Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Change – Progress – Development

As a car nut who has not lost touch with reality, I’m able to enjoy the changes that have taken place in their design over the years – unlike some I have rubbed shoulders with and describe any changes as a betrayal to their favourite marque.

I’ve never quite understood this, as the implication is that once the model they like was put into production, it seems they would have liked the manufacturer to stop development, halt progress, and set that design in stone.

In a sense, I can appreciate their view, but it’s also a dead-end and would lead to the death of the company they supposedly like so much.

Even Morgan, which some may consider to be set in their ways, has moved on, even if (some of) its cars appear largely unchanged.

In my own case I can look at my own little collection, and while one late 1950s model was amongst the fastest normal production cars of the day (excluding exotics), and was able to cruise the Autobahn at 75 mph all day, it’s 0-60 mph time was in the region of 22 seconds.

By way of contrast, my 1980s example would do the same cruise at 150 mph, and sprint to 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds.

In the currency of their day, the first was around £2 k, while the latter was 16 times that, and over £30 k (and had climbed to a whopping £80 k when production ended almost 20 years later).

The other difference would be their handling – something that has advanced out of all recognition today.

It’s no exaggeration to say that a bog-standard present family day car will out-perform a sports car from latter part of the 20th century (again, exclude the handful of exotics – but many of them would actually struggle too).

I spotted this pic, which probably sums this up – both are great, but if you think the manufacturer should have stopped developing and stayed with the one on the left, you need help, or the opportunity to bet your life savings, house, and family, on being able to catch the one on the right while driving it.

Porsche 1964 to 2016

Porsche 1964 to 2016

While I’ve never found anyone that let me drive the one on the left, I have managed to get my hands on examples of the one on the left.

Having driven other cars from 1964-ish, and being aware of that era’s 911 reputation, I can say that the later version is actually stunning, and despite trying to provoke the ‘handling faults’ of the rear engine layout found this impossible in anything like sane driving.

Special mention for that engine too – floor the throttle in any gear and it will take-off as if a ghost had just been seem.

At anything over 20 mph I found the effort of changing down to accelerate was almost a waste of time/effort.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow City Council saves Glasgow School of Art again

I used to be part of a forum that spent much of its time kicking Glasgow City Council, but after I while I came to realise that this was not being done with any sort of rationale or logic, but was merely being driven by a few noisy people whose aim was to run what amounted to anti-council campaign, possibly based on little more than hate or politics, and which simply took almost every decision made by the council… and ranted against it, regardless of whether or not a reasonable person would have approved.

That’s not to say Glasgow City Council is perfect, but after looking at reports of other councils in the media – we don’t actually do that badly, and maybe better than some.

I see the council has just made the news by rejecting a planning application for a block of flats to be built adjacent to the Glasgow School of Art.

While I suspect it would be fairly safe to say there are few (not counting the developer concerned) who would disagree with the refusal, I did note that the report showed the rejection was not carried unanimously, but by a vote 12 to 6 against.

See Planners reject flats beside Glasgow School of Art

It’s kind of hard to see how anyone (from Glasgow at least) without something to gain would be for FOR this proposal.

I’d rather like to see the 6 who voted against being interviewed on TV, and asked to explain the reasons for their desire to see those flats built next to the GSA.

Glasgow School of Art post fire

Glasgow School of Art post fire

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, 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

(Probably) Glasgow’s oldest pub at risk of demolition

I’m always a little wary of making definitive statements, so only say that what is probably Glasgow’s oldest pub may be at risk of demolition, to make way for a new development of students flats after an application was made for a 12-storey block to be erected at the junction of High Street, Duke Street, and George Street, containing 326 cluster flats and 100 self‐contained studio flats.

Sloans and The Scotia Bar also claim to be Glasgow’s oldest pub, but it is thought the Old College Bar has traded under the same name since its licence was granted in 1812 – the longest of the three venues. The pub’s name refers to the University of Glasgow, which was based around the High Street from its foundation in 1451 until it moved to its current site at Gilmorehill in 1870.

See the sign above the door:

Old College Bar High Street

Old College Bar High Street

Of the others:

I’ve read Glasgow Tourist Board opts for the Scotia Bar in Stockwell Street, built in 1792, but no note of how long it has traded under, and I’ve read Sloans claim that it was established in 1797, beginning as a coffee house in Morrisons Court named after Glasgow Baillie John Morrison.

The building has no protection through listing, and it seems the various developers could be said to be engaging in ‘dirty tricks’ in order to clear the site for their proposals:

In 2013, plans were revealed by owner Colin Beattie to tear down the public house as part of redevelopment plans.

Later that year, the bar was forced to close for six months over mounting energy bills but it reopened in 2014.

More proposals to replace the pub surfaced in 2015 after the buildings were labelled “dangerous”, which contradicted claims from two years earlier.

Glasgow’s oldest pub could be demolished for student flats

And, I saw in the Evening Times:

Last year, adjoining buildings in George Street were deemed to be in a dangerous condition and were demolished.

However, Glasgow City Council refuted any suggestion the building housing the bar and its immediate neighbours was in any way dangerous.

A council spokesman said: “The Old College Bar building is structurally sound, it’s not a dangerous building.

“The building that was demolished adjacent to this site was a former tenement.

“It was demolished as a dangerous building.”

The application will be considered at a future meeting of the Planning Committee.

The building to the left is listed, being a former bank c.1895, then a shop or similar, and now appears to be small exhibition venue, according to sign in the doorway. Above, flats/accommodation.

Old College Bar High Street

Old College Bar High Street

This badly rendered graphic (credited to ADF Architect by STV News) gives an indication of the proposed new building on the site.

Somebody should tell them that verticals CONVERGE as a building rises towards the sky, theirs appear to DIVERGE!

New proposals: View from Duke Street. ADF Architects

New proposals: View from Duke Street. ADF Architects via STV News

On a more serious note, it may be worth considering yet another article which appeared recently, and questioned the growing number of student flats in the city:

Growing number of student flats raises eyebrows in Glasgow

Notably, the article raises the same point about Edinburgh as well, and seems more like an irrational rant against new builds rather than a reasoned consideration of the subject.

It would have been of some value had it raised issues regarding clearances and locations for these flats, which are needed in some form unless students are to sleep on the streets if education centres are expanding.

For example, while the High Street proposal seeks demolition of possibly historic buildings to make way for the development of student flats, there are empty gap sites lying unused only a few metres away.

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

National Museum of Scotland to get 10 new galleries

I was pleased to read that plans to add ten new galleries to the National Museum of Scotland were to go ahead.

It’s been a long time since I spent months visiting the galleries in the days when there was an admission fee, and I actually managed to spend all that time there for free!

Admittedly, this required all my visits to be made between 6 pm and 8 pm on Thursday evenings, when the admission charge being levied in those days was waived. However, various problems I was dealing with at the time meant I had that time free, and little else to do with it, so being able to scour the museum slowly was actually a handy diversion that kept me sane.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get back since the place was revamped, but maybe the new galleries will provide a bit more motivation, and I can save up for the trip.

Ten new galleries are to be created at the National Museum of Scotland for science and technology and art and design.

On Tuesday, it was announced a grant of £4.85m from the Heritage Lottery Fund will go towards what is the next stage of the museum’s masterplan.

The project, which will cost £14.1m, will see the galleries open in 2016.

They will explore the impact of scientific discovery and invention as well as the creativity of arts, fashion and design.

Over 3500 objects will be on display, with space in the museum increased by over 40%. Three quarters of the items have not been on permanent display for generations.

The grant means over £10m of the money is now in place, including £900,000 from the Scottish Government specifically for work on the roof of the west wing of the Victorian building.

It is the third stage of the museum’s £80m project to restore the building to its former grandeur.

Colin McLean, from Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The recent transformation of the National Museum of Scotland has been an unprecedented success. Modern galleries with engaging interpretation have encouraged millions through the doors to explore the cornucopia of artefacts that lie within.

Via Ten new galleries to be created at the National Museum of Scotland | Edinburgh & East | News

The above picture (showing the main central gallery of the museum) is the first I have seen of the museum after its refurbishment, and comes as a surprise and disappointment (bearing in mind I have not had the opportunity to visit since the work was completed).

While the changes may have allowed more items to be brought out, I can see the Millennium Clock has been lost to this space, and apparently shunted into a more obscure location, after it once graced the entire end of the main gallery. Reading other comments, it seems that the fish pond, once a focal point and useful for rendezvous, and the café, have gone.

I hope the rest is better, to make up for what appear to be losses.

June 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The lost part of Sandyhills Park

While writing about some of the prefabs in Glasgow, I remembered that some had been on land which became the foundation for Sandyhills Park once they were razed.

However, that was not the end of the story, and the once attractive and well laid out park (complete with a keep-fit exercise route formed within its paths) was all but destroyed when almost half of it was buried under a later housing development.

While it’s not possible to go back and document or photograph the features which were lost under this development, it is still possible to see the scar along the edge of the park, which marks the line along which the park was cut, leaving the remains to the south, and the development to the north.

In the aerial view below, Lochay Street (which can be seen running west to east across the centre of the view) marks the most noticeable feature which marks the division between the park and the development. The rest of the reclaimed area is generally bordered by what was once the perimeter of the park. Ignoring the original tenements and a few other buildings which have been there since around 1900, all the modern houses that can be seen to the north and east are built on what used to be park, and date from the 1970s.

Other features, such as Sandyhills House which was also nearby, have been lost from the area in earlier developments, and are not related to this change. Interestingly, the lodge which belonged to Sandyhills House still survives, at the corner of Shettleston Road and Glen Ogle Street, having been converted into a modern dwelling.

Fortunately, I happened to be writing the prefab item in March, when there was little undergrowth on the various paths in the park, and the council has been clearing up the dead leaves, fallen branches, and other rubbish that had built up on the ground over winter, so the timing was pretty good to head down there for a walk, and take a few pics of the scar.

I’ve never really thought about it, but I guess anyone new to the area might think things look a little odd, as the paths that used to lead into the northern part of park were just cut off when Lochay Street was built over them, so appear to come to a sudden end for no reason, other than coming to the edge of the road, which looks a bit silly once you have noticed this.

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park at Lochay Street cut

I’ve tried to show all the paths in the pics below, and how they just run into the edge of Lochay Street.

I used to think they might still lie under the road, but if we assume it was correctly constructed, then the paths would have been dug up as the proper foundation was prepared for the road.

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park Lochay St detail

Sandyhills Park Lochay St detail

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

Sandyhills Park Lochay St

These are just a few more pics of the cut off detail:

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

Sandyhills Park Lochay St Cut

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Clyde Valley Community Forest joins Calderbank House in skip

It’s some years since Calderbank House, near Baillieston, was destroyed, apparently the victim of a ‘mysterious’ fire followed by a quick sale to a developer

It was listed by NHS records thus: Calderbank House Hospital near Baillieston was opened in 1919 and functioned as an annexe of Bellshill Maternity Hospital until 1964. When it joined the National Health Service in 1948, Calderbank was placed under the Board of Management for Coatbridge, Airdrie and District Hospitals.

Later, it was a Talbot Association Residential Home, their aim being “To provide care and solace for all destitute men and women in the form of accommodation including homes of rehabilitation to help individuals gain a useful place in society“.

So, no concluding dates relating to its existence. However, the building has been completely demolished and all evidence of the building removed.

Once Glasgow Zoo had also been eliminated, this laid the land open for development, a process which has slowly consumed the ground, and now seen the destruction of an area of forest that once occupied the land next to the Calderbank.

A few years ago, there used to be a gate across the path that led to the old house. It barred the way to traffic, but anyone on foot could just walk around it:

Calderbank Path

Calderbank Path

That gate disappeared a few years ago, to be replaced by one which controlled access for construction traffic and builders working on the housing behind.

A similar shot of the same spot shows the gate they installed is now of even less use than the one seen above, and how the wood behind has been removed and replaced by roads and a roundabout:

Calderbank development

Calderbank development

Another view taken from further along the road shows the extent of the change – all the area to the left of the road used to be wooded, now cleared of trees, it’s just some road and a roundabout. Note the old style lamppost on the right of this view, which shows the how the original road has been rerouted and moved to suit this new layout:

Calderbank development

Calderbank development

Looking across the area to the left, as seen above, what was once a wooded area shows only a few root stumps and wood chippings on the ground:

Calderbank razed area

Calderbank razed area

The Clyde Valley Community Forest seems to have had no protection from developers, and been a waste of time and money:

Calderbank razed area

Calderbank razed area

Now both subjects of this sign are nothing more than figments of the imagination:

Clyde Valley Community Forest Calderbank House

Clyde Valley Community Forest Calderbank House

March 6, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | 2 Comments

Oban gets go-ahead to borrow £140 million for improvements

After reading that Argyll and Bute Council had been given the go-ahead (by the Scottish Government) to borrow cash for a £144 million scheme to transform Oban into a hub for marine tourism and offshore renewables, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I was being reminded of something.

It’s taken a few days for my memory to organise itself, but I eventually remembered I had been prompted to reflect on changed in the town back in 2008: Changing face of Oban waterfront

Back then, I was finding that many places I liked to visit were all being treated to so-called ‘improvements’, but this was generally to demolish anything interesting (otherwise known as ‘old’), make pedestrian areas, and cover the place with block paving – leading to many places looking like clones of one another.

Oban waterfront is the most recent to come in for this treatment, yet it seems like only a few years ago I was standing on the pier as the building there were coming down around me to be replaced by something new. Then there’s the fairly sad shopping centre beside the ferry terminal, not all that old, but looking much like any other low-level version of the same building that came out of the same computer aided design package that was all the rage a few years ago. Thank goodness for the old building and the tower on top of the hill that still give you a clue as to where you are.

While I’m not suggesting things often need to be smartened up if dilapidation has set in, I also think that many councils sweep with a brush that is too wide, and use this to get rid of anything they just don’t like, or is a problem for them.

We’ll have to wait and see how Oban changes, before we can comment.

The scheme allows the council to borrow £18.9 million through Tax Incremental Financing, a system which allows cash to be borrowed against projected rises in business rates. The authority then hopes to attract a further £125 million in private investment for infrastructure improvements to fund its vision for the wider Oban area. The Lorn Arc project proposes a number of improvements for Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel, and Barcaldine. The council believes this area has significant economic growth potential in areas such as marine science, marine tourism, aquaculture, and renewable energy.

The five-year plan for the Lorn Arc includes extending Oban North Pier, upgrading road links to established industrial areas, renewable energy projects, and the creation of new business space at Oban airport. The council predicts the creation of up to 1,000 jobs as a result.

The Lorn Arc project proposes a number of improvements for Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine.

The council believes the area has significant economic growth potential in areas such as marine science, marine tourism, aquaculture and renewable energy.

I’ve gone with an old pic of Oban which I managed to find shared online. It must be old, Woolworth’s is still there!

But it brought the proverbial tear to my eye – Oban is, or rather was, a fairly easy and relaxed 90 mile (or 90 minute) drive thanks to my location on the road that leads to it. However, various circumstances largely out of my control nowadays mean that I haven’t been in a position to make the trip, and while it feels as if I was there not so long ago, in reality, it was more years ago than I care to recall.

Guess I will just have to stick to the webcam Oban tourism information and accommodation, Argyll, Scotland

Although, frankly, this is pretty poor nowadays. The original ‘Oban webcam’ was located in one of the shop window on the front, and used to pan and zoom to a number of different views, and it was nice to watch the visitors enjoying the facilities, especially a seat near big wooden planter.

But that all seem to go a few years ago.

February 15, 2014 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

St Peter’s seminary on last chance for development

St Peter’s Seminary was commissioned by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1958 and completed in 1966. The A-listed remains lie in the woods behind the village of Cardross, in the area of the golf club.

The design was the product of two young architects, Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, employed by Glasgow based firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

St Peter’s closed in 1980, having served as a teaching college for the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, in the time taken to build and commission the facility, teaching methods and beliefs were to change within the Church, and the building was effectively obsolete and doomed before completion. It was also to suffer as a result of the Scottish climate, and the accommodation was said to be impossible to heat or keep warm, probably a casualty of the 1970s oil crisis. The building was also criticised for damp and fungus in some areas, but the architects counter this claim, believing the gutters were not cleaned or regularly maintained by the owners (looking for an excuse to offload it).

In use for only 14 years, it was a sanctuary where trainee priests could live, study and worship secure from the outside world, but completed at a time when Vatican II decreed that priests should be schooled in the community. Built to serve more than 100 trainees, it seldom held more than 50, and ended its days as the home of a drug rehabilitation project.

Over the years, a number of proposals for development of the abandoned site have come to nothing.

At the same time, the remains of the seminary building have been ravaged by exposure to weather from the outside, and the attention of vandals from the inside, who have shown no respect to the former purpose of the structure. Needless to say, the isolate location also proved attractive to drug addicts and drinkers. Attempts to fence of the site remained largely ineffective, and the cost of security would have been prohibitive, so any attempts to close the area were easily overcome.

Development news 2013

With this background, it was surprising to see a news article that development of the site is (probably) underway, although it was also noted that if this venture fails, it’s probably the last such attempt that will ever take place.

IT IS full steam ahead for plans to transform a historical site near Cardross in a multi-million pound project.

This is despite the withdrawal of original plans to develop Kilmahew Estate in Cardross being withdrawn by the Archdiocese of Glasgow, which owns the site.

Over the past few years, the NVA – nacionale vitae activa – has been carrying out surveys and work to breathe new life into the 144-acre site, which boasts a range of old buildings, a walled garden and St Peter’s Seminary.

It has an ongoing 20-year masterplan to develop the site, and by 2016/17 hopes are for new community facilities and performance and exhibition space are on target.

Angus Farquhar, creative director for the NVA, said they are the estate’s ‘last chance’ to restore it.

He added: “We think we are the right people to come up with the solution, it’s been a long time coming. The plans we are putting forward are the last chance for the site.”

The Archdiocese of Glasgow’s plans were withdrawn earlier this month as time had elapsed on the applications and are separate to the NVA’s project. Planning permission was granted in June for the restoration and transformation of the site.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow told the Advertiser last week it has no plans to resubmit the applications which were submitted more than 10 years ago, reflecting a previous proposal to develop the site, which never came to fruition.

Via Cardross seminary plans are on track | This Week | News | Helensburgh Advertiser

The article goes on to explain that security has been stepped up around the area, and reading further into NVA’s project reveals that the building has now decayed to the stage where hazardous asbestos my be liberated from the structure, and that their staff won’t enter without protection, and removal of the hazard is essential before any progress can be made.

See also…

The Invisible College – Current Projects – NVA

The Invisible College Background Info 2012 – The Invisible College Background Info 2012.pdf

The actual project: The Invisible College

If you are not familiar with St Peter’s, have a look at St Peters – a set on Flickr which shows the condition of the old seminary in 2013.

This includes a picture of the stone altar, which the vandals not only manage to damage extensively over the years, but manage to break into two parts some years ago.

I’ve cropped a view of the altar from one of the pics in the flickr set, just to show violence with which it must have been attacked in order to break off the missing parts, and the end, which is lying to the right in the pic.

 

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls could finally be rescued from dereliction

It’s odd how everybody seems to have their own collection of buildings/features that they become familiar with, while others, which may be equally interesting and not much different, go unnoticed.

Despite having passed the 4-storey building for may years, Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls – one of the few remaining buildings credited to Alexander “Greek” Thomson – on Union Street, have never caught my eye. Perhaps lying abandoned and being ruined by neglect for the past 33 years played a part. Built in 1873, it escaped possible demolition in 2011 after such an application was refused.

Looking at the record for the building, it seems that various development plans have been floated since the late 1990s, but in most cases these have failed as various parties involved have been unable to come up with the cash or grants to fund them. Some even started, but then ran into problems and were halted.

All the time, the building continued to decay due to lack of care and maintenance.

Around the end of 2010, scaffolding was erected and the building was wrapped in tarpaulins carrying an image of the building as it would look if restored.

Since then, it seems that serious negotiations have been going on regarding development of the building, and the financing of that work.

The Glaswegian reported:

An ambitious plan to restore the building and turn it into a luxury hotel stalled because of a funding gap of around £5million.

But the building’s owners have confirmed they are applying to the Heritage Lottery fund to plug the shortfall that is holding up work to save the A-listed building.

If successful, ­Historic Scotland could make a further £1.65million available for repair work to the site.

And:

The plan emerged as one of the building’s owners, Derek Souter, issued another plea for collaboration from the public sector.

The firms behind the Egyptian Halls Project, USP and USI, have warned
that ­unless their original £20million ­development goes ahead, the building will become too derelict to save.

It has stood since 1873 but came under threat of demolition in 2011, when ­co-owners USP could not fund their share of the statutory repairs.

The co-owners have said they can raise an additional £12million on top of the ­£5million they have already invested.

But owners say the future of the Egyptian Halls cannot be guaranteed beyond the next 12 to 18 months without more money.

Mr Souter said: “Given the evidence of the accelerating decay is now in the public ­domain, this needs to become an urgent priority at Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government.”

He says there is a “very real” threat of demolition because bodies including the council and Historic Scotland haven’t ­collaborated with his development plan.

Via Glasgow’s iconic Egyptian Halls in line for repair as owners draw-up rescue plan – the Glaswegian

This article goes into more detail:

Hotel site plea for council aid, by Colin Donald

This web site dedicated to the Halls provides further detail and an archive of the building’s past:

The Egyptian Halls Project

On reflection, I might add that it not only this building that is a sad case.

When I was (very little), my grandfather used to take me along Argyle Street as a treat, while he visited what appeared to be many auction rooms based in the floors above the more well-known shops.

I’d like to visit those places now, but a walk along Argyle Street in recent years is just depressing, as a glance above the shops shows the same places are empty and abandoned now. And given the state of the windows, I’d guess they are derelict, and the structure of most of those buildings is now just rotting away behind them.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moat House – the story that just keeps going

Moat Brae © Copyright Darrin Antrobus

Funny how you can innocently note a little story… think you will just make one post… then find you have started a life’s work. (I haven’t counted how many posts I’ve made on this, or rolled together in later entries when I realised the story was going to run.)

Such seems to be the case with the restoration of Moat House in Dumfries.

For those not yet aware, I first noticed this house was hopefully going to be rescued and restored in memory of writer JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and who had credited the house as having been inspiration in the story.

That was over 5 years ago: Tourism opportunity missed.

As you’ll see from that short little ramble, my interest then was not so much in the house and its history, but the problems that those wishing to save it were in having in raising funds and support to save it, and I had a little kick at those who were calling for tourism to Scotland to be grown – yet they were not chipping in a penny to bring visitors to a place then could be widely recognised.

Since then, I’m glad to say that the supported of the project have managed to raise finance and support, and recently Dumfries Peter Pan house project reaches milestone.

Metal theft

However, only a matter of days after the project reached this point (making the house watertight) it fell victim to the  scum which is plaguing the country at the moment, metal thieves.

These cretins will steal any metal, regardless of the danger, cost, or inconvenience cause to others. They rip out live distribution cables and rail systems, raid substations, tear out phone and telecommunications cabling, smash war memorial to tear out the brass plaques, and as happened to Moat house, strip the lead flashing used to make roofs watertight.

Usually, they will get only scrap metal value for what they steal, while the original owners are left with bills of thousands to make good the damage they cause – in the case of Moat House, the cost was estimated at £2,000.

However, attacks on electricity supplies or phone cables can cost much more, and more significantly, put lives in danger.

There are so many stories about this online now that there is no need for me to post links – just search ‘metal theft’ and you will find many current stories, for example:

£40,000 of damage caused as thieves rip metal from Benarty Primary School | Edinburgh & East | News | STV

Lewis Macdonald fears lives could be lost unless metal theft is tackled | Aberdeen & North | News | STV

New laws planned to tackle £12m metal theft boom – Top stories – The Scotsman

This action has probably eaten still further into the money the Moat House project has raised, since it means: Dumfries Peter Pan property security stepped up.

See also:

Police launch Operation Nickel to catch tool and metal thieves – Dumfries and Galloway Standard

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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