Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

New blockade runners memorial quickly restored after vandalism

Looks I was too slow to catch this one after seeing reports that the recently installed blockade runners memorial had been defaced:

RMT – the union for transport workers – have tweeted a photo of the defaced statue, expressing their frustration and disappointment.

The tweet read: “After so much hard work by so many wonderful people and the excitement earlier this year unveiling this fantastic memorial to the Blockade Runners we were totally disgusted to to see this vandalism today.”

‘Totally disgusted’ – vandals slammed for defacing memorial by River Clyde

Reported locally on the 14th, I wasn’t near enough to take a pic until today, the 19th, by which time the graffiti had been cleaned of, and the stonework restored.

I hadn’t expected to see it clean up so soon, and this was how it looked this afternoon.

According to an update to the original story, it had already been dealt with by Wednesday (17th).

Blackade Runners Memorial restored

Blackade Runners Memorial restored

This is how it looked a few days ago, as seen in the pic tweeted by the RMT:

RMT pic of defaced memorial

RMT pic of defaced memorial

19/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Nikola Tesla Day – July 10

I can’t recall coming across this particular memorial before, and when I looked at the related information sites for Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943), while they mentioned the efforts made to create this day, and they showed various letters and representation dating back to 2002 (where I looked), none of them appeared to show any document that confirmed which year July 10 was officially confirmed as being Nikola Tesla Day.

(Having done some more reading, after writing the above, I think that 2014 might have been the inaugural year of the day).

Nikola Tesla Time cover of 1931

Nikola Tesla Time cover of 1931

I had intended to pick some interesting links and articles to share with those who are still unaware of just who Nikola Tesla was, and why he is so important to those of us involved in any sort of electrical and/or electronic engineering, but to be brutally honest, most of the web sites are simply just an embarrassment to his memory.

I don’t normally suggest referring to Wikipedia for information, not because there is anything wrong with it, and I am an advocate of the creation, but I usually consider sending anyone to a source they could obviously look at for themselves to be lazy. It is a reference, not a source of original information (which many people seem unable or unwilling to understand), and links should normally be given to sources, not references, if for no other reason than they can change over time, while original sources should not.

But in this case, I will point those unfamiliar with Tesla to the Wikipedia article: Nikola Tesla

And I do so because it does not dwell on the fringe lunacy which unfortunately pervades any specialist/fan sites claiming to honour the man, but which do the opposite.

I also have to include: Tesla Memorial Society of New York

Unfortunately, not allowed to be embedded in WordPress, the film given in the link below dates from 1980 and I believe gives a good account of Tesla’s life and work:

Nicola Tesla – 1980 Yugoslav film

This serious article from The Smithsonian also caught my eye recently, not least because it concludes with the sad decline of Tesla and his mind towards the end of his life.

It mentions the Wardenclffe Tower, Tesla’s downfall project which many of the loonies and ‘free-energy conspiracists’ cling to so desperately today, quoting and referring to it as if it was some sort of suppressed technology, rather than a fundamental mistake. The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics effectively demonstrate the errors of the concept, and quosh any thought that power could be distributed around the World by such a tower – but facts have no place with such advocates, who think power can be magicked out of thin air.

The Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla and his Tower | History | Smithsonian

I’m not going to name any other sites, merely refer to the general disrespect many sites which claim to be dedicated to Tesla actually display, as they concentrate not on his career, work, developments, patent, and the many problems those brought, but on the last few years of his life, where I believe it is clear that all those problems and disappointments affected his mind, and when he was no longer working productively. Then, he turned to more fanciful and imaginative thoughts, ideas, and projects, such as death rays and wireless transmission of electrical energy.

Sadly, it is often for these last items that his name is used, and conspiracy theorists speak of his work being stolen and suppressed, and his research destroyed.

Funny how it’s all the controversial stuff that not only disappeared, but cannot be reproduced or repeated even today, yet all his earlier work can, as is all the development that followed it.

Nikola Tesla c. 1890

Nikola Tesla c. 1890

Sadly, I can’t make the loonies that have hijacked Tesla, his work, and his memory for their own selfish purposes and agenda, and use his name to give their failed theories and ideas some sort of credibility by association. Significantly, when pressed for evidence, their response is usually something mumbled along the lines of it having been stolen (by the government or some secret agency acting on its behalf or instructions). Assume for a moment we join their flight from reality – If all these wonderful inventions were indeed stolen (as they put it) by government, or other, agencies – they have they never used or developed them? If the resulting devices they supposedly produce were in existence, then whoever had them would hold considerable power, yet no-one appears to be in such a position, or even be threatening to deploy any of the stolen technology.

Why not? Could it be that it exists nowhere other than inside the heads of these people? And that they are little more than con-artists, getting funds on promises, or selling their useless device to the gullible? Their devices never seem to work, and they tend not to hand them over to real laboratories for independent testing. So, I know what I think of them.

But if I can do nothing else, I can ask that when you read items about UFOs, various forms of ‘Infinite energy devices’, Free energy devices’, non-existent death rays and the like, and when the authors use Tesla’s name as some sort of justification for their silliness, ignore them, and treat them with the contempt they deserve for stealing someone’s good name and reputation for their own disreputable purposes.

Read more on Tesla and current events

There’s not much point in me doing yet another summary of some of Tesla’s achievements, or even recounting the problems that came between Tesla and Edison.

On the latter point, I tend to agree with the suggestion the we need BOTH Teslas and Edisons. Both are needed in order to innovate and move things forward. That they might disagree and end up head to head – that’s just the way life happens.

The Tesla Museum is set to become a reality, and this is no small part to recent appeals, and Elon Musk, who named his company’s electric car after Tesla:

Elon Musk Donates $1 Million to New Tesla Museum

Notably, he assisted with the original campaign to save the original museum at Wardenclyffe. Now there will be a NEW museum on the site.

Photos: Tesla’s Lab at Wardenclyffe

Happy 158th, Nikola Tesla! Strange Facts About the Inventor

Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison: Who Was the Better Inventor?

A mention for Teslamania, Toronto, CanadaTeslamania

A little too far for me to have a look at, but just got word of:

TeslaMania 2014 – Nikola Tesla Festival and Expo

Described as four days to “Celebrate the Visions, Inventions and Life of Nikola Tesla”, this takes place from July 10 to July 13, 2014.

I have to say I don’t have any first hand experience of this event, but the agenda suggests it revolves around the more serious aspects of Teslas’s work.


10/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Niki Lauda is gone

Funny thing, whenever I start to get separated from my current links to the outside world, that’s when things I consider significant happen, and I only find out about them after everyone else.

Poking around the news this morning, it was a bit of a shock/surprise to see that Niki Lauda had died, a story that didn’t appear in any of the news feeds I have set up.

It seems like only a few days I saw him chatting on one of the Formula 1 TV shows.

I guess he’s one of the drivers that was around and being famous when I was a tiny, and getting interested in such things.

Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

Lauda, who underwent a lung transplant in August, “passed away peacefully” on Monday, his family said.

The legendary Austrian, one of the best-known figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.

For many, he will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.

Niki Lauda, Austrian Formula 1 legend, dies at 70

Niki Lauda, who has died aged 70, was a three-time Formula 1 world champion, non-executive chairman of the world champion Mercedes team, and one of the biggest names in motorsport.

He was also a pilot and successful businessman, who set up two airlines and continued to occasionally captain their planes into his late 60s.

But he will be remembered most for the remarkable bravery and resilience he showed in recovering from a fiery crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the fearsome Nurburgring.

Lauda – leading the World Championship, having won his first title a year earlier – suffered third-degree burns to his head and face that left him scarred for life, inhaled toxic gases that damaged his lungs, and received the last rites in hospital.

Yet he returned to racing just 40 days later – finishing fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. By the end of the race, his unhealed wounds had soaked his fireproof balaclava in blood. When he tried to remove the balaclava, he found it was stuck to his bandages, and had to resort to ripping it off in one go.

It was one of the bravest acts in the history of sport.

At the time, Lauda played down his condition. Later, in his disarmingly frank autobiography, he admitted he had been so scared he could hardly drive.

Niki Lauda obituary: ‘A remarkable life lived in Technicolor’

Looking at his obituary brings home my thought that there are very few drivers in today’s Formula 1 (or any other series I follow) that I find in any way memorable or notable.

They (nearly) all seem to be kids with money, driving for a few years, then disappearing – leaving only a handful that I can even recognise, let alone name, from season to season.

That he got where he did is remarkable, not only for his recovery, but that he had a certain disdain for Enzo Ferrari.

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda



Niki Lauda

22/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Dogs of war get significant memorial in Angus

Interesting to note that memorials are still be raised to commemorate events dating from World War I.

In the early 1900s, Airedale terriers were trained in Scotland for World War I.

The training took place around Angus, where local people would play the part of injured soldiers which the dogs would search for. Lt Col Richardson, who lived at Panbride House near Carnoustie, eventually convinced the government the Airedale was the right breed for war work.

Wendy Turner, of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland, spoke of her delight at the creation.

She said: “2000 Airdales were in WW1 and that’s stemmed from Angus.

“At first for the British Red Cross, they would carry panniers with first aid equipment.

“They would also go onto the battlefield for wounded soldiers rather than dead soldiers – people that could still be helped. They would bring back a cap or anything that they could show they found a soldier who was alive, take it back to the stretcher bearers and they would follow the dogs out to collect the person.

“They were so good at what they were doing that the British army took notice and asked for them to be trained for them.

“They were used for carrying messages and also carried first aid supplies as well as being guard dogs. They were also used by the Russian army and the German army.”

The memorial was carved from a 30 tonne block of granite by Kirriemuir sculptor Bruce Walker, said to make it one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

The sculpture was funded by donations from around the world, and has been installed at East Haven beach in Angus.

Memorial unveiled commemorating Scotland’s dogs of war


The first four Airedales Lt Col Richardson and his wife trained were presented to Glasgow Police in 1905 and were stationed at Maryhill Police and Queens Park police stations in the city.

These were the first official police dogs in the United Kingdom.

The British Red Cross then used the dogs to locate injured soldiers on the battlefields and also carry first aid supplies and crates of carrier pigeons on their backs.

The breed was trained to wear gas masks and navigate the treacherous and often terrifying conditions of the front lines.

A war dog school was opened in Shoeburyness in Essex and the Richardsons moved there to manage the training of the breed.

Memorial to be unveiled to heroic dogs of war at East Haven

Bruce Walker Carving Pic Credit The Courier

Bruce Walker Carving Pic Credit The Courier

19/05/2019 Posted by | military, World War I | , , | Leave a comment

The Sun shines on John Logie Baird (while it rains in Glasgow)

I see some Glasgow media is already posting material regarding the sad memory of four days of ‘heatwave’ enjoyed here recently, filling space in their pages by just rerunning all the stuff they published a few days ago. Not bad if your staff are stuck for something new 😉

Yesterday did, however, prove interesting, and when I got up, the morning weather suggested a great day was on its way – I should, of course, have known better.

While it was sunny and warm, and almost tempted me to use the bike instead of the bus, I got lucky as I had to use the bus as I was headed further out later in the day.

I’d have been fairly upset had I been cycling. After being stuck indoors until just after lunchtime, when I emerged, no Sun at all, and the rain was back. Perhaps not chucking it down, but not just a quick shower, and not looking as if was about to stop.

Slow forward (the bus to Helensburgh is anything but rapid), and for once I’m glad to be at the seaside – it’s not raining there, the streets are dry, and the Sun is shining. I’m a Glaswegian at the seaside – I EXPECT to be rained on there, and be blown over by the wind!

In case you think I was imagining the nice weather, here’s the memorial sculpture installed in memory of the town’s local hero, John Logie Baird.

I’ve not seen much, but I’m pretty sure that’s sunlight shining on it, and even casting a shadow 🙂

The bust is on West Clyde Street at William Street.

Just for the record, when I got back into Glasgow in the evening, I got soaked as I walked home, so I really did spend the middle of the day in the right place.

John Logie Baird bust Helensburgh

John Logie Baird bust Helensburgh


John Logie Baird bust Helensburgh

John Logie Baird bust Helensburgh

I should have collected the plaques on the other sides of the column.

Guess that’s a ready-made reason to go back.

26/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , | 1 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

%d bloggers like this: