Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Whitevale 2015 and Whitevale 2017

It’s been a while since my wanderings took me along that part of the Gallowgate that passes the remains of the old Whitevale Baths building.

By coincidence, I noticed I had passed the same spot almost exactly two years ago to the day, and taken a pic of the demolition of the high flats in the background coming to an end. Although I collected quite a few pics back then, I’m afraid I never got around to using any of them, but the ‘Top Down’ demolition process was interesting to watch. I have little doubt that Fred Dibnah would have been pleased, ad he didn’t see, to be too impressed by the dynamite men, and was happier to start at the top with his hammer and chisel, working his way to the ground.

However, it’s not really the flats that interested me on this occasion, but the clearance that has taken place on the former baths’ site in the foreground.

I always find this area slightly alarming (as regard my age and the fact that I still appear to be alive), as I can remember when the area in the foreground (the grassy bit between the footpath and the baths) was developed as a small row of flats with parking for the residents in the courtyard behind. Also, although not visible in either of these pics, there was also a small area of housing development built on the land to the left, bounded by the Bellgrove Hotel.

I find it hard to believe that BOTH have been razed. NEITHER was ‘old’ in terms of building life, and I wonder WHY they were vanished.

I would probably not have noticed this disappearance but for the fact that the bus I travelled on stopped in front of the small flats I mentioned, and I had noticed that the owner of a unique Classic car lived there, and their example of that car was one of only a handful that then remained on the road in Scotland. By the time I was old enough not be ‘Some daft kid’, the flats had gone, so I never even got the chance to talk to the owner.

The marque concerned was bankrupted in the early 1960s, but was reborn a couple of years ago – I might do a post about it one day, as it is succeeding in re-establishing itself.

Whitevale 2015-2017

Whitevale 2015-2017

I took this façade pic some time ago, but never used it – it was horribly skewed and distorted. I must have moved before the shutter fired, or just got it wrong.

But I’ve began to get the hang of perspective correction, so did a quick fix, and now it’s presentable.

As always… nice coat of arms

Whitevale Baths

Whitevale Baths


October 16, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

I spotted another Streetwise installation

It’s a while since I spotted my first Streetwise surveillance camera setup, but now I’ve spotted my second.

This time it was on the Gallowgate, monitoring the junction at Bain Street, between Barrowland and Morrison’s.

This junction can get quite busy at times, and has the added complication of being on the exit route of a nearby fire station – if you look carefully at the Barrowland pic you can see the additional warning lights on the junction in the background.

There may be plans to change the road layout here, or alter the traffic lights.

We’ll see.

There was also a recent announcement about a refurbishment of the whole Barras area, which may be connected to this survey.

In each case the camera is at the top of the temporary pole visible on the left, with a data storage box attached at the bottom.

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland


Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Alternative Belgrove Hotel view

While most views of Glasgow’s well-known Bellgrove Hotel tend to favour a frontal view of the building and feature the name, I noticed that the demolition of what was quite new housing on the Gallowgate left a clear view of the side elevation of the hotel.

For those unfamiliar with this Glasgow icon, I should offer full disclosure and identify it as a Men’s Hostel, one which can be found to attract adverse publicity in the local media.

I don’t usually see this view, but found it by chance when taking a shortcut across the ground where the house had once stood.

This view would have been impossible, even when the hotel was first built, as a street ran along the side of hotel, with tenements across from it blocking any view, as can be seen in original B&W views from the past.

Bellgrove Hotel side

Bellgrove Hotel side

More usually seen as (one my old pics – this tatty view is now refurbished to match the above):

Bellgrove Hotel

Bellgrove Hotel

Part of the refurb included the addition of glass panels to the doors, revealing a surprisingly well-lit reception.

The downside is that I now have to remember to cross the road when passing – the last three times I passed the new glass doors I found it was a handy way for a ‘resident’ to stay out of sight and jump out just as you get near, and ask for 2 pence.

Seriously, 2 PENCE!

That’s really what I get asked for if I’m careless and forget to cross the road before reaching the door.

Best avoided at weekends too, if there’s a game on at Parkhead, in which case the residents just stand outside asking for money as the mass of fans pass.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 1 Comment

Gallowgate gunfire – at least it was yesterday

I ended up at The Barras on both Saturday and Sunday this week, but the Sunday visit came with a surprise.

I arrived from the London Road side, and had worked my way towards the Gallowgate, as I had been heading for a particular stall to pick up a little bargain.

When I finally emerged on the Gallowgate, I found it was closed off and barricaded, with ‘Police – Accident’ signs on the road.

I didn’t think too much of this, but nobody seemed to have a clue, and I’m not the type that goes up to crows of police (and there were a lot of them, much more than seen in the pics), so at that point I decided to take some pics, then slide away as quietly as possible.

I’d expected to see something in the news, but there was nothing, and it was only an online search that revealed there had been a report of the sound of gunfire just before 10 pm on the Saturday night.

Well, I’ve hinted before, there are too may spots I can look at and say ‘Shots heard here’ and this just adds to the list.

Would you believe there was a Wedding Fair being held at The Barras, hence the pretty Mercs – Muggins walked into the building where it was being held, and beat a hasty retreat as people with flowers and loads of white lace tried to pounce!

Gallowgate Police 1

Gallowgate Police 3

Gallowgate Police 2

November 22, 2015 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Bellgrove Hotel made it onto the web

The Bellgrove Hotel, which can be found in Glasgow’s Gallowgate, has always been something of an irritation to me.

Even when I added a normal wide-angle lens to my collection, I still couldn’t take a decent picture of the façade, as the result was – for me – wasted by having the extreme edges of the building cut off because they fell outside the frame, or with excessive perspective distortion because I had to shoot low and angle the camera up in order to include the whole building in the shot. I was also fed up with the easy solution to this problem – a view taken looking at the corner, which can be caught simply by walking a bit further along the road.

I happened to be along that way recently, carrying some of my more recent toys, and discovered that I could not only get the whole façade in frame now, but could also do without having to lean back and have the roof disappear into the distance. Such perspective may make for a dramatic shot, but it’s of little use if your real intent is merely to record the building detail.

The only downside is that while I can now catch this in a single shot, I can easily make seamless stitches of the same view using multiple shots to include the same area – such is progress.

It became “famous”, or perhaps infamous, when a bunch of false reviews were posted on various online review sites, and raised its status into some Top 100 hotels in the country.

Reminds me of a trip I made down to Richmond-on-Thames, a fairly up-market area of London. I reserved my hotel in advance, and thought the call had an unusual echo, but thought nothing of it. When I got there, even though I had the address, I never found the hotel (and never found it later either). I didn’t end up on the streets (it can be hard to get a walk-in room in London sometimes) as I found a handy guest house. It worked out quite well, as my stay had to be extended, and while the owner couldn’t accommodate me for the whole period, he got me room in other houses nearby, and it cost a lot less than most hotels I usually used down there.

Bellgrove Hotel

Bellgrove Hotel

There a full set of more detailed recent pics online, that slightly postdate mine, and can be found here if you are interested: Bellgrove Hotel

While the building looks quite tired now, in days gone by it actually looked a lot better, but I imagine it gets little in terms of care and maintenance these day, and its former Art Deco splendour can on only be imagined. I understand it has 160 rooms, licensed for single occupants, of whom many have lived there for years

In reality, it houses homeless men, many dealing with alcohol-related problems. But it only holds the licence needed for a normal hotel, and the required HMO licence needed for places of multiple occupancy. It is not a care home, but a private hotel, so does not fall under the monitoring carried out by bodies such as the Care Inspectorate, local authorities,  and the Housing Regulator. Funding comes from residents’ housing benefits, with carers from Cordia visiting some of the most vulnerable men.
Digging into its history reveals it has not changed all that much, and was never an upmarket hotel.

It is described as an example of Thirties Moderne architecture, having had clean white lines, curves, a horizontal bias, and decorative bands of coloured tiles. Plans show that 2 lavatories, 1 footbath and 1 bathroom were allocated per floor, and the original entrance was depicted in the corner, rather the off-centre location where it is seen today. Accommodation is described as being in exceptionally small single rooms with space for small single bed, wash hand basin and radiator, and double rooms located in the corners of the building.

It was built as a working men’s hostel between 1935 and 1937, at a time when the surrounding area had become heavily industrialised, and modes accommodation was needed for workers drawn to the area.  Historical photographs of the building when it was in use as a hostel show men relaxing in the present dining hall, at tables and chairs or in easy chairs, and a “corner of the restaurant” where aproned waitresses stand beside ordered tables.

Back in October 2000, the BBC (which seems to have a soft spot for Scotland, and runs quite a few documentary type programmes about deprivation and problems) aired an episode of Frontline Scotlandon BBC 1, claiming to have discovered that the Bellgrove Hotel in the city’s Gallowgate was home to 100 residents who each paid £100 a week in housing benefit,  and lived in “appalling conditions”. The programme included allegations that unsupervised residents were allowed to cause chaos, and accusations that profit was put before care.

BBC News | SCOTLAND | Hotel is ‘worst’ homeless hostel

BBC News | SCOTLAND | Heartbreak Hotel: transcript

In March 2012, local East End MP John Mason wrote to Nicola Sturgeon, then secretary for health and wellbeing, saying: “Although the staff there seem to be doing their best to ensure cleanliness and so on, the basic fabric of the building leaves a lot of be desired,” and has since been lobbying Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government about tighter regulations. When he visited the hotel in December 2012, it had 143 residents.

It has been reported in the local press that a spokesman for Glasgow City Council, which stopped referring people to the facility in February 2010, said the Bellgrove Hotel is classed as a hotel as residents pay to stay, while a Scottish Government spokesman said: “We understand that Glasgow City Council and local agencies are in discussion with the owners to agree a long-term strategy.”


All that (and more not mentioned) just from happening to take a pic while walking past a sight that has been there for so long I almost don’t notice it – but have always wondered about its history and origins. And now I do.

Hotel Moscow – compare and contrast

Purely for fun…

Coincidentally, a photoset of the Hotel Moscow was passed to me just as I wrote the Bellgrove post, so I could hardly avoid comparing the two. Despite their obvious difference, both were constructed around 1935, yet it is the down market Bellgrove that still stands today, while Hotel Moscow has been razed in 2004 – and replaced by a reproduction in some sort of act of madness.

Perhaps Stalin left orders for this to be done, and no-one dared ignore them, for fear of him still being alive somewhere.

It may be a myth, but the original hotel wings were of different designs. Legend says architect Alexey Shchusev submitted two different designs for the wings of the building, and Stalin was supposed to pick the one he liked best. However, he simply signed off the plans, without making a choice. Unwilling to face a firing squad by upsetting the dictator, the builders were afraid to inform Stalin that he had failed to select a design, and ask again, they simply constructed one wing of each option on either side of the building.

zyalt: Гостиница Москва

If you can’t read Russian:

zyalt: Hotel Moscow

Hotel Moscow

Hotel Moscow – compare left and right wings

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | 1 Comment


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