Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The intriguing plans for Glasgow’s neglected lanes

It’s a shame that so many people are ready to cast scorn on any initiatives proposed by Glasgow City Council out of hand, without the slightest consideration of their merit. Granted, the council has suffered (and in some cases still does) from the possible existence of ‘Ego Projects’ at the behest of some councillors, but such dismissal is probably as bad as those wayward proposals.

I know, I used to be a member of a forum that enjoyed attacking the council regardless – but then I realised this was just mindless hate on the members’ part, and left.

I’m sure they’ll be having a little ‘hate orgy’ this week, and dancing around burning copies of the Glasgow City Council’s draft strategy and public consultation documents for the improvement of some 90 lanes within the city centre.

That would be a mistake.

While I was initially sceptical after seeing stories about the strategy in the media, actually looking at the detail for myself revealed a sensibly researched review and proposal within this strategy, and one which I hope will eventually come to be financed and adopted.

In fact, the strategy runs to some 90+ pages in a well presented document:

Draft Lane Strategy for Public Commnet (pdf document)

Council approves next stage of strategy for Glasgow’s city centre lanes

I’m familiar with many of Glasgow’s lanes (and seldom venture into them, and certainly not in the dark), and those that come to mind at first are not appropriate for the plan, being the back of many business, or access to their services. They also suffer from one of our good/bad ideas – giant wheelie bins for their waste. Admittedly better than the piles of black bags and waste, they still take up space, and can ‘go walkies’ since few lanes are level – I used to work near West Regent Lane for example. As can be seen, it’s needed for access, and the lane surface is old, failing, and on an incline.

West Regent Lane

West Regent Lane

Similar, but not on an incline, is Renfield Lane, but it has a fine crop of business related wheelie bins:

Renfield Lane

Renfield Lane

These are NOT the lanes of the plan, although it suggests that improving their condition would still make for a better, cleaner environment, provide improved access, and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

In fact, taking the time to look at the proposals without an ant-council bias shows the selection of a small number of lanes in areas where they could be developed as attractions, and turned into public spaces with shops, restaurants and bars.

This has happened in other areas of the city, and those lanes have become favourites with both locals and visitors.

With this in mind, it’s now worth reading the media coverage:

Glasgow’s back lanes in line for Melbourne style revamp

World-inspired revamp for Glasgow’s 90 city centre lanes

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s old meat and cattle market is ‘At Risk’

While I was shopping in Duke Street I happened to turn around while climbing the stairs/ramp to one shop and noticed the slightly raised location provided a view over the now almost completely empty site of Glasgow’s old meat, cattle market, and abattoir.

Now little more than an empty field with some remaining covered pens in the distance, the only remaining building is a sub-station, on the left foreground. Not visible behind the covered area are flats built on that part of the site, which also allowed a significant amount of façade to be retained. The covered area was latterly used as a car auction/market, and having been taken there when tiny, imagined I would be able to go there on my own when I was ‘grown-up’. Well, I was wrong about that!

It seems to have closed in 2001, suffered arson in 2003, then was razed in 2005.

The land has been up for sale for years, since the market was demolished – no takers yet.

I was surprised to see that the canopied area and adjacent façade were considered to be ‘Buildings at Risk’, given how little it represents of the whole site, but then again, why not?

For more details, see Building at Risk: Moore Street Meat and Cattle Markets, Bellgrove Street, Calton

One interesting point was the finish of the walls around the market which, when they surrounded the entire site, matched exactly the finish on the small section of facing still surviving on the front of that sub-station.

Glasgow meat market site

Glasgow meat market site

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

That’s flats over the old High Street bank

My interest in an old sandstone building in High Street was reheated recently, after I mentioned the Old College Bar and the potential threat of demolition it may face if a developer has it evil ways, and naughty lies about the building being unsafe gain traction.

The building stands almost alone (discounting the adjacent Old College Bar for a moment) and is one of the most attractive still standing, dating from around 1895.

It started life as a bank (British Linen Bank), more recently described as a shop in its original B-listing record, but from my own memory of a few years ago I seem to recall signs indicating that it was some sort of seller (but I can’t recall any detail regarding what – for some reason, fruit & veg come to mind (now know… Robert Bell – Wholesale Fruit Merchant).

See an extensive collection of pics from the fruit merchant day here: Former British Linen Company Bank, 215 High Street

There are details captured there that I had never even noticed before. It includes the low extension to the rear, which I thought was just tacked on at some later date, but seeing it in daylight pics show it to be original.

Last time I looked more closely on passing, the ground floor appeared to have been redeveloped as some sort of gallery where small exhibitions were being held, but it was too dark to see any detail, other than the name ‘Civic Room‘. I found: “Civic Room is an artist-led organisation in Glasgow and London that curates events, exhibitions and projects to share a critical engagement between artists, built urban spaces and our communities“.

Also: “The space will be opened up to the public for a year and double as a hub for Doors Open Day as part of efforts to raise awareness and funds for a full restoration of the at-risk building“.

According to the Building at Risk Register, from being abandoned and derelict in 2007, this building now not only has some use of the former bank premises on the ground floor, but the flats above (7-9, odd numbers, Nicholas Street) are also being occupied and let, as confirmed by this pic I managed to grab before the lights went out!


High Street flats occupied

High Street (really Nicholas Street) flats occupied

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

FW Holroyd Gallery

After yesterday’s post regarding the possible demolition of the Old College Bar I was reminded of some pics I grabbed of the nearby FW Holroyd Gallery building, which would be included as part of the demolition applied for regarding development of that site.

FW Holroyd High St

FW Holroyd High St

I seem to have been looking at this gallery/building all my life (I even have a vague recollection After all, it’s only a few years since the adjacent building was razed, and I was surprised that the demolition did not extend to the gallery building. Although I didn’t photograph the gallery as such back then, I did take pics of the fireplaces left exposed in its end wall following the demolition, the fenced off end wall on the right (out of sight) in this pic.

FW Holroyd George St

FW Holroyd George St

One thing that has often caught my eye over the years is the use the illegal fly-posters and bill-posters have made of this empty premises, by placing their rubbish on the INSIDE of the windows, rather than just sticking it on the exterior.

I wondered if they were doing so legitimately.

I should have known better!

They just broke in so they could stick their adverts inside.

The grille on over the entrance is long gone, and the (original) door lock just burst or kicked in at some point.

There’s something more substantial holding the door locked shut these days, but the reality is that this is MUCH stronger than the door and frame it is screwed into, and a good kick would dislodge the hasp and staple, and protect that nice straight shackle padlock from damage.

FW Holroyd gallery door lock

FW Holroyd gallery door lock

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

George Square has become a little greener

It’s nice to think of the insane schemes that were proposed for George Square in recent years, and have become nothing more than memories. A reminder that a delusional city council can be held to account when it oversteps its authority and the people stamp their feet.

I’m not even going to dig up the articles, suffice to say we still don’t have any unwanted ‘water features’, or venues only suitable for warm and dry resorts, as opposed to Scotland’s ‘glorious’ climate!

We’re even seeing the back of the ‘Red Tarmac’ (or whatever it was) and the return of grass to the square.

Surprisingly sensibly restored flush to the ground, so (I’m guessing) it can be boarded over to allow events to be held there.

Last time I was there, I think it was still a building site and the work was in progress with the now grassy areas blocked off by fencing, but now all the works seem to be clear, and the grass is ‘open for business’.

I caught this quiet evening view while passing through recently.

While you can’t tell in this small crop, the original has one spooky feature spotted when I was processing the image – the fellow to the left of the bench is staring STRAIGHT into my camera, with a very piercing grumpy or disapproving look. He’s holding a camera too – I wonder if I somehow unwittingly ruined his shot?


George Square grassed

George Square regrassed

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | 1 Comment

Templeton’s, People’s Palace, Winter Gardens etc

With some odd pics left over from the recent sorties around Templeton’s and the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, mostly squinty or just a bit random, I wondered if there was anything interesting to be found in them.

Turned out there was, and by chance I learned that it was possible to get all three reasonably arranged in a single shot.

The first pic I played with only caught Templeton’s and the People’s Palace, and was way off horizontal, so had to be levelled, then the buildings still looked as if they were leaning into the centre, so more perspective corrections.

Lastly, a new toy for helping edit out stuff like wires and poles was trialled (not used it before) and once I understood it, found it got rid of a white flagpole and some security and street lights that were spoiling the view of Templeton’s – these can be seen in the other pics, for comparison.

Templeton's People's Palace

Templeton’s People’s Palace

This last pair (which should really just be one, but I noticed something) ended up being an exercise in fiddling with perspective adjustment/correction just to get a final image that looked ‘right’ rather than ‘wrong’.

Nothing is ‘square’ in the view – it may look fine to the eye when seen ‘live’ and in context, but when the unaltered pic is seen alone, with rectangular borders, all the buildings look as if they are drunk. Templeton’s is built on a slope, and the ornamental façade joins the block on the right at an obtuse angle, not 90 degrees. The People’s Palace looks as if has been built off the vertical, while the Winter Gardens seem to be both at an odd angle and can look odd as the frame is curved. Just for good measure, that hedge in the foreground is not straight, but is a semi-circular curve.

The final effort still looks as if the various bits are at slightly odd angles, and lean, but are better than the original shot, which I also manage to take with the camera far from horizontal.

And, no, I did not notice that damned twig on the left!

Templeton's People's Palace Winter Gardens

Templeton’s People’s Palace Winter Gardens

Spot the difference in this bonus pic (it’s not that damned twig – I just decided to try losing it for fun, and was surprised at how easy it was to make it go away):

Templeton's People's Palace Winter Gardens

Templeton’s People’s Palace Winter Gardens

The obvious difference was… the light in the People’s Palace Viewing Gallery was switched off for the few seconds it took to get the second pic. I wonder why?

It was near closing time, maybe a hint in case anyone was up there.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery – Part 2

After I posted the discovery of the People’s Palace Viewing Gallery recently, it struck me the item was incomplete – no exterior view!

The interior pics show it is almost a stairway to nowhere inside the building, leading only to that upper window.

From the outside, the stairhead and gallery rise above the glass roof of the Winter Gardens, almost (to me) like a little gun turret or similar. It was handy being there late enough for the lighting to pick it out.

While this one hold a stairwell, the matching feature on the other side is home to the building’s lift, so not really anything to see there.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above  Winter Gardens

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above Winter Gardens

I struggled picking a closer view of the gallery since no matter how I framed the shot, converging and diverging verticals combined with the shooting angle to make an image that just looked ‘wrong’ when seen in isolation.

In the end, I selected two pics that eventually managed to be tweaked to look reasonably ‘square’ or ‘straight’, and not give the impression that I had been drunk and unable to hold the camera.

I just wanted to show the detail of the structure, and the interior I had shown in the previous post.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior


Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

I’d like to say I learned something while trying to present these views, but other than finding them very awkward to make look as if all the angles lined up, I couldn’t find any particular method, and ended up using ‘trial & error’ along with the MKI eyeball until things just looked ‘right’.

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Settling pond doubles as chill out area

Only in Glasgow…

Would you find a settling pond complete with floating boom and life ring being used to provide a corporate chill out area:

Settling pond chill out zone

Settling pond chill out zone

Sorry about the fence wire, but the spacing was so tight even with the lens touching, it couldn’t be avoided. And I’ve yet to play with some software for cleaning this sort of thing up automatically – doing it manually… waaaaaaay too long.

Maybe the area has to be this secure to keep the smack-heads and winos out, or security would have to be there 24/7 keeping them off the ‘comfy seats’ and nice view.

Find this on Polmadie Road, at these offices:

TranServ sign

TranServ sign

Don’t take this the wrong way, I think it’s a fun use of a feature that’s there anyway.

These settling ponds and drainage areas seem to be a feature of many new builds I have visited recently, many in domestic housing areas, and they’re generally neglected and left to grow wild. Fenced off for safety, so can’t be maintained or kept tidy, they are often little eyesores in the midst of otherwise tidily kept areas around the new houses.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Christmas 2016 – Glasgow Argyle Street

Taking a pic of Argyle Street at Christmas seems to be obligatory, so here’s one for the collection.

I think I got lucky when I grabbed this shot, as others I took looked ‘ugly’, which I think was simply down to having one or two people in the foreground, and very much ‘out of scale’ with the more evenly sized bodies behind, leading to the view being ‘unbalanced’:

Argyle Street Christmas

Argyle Street Christmas

Still not sure about deer…

Oh well – maybe make an exception for reindeer at Christmas (unlikely to meet them on the road, unlike their IQ0 cousins).

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Revenge on the reindeer

In the nicest possible way, I found myself heading back to get revenge on the reindeer standing below the Christmas tree in George Square.

I’d taken a few pics when they first appeared, but deleted what I’d taken as they just looked like a mass of white lights with no definition to show what they were meant to model. Although I could SEE the difference when looking by eye, catching them in a pic just saw what was really there – a single large group of white lights.

Although I looked for alternatives, I just couldn’t see a view or option that gave at least SOME indication that these were supposed to be a group of reindeer pulling a sleigh – then, I happened to see a view in Flickr that seemed to work, and at least hinted at the presence of a group.

I memorised the view and headed back to get revenge… or just a recognisable pic that suggested reindeer.

Things were a lot busier and I couldn’t quite pick the right spot or moment, but at least I did learn that a little perseverance WOULD eventually find a view that looked more like reindeer in front of a sleigh, rather than just a bag of white lights dumped in front of it.

George Square reindeer and sleigh

George Square reindeer and sleigh

It’s not perfect (or as good as the example I spotted) but it shows the principle, and could be refined with better positioning and a little more time (and less crowd).

You CAN always learn.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Reindeer pics in Glasgow

In retrospect, the pics I took here are not as bad as I recall, but at the time I found it was tough trying to take this shot and have the reindeer look like anything more than a collection of lights dumped in some random shape. Fair enough to note the heads can be discerned, but the rest is just ‘mush’.

George Square reindeer

George Square reindeer

I’m not too sure of the order of events, but I think this was the day (night?) after they switched on the lights.

By chance I had been there the day before, shortly before the lights were due to be turned on, but had not hung around as the square, and surrounding streets, were swarming with security staff since the switch-on was a ticket only event, and no ordinary scruff was to be allowed near, or even to see this, as the place was surround by fencing.

Not complaining, there would be too many crowding into a limited space nowadays, just lamenting the passing of what was something that was fun, but is now just an excuse for some publicity whores.

I’d had better luck earlier in the day, wandering around St Enoch, and doing better while catching their giant reindeer.

St Enoch reindeer thinking:

St Enoch reindeer thinking

St Enoch reindeer thinking “Who can I poop on today?”

The other one was supplied with a tree for its ‘business’:

St Enoch reindeer and tree

St Enoch reindeer and tree

From the other side, it looks ready to be naughty (I hope it understands Scottish trespass law):

St Enoch reindeer on a mission

St Enoch reindeer on a mission

The last pic is interesting…

I hadn’t noticed this before, but it looks as if the bases of the giant mirrored obelisks that used to be located over the centre are still in place (the three mirrored lumps on the right), and used to rotate slowly.

I wonder why they dumped them?

They weren’t doing any harm, looked quite nice, and were eye-catching.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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