Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Time to make events pay their way, NOT the hosts – especially when our Winter Gardens are rotting

I wonder if people are generally aware that lucky events like the Commonwealth Games (dumped on Glasgow in 2014), The Olympic Games (probably never coming to Glasgow, thank goodness), and now the first ever World Cycling Championships (set for August 2023, don’t have to PAY for the privilege of disrupting the cities they take place, or all the work needed to allow them to take place.

Glassgow was ‘taken’ for something like £300+ million by the Commonwealth Games, and is now being asked for £15 million in advance of the cycling event.

As usual, the promoters are blackmailing the hosts with promised of wonderful returns and benefits which they will lose out on if they don’t throw money at the organisers, and bring the event Glasgow.

GLASGOW councillors are being urged to approve £15million towards the city hosting most of the events in the first ever World Cycling Championships, taking place in August 2023.

The world governing body for cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), revealed last year a plan to combine around a dozen existing individual cycling world championships into one major event every four years.

Following an approach by Glasgow and EventScotland, the UCI has given an exclusive opportunity to Glasgow/Scotland to present its case to host the first championships. The final submission, including funding commitments from the major partners, has to be made by February 2019.

A report to city councillors stated: “This will be the biggest cycling event in the world with over 100 countries represented and over 200 World Champions being crowned during the course of the Championships. The huge media interest will guarantee worldwide broadcast coverage delivering massive international profile for both Glasgow and Scotland.

CHANCE For Glasgow To Get On Its Bike For Historic Hosting Of World’s Biggest Cycling Championships

I’m not even going to waste more of my time digging into this.

You can read more of the fantasy in the linked article. It’s pretty much a self-explaining fiasco.

What I will say is that it’s a scandal that I would NOT mock dopey MP Paul Sweeney if he questioned it with the same vigour he did after hearing ‘tale telling’ about the plants in the People’s Palace Winter Garden.

But, I doubt we’ll hear as much as a squeak.

That this famous and long established Winter Garden should be languishing in closure for the lack of £7.5 million while there is a farcical demand for £15 million to be poured into a transient event that lasts for a few days is little short of shameful.

And gets even worse when we reflect on the dead shell that was Tollcross Winter Garden, closed after some 2011 storm damage, and could not be spared a penny when the millions were being squandered on the Commonwealth Games, and in particular the swimming pool in the sports centre only a few metres from that glasshouse.

As they say…

Somebody need to GET A GRIP!

Tollcross Winter Garden – ignored while millions were spent on an adjacent Commonwealth Games venue…

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

People’s Palace Winter Garden – closed while £7.5 million is searched for, but £15 million is being demanded for a cycling event…

Closed Winter Garden North

Closed Winter Garden North


Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy museum receives funding assistance

I never really appreciated the detail of the Arctic Convoys until I did a little of my own research for a post, then realised I’d missed a lot with regard to this story.

Sadly, while education about this wartime effort is growing, this is only happening as the last few survivors have grown very old, and their numbers are dwindling.

There has always been some sort of memorial to those involved, but not a proper, formal museum.

However, ongoing efforts to create such a facility are moving towards a successful conclusion, and I noticed news of another award which the project will benefit from.

A project dedicated to World War Two’s Russian Arctic Convoys has received £72,820 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Highlands’ Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) will use the money to buy a former butcher’s shop in Aultbea for a new exhibition centre.

The nearby Loch Ewe was a gathering point for many of the convoys.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Funds awarded to Aultbea, Aberdeen and Leadburn projects

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Aug 11, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Science Centre has seen a turnaround

Intriguing to see something come good, and that the Glasgow Science Centre might be melting in what was referred to as a recent heatwave (when the gloop under the metal cladding dribbled out in the summer heat), and that there no longer seems to be any need to reduce its staff to try to reduce costs and keep it open, or even just keep it.

Science centres in Glasgow and Dundee have been awarded more than £4.3m to widen their reach to local communities.

Glasgow Science Centre will receive £2,876,401 to develop its indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces and facilities.

The funding is the largest single investment in Glasgow Science Centre since it opened in 2001.

The money will fund the centre’s Connect project.

Its chief executive Dr Stephen Breslin said: “Connect aims to empower the people of Glasgow to make positive changes in their lives and communities through learning and engagement with science.”

Glasgow and Dundee science centres receive £4.3m funding boost

It’s funny seeing this, as I just made it back to the area for the first time in years, although not to the Science Centre itself.

I was lucky enough to get an invite to a tour around the place just before it opened, which was sort of good and bad all in one.

Good in the sense that such centres can introduce many people to science.

Bad in the sense that it’s all pretty basic, and mostly aimed at kids.

So I’ve never wanted to go back (oh, maybe not entirely true – the planetarium was not completed, and I would probably want a look at it to complete the package). I used to visit the London Planetarium – but not for the planetarium display, but that’s another story.

But I’m glad to see it win some money and stay alive – unlike The Big Idea, still lying derelict in Irvine.

PS Waverley Science Centre Tower

PS Waverley Science Centre Tower

Creation of a unique outdoor learning space and a new exhibition gallery are among planned improvements, together with better facilities and development of the science centre’s community-based learning programme.

Over the next few months, the team at the centre will work with stakeholders to source the match funding required as part of the Inspiring Science Fund and plan the implementation phase of Connect. Visitors will start to see changes from spring 2019 with the addition of the Changing Places Toilet.


Aug 9, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Another boost for the Maid of the Loch

Looks as if I will have to start saving for a ticket, as another boost for the final stages of restoring the Maid of the Loch to sailing the loch was reported in the news.

Funding boost for moored paddle steamer Maid of the Loch

All I have to do is keep shuffling along for a few more years, and I can maybe recreate the sailing I managed just before she fell out of service.

John Beveridge, chairman of the charity that owns the Maid, said: “The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has supported us from the beginning, and to now give us £50,000 shows the faith they have in us to get the Maid sailing once again.

“Their support takes us yet another step closer to our goal, and it is a huge boost to have the country’s leading preservation organisation demonstrating this commitment.

“We are most grateful, and look forward, with confidence, to the Maid’s first sail.”

Paul Semple, PSPS national chairman, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the PSPS is able to offer this level of support to help ensure that the Maid of the Loch returns to service.

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

Apr 9, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

I once thought about opening a little museum – REALITY HURTS!

Seriously, I really did consider the possibility of opening a small museum dedicated to some aspects of electronics and computing.

I have enough ‘Old Crap’ (of the modern Internet era and just before) to make a display that could interest those involved, and even some older postwar goodies I rescued when I ‘scrapheaped’ some years ago.

However, although I had seen some small museums and collections being shown by enthusiasts around Scotland in similar areas of interest, it became clear that the economics of the idea worked for them as they were clearly independently wealthy or had a means of funding this, even it was as simple as having a home or domicile with space and access that meant they did not need any sort of premises to realise the idea.

While they do ask for donations from visitors (and usually give free access), even those with a small charge clearly do not run their venture from such funds. Having come from a few business setups, I really just couldn’t see any way to find my ideas, such was the limitation of reality.

It may be unrelated, but this was brought back to me by a couple of news items, the recent news that a museum dedicated to Jim Clark would open on the site where a collection to his memory had already been established for some years, it’s about to raise the final £300,000 towards the project in Duns in the Borders., and another that Aberdeen’s Gordon Highlanders Museum ‘could face closure’ – but will be fine if it can raise £100,000 a year for the next three years to keep it going.

Granted, £300,000 each for two much larger and differently organised ventures, but it’s still a reality check for anyone even thinking about playing this game.

Gordon Highlanders Museum

Gordon Highlanders Museum

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Poor old Kinloch Castle (it’s on the Isle of Rum)

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit (or am likely to), I’ve always like the look of Kinloch Castle.

The open arcade (wrongly referred to as a ‘loggia’ – which has a roof or covering) around the building gives it a wonderful appearance.

Dating from around 1897, wealthy English industrialist George Bullough clearly wanted something just a little better than a hovel – his new retreat included lighting, powered by its own hydro-electric scheme, central heating, double-glazed stained-glass windows, sophisticated showers, and even an early telephone system, plus a (now lost) conservatory with hummingbirds, peaches and grapes, and heated pools in the (walled) garden with… alligators and turtles. That garden also contained 250,000 tons of imported soil.

His father (James) had bought Isle of Rum 1886 for £35,000. Inheriting much of the family fortune he spent £15 million (a 1974 valuation) building the castle, employing some 300 craftsmen, and importing red sandstone quarried in Corrie, Arran.

It was eventually sold to Scottish Natural Heritage in 1957 for around £1 per acre, and featured in the BBC’s ‘Restoration’ series in 2003.

SNH has been paying to maintain the building and contents ever since, but even though it is A-listed, it could be demolished as the bill for repair and maintenance is said to have reached £20 million.

At that, I think I’m unlikely to write anything different from the last alarm call for Kinloch, so you should just read this post from 2013:

Whither Kinloch Castle (and many others)?

Kinloch Castle

<a title="< A > title : null
href :; href=”; data-popupalt-original-title=”null”>Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph

Well, maybe there is a further comment, after I read this:

Kinloch Castle “faces demolition” due to repair bill cost

While the “shocked” ‘Kinloch Castle Friends Association ‘ may have their hearts in the right place, they also have to move into the real world.

There is no bottomless pit of funding for public bodies to dip into and ‘magic’ £20 million for a building that does not pay its way, or cannot provide some sort of operational contribution.

It’s all well and good to wave your hands and cry:

“Kinloch Castle is a truly magnificent place to visit and we simply do not accept that it is a write-off. It would be nothing short of a scandal if the castle were to be demolished, a scandalous loss of heritage.”


“I can’t believe that a heritage body would even consider demolishing such a beautiful, historic and unique building. It would be a huge mistake.”

But if you can’t also bring the funds needed to prevent it:

Earlier attempts to preserve the mansion, which were backed by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, have failed given the lack of public funding available.

Then your position may indeed be morally sound, but sadly practically flawed.


Perhaps another sad aspect we have nowadays is the aspect of liability, and the fear that SNH may find themselves being sued by someone who enters the abandoned and derelict castle one day, and is injured or even killed.

Even thought they may have entered without permission and wilfully ignored ‘NO ENTRY’ and ‘DANGER’ signs, chances are that SNH remain liable simply for leaving the castle there – and that threat is why they dare not simply abandon it and walk away, and warn that demolition is their option if they cannot fund repairs.

Feb 16, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Whither Kinloch Castle (and many others)?

A recent article on the uncertain future of Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum caught my eye. Not only for the reminder it provided regarding the fate of the building, but for the way it expanded on the potential conflicts that a community with such a feature can find itself having to deal with.

I can’t better a 40-page booklet produced in 1999 that describes this great Victorian extravaganza.

But this text, to accompany the picture below, gives some idea of the effort that went into its creation:

James Bullough bought Isle of Rum 1886 for £35,000. His Son George inherited much of the family fortune and spent £15 million (in today’s money) constructing the castle. Building began in 1897 with 300 craftsmen, and was finished in 1900.

The red sandstone was from a quarry in Corrie, Arran.

For the gardens 250,000 tons of soil was imported, a walled garden and greenhouses built, water features, bridges and appropriate ornaments. The greenhouses were for peaches and grapes and other fruit associated with the Mediterranean. Sir George died in 1939 leaving the castle to his wife who in turn sold it to Scottish Natural Heritage for around £1 per acre.

Sadly the castle has fallen into disrepair but SNH are paying for the upkeep. The hostel in the back will have to move however. The building featured in BBC’s ‘restoration’ in 2003.

Kinloch Castle

Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph

Features like Kinloch are, in my opinion, possibly even more at risk than others which have already reached an advanced state of decay, While the latter are obviously in need of help, somewhere like Kinloch, which the casual observer would look at and consider was looking ‘Ok’, have a reached a stage where relatively little money (and I do use the word ‘relatively’ deliberately) would keep in good condition, and able to become, or remain, and asset to their community, and an attraction to keep visitors and tourists coming into the area.

Not spending the money, and this is why I used the word ‘relatively’ a moment ago, means building up a huge bill to restore the place when it falls apart in a few years, possibly destroying not only itself, but any valuable contents within.

Scottish National Heritage told BBC Scotland that some £1.5 million had been spent on repairs to Kinloch over the last five years, particularly to the roof, to keep it wind and watertight.

While that is not an amount to be ignored, it’s a fraction of the cost of restoring the building (if that became necessary) in future, should it fail to have that relatively low cost of ownership maintained.

The community quandary

But there’s a problem – Kinloch Castle is on an island, and that has a community to support.

That makes it unlike many mainland features, where the only real issue is an owner who is being financially crippled by being handcuffed to a giant money-pit.

So, the equation becomes harder to balance than in many other locations. Is it better to raise and use funds to maintain the castle, and benefits from the tourists and visitors that come with the wallets and credit cards? Or would it be better to let the castle go, and use any money that can be raised to support the community more directly?

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t have all the information needed to even have a stab at it.

I just hope those who have to eventually have to make such decisions do have it.

Via ‘Time running out’ for damaged Kinloch Castle


Aug 3, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

£75,000 boost for Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther

With too many stories appearing in this blog and telling of museum which are either closing, or threatened with closure, it’s nice to see the occasional tale of additional funding, or protection of funding for an existing museum.

In this case, it’s the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife, based in Anstruther, and tells the history of the Scotland fishing industry with a collection of more than 66,000 items. The museum will receive £75,000 in the period 2013/14, part of a £49.7 million allocation to Scottish museums and galleries.

Simon Hayhow, director of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, said:

The Scottish Fisheries Museum is grateful to the Scottish government and the culture secretary for continued support for our work in increasing visitors and improving access to our collections.

This funding is vital to us, and allows us to unlock other sources of grants for exciting and innovative projects, such as ‘Home from the Sea’ and ‘Science and Sea Monsters’ and work on developing the museum’s range of public services for the future.

Via The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther receives £75,000

The museum hosts the historic floating vessel ‘Reaper‘ (built in 1902), which was repaired last year, and has plans to take the craft to the south Forth ports in May. Last year, it completed an upgrade to its tearoom, and opened a community curated exhibition, ‘Iconic Artists in Iconic Places’. More new exhibitions are planned for 2013, including “Science and Sea Monsters”, due to open on 16 February, 2013.

The museum also plans to find a site where it can locate a new Large Objects Store.

See also: Scottish Fisheries Museum

Fisheries Museum Anstruther

Scottish Fisheries Museum Anstruther © edward mcmaihin via geograph

Feb 20, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime | , , , , | Leave a comment

More than £7 million awarded in City Heritage Trust grants

Man with big money bagFunding of almost £8 million has been awarded for heritage projects in Scotland’s six cities. The  grants from Historic Scotland will be used to enhance conservation areas and maintain historic sites.

Edinburgh projects already mentioned include work on monuments in Greyfriars Kirkyard, repairs to an original Victorian shop front, and restoration of a 19th Century listed building. Dundee will see work take place within conservation areas, including work on ‘at risk’ buildings, together with further investment in the Riverside and Crown conservation areas of Inverness.

The grants are good news, especially at the moment when purse strings are being tightened, so something somewhere has to be suffering. Something that could happen under such circumstances is the assumption that big or well-known high-profile cities can look after themselves, and have some sort of magical pot of money that can be drawn on, unlike smaller conurbations. However, as one who lives in one of those ‘big, rich cities’, I know this is far from the case, having watched many worthy building fall into decay, ruin, and eventual vandalism and demolition.

Listing etc is all well and good, but apart from legal status and little protection, it does not come with any funds to maintain or restore properties.

Press release:

6 February 2012

Historic Scotland has announced that it will be offering £7.69m in City Heritage Trust grants over the next three years to Scotland’s six cities. The grants are designed to safeguard and enhance conservation areas, the historic environment and sense of place.

Glasgow will receive £2,550,000, Edinburgh will receive £2,145,000, and Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Stirling will each receive £750,000.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “It is vital that we continue to improve the quality of our Scottish cities to make them better places to live, work and invest.

“Managing our historic environment creatively also contributes to sustainable economic growth by growing Scotland’s construction industry and increasing the availability and quality of traditional skills and materials. Using new skills and sustainable materials in the adaptation of existing buildings will also help support the historic environment’s transition to a low carbon economy.

“This investment builds on our Agenda for Cities and £7 million Cities Investment Fund, which has been launched to build the momentum to make sure our cities and their regions make the fullest possible contribution to sustained economic recovery – stimulating economic recovery and job creation.”

via Scotland’s six cities to benefit by £7.69 million in Historic Scotland grants.

There was further information appended to the release, which helps to explain some of the terms referred to in the release:

Feb 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s wrong with the Forth hovercraft planning refusal?

Ship wreckI tend to stay away from council related stories nowadays. Too many look more like mindless ‘council-bashing’ than reasoned analysis – and I found myself falling into that very trap once, and decided to walk away unless something really didn’t stack.

The story of Edinburgh City Council’s refusal of planning permission for a project to introduce a hovercraft service to the Forth seems to be odd enough for me to risk breaking cover, and mentioning.

The service would connect Kirkcaldy and Portobello, and we noted the testing carried out back in 2008: Forth hovercraft could be floating away, when it was reported that a trial service operated in 2007 had attracted some 32,000 passengers, and near complete approval rendering it “an unqualified success”.

Despite this, and the fact that permission for a terminal at Fife has been granted, Edinburgh’s council has torpedoed the project.

Even stranger is the report of continued wide support from potential users for the service, that Fife councillors have been prepared to criticise the Edinburgh councillors’ decision, and that the support transport partnership SEStran (South East Scotland Transport Partnership, Travel Planning & Strategy) was also snubbed.

The project has, or had, been actively pursued for at least four years (since 2007 but would no doubt have been conceived earlier), but unless something surprising happens, is now dead, as the company behind the service has post patience, and said there will not be an appeal:

Stagecoach Group chief executive Sir Brian Souter said: “This has been a long and painful process. We are completely scunnered and have no intention of appealing against the planning decision.”


Stagecoach said it continues to support a proposed passenger ferry between Burntisland, Fife and Granton, Edinburgh. Stagecoach said it was prepared to put £7m into the project in a joint venture with Bland Group.

BBC News – Council ‘kills off’ hovercraft plan for Firth of Forth

Souter ‘scunnered’ as council rejects Forth hovercraft plan | Edinburgh and East | STV News

(The pic’s a shipwreck – royalty free pics of wrecked hovercraft are as easy to find as hen’s teeth!)

Dec 10, 2011 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

£6.3 million redevelopment approved for Helensburgh

We’ve mentioned Argyll and Bute Council’s £30 million CHORD programme before, first to note its existence, and more recently when the plans for Rothesay were announced. CHORD’s aim is to regenerate key coastal towns on the Clyde, and others in line for investment are Campbeltown, Oban, and Dunoon.

In an announcement that the council claims will see the largest town in the area see “the most major improvement works it has seen for decades”, £6.3 million has been approved for the redevelopment of the town centre and West Bay esplanade, and the town’s Colquhoun Square will become an open space, able to host outdoor events.

Helesburgh Colquhoun Square

Helesburgh Colquhoun Square © Stevie Spiers

The tender process will now begin with work due to start in late February 2012 and finish in early May 2013.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, board member of the Helensburgh CHORD project, said: “This is arguably the most significant decision taken for Helensburgh since Argyll and Bute Council came into existence in 1996. Independent assessors have concluded that this project has the potential to support and grow the area’s business base and act as a catalyst for attracting new investment, as well as helping to attract new residents and increase visitor numbers. I’m sure every town in the country would jump at such an opportunity, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.”

When work starts in Helensburgh next year, contractors will upgrade the “streetscape” in the town centre’s main shopping areas and outside the town’s Central Station.

Work is expected to start next year, when contractor will upgrade the town centre and area outside Central Station, and improve signs which guide visitors.

via BBC News – Helensburgh set for £6.3m redevelopment.

See also: Helensburgh CHORD Project Updates | Argyll and Bute Council

Oct 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

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