Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Parkhead Cross wins £1 million grant for historic improvement

Parkhead Cross has been granted funding of £1 million through Historic Scotland’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, which has just awarded more than £10 million to 12 historic towns and areas throughout Scotland, towards the cost of improvements:

  • £1.6m Falkirk
  • £1.2m Kirkwall
  • £1m Cupar
  • £1m Parkhead Cross
  • £970,000 Inveraray
  • £750,000 Elgin
  • £750,000 Galston
  • £750,000 Selkirk
  • £645,000 Kirriemuir
  • £548,500 Gorebridge
  • £500,000 Banff
  • £500,000 Kilbirnie

The funds are designed to encourage local authorities to “invest in their historic environment, whilst helping to stimulate economic regeneration”. Allocated to local authorities by Historic Scotland, the grants are made available to provide financial assistance for regeneration and conservation initiatives.

There’s already been work carried out on some of the buildings which oversee the cross, and many of the tenement building are of a fine red sandstone with original detail in the carving, unlike the plain stone of building further away from the cross itself. It’s not so long which scaffolding that seemed to have become a permanent feature on Westmuir Street and Tollcross Road eventually disappeared, and we could see the building behind it once more.

Just across the road, another tenement with a fine feature topping the corner which overlooked the cross developed some sort of potentially hazardous defect, and a band of scaffolding was added around its perimeter, presumably to avoid it falling apart and dumping lumps of sandstone onto unwitting pedestrians passing below, which would probably not have been popular.

Hopefully, this addition – shown below – will be something that the grant will help to make disappear:

Parkhead scaffold


February 9, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | 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:

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

£1 million funding boost for historic buildings

Moody castleDespite the whining heard from some sectors regarding financing and spending cuts these days, it’s nice to see that Historic Scotland is still able to help look after our built heritage.

Some £1 million worth of funding has just been announced to help six historic buildings remain active within their communities:

Drum Castle (Aberdeen) receives almost £466 k to help it function as a wedding venue.

Craigston Castle (Aberdeen) will get almost £250 k as part of a sustainable tourism project.

Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery also gets around £250 k to assist with its plans for expansion.

Dunoon’s Burgh Halls will be aided by £160 k.

The Haining Estate in the Borders gets almost £37.5 k, to become a contemporary arts, music and literature centre, following its donation to the community after the owner’s death in 2009.

Ullapool Museum will receive around £14 k, and will continue as a community resource.

BBC News – Scottish historic buildings land £1m boost

July 2, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Scottish towns – and Parkhead Cross – secure significant restoration grants

I know I don’t claim to have the sharpest memory around, but I thought it had taken a turn for the worse after I had read about some grants awarded during the past week, as the story seemed to be changing as I read more about it from various different sources.

Fortunately, when I finally decided to sit down and make some notes, I found that more than one award had actually been reported, and some of the lucky towns concerned were due to benefit from more than one successful application, which is quite an achievement these days, largely thanks to their original applications having been made years ago.

It clearly pays to plan ahead.

Historic Scotland – Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme

First noted was a series of grants awarded under the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme run by Historic Scotland.

This will see six Scottish towns receive a share of some £3 million in funding to be used for building preservation, shop front repairs, and the maintenance of town centre landmarks:

Anstruther, Fife: £500,000
Ayr, South Ayrshire: £498,244
Dingwall, Highlands: £420,000
Irvine, North Ayrshire: £500,000
Portsoy, Aberdeenshire: £500,000
Rothesay, Argyll and Bute: £499,933

(Apart from Dingwall, I know them all – unfortunately, Dingwall gets bypassed as it’s just off the road to Ullapool.)

Since 2005, this scheme is reported to have benefited conservation areas with some £16 million, and the grants come with back-up and advice from Historic Scotland for the local authorities and building owners involved.

BBC News – Scottish towns awarded £3m for revamp work

Heritage Lottery Fund

The second is even larger (per project), and comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and amounts to £1.5 million for Rothesay, and £1.76 million of Parkhead Cross in the east end of Glasgow.

The award for Rothesay is easy to understand, as the town’s fans have watched it decay ever since the arrival of the package holiday during the 1970s, which sucked all the patrons away from the town (and all the Clyde resorts of course) and off to the guaranteed sun of places such as Spain, leaving the former bustling local resorts deserted, and starved of income.

Although there have been efforts to regenerate Rothesay, and there is no criticism of the owners of many buildings which are now decaying along the front, the cost of merely keeping aged buildings weathertight can be crippling, especially if they no longer generated income. They can swallow cash just to keep them safe. leaving none for development or restoration to make them more attractive. In recent years, the most decayed examples have had to be demolished and removed.

This dereliction and demolition has taken place in some prominent areas, leaving obvious and unattractive gap sites, raw gable ends and frontages in poor repair. The money will be used to restore the heart of the town – Guildford Square – which lies beside Rothesay’s medieval royal castle, and is one of the first features seen by visitors arriving on the ferry. Project will include the refurbishment of Duncan’s Hall on East Princes Street, buildings in Montague Street, and the former Guildford Court Hotel in Guildford Square itself.

In comparison with Rothesay, the award of £1.76 million to Parkhead Cross is something of a surprise. Often rolled in with adjacent areas such as Shettleston and Tollcross when the media wants to make references to “the most deprived areas of Scotland”, and show images of vandalism, decay, and bad behaviour, the area does not immediately jump to into one’s mind when grants from sources such as the Lottery Heritage Fund are mentioned – and I live in the same area!

However, I am also aware of the wonderful Edwardian building in the area, often neglected, and in recent years, beginning to sprout odd sculptures created in scaffolding, added in order to hold them together for a few more years.

The award will be used to fund the restoration of 20 shop fronts to improve the appearance of the area, and provide a series short-term lets for artists, traditional crafts people, and start-up businesses. This is an interesting development. Many years ago I was slightly involved in further education in the area, and even then people such as writer Liz Lochhead | (now the second Scots makar) were involved with evening classes being held in local schools.

While the ferry trip might preclude me keeping too close on eye on developments in Rothesay – but I think I will be able to follow them in the ‘Daily Pics’ here: Zak’s Photo Galleries of Bute – I will be able to take the odd walk down to Parkhead Cross, and see what is happening there every now and then, but the cross is just a bit too far away to do this on a daily basis.

BBC News – Rothesay in line for £1.5m revamp to boost tourism

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Parks – still can’t really see the point

It doesn’t seem to matter what the story is, or what the involvement is, but I really can’t work up any enthusiasm or support for National Park Authorities (NPA). They seem to be good at promoting themselves, and making sure they have a reason (in their own eyes) for being.

This time, I find my first thought regarding some cash handouts from the European Union is one of “Why is the NPA getting any – it’s not a community”. The communities that should be benefiting from receiving the total cash handout lie within the NPA. I can just about understand a council getting some, as it has a responsibility to the communities it is serves, and we can see what return is to be had for the cash concerned, but not so in the case of the NPA.

Looking at the cash breakdown…

Laggan Community Association received £17,100 and will use part of this to launch WiFi in its area.

Glen Tanar Estate received £15,943 and will upgrade Aboyne telephone exchange, Aberdeenshire.

These improvements will provide broadband access.

Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Association received £10,000 and will buy a new 4×4 ambulance.

Highland Council received £5,000 to be spent on play equipment in Aviemore and Carrbridge.

Abernethy Old Kirk Association received £4,980 and will repair stonework and seal the kirk against the weather.


The Cairngorms NPA will receive a total of £17.715 which will be spent on a Landscape Partnership Feasibility Study project and a junior ranger exchange scheme.

Sorry, but compared to those listed above, there is no tangible or material benefit for any of the communities in the area. Money spent on a study merely produces some paper (and justifies someone’s job) and while a ‘junior ranger exchange scheme’ may be nice, once it’s over, again there is no tangible result to show for the spend.

So, to my tired old eyes, the NPA has frittered away an amount of money that a community could have used to by hardware to improve broadband delivery, or repair some building at risk.

Not good value at all.

BBC News – Euro funds to upgrade internet in Glen Tanar and Laggan

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Rothesay buildings to benefit from £500,000

One of the best sights I’ve enjoyed over the years has been the approach to Rothesay aboard the ‘Big’ ferry, as it passes the various mansions and villas along Mount Stuart road on its final approach to the pier, and the town’s unmistakable waterfront.

Rothesay front and esplanade

Rothesay front and esplanade © Zak

You can find many more views of this area of Rothesay in Zak’s Reflections Photo Gallery.

I can’t say exactly when, perhaps a decade or two (maybe even longer as my perception of anything further back than about five years is vague to say the least), the buildings along Argyle Street and behind the esplanade benefited from something of a tidy up, and a splash of paint, and looked all the better for it.

Since then, without criticism, it’s probably fair to say that the pot must have run dry after that, as there was little maintenance carried out afterwards, and the salty sea air took it toll over the years. A number of shops, and some dwellings, were given up, becoming abandoned and derelict, with some having been demolished in recent years due to their dangerous condition, and the start of 2011 being marked by reports of pieces falling into the street, and just missing pedestrians.

Thankfully, there is now news of both funds and help to assist with local efforts to restore the town’s waterfront view, following an announcement by Scotland’s Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop.

Historic Scotland’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme will be contributing towards the Townscape Heritage Initiative, and a sum of £499,933 will be available to help with Argyll and Bute Council’s plans for what has been described as ‘Scotland’s largest conservation area’.

Together with the straight funding, the council and building owners gain access to expertise and guidance, and residents within the conservation area regeneration scheme will be able to apply for grants in the summer.

Perhaps I’ll manage to make the trip this year. Ever since I made the mistake of tempting fate by making arrangements to meet some friends on the island a few years ago, I have singularly failed to make what had been something of an annual ‘away day’ ever since, as various mishaps have conspired to thwart ‘best laid plans. White Van Man even managed to ruin my car one year – and he was going backwards when he did it! And that was just after I managed to fix the damage one of Argyll’s deer had done the year before.

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Investment in Anstruther

Anstruther lies on the Firth of Forth, in the East Neuk of Fife, and is well known to some, but is not somewhere I have been particularly attracted to. It’s very nice, but just not on what I considered to be my own well-beaten track around the country. It comprises the coastal settlements of Anstruther Easter and Wester, the old fishing village of Cellardyke, and the inland settlement of Kilrenny

For various reason, I’ve never really managed to see the place properly, despite visiting on a number of occasions. I knew someone who had a family caravan on the site just to the north, so when I dropped in on them, I largely missed the village. At another time, I put in a ‘good word’ for a friend of a friend, and got their cousin a job with my company, and it turned out they owned a small hotel near the shore. Again, this meant missing the best of the village, as invitations to drop in on them always seemed to suffer from bad timing, and I would be there at times when they were shut, and off on their own holidays.

The village is due to see the benefits of some Heritage Lottery grants, and has received £30,000 to draw up plans for the restoration and regeneration of a number of its historic buildings, and this will eventually lead to some £915,000, which has been earmarked for the initiative.

The village is already well-known to some, having been designated a Conservation Area in 1972. For visitors there are sea angling, diving, swimming and bowling facilities, together with a 9-hole golf course, caravan parks, and boat trips to the nearby Isle of May. It has also gained some fame as home to the Anstruther Fish Bar, which has won the Seafish Fish & Chip Shop of the Year on a number of occasions.

This is possibly both a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ thing at the same time, and is another reason I have tended to bypass Anstruther. Travelling home in the evening, after spending a long day somewhere up north, it’s nice to pull into one of our coastal resorts and relax with a fish supper or similar. However, due to Anstruther’s fame as a winner of prizes for its fish and chip shop, on the occasion I’ve pulled in while passing, I’ve had to pull out again, almost as quickly, because the queue outside the shop is simply too long to wait in, when I still have anything up to two hours to go before I get back home. It doesn’t really take that long, but there’s nearly always some clown that holds the traffic up, or causes a jam for some reason. 90 minutes turned into more than four hours on this road once, after a diesel tank ruptured and contaminated the roads for miles around. The diversion was huge.

The view below shows the fish and chip shop, and can be panned and zoomed to show more of the village, or you can zoom out of it to see the aerial view, or map of the area.

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View Larger Map

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glen Kin Centre to close… ummm – Not!

Please Note: This post dates from 2008. The centre ‘s own web site was later updated with the following statement:

Our Future: After a period of uncertainty over  the future direction of the Centre and the Trust, we are glad to be able to look positively towards a much brighter future with bookings up and interest growing from both established and new clients.  We can confirm that the centre is no longer being offered for sale and we are fully committed to its future development.

See also our 2010 update: Business as usual at Glen Kin Centre

It seems the subject of closure of facilities is making more appearances than one might like, and this week saw the announcement for sale of the Glen Kin Outdoor Centre near Dunoon.

The centre dates back to 1978, when Glen Kin Farm was acquired by the Glen Kin Trust, and had the stated aim to “provide for young people a centre for outdoor recreation, occupation or other leisure activities where they may apply their practical skills and find comradeship and joy, all to the improvement of their conditions of life.” Since then, it has become a popular destination for school trips, and venue for Guide and Scout activities.

Able to sleep 24, with additional facilities for catering etc, the centre has seen a fall in numbers, with only three bookings recorded for this year. Increasing operational costs, combined with the seemingly endless onslaught of increasing Health & Safety demands, have led to reviews, and the final decision to sell.

Although the decision is sad, and has attracted negative criticism of the centre’s management – with regard to promotion, publicity and facilities – it seems that there is a general pattern developing, and those that are charged with managing such facilities are growing increasingly worried about litigation and claims made by those who attend them, with the upsurge in ambulance chasing organisations with finds to pursue them on behalf of clients, and act on a “No Win, No Fee” basis, meaning there is no reason not to raise an action, no matter how frivolous, as the only party that will suffer is the defender.

Like many such centres, it seems that Glen Kin was dependent on the goodwill of volunteers to maintain its operation, and that while improving the facilities and services offered might be covered by one-time grants, the ultimate result would be increased costs, which could prove to be unsustainable without additional resources or subsidies being available.

The trust’s chairman, Scott Bryson, said  “The aim is to sell the premises, continue the trust and set up a foundation through investment of the assets in a trust fund. The interest could provide support for travel, scholarships, courses, training, equipment and other facilities – this would enable groups and individuals to develop a wider range of skills and experience on a continuing basis.

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


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