Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Boer War memorial damage revisited

Since my first visit to catch some views of the damage to the vandalised Boer War memorial were made in semi-darkness, I stopped to collect some more in proper daylight, and see the detail.

As far as I’ve noticed, there’s be no further news about those who smashed it, or of plans to restore it.

Vandalised smashed Boer War memorial Kelvingrove Park

Vandalised smashed Boer War memorial Kelvingrove Park

You’ll notice the sculpture is missing a leg, but I couldn’t really take a pic of that.

I mention it as it seems obvious that whoever did this was also trying, but failed, to smash out the forearm of the right arm as well.

Vandalised Boer War memorial

Vandalised Boer War memorial


Vandalised Boer War memorial face

Vandalised Boer War memorial face


Vandalised Boer War memorial foot

Vandalised Boer War memorial foot

Looking at how ‘slight and unnoticeable’ the damage is, I think we can be fairly sure that whoever was responsible (if found) will say it was an accident, and happened when they tripped and bumped into it, so wasn’t their fault, and they didn’t mean it.


06/03/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, military, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clyde Walkway – Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Apparently missed by local media (I didn’t see any mentions, nor did a quick search find any), a memorial to the blockade runner to Spain was unveiled on Saturday, 02 March 2019.

I only found two mentions online, and one of those was the RMT’s own invitation to members to attend the unveiling. It notes the Glasgow Shipping Branch worked for some 15 years to raise funding for the memorial.

Carelessly, I’d been passing this spot for some time, and failed to stop for some pics of the construction of the memorial (which it obviously was, even if I didn’t know for what), always being late on my out, and then returning home via a different route, and forgetting to detour back to the spot for some pics.

I remembered yesterday, only to find it had been completed and unveiled the day before (my usual perfect timing).

Previously just the bare stonework was to be seen, then I noticed the sculptural parts had been added.

The memorial remembers British seafarers who braved fascist bombs and U-boats to trade with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

The rail and maritime union RMT and its Glasgow Shipping Branch raised the money for this memorial to the crews of British ships who risked, and in some cases gave, their lives to break Franco’s blockade of Spanish Republican ports. Thirty-five merchant navy and eight Royal Navy seafarers died (in May 1937 the destroyer HMS Hunter struck a mine laid by Franco’s navy south of Almeria), while almost 50 were injured on vessels attacked by submarine, naval, and aerial forces then under fascist control.

The Spanish Republic’s embassy in London reported that in the first two years of the war, up to June 1938, 13 British merchant ships had been sunk, 51 others bombed from the air, two had been damaged by mines, five were attacked by submarines and 23 had been seized or detained by Franco’s forces. By the end of the war in April 1939 the figure had rises. At least 26 sunk or wrecked – though the number of British seafarer deaths is unknown.

Later in the war, British ships and crews played a key role in taking thousands of Republican refugees to safety, again running the gauntlet of Franco’s mines and bombs.

The full story is long, complex, legal, and political, so is best read in historical accounts, rather than attempted in summary here.

The memorial was designed by sculptor Frank Casey, list many of the ships lost, and stands on the other side of Glasgow Bridge from Arthur Dooley’s memorial, La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri) .

Click for bigger.

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Plaque detail.

Blockade Runners memorial panel

Blockade Runners memorial plaque

04/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Scum smash Kelvingrove Park Boer War memorial statue

I don’t have any problem referring to the vandals who smashed the face and broke parts off a memorial sculpture in Kelvingrove Park as ‘scum’.

There are some things that step over a line of acceptable behaviour, even when it’s criminal, and I’d say that includes such a deliberate and extensive defacing of a memorial to those who lost their lives.

Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Smashed

Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Smashed

Erected in 1909, the memorial was paid for by public subscription as a tribute to the officers and men of the Highland Light Infantry who had died while fighting in South Africa.

More than 300,000 British soldiers served in the war, and more than 22,000 lost their lives.

A plaque shows the statue  was raised by “comrades and friends”.

Glasgow City Council is assessing the damage and looking at how it may be repaired.

A spokesman said:

The statue was originally raised by ordinary, local men in tribute to their fallen comrades and is very much part of the story of Glasgow. The roll of honour on the plinth still resonates sharply with families all across the city and they will be aghast at the damage done.

Whoever is responsible has not only defaced a statue, but also put an ugly scar across a much loved public space.
Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Face Smashed

Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Face Smashed

An appeal has been made for any information about those responsible to be given to the police.

Police believe the incident took place around 11.30pm on Tuesday, February 12.

The two suspects are in their late teens and wearing dark clothing.

Military statue in west end park vandalised

Although I was able to drop in for a look and take some pics, it was quite late in the day, and much darker than the pics suggest, hence the quality is not so good.

Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Feet Smashed

Kelvingrove Park Boer War Memorial Feet Smashed


17/02/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, military, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More graffiti scum tagging

It’s hard to convey just how much contempt I hold for so-called graffiti artists and taggers, who think the world deserves to see their crap as they vandalise and damage people’s property.

As always, this does NOT extend to those working with permission.

In this case, some worthless little tagger chose to vandalise a lifebelt alert sign AND showed extreme disrespect by doing it next to someone’s memorial tribute.

Now that I see it with fresh flowers laid, I’m guessing someone died here, either drowned in the river, possibly an accident, or perhaps a suicide who jumped from the old Polmadie Footbridge, which lay just to left of this pic (and is now the new Polmadie Footbridge).

I don’t know the details, and queried the reason for a bottle of water being tied to the railings (fence) here. Original pic and query here: River Clyde pilgrimage point

Lifebelt Sign Vandalised At Memorial

Lifebelt Sign Vandalised At Memorial

Impressive fence painting too – dribbling nicely down from the top of the sign.

08/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statue unveiled in memory of Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – Britain’s Greatest Test Pilot

I have to confess I had no idea this statue existed, let alone was complete and set to be unveiled.

I came across Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s name on numerous occasions whenever I was investigation aviation related stories, and my attention became all the greater when I learned he was a Scot from Leith.

I did raise a page to his achievements in our Wiki, but it was really only a token gesture, so I could avoid being accused of not noticing him. There’s just too much to mention.

He even met Yuri Gagarin, and learnt how Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft and parachuted to Earth separately – something denied by the Soviets, and not revealed officially until some years later.

Episode 40: April 2nd 2011: Gagarin in London : Captain Eric Brown

As well as the summary, there are a couple of short video clips featuring him.

Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown

Edinburgh Airport has unveiled a statue of Eric “Winkle” Brown, Britain’s greatest ever test pilot.

The life-sized bronze sculpture outside the terminal was funded by former pilots from the Edinburgh University Air Squadron.

Prince Andrew revealed the statue on Monday (01 July 2018).

Sir Jon Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown is someone who is synonymous with RAF Turnhouse, and is in turn a key figure in the history of what is now Edinburgh Airport.

“His achievement (sic) speak for themselves and the fact his remarkable career is still held in such high regard after all these years is testament to the man himself.”

Statue of Britain’s greatest ever test pilot unveiled

02/07/2018 Posted by | Aviation, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

La Pasionaria on the Clyde Walkway

I think I missed this for years, so have finally taken a decent pic and collected some notes.

I was more than a little surprised the first time I came across a pic of this statue, and couldn’t recall ever seeing it. To be fair to myself, in the past I seldom walked on that side of Clyde Street, let alone next to the river on the Clyde Walkway.

The statue, La Pasionaria (The Passion Flower”), is a tribute by the city of Glasgow (and the Labour Movement) to the British Volunteers of the International Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. Their fight against fascism is embodied in the statue of Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), a heroine of their cause and a leader in the Spanish Republican and Communist movements. The sculpture was commissioned by the International Brigade Association of Scotland in 1974, and produced by the Liverpool based sculptor, Arthur Dooley. His fee of £3,000 was funded following an appeal to Trades Unionists and members of the Labour Movement in Scotland.

It stands about 9 ft (3 m) high, is made of painted fibreglass, and mounted on a rectangular plinth on a steel pedestal made from a vertical steel girder.

Find it near the south west corner of Clyde Street, facing the River Clyde from the Clyde Walkway, where it was erected on 5 December 1979.

Sad to say, the dirty world of Politics threatened the existence of the memorial, and it seems that it attracted hostile opposition from Glasgow’s Conservative Councillors, who vowed to demolish it whenever they unseated the city’s Labour administration. Despite my low opinion of certain aspects of this world, I do think things are better now, and such a threat would not be risked today – if only because of the effect of so-called ‘social media’, and the potential backlash.

The memorial’s construction led to further problems, such as under-funding and its weight. The latter led to a shortening of its girder pedestal before it could be transported from Liverpool. While the sculptor had intended to form the statue in bronze, this was not possible due to the cost.

Dooley reportedly had six attempts to perfect his design for the ‘gaunt, outstretched figure’ of Ibárruri, apparently living in poverty in his Liverpool workshop and staying in a working men’s hostel when in Glasgow.

Thanks to the Political nonsense noted above, the statue was erected without any public ceremony, in case those opposed to it caused some sort of embarrassing incident.

The sad story continues since the subject, Ibárruri, could not be invited to a non-existent unveiling, and the sculptor never saw his finished work, seemingly penniless and unable to afford the fare to Glasgow.

Via City of Sculpture: La Pasionara

BBC Archive article inspired the series ‘Coast’ La Pasionaria Memorial

Having been threatened with being torn down in demolition, it is now A Category B Listed Building in Glasgow, Glasgow Clyde Street, Statue of Dolores Ibarruri, La Pasionaria

See also 2009 restoration appeal article La Pasionaria: the fading icon

There are numerous articles online now, covering the sculpture’s history.

Not bad, given the threat to its existence and lack of ceremony.

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

18/06/2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The hidden memorial to Joseph Lister (responsible for antiseptic)

Another High Street area gem.

While he’s probably ultimately responsible for saving millions of lives, I think few people are familiar with Joseph Lister, whose work led to the general use of antiseptic treatment.

In a similar vein, I think few locals, and maybe even fewer visitors, are familiar or aware that a memorial stone to Lister lies in one of the wall of Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

It’s almost hidden behind a bus stop (Castle Street and Glebe Street) at the GRI, and while I’d like to say you can see it in Google Street View, I can’t. Thanks to the worried people who were afraid of being caught having affairs or being pictured visiting sex shops, the automated face and registration number blurring algorithms see the text on the stone – and blur it! (Now that I’ve mentioned this, somebody will probably remove the blurring, just to prove me wrong).

I often wonder if anyone waiting for the bus ever turns around and sees this stone, or even realises who it commemorates, or the work he did.

I’m aware of its presence (now), but have no idea how often I passed it before I noticed it.

Joseph Lister Memorial Stone

Joseph Lister Memorial Stone


Just a couple of random shots of the GRI behind this.

Although this now just used as part of the hospital, it used to be the A&E entrance.

While I’ve managed to avoid this, I did have to take someone there, and was allowed to dump my car on those double yellows – I didn’t even get shifted when the police arrived (with casualties from Glasgow’s streets), and was just asked to move along a few inches, to let them in.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Old A and E Entrance

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Old A and E Entrance

The forecourt and one of the building entrances can be glimpsed through a gap to the side of the memorial.

These views bring mixed emotions (although I am ‘Over it’). While I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the place, it’s also one I’ve had to spend more time inside than I’d like to have.

While it may be busy during the day, and when visiting hours were in place, many of my visits were of the “You may visit at any time” type, while others were calls to get there quickly during the night, and the place is quiet and spooky.

I’ve no idea what it’s like now (and am obviously quite happy for that state of ignorance to continue).

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Forecourt Entrance

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Forecourt Entrance

26/03/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

A cat called Boris

I have no idea – just a pic (not mine) I got after the earlier post today.

Boris Cat Memorial 1996

Boris Cat Memorial 1996

28/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Jim Clark Museum secures final funding

Jim Clark

Jim Clark

It’s nice to see something manage to reach a successful conclusion without a great fuss or multitude of problems, but this does seem to be the case of the proposed Jim Clark Museum in the Borders.

I’ve followed this development over the years, purely by chance, and while it may have taken a while to see the progress of the small facility to the driver’s memory, to the current project to create a formal museum, it never seemed to be a project that would fail, or be over-ambitious and cause its own demise. There’s nothing worse than seeing a good idea collapse due to over-reaching ambition that has no real chance of being fulfilled.

It had always been hoped the development would be completed by 2018, a year which will mark the 50th anniversary of the driver’s death at Hockenheim in Germany, when he was just 32.

Born in Kilmany in Fife, Jim Clark was raised in the Borders, and went on to win the Formula 1 world championship in 1963 and 1965, and won a total of 25 grand prix races.

Via Jim Clark Museum in Duns crosses funding finish line

Pic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

22/09/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fort William sculpture will recall the Ford Model T climb of Ben Nevis

One of the things which has always intrigued me is an event I am reminded of whenever I open a number of the books I have collected regarding the history of motoring in Scotland – the time a Model T was driven to the top of Ben Nevis.

The stunt took place in 1911 (repeated in 1928) and was carried out by Henry Alexander Jr, the son of Scotland’s first Ford dealer, who drove the Model T up and down the mountain as a publicity stunt to show the superiority of the mass-produced American car in comparison to hand-crafted British cars.

The attempt was not simply a case of turning up at the foot of mountain one day, and heading for summit, but was carefully prepared for.

It took six weeks to prepare the route for the challenge, with workers laying a timber path along the route to the summit, and five days to complete the trip, during which the car would frequently sink axle-deep into the boggy ground and have to be pulled out by rope. It seems that some obstacles were dynamited to clear them from the path. A newspaper report from the time said that one wrong turn of the wheel could have resulted in a fall that would have destroyed the car and killed the driver.

See film of the climb: Lost film of Ford Model T on Ben Nevis found

The 5-minute film is not embeddable, but can be seen here, on the BFI site: Motoring Ben Nevis 1911

It’s intriguing to note that, contrary to modern expectations where large tyres (or even tracks) are used to reduce loading and sinking into soft ground, the Model T’s skinny wheels and tyres actually worked with the car’s high ground clearance by allowing it to sink into muddy or soft rutted ground and gain traction at the bottom of the rut, where the ground was still relatively firm, as it not been churned up.

Back in 2015, an organisation called Ben Nevis Bronze Ford Committee began raising £86,000 to pay for a full-size bronze sculpture of the 1911 Model T, to be installed in Fort William.

Funding is now in place to have the sculpture made in Edinburgh, cast at the Powderhall Bronze Foundry, and installed in Fort William’s Cameron Square next May.

Via: Ben Nevis Ford Model T sculpture to be made

The actual climb took place between May 9 and 13 of 1911 – with plenty of snow still in evidence.

Ben Nevis Model T

Ben Nevis Model T – pic via BBC News

22/07/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Jim Clark Museum granted planning permission

Jim Clark

Jim Clark

It feels as if I’ve been watching stories about plans for a museum dedicated to racing driver Jim Clark for years, but it’s not really been that long.

While there have been a few objections about its appearance, and fear of a few extra cars needing to park nearby, it seems that they have been overcome, and planning permission has been granted.

It is hoped the development could be completed by 2018 – the 50th anniversary of Clark’s death at Hockenheim in Germany, aged just 32.

A proper facility seems like a good idea. Despite being aware there was a small collection of some sort there, The Jim Clark Room, I never got around to finding or visiting, even though there were times I was in the area regularly.

All they need now it the funding – the £1.65 million has a £300,000 crowdfunding campaign, while Scottish Borders Council has pledged £620,000 towards the museum, with a similar sum being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Via Green light for Jim Clark museum project in Duns

Pic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

24/02/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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