Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S48

No news this week (at least not in the feeds that I see), so I thought I’d try to lighten things a little, especially after last weeks’ fairly miserable and unhelpful article (or was it an ‘Opinion Piece’, or OP?).

You may, or may not, if such things don’t interest you, be aware of the current refurbishment underway at Rothesay’s classic art deco pavilion

Beginning with the closure of the building back in 2015, the location (which has seen even worse weather than usual), a ceiling collapse (which exposed hidden asbestos), and the discovery of areas of the building in even poorer condition than surveys indicated, has resulted in delays to the project, and significant cost increases to deal with them.

An initial budget of £8 million has risen to £14 million, with the additional costs being underwritten by the local council, and other fundraisers.

The opening is still scheduled for this year, but has been moved from its original date (first set for 2017, before the full extent of the complications was learned) of July 2019 to 03 September 2019. I’ll be a little surprised if that works, or if does, but there’s still a lot to be done before it’s all complete and the last contractor leaves.

While I’m not able to be on the island (something I once did regularly), I’ve been able, at least, to watch as work progressed on the outside of the pavilion building, thanks to the pics shared by Zak as he wanders around the Isle of Bute. I’m trying to get back for a look, and can’t believe this year has reached September and I’ve still failed miserably to even get close. Oh well 😦

This week’s pics included a view that made me think the pavilion was trying to make the Mackintosh Building feel a little better, as it has been wearing scaffolding that looks almost as extensive as that shrouding the Mackintosh.

This is how it looked this week (although that crane has now left the site).

Rothesay Pavilion August Scaffold

Rothesay Pavilion August Scaffold

There was even more scaffolding previously, as seen in April, making it look even more like its Glasgow cousin.

Rothesay Pavilion April Scaffold

Rothesay Pavilion April Scaffold

As always, thanks to Zak for these pics, more of which can be seen in his collection here.

And usually updated daily here.

A reminder of the Mackintosh Building.

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

 

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

01/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S47

In the last summary, I noted a certain Glasgow MP whose name I keep seeing pop up on more media opportunities than most.

This time, I’m looking an article which I really can’t decide helps or hinders the future of the Mackintosh Building, but I get the feeling would (if I were to go through it) not be favourable towards the board of the Glasgow School of Art.

I find such articles, where I get the feeling that the writer is suggesting the board didn’t care about the building, to be irritating in the extreme.

While I can understand suggestions that mistakes were made, I can’t really believe anyone seriously believes those in charge somehow planned and allowed some mishap (not necessarily a fire) to happen on their watch.

I’ve been a director, and in control/responsible for a company and scores of people’s livelihoods.

Unlike those who threw stones at me and accused me of doing wrong, and making corporate decisions they couldn’t understand, I was in possession of all the facts, knowledge of the finances, responsibilities, and commitments which had to be satisfied. All things which extended much further than any of those critics’ scope, where they only had their own single issue to deal with, and couldn’t see or understand why THEIR problem wasn’t the one being given priority.

There’s a distasteful paragraph in the article (to my mind at least)…

What tourists learn now is very different. Recently overheard from a double decker tour bus on Sauchiehall Street, in view of scaffolding up the hill, incredulous words over the guide’s microphone: “…in 2014, and AGAIN in 2018!” If it weren’t actually true, it might so surreal as to be funny, but it’s still a shock to think the building burned down twice in four years.

Who is the Glasgow School of Art really for? – Laura Waddell

What relevance has the script of a tour guide got to with this?

It’s job is to be interesting, not even factual.

And if we’re considering factual content…

The building DID NOT BURN DOWN TWICE IN FOUR YEARS!

Sorry Laura – your credibility just evaporated at that point.

It may have suffered two fires, 2014 may have been a bad fire, a very bad fire, but regardless of what MIGHT have happened, the building did not burn down.

Maybe that line answered my opening question too, when I couldn’t decide if it was intended to help… or hinder.

Mackintosh Scott Street

Mackintosh Scott Street

25/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S46

Something a little different this week, as we move from consideration of the fire(s) and move onto intrigue – and a certain MP whose names seems to pop up in the media with some regularity these days.

I could be wrong, but with a crappy memory like mine, anything you can remember between appearances must be appearing fairly often.

Seventy staff have left Glasgow School of Art since the building suffered a second fire amid accusations of bullying and intimidation.

Forty staff have resigned since the blaze at the world-famous building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, while 30 have been made redundant.

Six have signed confidentiality agreements with pay-offs to departing staff totalling £210,000.

It is unclear, however, if figures from the school’s HR department include the resignation of director Tom Inns who, sources suggest, received £250,000 when he left suddenly last year.

Investigations continue into risk management at the school before it was destroyed by fire in June last year and a report from by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on the cause and origin of the second fire is expected within weeks.

MP Paul Sweeney believes pay-offs and confidentiality agreements must be scrutinised as official inquiries continue into the blaze and management of famous art school.

He said: “This speaks to a culture that is clearly not transparent. Light is the best disinfectant and a full independent public inquiry is long overdue.”

A former staff member at the school said many colleagues had left because of the management culture, including allegations of bullying and a lack of leadership from the art school board.

Seventy staff leave art school after second fire

Since this could go legal, I’d better not comment – or just suggest thinking of alternative reason for their departures is also valid.

I’ve taken a few spins by the remains of the old place, but other than some detail changes around the edges, the view is now pretty static, and taking more pics is pretty pointless as the changes would be next to impossible to see.

I think the perimeter has been further tightened, and some access gates removed from the fence.

It’s all pretty quiet to, with the most activity I saw recently being a (polite) comment emanating from one of the Portakabins (presumably housing some site security) as a girl walked up the hill during one of the now long distant heatwave days we had a few weeks ago.

Mackintosh Scott Street

Mackintosh Scott Street

18/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An update of ‘Not my accountant’ fire recovery

I thought it was time to do something a little better than the usual grab shot as bus whizzed past the remains of ‘Not my accountant’, or Simpson’s, just along the road.

As I think I hinted at in previous posts, it’s very much ‘Business as usual’ there, and they’re re-established in some smart looking prefabricated buildings.

I’m wondering if they’ll just carry on in these, or if the cottage style building (behind) will be restored so they can return ‘home’.

I’m wondering if Mr Simpson has retired, as his car was fairly easy to recognise in the days I was visiting the place, but I haven’t seen it there. Although I’m not past the place nearly as often as I used to be.

Not sure if I was spotted taking pics, but I thought all the staff came to the window and stared at me as I started taking them – so I had to casually walk away, looking interested in something else, and go back a few hours later. Didn’t fancy the hand on the shoulder, and hearing ‘Ello, ello, ello, what have we here?’

Simpsons Hired Office

Nice to see the larger ‘Business as Usual’ sign, with the original home-made example still on the door, now getting a little damp thanks to our recent weather.

Love the huge luxury toilets too.

Interesting to see that the fire seems to have killed the site’s electricity supply.

I’d have thought it would be easy to tap into the incomer, but I noticed that there was a generator set running to the right of the temporary building, fenced off in the green area seen at the centre of the first pic.

Hope things are going well.

18/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S45

Interesting developments in the considerations regarding demolition of the remains of the building I had no idea had so many fans.

The o2abc, or former Regal Cinema in Sauchiehall Street was little more than an ‘innocent bystander’ to the event of the Mackintosh Building fire, but that didn’t mean it was immune, and suffered extensive fire damage itself.

It seems (from the reference article) that the demolition submission for the building didn’t include any attempts to retain any of the original structure, which seems like a bit of a mistake.

This omission has attracted attention…

SCOTLAND’S historic building watchdog has lodged a strongly-worded statement formally objected to plans to completely demolish the fire-ravaged O2 ABC music venue in Glasgow.

In their response, Historic Environment Scotland state: “We object to this application for complete demolition of the O2 ABC building because the case for doing so is not adequately justified against national policy. It is our view that the applicant has not made an adequate effort to retain and preserve this C-listed building (or any part of it), and has therefore not met the tests for demolition.

“The special architectural interest of the building lies largely in the street-facing elevation and entrance foyer. We would not object to a scheme that retained these parts of the building, either with proposals for immediate redevelopment or propped and secured in a way that facilitated redevelopment at a future date.

“Although the building is fire-damaged, the principal areas of architectural interest appear to remain intact and the applicant has not demonstrated that they cannot be preserved.

“A number of the concerns they raise are not supported by evidence. While a degree of uncertainty is understandable at this stage, we nevertheless consider that the applicants might reasonably have sought more clarity on many of these matters before submitting this application.”

Certainly, from the exterior, the surviving facade looks as if it could be retained, but as an engineer, I’m painfully aware that it could be attached to little more than ‘chewing gum and string’ behind, if the heat of the fire was sufficient to erode the structural integrity of the supporting structure behind.

Removal of, or even attempts to restore, that could lead to total failure.

Reading on, it looks as if there may now be some dispute and disagreement.

However, in a new submission to the council on behalf of the owners, RM Consulting state: “The complexity of the issue we presently face in dealing with the front façade is the overall extent of the cumulative fire and structural damage that the facade has suffered; whilst not obvious externally, any detailed inspection internally will reveal the totality of the damage.

“Faced with the significant amount of cumulative damage to the façade structure and coupled with the overall catastrophic damage that the building has suffered in general, our professional advisors are at a loss on how to retain or rely on the severely damaged façade as part of any future project.”

RM Consulting have asked the council for a detailed response as to how it thinks the facade can be safely retained.

HERITAGE Watchdog Opposed To Proposed Flattening Of Iconic Blaze-Hit Glasgow Venue

In the past, such remains have not been allowed to stand as long this after major fires.

Then (from my recollections at least), it was usual for the Fire Service to announce that its inspection of the building showed it was unsafe for anyone to enter, and that it had to be demolished on grounds of safety.

We lost some pretty big buildings in those days. Again, my recollection is of places like large churches that were used as nightclubs.

I’m not suggesting they were wrong – bear in mind these may have looked solid from the outside, but dated to a time when there was no steel framework, and wood was used for the interior. With a sufficiently fierce blaze, that could be burnt away, leaving an unsupported honeycomb behind.

That said, even steel supports soften and bend if it gets hot enough.

Scott Street O2abc Roof

Scott Street O2abc Roof

I walked past the o2abc a few times during this week, after the sun started to shine, and we got some VERY hot days.

The place absolutely REEKS!

Not the smell of a fire, of which there isn’t the slightest hint of smoke.

But of a really old building which has been taken over by wet/dry rot. mould, and maybe years and years of sweaty bodies dripping onto it (and maybe other ‘bodily fluids’ as well.

It’s fairly disgusting, and wasn’t present before, when it was cooler.

Go have a sniff 😉

14/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S44

I think it’s fair to say that some people think that recovery after the fire involves more than ‘bricks and mortar’.

This dates back to November (2018), but only seems to be getting a mention now.

See the absolutely wonderful comment by Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White, at the end of the quote.

I have an excuse for not knowing about this until today.

What’s theirs?

A 28-year-old master’s degree student has set about one of Scotland’s toughest repair jobs.

Harriet Simms is working to rebuild trust between Glasgow School of Art and its fire-disrupted neighbours.

She says she has had to tread carefully but is already encouraged by the reaction of many people.

“It has been mainly positive but some people are still really angry, and that’s why I have been slow and considered and not gone in all guns blazing,” she told the i paper.

“I have been mindful to respect people and to say this is a long-term and considered role.”

One year on from the fire that devastated the world-renowned Mackintosh building for a second time, the area is still in upheaval.

An investigation is ongoing and many questions remain unanswered, foremost being what caused the fire.

Dozens of people who were forced out of their homes for several months are still suffering hardship and trauma.

Street protests held in the weeks following the events of June 15 targeted the Art School and city council for lack of communication and delays in getting people back into their homes.

Several businesses either moved or closed due to the chaos and loss of trade.

She is carrying out research into community participation and design alongside her role after completing a master’s degree at the Art School.

She said: “When I started there was a lot of anger, and a lot of valid anger, because of the trauma of last year.

“For a lot of people it was less about blame, it was more about ‘I want to get on with my life and get back to normal’.”

She has attended local council meetings and helped organise a community fete in the local park.

A multicultural centre has benefited from her input with new furniture, and was gifted student art works thanks to her involvement.

Local resident Uli Enslein said: “It now feels like someone cares – someone is interested in the local people who live here.”

Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White said: “It may seem a bit late in the day for some people, but I see this appointment as a positive way forward.”

A GSoA spokeswoman said: “Harriet’s appointment is a long term commitment on our part and we look forward to working in partnership with the communities around the School on many future projects.”

How Glasgow School of Art is building bridges with ‘angry’ neighbours after fires

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

Mackintosh Building Scott Street

23/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S43

It’s the first anniversary of the big fire, and it seems it’s not been forgotten.

Although there’s little external evidence of ongoing activity at the remains of the Mackintosh Building (I know, I’ve been past it a few times, with little new to see), it seems that work is still being undertaken on a daily basis to make the structure safe, and parts are still being deconstructed.

Glasgow School of Art has re-affirmed its commitment to restoring the Mackintosh building, one year after it was ravaged by a tragic fire.

On the evening of Friday June 18, 2018, firefighters raced to the city centre blaze which had engulfed the Mack. When the fire was finally extinguished, a scene of devastation was left behind.

Ever since, Glaswegians have been left wondering whether we will ever see the Mack in its full glory again – the building was just months away from completion after being gutted during another major fire in 2014.

Yet Glasgow School of Art has this week confirmed to Glasgow Live the school’s intention to restore the building in honour of Charles Rennie Mackinstosh.

They said: “The Glasgow School of Art is committed to rebuilding the Mack as Mackintosh envisaged it. We will be bringing it back for our students, for the people of Glasgow and the wider world.

“This Friday will see 2019 Graduation which will be a day of celebration for our amazing students following a hugely successful Degree Show. Many will them will then be exhibiting work in London at the annual graduate showcases.

“We are focusing on this.”

However investigations into the fire continue, with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service both involved – it is still unclear what sparked the blaze, with the building then under the day-to-day control of Kier Construction.

When asked by Glasgow Live what stage their inquiries are at, an SFRS spokesperson commented: “The investigation is still ongoing”.

Glasgow School of Art committed to restoring Mackintosh building one year after fire

Investigators are entering the final phases of their probe into the fire which devastated Glasgow School of Art.

The world-renowned Mackintosh building was extensively damaged when a blaze broke out on 15 June last year.

A year on, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said several hundred tonnes of debris still had to be removed from the remains of the building.

Neighbours of the art school told BBC Scotland they were eager to find out the results of the investigation.

Investigators have examined two sectors of the building following the removal of 400 tonnes of charred wreckage, according to the Scottish fire service.

They have also scoured hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and taken witness statements.

But before the final stages of the investigation can take place, more debris needs to be taken away from the “complex site”.

SFRS Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart said the fire service was working alongside on-site contractors to have the “significant volume” of remaining fire debris removed.

He added: “The fire investigation remains focused on likely origin and cause – but against the backdrop of an unprecedented large scale fire scene within a complex and challenging site.

“Our fire investigation team is working hard based on what remains within the building once the debris is removed, alongside all other evidence available to them.”

The probe is being led by fire service group manager David Dourley, who said the final phases of the investigation would be “challenging” due to the volume of debris.

“It is also a challenging site and we will require, at times, to work within confined spaces,” he said.

“But safety is paramount and each time we move to begin an excavation or go onto the site we will consult with Glasgow School of Art and also the on-site contractor.”

Earlier this year, the school of art was criticised by Holyrood’s culture committee, which found bosses did not give sufficient priority to safeguarding the building.

It has also faced criticism from some local residents and businesses who were unable to return to their properties for several months.

Ms Simpson said: “I want to know who is responsible for the fire because it is somebody’s fault. There is somebody, or a variety of bodies, that were to blame but you need to see the facts first before you start shouting ‘it was your fault’.

‘Final phases’ of Glasgow art school fire investigation

Probe into Glasgow Art School fire moves into final phases

And the ‘forgotten’…

To many Glaswegians, the major fire at the School of Art may seem like it was just yesterday, but for the residents of Garnethill this has been the longest year.

12 months ago, on Friday June 15, the area was devastated by a huge blaze which engulfed the heart of the community – the world renowned Mackintosh building.

Not only did the residents have to suffer the sight of ‘a fireball falling from the heavens’ on their very own doorsteps, some were unable to access their homes for three months in the fall-out from the fire.

Yet there is finally hope for those living in Garnethill and optimism for the future. During a deeply traumatic time, community spirit has never been stronger.

In the week in which Glasgow Live reported the School of Art’s unequivocal commitment to have the Mack reconstructed “as Mackintosh envisaged it”, we had the opportunity to speak to chair of Garnethill Community Council, Jane Sutherland, about the experiences of the area’s residents over the last year.

Recalling the night of June 18, Jane said: “It was very frightening – it was a very scary night.

“We were all out on the streets, watching a fireball fall from the heavens. It really was terrifying.

“The firefighters looked like they had water pistols on it. It was an absolute inferno. I think they expressed on the night that some of them had never seen anything like it. I believe it was visible as far afield as Motherwell. It really was like a volcano.”

While the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland’s investigations into the blaze continue, the scars of that evening are still understandably apparent, yet there’s a sense from Jane things are starting to move in the right direction.

She explained: “I think there is a traumatised community.

“As you can imagine, it’s been an exceptionally challenging time, for all of the residents in Garnethill and for all the people who work here as well, because access to Garnethill is very restricted and that’s the ongoing day-to-day problems.

“It’s also been difficult with access because of the Sauchiehall Street Avenues project – slowly that’s all opening up and that will see a boost and an improvement to the fabric of the neighbourhood – bring a bit of cheer to faces.

“It’s been really hard-going with all of that building work and all of the building work going on at the Mack and the Reid Building. Renfrew Street is still closed, and looks like it might be for sometime yet, which restricts access.

“The thing is not just to dwell on the challenges of it, how hard it’s been – it has been shockingly hard – it’s the efforts the community and the Art School, all kinds of groups, have been working very, very hard since the fire to improve the community relations and see what good we can bring out of this.”

And in spite of initial difficulties, the relationship between the School of Art and local residents has now strengthened, while the city has given its backing to local community projects helping to renew Garnethill’s sense of purpose.

Jane added: “Since November, I think the Art School have recognised their communications with the community wasn’t as good as it should have been. I think they’ve made sterling efforts to really integrate into the community here, and offer opportunities for practical help and assistance.

Glasgow Art School fire – traumatised Garnethill residents reflect on ‘shockingly hard’ year

I’ll just leave these here…

Remembering the Glasgow Art School fire – one year on from devastating blaze

02 ABC one year on from Glasgow Art School blaze – here’s what’s happening

 

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

 

16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work after Simpson’s fire progresses

Just a quick catch from the bus as it passed Simpson’s burnt out premises recently.

I never realised how hard it was to take a pic like this (moving and panning to keep the subject framed and still) using a compact rather than a dSLR, it’s a whole new world of ‘hard’ using the smaller camera, even though it has a viewfinder so I’m not forced to hold the thing at arm’s length. Being stuck in a bus seat doesn’t help either.

They seem to have cleared away most of the loose debris.

Simpson Fire Progress

Simpson Fire Progress

12/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S42

Not related to the building, but still of interest.

Glasgow School of Art chairwoman Muriel Gray has temporarily stepped down from her role almost a year after fire engulfed the Mackintosh building.

The renowned art school was extensively damaged last June while it was undergoing a £35m restoration following a previous fire in May 2014.

Ms Gray, whose husband has cancer, said she was stepping down from her role “for personal family reasons”.

Vice-chairwoman Professor Nora Kearney will take over as interim chairwoman.

Ms Gray said: “I have advised the board of governors of the Glasgow School of Art that I will be taking a temporary period of absence both as chair of the board and as a lay governor for personal family reasons.

“Given the challenges the school has faced over the past 12 months this was an incredibly difficult decision to take.”

Muriel Gray steps down from Glasgow School of Art post

Near identical coverage from STV:

Muriel Gray temporarily steps down from art school role

While the BRAVE MORONS COMMMENTERS who skulk after articles in The Scotsman never disappoint with their predictable responses:

Muriel Gray temporarily steps down as Glasgow School of Art chief

I’m almost surprised none suggested the board of the GSA was responsible for this most recent Glasgow blaze.

Firefighters tackle huge blaze at university building

Glasgow School of Art post fire

09/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work has started after Simpson’s fire

I mentioned the fire that took place at my nearby accountant’s office, suspected to have been deliberate (but no other news articles noted).

There was  no activity for a while, then I was back along that way and noticed that things look as if there’s going to be a rebuild.

They’d hardly move in all that accommodation if the place was gone for good.

I’ll keep watching.

Simpson fire site

Simpson fire site

01/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S41

Other than the straight reporting occasionally seen in the media, this must be one of the few sensible articles I’ve seen arising from the fires in Glasgow.

There’s no point in dwelling on my point, as I consider the concept to be too well drilled into too many Scottish minds, but the near obsessive to find someone to BLAME before doing anything else is simply not helpful or productive – but I’m sure must bring a nice warm glow to the hearts of those who always want someone’s head to roll. Especially if they get one, or more.

Meanwhile, the grown-up try to do something useful.

Professor Guillermo Rein believes emergency services across the globe should be sending officials to Scotland to learn from the experience of the two Glasgow School of Art fires.

Fire crews who battled two major fires at Glasgow School of Art have the knowledge to prevent blazes such as the Notre-Dame disaster happening again, an expert has claimed.

Imperial College London Professor Guillermo Rein believes emergency services across the globe should be sending officials to Scotland to learn from the experience of the two Glasgow School of Art fires.

The fire science expert told the Sunday Mail blazes in heritage buildings are rare, occurring perhaps once or twice in a firefighter’s career.

But he insisted full “knowledge sharing” should take place when they do happen – and said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is a world leader in this area of expertise.

Rein said: “There’s a lot to be learned from the School of Art fires. I hold the Scottish firefighters in very high esteem.

“For any city in the world that has a cathedral or significant heritage building, I would be sending a delegation to Glasgow.

“What they saw and experienced is very valuable. We cannot afford to have many more of these types of fires.

“We know now that those involved in the work which was being carried out at Notre-Dame were surprised that the fire burned so fast.

“But they designed the fire protection in isolation from the rest of the world – they did the opposite of learning from others.

“It turns out their fire protection design was flawed. It shows why it is important to learn from experiences of others and to share knowledge.

“It highlights that the rest of the world needs to know and learn from what the Scottish fire services experienced.”

Rein said that it’s a “concern” how the Glasgow School of Art burned not once, but twice – though it was not the fire service that failed.

Rein added: “They did the best they could – but it means the rest of the world can now learn from them. They will have become world leaders in dealing with fires like this.

“If I was the mayor of Paris, I would be sending officials to Scotland to learn from what they experienced fighting the School of Art fires.”

Rein said firefighters “need to be aggressive with the fire but gentle with the building when fighting such fires”.

He added: “This is when I really admire the firefighters – they manage to protect
the structure while attacking the fire.”

Glasgow Art School firefighters ‘have knowledge to prevent future blazes’ after Notre Dame

Mackintosh Scott Street from Pitt Street

Mackintosh Scott Street from Pitt Street

12/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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