to the place, and started to make myself scarce – but when I reached the path closer to civilisation and turned to have a look and see what might be happening… no smoke, nothing, nothing at all.

I couldn’t take a camera this evening, or I’d have stopped long enough to catch a pic, so have no evidence.

I don’t know if this pumping station has been repurposed, or is derelict. I did have an explore around it once, but there’s little to see (most of it is bricked up) and the most interesting thing was walking along the ledge over the river.

The only thing similar that comes to mind is the cloud of thick black smoke that can pour from a large old diesel engine as it starts.

I have no explanation for what I saw, and regret heading south instead of west as I hurried away, as the latter would have given me a clear view from the bridge, only moments later. The way I went has it’s view blocked by trees.

Pumping station, River Cyde, Bogleshole

Can’t find my own pics quickly, so this fuzzy Google Earth clip will have to do…

Clydebridge Ironworks Pumping Station

Clydebridge Ironworks Pumping Station

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Another abandoned and derelict house is lost

I mentioned a nice Victorian era sandstone house that was razed recently, having stood derelict for decades, although not apparently vandalised: There goes another old building

There was another house across the road, a cottage that had been occupied and refurbished/modernised over the years, but had for some reason had been wrecked by vandals, and also become abandoned and derelict

This is how it looked then, back in 2014:

Hamilton Rd Housewreck

Hamilton Rd Housewreck

It was a while until my wandering carried back there (only a year after the above pic, in 2015, but I completely forgot about it), but when I did see the spot again, it looked like this:

Demolished Derelict Hamilton Road

Demolished Derelict Hamilton Road

As of now, 2017, this spot is still empty, so the house was just razed to get rid of it, not to make way for a new build (yet?)

I’ve spotted a number of these losses over the years, I now realise that in most of these cases there is some sort of story behind the loss, often some sort of accident, tragedy, or failure in the life of the owner/family.

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I used to be a nice house

I have to confess to forgetting I had this pic, and must have caught by chance when out wandering, as I barely recognised it when I came across it this morning.

It’s actually one I mentioned recently, today made inaccessible with chained fencing and overgrown trees and bushes left around it, but was at least approachable last year. The irony of things is that I’d probably have got hassle, or even a visit from the police if I’d gone further as it is overlooked and open to view from neighbouring properties (or was until the fence and overgrown garden hid it), yet the vandals that visit at night get ‘free access’ to do as they please. I get chased for just wanting to take a few pics – they get all the time they want to party, and then set fire.

While it’s now burnt out, trashed, and probably been left structurally insecure due to fire damage of the interior, based on a broadly similar house I know someone sold not too long ago (and bearing in mind that unknown features can significantly alter base value), it would probably be on the books for ‘Offers over £2oo k’ at an average guess, at the moment.

As it is, the value is probably now just that of the plot, unless somebody had deep pockets and didn’t care how much they threw at it to recover it, not impossible, just expensive.

I used to wonder how houses ended up like this.

Now I know it’s often the result of a family disaster or tragedy, or some sort of failure, eg business.

Derelict House


March 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Too much tidy – Too little UrbEx

One of the thing I’ve come to regret is the zealous application of ‘tidy’ to the east end of Glasgow, not least of which was driven by the 2014 Commonwealth Games, or The Shames, since it’s shame we had to endure this nonsense for a few privileged folk who wanted to run and jump for a few days, and earn some sponsorship at Glasgow’s expense.

A few years ago I started to walk around the area, and found a few places, either relics of the past, or that I might have wanted to explore. To be honest, the walking was not so much a choice as a necessity, since driving was an expensive luxury that had fallen off my list of options.

Frankly, this was really nothing new, as I’d tried to have a little fun a few years prior to this, and had taken a few trips into Glasgow, with the intent of ‘collecting’ some surviving relics of old city centre buildings – but this fell through after a few weekends, as I found that most building had been cleaned up and tidied of any ‘old’ gems that might have adorned them, or I was finding that building I’d spotted in old B&W pics were demolished or refurbished. Anything left usually wasn’t particularly notable. Of the notable items… let’s just say that they are so few and well-known, there’s no problem finding a pic or record, defeating my idea of finding ‘goodies’.

This came to mind when I happened to pass an old house, now fenced off and almost out of sight behind overgrown bushes and trees. While there’s no legit way for a decent UrbExer to have a look – even the fencing is padlocked and secured by chains – this doesn’t stop or deter vandal, and the place is now completely burnt out and wrecked.

Baillieston ruin

Baillieston ruin

This is one of those things you don’t notice happening.

Looking at this one reminded that I’ve seen quite a few mansions, sandstone houses, or villas, generally from the Victorian era which have lain empty an unsold for years, until they fell into disrepair, abandoned, and then vandalised as they became neglected. Sad to say, sometimes there are stories of tragedies behind them, but it does seem odd that this happens, and a perfectly good house ends up being ruined. You may have seen one in the news, belonging to some millionaire who lost his money, and even left his Rolls in the garage – it was trashed too.

Those I have seen this happen to, around here, have all been razed over the years.

This one gets a better view from above, via Google, than I can get on the ground

Not really much I can do – if the places simply aren’t there, they can’t be explored.

Although I’ve used homes as the example, the real disappointment around the east end its surroundings is the clearance of the industry that used to cover the area. Looking at old maps, even from only a century ago, can show a completely different area, unrecognisable today despite being a major concern in its day.

I wandered behind a park and modern industrial unit and came across a load of substantial concrete beams and other remains along a closed road. There’s no (historic) record of the site online, and I had to use old OS maps to discover this had been a 19th century steelworks.

Guess I should do a post about it one day.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Tollcross Winter Gardens – Shame of the 2014 Commonwealth Games ‘Lasting Legacy’

I used to enjoy cutting through Tollcross Park, and the opportunity to drop into the Tollcross Winter Gardens.

But, thanks to the ‘Lasting Legacy’ of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this has been denied me since at least February 2013 (I cannot be exact as I stopped walking around the area before this date, as the preparation for the ‘Shames’ was trashing the area, making it anything but a pleasure to walk through), and was the first time I saw how the Winter Gardens had themselves been trashed, while the existing sports centre nearby was having countless thousands poured into it for no good reason, and big red shed was being built along the road, at Parkhead. Seriously, all that money poured down the drain for a few spoilt runners and jumpers, while a real gem like the Winter Gardens was trashed, and no money spent on it as part of the so-called ‘Legacy’.

Things were no better in 2015: Tollcross Winter Gardens – a ‘Lasting Legacy’ to betrayal

Another 2 years, its 2017, and I’m basically just repeating the same sorry story.

I got there too late for this, or even to give it a little publicity, and since I will not tough the toxic f a c e b o o k, I can’t tell if there is any progress (can’t find any more online), but this sign was up at various places around the park and derelict glasshouse:

Friend of Tollcross Park first meet sign

Friend of Tollcross Park first meeting sign

It will be interesting to see if any interest can be raised after what is clearly a blatant betrayal of those who once cared and put in the effort – I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if even those who care choose not to be made fools of again.

Over 17 years ago, this happened:

The Winter Garden in Tollcross Park were last refurbished in the period 1999/2000, having lain derelict for at least a decade, and at risk of being lost at worst, or left to rot at best.

However, funding to the value of £1.7 million rescued the glasshouse then, and it also gained an adjacent Visitor Centre, café, and play area.

I have my doubts if it will be repeated, unless grants and Lottery funding can be found, and maybe more importantly, some way of taking it out of the hands of those who allowed the damage to be done.

It’s really hard to believe I was able to walk into these gardens prior to 2013, give thanks to the good folk who had been able to have them restored AND add a visitor centre (there are also play area which have been lost within the grounds), only to see it all ruined, derelict, and abandoned.


According to the Building at Risk Register for Scotland:

The glasshouses are understood to have been damaged during storms in Dec 2010/ Jan 2011 and have been closed since.

Tollcross Conservatory, Tollcross Park, Tollcross

I had no idea the closure went that far back. Smells like a make-believe excuse to me, after all, why close the Visitor Centre too? It was the part that sold stuff and made money, and was usually full of parents and screaming kids. I guess it operated at a loss, so when the glasshouse closed, its days were numbered.


Can’t see why money was not made available and throw at for the 2014 Shames, as a tourist attraction, or was considered to be an attraction only for the ‘wrong sort’ of tourist, and not those who were wanted for the Shames?

Tollcross Winter Gardens January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens January 2017


Tollcross Winter Gardens Side January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens Side January 2017


Tollcross Winter Gardens Visitor Centre January 2017

Tollcross Winter Gardens Visitor Centre January 2017


February 11, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | 2 Comments

Argyle Street is glum

When I was little, and I mean really little, I was regularly dragged into “town” with my mother and grandmother. Those were the days when ladies went for tea, and tea rooms were still plentiful, with all the big stores being so equipped. No identical fast-food clones were to be seen. The stores were generally all well-respected big names (of their day), and generally sold the best of products.

In those days, Glasgow city centre was a very different place compared to what is seen today, and was rightly described as “busy”.

My memory may be flawed, but as far as I can recall, the streets (no pedestrian precincts back then) were packed with people like sardines, and the same was true of the road and its traffic.

Nowadays, I don’t see much of interest while wandering along Argyle Street, with some really crappy shops selling cheap rubbish, nameless computer bits, phone deals, discounted electrical goods (some of dubious brands) and lots of fast-food outlets, and clothes with overpriced ‘labels’. While there are busy spots, there is not the same general mass of people or vehicles. Crowds form near fast-food outlets, while traffic tends to be public transport rather than masses of private vehicles.

Many of the building are run down, with the upper floors apparently abandoned and derelict (filthy windows), and a number even have holes punched in those windows (or even the walls) with protruding scaffolding showing that the floors and walls are at risk of collapsing.

And this is without touching on the gaps where buildings have been removed, or trying to count the number of shops that are just empty:

Argyle Street empty shop

Argyle Street empty shop

This is an example of the sort of abandoned upper storey seen in Argyle Street:

Argyle St upper

Argyle St upper storeys

And a closer look (I need to work out if I can find records of what these building were built for, and who occupied them).

Argyle St upper storey single

Argyle St upper storey

And finally, details from that building which shows a piece of decorative carving, and what I think is some Art Deco window frame detail, together with the sort of holes I mentioned being punched through the windows themselves, complete with scaffolding and wooden reinforcement (click the thumbs for bigger versions):

May 8, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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