Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

As predicted – the vandals are now wrecking Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre

I don’t mention the success of this prediction to suggest I’m in any way clever or smart, but to highlight the fact that it’s no surprise, and that there’s nothing (useful) being done to prevent it.

(I have done so many posts now – just search on ‘Tollcross Winter Gardens’)

I’d been thinking it was time for another winter garden glasshouse pic, and noticed in passing that there is a ‘Golden Hour’ when the lighting shows how much of the glass has now been smashed and lost from the structure.

As I rode through the park a few night ago, in pitch darkness, I noticed the local ‘rubbish’ having a noisy party at the visitor centre – apart from the noise, these types probably haven’t realised they’re no longer ‘invisible’ in the dark thanks to the nice bright screens of the mobile phones they’re so addicted to, which give their positions away.

I detoured past the centre the next day, and sure enough, any uncovered glass fair game, and the sloppy, thin, wood shuttering is probably even weaker than the toughened/laminated glass as regards securing the building.

At least there’s little left there that will burn.

Unless the material that draped roof the centre was given isn’t inherently fire retardant or self-extinguishing.

I suppose we’ll find out one day night.

Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre

Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre


Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre

Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre


Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre

Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre


Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre

Tollcross Winter Garden Visitor Centre


As always, just think of the hundreds of millions squandered on the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, and on upgrading the pool only a few metres from this shameful sight.


08/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Compulsory Sales Orders – Solving a problem, or just moving it along?

I spotted earlier news about Compulsory Sales Orders (CSOs) recently.

Wasn’t particularly impressed then, still not.

Forcing someone to sell a property (assuming it even sells at such a forced auction) could just shuffle an empty property from one owner to another, unless the CSO is made complex and has many requirements to be met. And I note the proposal even suggested returning it to the original owner if it is still empty after 3 years.

Sounds like another scheme to make lawyers/solicitors/agents/auctioneers rich – but not really tackle property/housing issues.

Maybe making it easier/cheaper to sell property would be a better idea, perhaps along the lines of…

Shaheena Din: How to get empty homes onto the housing market

More ‘carrot’, and less ‘stick’?

Edinburgh would seem to be getting ready to make a pre-emptive strike against vacant properties before this arrives (if it ever does) and serve Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) on owners of empty houses.

Sounds better, at least they’d be obliged to pay a decent market price.

And then the council would own the derelict, and have to find the money to make it habitable or worth renting, AND be responsible for its upkeep.

That should be fun, since most councils are cash-strapped these days – or does Edinburgh have a magic money-pot?

I’m always impressed by the people who jump up and down and whine about empty properties and demand someone do something.

But they never do anything else other than make a noise, threaten others do something ‘or else’, nor do they turn up with the bottomless purse that most empty property owners wish they had.

Oh well.

Owners to be forced to sell empty homes in Edinburgh

One to watch.

Council set to seize empty homes from owners to tackle Edinburgh’s housing crisis

Derelict House

Derelict House

01/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

Article on derelict buildings hijacks Mackintosh fire publicity

It was disappointing to see a Scotsman article use the Mackintosh Building fire as little more than ‘clickbait’ to attract readers.

It begins:

The Mackintosh building is an exceptional example of Glasgow’s architecture, but the city has many other listed landmarks in need of repair, writes Chris McCall.

Glasgow School of Art not the city’s only architectural masterpiece under threat

Sorry, but the Mackintosh building is in need of repair following a fire (two fires to be exact), and was a working building in daily use prior to that, and not lying derelict, or devoid of money, or maybe even a living or solvent owner.

There’s no relation between raising funds and restoring the Mackintosh building (if that is what is to happen), and building which have fallen out of use, been abandoned and become derelict, or belong to owners who cannot, or will not, pour money into them for no other reason than to retain the building because it is listed.

Equating the two scenarios is not only wrong, but potentially damaging to any plans that may be made to raise funds to tackle them.

Those who may be willing to contribute to such plans for either scenario would, I suggest, come from quite different backgrounds, and have diverse reasons for becoming involved.

Setting aside considerations such as insurance, contributing to any fund-raising regarding a building such as the Mackintosh (formerly working and productive) would be motivated by the will to restore a historic structure, with the justification of also restoring a working building. Fund raising, grants, donations etc etc are important to this task as it has to be completed as quickly as possible, and return the building to service.

But the same is not true of the abandoned derelicts, no matter how high the grade of their listing, they have no purpose other than to be historic relics, and money-pits if they do not have, or cannot be found a purpose, or reason for being.

I would love to see them all being worked on and restored to their original condition, rather than being left to decay.

But I know from studying the past of a few I have spotted around Glasgow, and having watched some merely being made wind and watertight, the cost of just maintaining them can run to six-figures.

Who pays?


There may be NO owner. The owner may have died, and it is part of their estate, but not passed on to anyone.

There may be an owner, but the chances are they are old, or lost everything in a business failure that once supported the cost of the building.

The owner may have money, but why should they pour it into a building that provides no return, and would ruin them?

The public, by appeal? Why, if they get no return or benefit?

The council? Do you want your Council Tax raised to fund the restoration and preservation of listed derelicts?

The Government? Same question as previous – do you want to pay more tax to fund the restoration and preservation of listed derelicts?

Save some?

Saving some is possible – we have two obvious models that work.

I mention these not to promote them, only to show they exist.

First is The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland. These are notably charities that take on and care for properties (and other features), and depend on contributions, donations, and volunteers.

But they are not a bottomless resource, and if you follow the Trust’s efforts then it’s not uncommon for them to give up on some cases if they can’t raise the funds or resources to maintain them.

Second is the wealthy, or to be fair, not so wealthy, who have inherited such properties from their wealthier forebears. If they are still in the family business (whatever that was), then they’ve probably got the spare cash to maintain their property. But many such owners inherit properties and titles, and little else if the business that made their predecessors wealthy has evaporated. They may be lucky if the property is historic and can be opened to the public and charge visitor fees, run restaurants and cafes, but may not be, so they are left with huge bills for maintenance. It’s no wonder some simply leave.

This is NOT new

This problem has been more apparent since the Internet made it easier to share this knowledge amongst interested parties.

And, I don’t mean today’s Internet – I’ve been following this issue since the Internet allowed groups to come to together and share locations of such places, so that means this issue began to become a more widely publicised issue anything from twenty to thirty years ago.

Little has changed.

Other the loss of a number of building that were at risk from this problem.

One improvement (if it can be described as such) is the appearance of the Buildings at Risk Register. No longer is the existence of such places a secret shared between an informed few, the Register has details of these buildings, and tries to make them known to potential buyers.

The Buildings at Risk Register has been in operation in Scotland since 1990 (when few probably even knew of its existence).

But where do we go from here?

I opened being (negatively) critical of the article cited, and I don’t apologise for doing so.

But this was only with regard to its opportunist references to the Mackintosh Building and its fate.

The core subject of that article is one that needs to be addressed, and addressed as a matter of urgency – few of the building referred to are getting better as time passed. In reality, they are all decaying, and are also slowly being lost as a consequence.

Attitudes need to change.

For example, this quote from the end of the article shows that a major change in approach is needed. I’ve already suggested that the council can’t be expected to hand out cash (unless Council Tax is raised), but it surely has to come up with better answers than this:

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council told The Scotsman that owners of listed buildings had a responsibility to maintain them.

They added: “The bottom line is we will support our built heritage and offer advice where appropriate.”

It’s nice to find a survivor, even if it is bolted shut – a necessary evil, since an unoccupied building will be targetted by thieves, who will happily destroy if for the sake of a few pounds as they strip anything they can steal and sell.

I think this was last one I found, when I ventured along some streets off my usual path.

I found an old bank

A fairly significant historic building, it lies abandoned, but at least enough money was found to make it wind and watertight, and secure it.

But it highlights the problem – if no occupants or use, and significant costs just to maintain it, who pays?

And don’t just run your mouth off and shout ‘Council’ or ‘Government’ – I remind you that ‘their’ money is your money, and comes from taxes.

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

Something new?

I asked for something new, after quoting the dismal contribution from Glasgow City Council in the previous section.

Maybe they asked the WRONG spokesman (Eh? Should that not have been ‘spokesperson’?).

This was published just after that.

The Scottish government has published guidance on communities’ right to buy neglected and abandoned buildings.

It includes advice on how community groups should apply to purchase a property, and explains the decision-making process.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Land Commission suggested that local authorities could take over abandoned buildings and land.

Councils could then put the property back into “productive use”.

The Scottish Land Commission estimates there are 30,641 acres (12,400ha) of vacant land.

The government guidance also covers land and foreshores.

Guidance on community buyouts of neglected buildings

Note TWO things.

The suggestion is that “local authorities could take over abandoned buildings and land.

And that ‘Councils could then put the property back into “productive use”.’

Was somebody reading my mind while I was writing this post?

Note ONE more thing – no mention of funding.

30/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Tollcross Park Winter Gardens just sliding into ruin

Cutting through Tollcross Park meant passing the derelict and now very ruined glasshouse of the winter gardens.

Somehow this looks even worse, as the undergrowth and weeds start to build up around the uncared for structure.

Looking at the roof, I noted the clips holding the glazing in place have started to show signs of rotting and failing.

Glass panes on the roof section are starting to come loose and slide down.

I wonder if anything helpful came out of the last meeting of the ‘Friends’ of the park?

It really is shameful that this has been allowed to happen, after all the money and effort which saw it restored, now a memory almost two decades in the past.

Tollcross Winter Garden Decay

Tollcross Winter Garden Decay

If it carries on at this rate, in a few years there won’t be any need to think about it being demolished – it will have done the job all by itself.

Good example of… a Building at Risk

16/05/2018 Posted by | council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kenmuir Road – a fond memory

Although it is long gone, Kenmuir Road still survives as a ghost on Google Earth, and maps.

You can use the timeline feature of GE to view this all way back to 1945, although the modern images are only available from 2002.

In the view below, you can zoom in and follow the ghost from (approximately) Carmyle (bottom left) to Mount Vernon station (top right), noting how it was lost to the final phase construction of the M74 which cut across it, and swallowed up by some of the Patersons Waste Management operation.

This was a handy road (for me at least) for various purposes.

I used it for aligning supplementary vehicle lights, and being deserted, it made an enjoyable high-speed dash in the pitch dark.

While the chances of meeting anyone were remote, it was somehow visited by an endless stream of invisible dumpers, never seen, but still able to throw bags of rubbish, old furniture, electrical appliances, surplus building materials, old tyres, and anything they wanted rid of… yet were never to be seen. Their offerings made a handy test to check the alignment of auxiliary vehicle lighting.

It’s almost hard to believe that this was once a normal two-lane minor road heading under the railway bridge.

Kenmuir Road 1

Kenmuir Road

Further into the wilder land behind, and the fact that this was once road becomes even less evident as it takes on the appearance of little more than a narrow tree-lined footpath.

Kenmuir Road 2

Kenmuir Road

It’s years since I walked here, and I can’t recall any of the detail, but I do recall signs to some sort of farm or similar, down a side-road which I saw vehicles using, so kept away from (I’m pretty good at finding the ‘GERROFMYLAND’ type as opposed to friendly farmers) since they were apparently still operating.

This was so long ago it was before digital cameras, but I do have pics filed away somewhere.

Having acquired the conversion kit more than five years ago, but never used it, this might be a motivator to get my analogue pic collection converted, as I’m curious about what this place was like back then, especially the building to be seen next.

These were always ruins by the time I got here, with part of the motivation to see where a stone arch, passed many times and visible on this adjacent (then) new section of the M74, was located, and what it belonged to, if anything.

Kenmuir Road continues to these derelict buildings, adjacent to the M74.

Unfortunately, none of this area appears to have any detailed records in online historic records, with nothing shown for Kenmuir, or Kenmuirhill (and even a short Kenmuirhill Road), which is also marked on old maps I have referred to.

Probably a farm, this was also an area with mineral railways running across it, a colliery nearby, football field, and even more roads that have disappeared from view. More recently there was a small water tower and even an electricity substation (I remember seeing these more modern features) but all these features are long gone.

I couldn’t find any useful carvings or dates.

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 1

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 1

This is the view through the arch I mentioned earlier, looking toward the M74.

Carmyle Kenmuir Road Arch

Carmyle Kenmuir Road Arch

How close it the M74?

THIS close!

Kenmuir Road M74 Gantry

Kenmuir Road M74 Gantry

This wall faces the M74.

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 2

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 2

This lies behind the wall seen above.

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 3

Kenmuir Road Derelicts 3

This was interesting to see – a fireplace and chimney sited in a wall apparently separating two rooms, but with the hearth sitting in an aperture common to both rooms. First seen from inside one room.

Kenmuir Road Derelicts Chimney A

Kenmuir Road Derelicts Chimney A

And then from the other room.

Kenmuir Road Derelicts Chimney B

Kenmuir Road Derelicts Chimney B

These steps lie across from the building seen above.

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Derelicts 3

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Derelicts 3

Looking back at the first building from atop those steps.

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Derelicts 4

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Derelicts 4

The following is new, for me at least.

When I was here before, I couldn’t reach this wall or the building seen below, as it was all heavily overgrown. With the landfill site active behind, there then seemed little point in making the effort to go further.

As can be seen, it’s now been wrecked and is not only easy to reach at this end of Kenmuir Road, but is easy to pass, just climb over the rubble, or walk through the gate revealed to the left.

This view is actually taken looking BACK towards Kenmuir Road, and was taken as I headed towards Greenoakhill.

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Wall Derelicts

Carmyle Kenmuir Rd Wall Derelicts

Some of the images above have been edited lightly, just to remove graffiti ‘tags’ as I have no desire to give scum any publicity, or a place to point at and proudly show their ‘work’ to their mates.

The area also has a fair amount of evidence of fires being set, and clever things like aerosol cans being thrown in them – also deliberately omitted from the pics.


Appearing to date originally from 2015 (although the page text has no date included), this advert for the land between Carmyle and the Greenoakhill haven suggests that the land is being offered for housing:

This a fine example of strategic land promotion, the site was acquired as greenbelt land and is 60 acres. The land was incorporated in the master plan and we currently have planning application submitted for 300 houses which we expect to be successfully determined in the near future.

Via Kenmuir Farm, Glasgow

04/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The sorry story of Tollcross Winter Gardens just goes from bad to worse

While poking around for anything online about Tollcross House yesterday, I happened across some more background regarding the disgraceful treatment of Tollcross Winter Gardens.

I always forget to mention that things were going reasonably well for the glasshouse until it was damaged during storms that hit in December 2010 and January 2011, and it was closed for reasons of safety. Of itself, nothing wrong with that – nobody wants to be standing beneath a pane of glass when it decides it’s time to part company with roof it was once an integral part of, and the closure for such repairs is a fairly regular occurrence that the People’s Palace Winter Gardens on Glasgow Green.

But 7 years have now passed in Tollcross, and all we have is a decaying glasshouse and derelict visitor centre attached.

I can’t be bothered shooting video, so the clip below was a handy find yesterday.

Reading into the notes indicates that someone complained about it, and tried to have it taken down.

Glasgow City Council comes in for a fair amount of stick at times, not always justified either as politics plays a large part.

But, it’s hard to see how any other source (or to be fair, a rogue employee just trying to win Brownie Points with their boss or supervisor) would have reason to try to suppress this video.

The comments after the video also note “A group did petition the Scottish Parliament however it was stated that they have no powers to force the council into making repairs.”

There was also criticism of the Visitor Centre appended to the glasshouse as seen today.

Sad to say, I have no idea what the site looked like, or the state of the remains of the glasshouse, although it seem it lay derelict for some 14 years prior to the restoration work carried out before it was reopened in November 2000.

However, I did just come across some old postcards showing Tollcross Park many years ago, and the they show the glasshouse was much larger, with another hall extending to the rear, on the ground occupied by the Visitor Centre today.

It’s hard to recall what was said about it back in the days when the structure was being recovered from that phase of its dereliction, and the Visitor Centre may have been constructed to replace that part of the structure which had, by then, been lost to the preceding years of neglect.

Tollcross glasshouse when complete

Tollcross glasshouse when complete

The Tollcross conservatories were originally erected in 1870 at Redholm in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire. Baillie A.G. MacDonald, of Redholm gifted, them to the Glasgow Corporation in 1898 as a gesture to commemorate his links with the area.

Try searching for ‘Mark Fiddy’ online for information regarding plans to raise more than £800 k to rescue the winter gardens and make it a self-sustaining resource.

03/04/2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrical decay

No prizes for completing the word.

Just a detail I pass frequently – and a bit sad since it probably reflects a failed business as opposed to a relocate on.

Electrician sign derelict


30/03/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

St Peter’s Seminary featured in BBC’s ‘In Pictures’

I’ll never know why it never occurred to me to make the small diversion that would have let me visit St Peter’s at least once in the past (decades). I truly regret that sin of omission today, when I could have gone there for a look and collected some pics when was somewhat more unknown than it has become today.

It’s not as if I  didn’t know it was there, and must have passed the relevant side road dozens of times most years (totalling hundreds ofopportunities) as we regularly visited Helensburgh for a fish supper, and a relaxing evening just watching the Clyde roll past from the car park.

While the building was an undeniable failure on many levels, much of that was out of the hands of the architects of  the day, and I (for one) would even forgive them the mistakes the made in structure, as regards our wonderful Scottish climate. 5 decades later it’s easy to be smug and point fingers at structure and design choices that were at best naïve, but we lived by different criteria in those days.

20/20 hindsight is only for those who want to feel smug, and get a warm glow from belittling those they should be glad to learn from.

Also, we have little right to do that anyway, given the condition of that eyesore of a skip we allowed to dumped in Holyrood.

St Peter’s still looks better than that thing, even after 50 years of dereliction, and some might say is just about as weatherproof too.

The BBC article is great as it used material not previously seen in most online articles, looks at both the past and present of the site, and considers its future.

If I had one criticism, it would have to be that the title of their offering has absolutely NO reference to St Peter’s in it, and I only decided to open it after thinking the thumbnail was familiar, but I could not place it, so wanted to see if I was right.

Via Life after death? Resurrecting a modern ruin

In lieu of any pics of my own, I’m glad to be able to use this one.

Notably, it show the view FROM the altar as opposed the much more usual one OF the (smashed) altar within the main building.

St Peter's Main Building Interior

St Peter’s Main Building Interior

19/02/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

20/05/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment


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