Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Recognise this piece of floor?

I sometimes wonder how easy/difficult it is to recognise features you might see regularly, but are part of something much bigger.

Take, for example, these two pics of features in a well-known Glasgow building.

Even though I just took these pics for fun one day, and know what they are and where they came from, I also wonder if I would recognise them quickly if seen like this, out of context, and with no surrounding clues, or real indication of scale.

Kelvingrove Marble Floor Mosaic 2

Marble Floor Mosaic


Kelvingrove Marble Floor Mosaic

Marble Floor Mosaic

I’m really not sure if I would be able to place these pics if presented with them on their own, with no other clues, or with the lack of scale that these shots display. These features could be anything from a few inches to a few feet (oh, sorry, a few centimetres to a few metres) across.

They are, of course, a couple of examples of the smaller mosaics inlaid in the floor of Kelvingrove’s Central Hall, and can be spotted in the pic below.

Kelvingrove Week Day Dippy

Kelvingrove Central Hall


30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Mosaic surprise in Hill Street

A surprise from a street I didn’t expect to find one in.

I may have to go back, and pay MORE attention in these streets.

I tend to ignore the buildings, as so many have been abused by reuse by the School of Art, and as hotels. Their treatment can be ‘unsympathetic’. Those still serving as homes can be better looked after, but they can also suffer from lack of funds as they can be costly to maintain.

And the new builds there? Well, let’s just say they’re ‘new’.

Apart from the obvious variations in architecture, I didn’t expect to find anything to surprise me in Hill Street, having wandered along it more than once, but there was one, and I guess you should ALWAYS ‘Look Up!’

In this case it was a splash of colour from a mosaic, which turned out to be something (relatively) new.

I’m never that sure of sticking modern additions on established features though. I’m fine with nearby, but this sort of thing makes me think that the hassle listed building protection brings might not be ‘all bad’.

Charing Cross Housing Association 1992 Mosaic

Charing Cross Housing Association 1992 Mosaic

In this case, we have a fairly obvious phoenix depicted beneath a banner, ‘CCHA 1992’.

CCHA is Charing Cross Housing Association, registered in 1976, operating mainly in the Woodlands and Garnethill areas, and set up to address disrepair in pre-1919 tenements. It started new build developments in the mid 1980s. I didn’t find anything specific after a quick flick through their web site.

I’m guessing this building, formerly The Cancer Hospital; Beatson Hospital Annexe; Royal Beatson Memorial Hospital, was one of the association’s projects, and was completed in 1992.

02/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Nice follow-up to Rose Street Foundry mural (mosaic) story from 2013

I first came across this mosaic (inaccurately referred to as a mural back then) when looking at some info relating to PLUTO, World War II’s famous ‘pipeline under the ocean’ which allowed fuel to be pumped across the Channel from England to France to support D-Day invasion operations.

Surprising connection to PLUTO revealed in Inverness

What I didn’t spot in the intervening years was any mention of a project to restore those mosaics, which were noted to be decaying in the original post.

Mosaics returned to former Inverness foundry building

That project is now complete.

A set of mosaics celebrating Inverness’ industrial past have been reinstalled following restoration work.

The panels are now back in place at Rose Street Foundry, also known as AI Welders, in Academy Street.

Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has been leading the efforts to revamp the vacant site.

Owner Cairngorm Taverns Limited was awarded a grant of £960,000 by the project last year to bring the building back into use.

Piece of history restored as mosaics return to foundry



29/03/2019 Posted by | Transport, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Many surprises from the Glasgow Eye Infirmary

A few years ago I decided to try to find the site of the original Glasgow Eye Infirmary.

As a tiny, I’d spent more time in there than I would have wanted to, and all to no avail.

I was small enough then to be more worried about having my eye popped out and left dangling down the front of my face than anything that might actually have happened to me. As it was, the worst was just having drops to dilate my pupils.

It was a slightly strange and surreal place to visit, with most kept in semi-darkness, to make sure those dilated pupils stayed dilated as you moved between consulting rooms, which were usually even darker.

After repeated tests, sessions of “Read this”, look at that, and people staring in my eye (only one was an issue) the end result, after months/years, was… nothing. Well, nothing apart from being sent for glasses (and they never did pop my eye out).

When I had a quick look online for its address (some years ago), I was informed that it had closed. There was also some confusion – the address attended was Berkley Street (which runs behind the building) and not Sandyford Place, where the main/front entrance lies. Assuming I was right about that, I’m guessing this was an outpatient entrance, intended to avoid the main entrance. (See more info below, about a fire in 1971, found later).

The buildings began as a domestic terrace (built 1842-1856), and the infirmary began buying the houses there in 1928, establishing an outpatients department and nurses’ home.

This information comes from a number of sources:

The infirmary was founded in 1824. In 1874 it moved into purpose built accommodation in the West End of Glasgow at Berkeley St which, by the late 1880s, had over 100 beds. The infirmary continued to run an outpatients department in the East End. In 1945 the Spencer Research Committee was formed with capital of over £12,000, to oversee research within the infirmary. In 1971 the entire in-patient accommodation at Berkeley St was destroyed by fire, Notably, an outpatients department continued there. From 1948 to 1974 the Glasgow Eye Infirmary fell under the Board of Management for Glasgow Western (later Western and Gartnavel) hospitals. In 1974 it was placed in the Western District of the Greater Glasgow Health Board, and in 1993 it became the responsibility of the West Glasgow University NHS Trust. In 1998 the functions of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary were re-located to Gartnavel General Hospital.

Looks like I eventually found the reason for the apparent address confusion, and why it only exists at Sandyford Place now.

The info I was given a some years ago turned out to be poor, and suggestions that it was closed and demolished were even further out.


I discovered the place a few days ago, completely by accident, while waiting for the lights to change at the junction of North Claremont Street and Sauchiehall Street. Glancing over to my left (where Sandyford Place begins and runs parallel to Sauchiehall Street) I saw what looked like (and of course was) the porch over the entrance to the infirmary.

Not only that, when I made my way over for a closer look there was no mistake. The building I had been given to understand was gone was not only still standing, but still had its name picked out in a huge mosaic panel mounted at the top of its facade.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

While this was evening (getting dark), and the camera I had was not intended for detail, you can still see this closer view shows it is a mosaic, and is also, unfortunately, decaying.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

The building facade.

Click for bigger.

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

I’m reasonably sure that the entrance porch originally had ‘GLASGOW EYE INFIRMARY’ along its edge, but can’t verify that.

I thought it still had this lettering, but when I got closer was disappointed to see that this was nothing more the edge of the porch covering, which had been folded over to finish it off.

One side view, spoilt by a car I couldn’t wait until it left.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Better luck on the other, blotted out by a car and van when I arrived, both left at the same time, leaving the view clear.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

I can’t be sure, but on the other hand, doubt if anyone is making a light fitting like this today, but the single light on the underside of the porch looks very much as if it has survived since it was installed when the porch was installed.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Fun fact

One amusing discovery I made while looking for historic detail on this building past was that the online directories which have no human intervention or checking still list this address as ‘Glasgow Eye Infirmary’ and give its opening hours.

Good luck to anyone who trusts these useless directories, which I generally see as little more than scams to collect money for equally useless click-based or similar revenue harvesters

This is now what was referred to as a VD Clinic, an STD Clinic, but now goes under the heading of a Sexual Health Centre.


So, I had to be a tad careful when taking pics of the entrance, as people were coming and going, and I didn’t relish the idea of being thought to be photographing someone who didn’t want to be seen pictured in the doorway of such a place.

As it was, the most amusing thing was the traffic consisted mainly of people who looked just like the sort you’d expect to be seen at such a place, and not the plain, ordinary, boring people.

04/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | 1 Comment

Let Peace Flourish mosaic

Playing on Glasgow’s motto (Let Glasgow Flourish), there a little-known and possibly forgotten mosaic to be found in Cathedral Square.

I only found it by chance as I’ve no real reason to cut through the square, and my walks take me along the road running around its perimeter. I suspect most visitors do the same since heading through the paths is really only needed if the flats on the opposite are the intended destination.

There isn’t a huge amount of info to be found about it, but it seems it was created in 1992, part of a Peace Garden in the square, and the childlike faces found within the tiles were created by artistic members of Project Ability, a visual arts organisation which helps those with disabilities and mental health issues express themselves through art.

Glasgow Peace Mosaic

Glasgow Peace Mosaic

As it’s difficult to make out the details from the angle of the pic, I’ve distorted it to make it closer to the view when looking from above.

Mosaic Distort

Mosaic Distort

The light and colours weren’t particularly helpful at the time, so this is one probably best revisited on a nice summer day, when there’s more colour to be had. And maybe a wider lens, to avoid so much glare and reflection from the surface.

23/03/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The Mosaic web browser is 20 years old

It’s funny how your mind can play tricks on you, and I still think of things like ‘The Web’,’ The Internet’, and even browsers, as things that are not more than a few years old, but in reality have now existed for decades. See, for example, my recent ramblings on the Internet.

I’m happy to be corrected, and would indeed want to be if my memory is in error, but I’m reasonably sure that the Mosaic browser was bundled as part of CompuServe’s offering. Our business was an early adopter of the Internet and the services it offered, and this was driven by the move by corporate email from individual dial-up accounts (living on PCs or mainframes) between business, onto Internet bases mail services, which meant one no longer had to dial-up every company with its own email server at the end of phone line and modem, and merely had to send and receive email whenever you were online – in those days, that was still done via dial-up and modem, but at least only needed a single call, to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and not every email account.

In those days, you paid, paid, and paid again to be online (by the minute on dial-up)

Our original corporate web site cost around £3,500 to set up (this was around 1990 or so), and when we wanted edits… well, these were generally totted up and worked out at about £1,000 a time, three or four times a year. When I got my hands on HTML knowledge, and FTP, we asked the company to give us access to edit the content ourselves. Guess what? They wanted a one-off payment of £3,500 to allow us that access. As an alternative, they offered to write us a bespoke web site editing sytem, so we could alter the content ourselves, at any time. Guess what? This was also costed at £3,500. For the record, we cancelled their services a few days later, and I rattled half-a-dozen pages into our own web space within a week. The only mistake I made was to use FrontPage (it formed horrible html) – but it was quick (and free), I corrected that after a while, and just wrote plain HTML.

We used a Glasgow company for hosting, and to provide our dial-up Internet connection. It was expensive, but we wanted someone local we could hassle and get advice from, rather than an anonymous online provider. They didn’t really measure up, and after a while we went for one of those anonymous online providers… and it worked out just as good, and cost less.

Prior to that, we used the aforementioned CompuServe. Although their account gave access to many services and groups it provided, we really only used it for the cheap (and reliable) Internet connection it provided.

And I’m pretty sure that takes me back to the Mosaic browser connection, which I’m pretty sure is what they provided for graphical browsing. In those days, finding a web page that was truly graphical was relatively rare, as the tools to produce such thing were also relatively rare, and most pages comprised long runs of plain text, with scanned pics or drawings to illustrate the material if you were lucky.

Read a little more about Mosaic here: Mosaic. First real web browser.

I have to admit to spending far too much time watching the little activity indicator in the top right corner, which had the data flow animated behind the Earth symbol. Face it, on 56 K dial-up, the presence of any reasonably large graphic on a page was a good reason to have a tea or coffee break!

Although Mosaic dates to On January. 23, 1993, when programmer Marc Andressen released it, most folk know the Netscape browser, which arrived in 1994. However, that didn’t rob Andreessen of his  fame, since it transpires that he was also the founder of Netscape.

I quite like coming across these ‘anniversary’ articles. I used to think I had a rough note of when I was using these various services, but then discovered I no longer had the receipt, since all these fee based Internet services were all paid for using a company credit card – and that meant handing in the receipts to the accountant, so I can’t refer to them to remind me of actual dates.

28/01/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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