Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Skylark IX – The Little Ship that survived will become a floating museum on the Clyde

It’s a pity the place I had some long discussion over various wartime relics found in Scotland isn’t really available now, since the original find and recovery of this ‘Little Ship’ was quite extended.

The good news is that it is to be restored and turned into a floating museum.

It had been used for cruises on Loch Lomond, for something like 30 years, but eventually fell into disrepair, and sank.

A few years ago, it was raised by the Royal Navy after a campaign to rescue/recover it, by veterans supporting the Skylark IX Recovery Trust, and was moved to the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine.

A Dunkirk Little Ship, which rescued 600 Allied troops during World War Two, is to be restored and turned into a floating museum on the River Clyde.

Skylark IX will be saved thanks to £404,000 of funding from The National Lottery.

The work will be carried out by a specialist boatbuilding team working with recovering drug addicts.

The boat, built as a passenger cruiser in 1927, become part of the Dunkirk Little Ships fleet of 850 boats.

Dunkirk Little Ship to be floating museum on River Clyde

See also:

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships

As seen back in 2012. Not long after being raised

Skylark IX

Skylark IX

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Dec 6, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Transport, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hill House will not be the only house ‘under glass’

I’ve already written a few posts about plans to save Mackntosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh from further decay thanks to Scotland’s assorted weather extremes, by enclosing it in a transparent box. This will prevent the rain getting at it, but allow the air to pass around it to help dry it out, and stop the water trapped by the materials from causing further damage, then allow rectification.

However, the idea of enclosing a house in this way is not, it seems, entirely new.

After losing touch with the excellent Atlas Obscura web site, I recently managed to get the link working again, and set up to deliver itself to me regularly. I’m amazed at how it keeps getting (so many) interesting places added, and the fact that Scotland appears rather more often than I would have expected. Beware! This is a web site you can lose a lot of time looking at, if you let yourself be diverted.

Almost as soon as I got back to it, the house of a former Argentinian president (Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Argentina’s seventh president) popped up, because it stands protected within a large glass case. Sound familiar?

Sarmiento lived with his family in this house after his tenure as president, from 1855 until he died in 1888. He chose a quiet abode in Tigre, a city within the delta around the La Plata River. Trees he planted still stand around the property, and the house still holds some of its original furniture. The building, which became a National Historic Monument in 1966, now functions as a museum.

Sarmiento House – Tigre Partido, Argentina

Sarmiento House Museum

Sarmiento House Museum – Niels Mickers (CC by 2.0)

Nov 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 2 Comments

Arctic Convoy museum receives funding assistance

I never really appreciated the detail of the Arctic Convoys until I did a little of my own research for a post, then realised I’d missed a lot with regard to this story.

Sadly, while education about this wartime effort is growing, this is only happening as the last few survivors have grown very old, and their numbers are dwindling.

There has always been some sort of memorial to those involved, but not a proper, formal museum.

However, ongoing efforts to create such a facility are moving towards a successful conclusion, and I noticed news of another award which the project will benefit from.

A project dedicated to World War Two’s Russian Arctic Convoys has received £72,820 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Highlands’ Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) will use the money to buy a former butcher’s shop in Aultbea for a new exhibition centre.

The nearby Loch Ewe was a gathering point for many of the convoys.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Funds awarded to Aultbea, Aberdeen and Leadburn projects

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Aug 11, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery – at last!

This is really the image that should have been in last night’s ‘Riverside – at last!‘ post.

It wasn’t, simply because it was too late to carry on past Riverside, and get the pic I really wanted.

So, although it doesn’t make a great difference, I couldn’t have said this was the first day I could completed a trip that began on 05 June.

The special Mackintosh event is still running – I never expected to see that.

Just for fun, since I’m slowly mastering perspective correction, I thought I’d see how well I could correct a façade view of Kelvingrove’s entrance. It’s so high to the tips of the two spires that it’s almost guaranteed that even with a decently wide lens, you’ll still have to tip the camera back, even just slightly, to get it all in, and that brings the lovely converging verticals.

You also have to remember to make ‘best effort’ to maintain left/right symmetry/alignment.

I may be commenting on my own effort, but overall, even I’m impressed by how this one turned out. Ignore the black bit at bottom right – I didn’t claim it was perfect.

On the other hand, I am slowly beating my OCD into submission, and no longer wait for hours until there are no bodies in the pic!

Boy, does this save time.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum

Jul 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Monday opening slips quietly back into Glasgow’s People’s Palace

Sad to say, I didn’t notice this change in opening times for the People’s Palace when it happened, so I have no idea how long the improved times have been in place.

I had to wipe Monday’s off my diary as an option for visits back in the days when it was closed on Mondays. I kept on going there on Mondays after failing to make it over the weekend – and kept forgetting it was closed.

I was sure I had posted in this blog about this museum (and maybe others, I can’t remember now) being closed on Mondays, but I can’t find either the post, or the pic of the sign which showed Monday as ‘Closed’.

Fortunately, I have the original pic (taken in 2015) so know I’m not losing ‘it’ (yet).

Glasgow Peoples Palace Monday Closing

Glasgow Peoples Palace Monday Closing

Odd, very odd, that both should appear to have gone missing. I distinctly recall writing about it after going there on yet another Monday only to find the doors locked. I KNOW I wrote about it SOMEWHERE, just to jog my memory and avoid another silly repeat.

It doesn’t really matter now, as I just noticed the sign showing the opening times had been altered, and when I looked closer, saw that Monday had been changed from showing ‘CLOSED’ to show the usual opening times.

Well THAT’s handy – for me at least, and I think I’ll be there later today.

Glasgow Peoples Palace Revised Opening Times

Glasgow Peoples Palace Revised Opening Times

 

Jun 4, 2018 Posted by | council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Burrell revamp funding is almost in place

Four supporters have pledged a further £1.4 million in funding for the £66 million project, bring the total to almost 65% of its projected cost to expand display space and improve visitor facilities. The Wolfson Foundation and The Headley Trust which each pledged £500,000, the Gannochy Trust pledged £250,000 and The Taylor Family Foundation pledged £150,000.

Glasgow City Council has agreed to pay up to 50% of the cost of the refurbishment, while the Scottish government has pledged £5 million, and £15 million will come from lottery funding.

The A-listed building in Pollok Park closed in 2016, at which point I discovered just how awkward it was to reach via the multiple varieties of public transport I would need to use to get there – I’d probably be better splashing out for the cost of a taxi! But I live in east, and the Burrell is in the west, so opposite sides of Glasgow. Ouch!

Being priced off the road – NOT fun.

The museum is presently expected to re-open in 2020, which means I have to keep going for another couple of years at least, and while most museum refurbs generally run to schedule, I kind of have my doubts about this one, given the extent of the work involved.

I’m keen to see the changes, since my past visits left me feeling that nice as it was, there was a lot more hidden away and missing from the displays. Bringing more material into view can only make better still.

Some of the collection remains on display in Kelvingrove, and while it’s only a tiny display it does include information about the changes too.

Burrell building

Burrell Collection, Pollok Park, Glasgow © Iain Thompson via Geograph

Jan 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Barnton Quarry may open to the public in 2019

A favourite of those with an interest in the history of the Cold War (and Edinburgh’s vandals), the bunker located in Barnton Quarry is moving closer to completion of its restoration and refurbishment, with a broad date of 2019 being given as its opening date as an attraction.

There may, of course, have been stories we’ve missed, but the last time we spotted something newsworthy was back in 2013: Barnton Quarry bunker to be developed as partner to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Anstruther.

We won’t go over the story again, you can read this article about the bunker’s history.

An article published by The Scotsman in July 2017 repeated the story, adding that the bunker is expected to open to the public in 2019.

Edinburgh’s secret nuclear bunker prepares to open its doors

There’s possibly a bit of ‘journalistic leeway’ in The Scotsman’s use of ‘prepares to open its doors’, which might tend to suggest someone is about to open them in a few days, or maybe weeks – but TWO YEARS is perhaps stretching this use of the description.

Barnton Quarry

Barnton Quarry – Courtesy of Subterranea Britannica

Jul 18, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

I once thought about opening a little museum – REALITY HURTS!

Seriously, I really did consider the possibility of opening a small museum dedicated to some aspects of electronics and computing.

I have enough ‘Old Crap’ (of the modern Internet era and just before) to make a display that could interest those involved, and even some older postwar goodies I rescued when I ‘scrapheaped’ some years ago.

However, although I had seen some small museums and collections being shown by enthusiasts around Scotland in similar areas of interest, it became clear that the economics of the idea worked for them as they were clearly independently wealthy or had a means of funding this, even it was as simple as having a home or domicile with space and access that meant they did not need any sort of premises to realise the idea.

While they do ask for donations from visitors (and usually give free access), even those with a small charge clearly do not run their venture from such funds. Having come from a few business setups, I really just couldn’t see any way to find my ideas, such was the limitation of reality.

It may be unrelated, but this was brought back to me by a couple of news items, the recent news that a museum dedicated to Jim Clark would open on the site where a collection to his memory had already been established for some years, it’s about to raise the final £300,000 towards the project in Duns in the Borders., and another that Aberdeen’s Gordon Highlanders Museum ‘could face closure’ – but will be fine if it can raise £100,000 a year for the next three years to keep it going.

Granted, £300,000 each for two much larger and differently organised ventures, but it’s still a reality check for anyone even thinking about playing this game.

Gordon Highlanders Museum

Gordon Highlanders Museum

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Clydebank Titan crane designated Engineering Landmark

One of my regrets is the fact that there were no digital cameras when I was doing my first ‘real’ job. Because my education bridged what I might describe as ‘old and new’ electronics, I was always ending up inside dying Scottish factories, patching up their ancient electronics if possible, or replacing them with something newer in order to gain a few more years production at minimum cost – nobody could afford new plant (except whisky, which seemed immune for a time.)

Nowadays, it would be easy to pocket a small camera and record the places where I worked, but when I was wandering around those factories that did not realise just how little borrowed time they were on, taking pics with film gear would not really have been practical, and I’d probably have thrown out on my ear.

Today, I think the factories I have in mind are all gone, literally razed to the ground in most cases, so no chance of even going back for exterior pics.

One such place is/was John Brown Engineering in Clydebank, birthplace of ships such as the QE2 (I used to walk through the sheds there, where the patterns were stored in case a part had to be re-manufactured), and latterly a manufacturer of odd things such as floating power plants driven by jet engines. Apparently these were popular in the Middle East, and floated on rivers.

I really wish I had pics of these now, because places like Brown’s and the Rothesay Docks on the Clyde have been cleared of almost all evidence of their past.

One exception is the last Titan crane standing in Clydebank.

It has survived the now obligatory clearing and tidying that means we have little industrial heritage, since anything that might upset a sensitive eye, or a tourist, gets obliterated nowadays.

I have to confess to never having noticed the Titan crane when I was in the yard, but it was probably at the end I didn’t get to.

The Titan was built in 1907, by Sir William Arrol & Co, and cost £24,600.

Used in the construction of many of the largest ships ever built on the Clyde, such as the Cunard liners, it was also used for many of the Navy’s battleships, and survived the Clydebank Blitz undamaged, as the enemy’s raids missed it completely.

In 2007, the listed structure was refurbished as part of a £3 million tourism project, and became a museum dedicated to the history of shipbuilding in Clydebank. Fortunately for visitors, the works included the installation of a lift, since the Titan’s platform is some 150 feet (46 m) above ground. So visitors can see some spectacular views as well.

International Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark

The crane has now been recognised as an International Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark, an award given by the American Society of Civil Engineers Board of Direction and endorsed by the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Last year (2012),  it received the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage award.

It becomes  the fifth “engineering landmark” in Scotland along with the Forth Rail Bridge, Forth and Clyde Canal, Caledonian Canal, and Craigellachie Bridge in Aberlour.

Via Titan Crane joins Eiffel Tower on list of world engineering landmarks | Glasgow & West | News | STV

Aug 22, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sewing Machine Collection & Singer Archive gains recognition

On July 25, 2013, the Sewing Machine Collection & Singer Archive cared for by West Dunbartonshire Council became Scotland’s 39th Recognised Collection of National Significance.

I only discovered the Recognised Collections at the start of this year, and the list was indeed only 38 then, when I wrote up a short summary: Scotland’s Recognised Collections

I found this helped, as these collections can become a little complicated – some collections are spread over a number of museums in different locations, while some museums hold a number of collections.

To achieve this status, a museum must show that its collection is of national importance, and with some 800+ examples of sewing machines in it collection, that was probably not too hard. Operating until its closure in 1980, the Singer factory became a significant factor in the economy of Clydebank, and once employed 16,000 workers. The collection has it roots in the closure of the Singer factory, when a request was made by former employees for old machines, in order to create a museum. From there, the collection grew, assisted by appeals and support from people who donated old machines to the collection.

The American corporation built its flagship European headquarters in Clydebank in 1885, after outgrowing its Glasgow premises. At its height it employed 15,000 staff on a 50-acre site, making more machines than its rivals put together.

Ray Macfarlane, Chair of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Recognition Committee, said: “The quality and importance of this collection is unequivocal and it is not only of national but of international significance. This is reflected in the collection being the largest in Europe of its kind and second only to the Smithsonian Institution globally.”

It has been described as the largest publicly accessible collection of its kind in Europe, and has machines from 130 different manufacturers from Europe, America, and Asia, and  documents the development of sewing machine technology over nearly 100 years.

Via Clydebank sewing machine museum given Recognised Collection status | Glasgow & West | News | STV

And Clydebank Museum collection sews up bid For National Recognition

You can get an idea of the scale of the Singer factory from this aerial view of the Singer Sewing Machine Factory, Kilbowie Street, Clydebank. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing west. | Britain from Above

After its closure in 1980, it was eventually demolished during the 1990s, and the site became a business park.

The most memorable feature of the factory was it clock tower, for which the company created the largest clock face in the world – the Singer’s Clock, a 26-foot wide timepiece mounted on top of a 226-foot tower, decorated with Roman numeral hours measuring 2 feet high and having hands around 6-feet long. It took four men a quarter of an hour to wind the giant clock mechanism twice a week.

The tower was demolished in the 1960s, shortly after the clock had stopped ticking, but in 2013, a smaller installation inspired by the original was installed in Clydebank’s Dalmuir Park.

The following news reports show the two version:

The Singer sculpture that turns back time | News | Clydebank Post

Clydebank Singer factory clock artwork unveiled – Heritage – The Scotsman

Jul 25, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Arctic Convoy exhibition opens at Edinburgh Castle

A reminder that the War Museum at Edinburgh Castle is hosting a special exhibition about the Arctic Convoys – admission is included with admission to the castle.

The date seems to have changed slightly compared to the advance news of the exhibition, when the opening date was given as May 24, 2013, and the date given now is today, May 29.

The museum’s web page does not indicate when the exhibition ends, but it was previously given as March 2014, so you don’t have to rush.

Then prime minister Winston Churchill admitted the mission to keep the supply lines of munitions, tanks, lorries, fuel and food open was “the worst journey in the world”, and they were dubbed the “suicide missions” by many of those who served on them, as the convoys had to run the gauntlet of submarine, air, and battleship attacks in harsh sub-zero conditions through the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic Convoys: 1941-45

Open daily 9:45–17:45

Material has been gathered from numerous sources, including private collections, loans from the Imperial War Museum, and museums in Russia. The exhibition will also include recordings of personal testimonies from surviving veterans of the convoys. It is often forgotten that many of those who took part in the convoys were not actually in the Royal Navy, but were simply merchant seamen or fisherman who had been called up for duty.

Those involved with efforts to establish a permanent museum to the Arctic Convoys, to be located at Loch Ewe, where many of the convoys formed and departed from, have also helped with contributions to the Edinburgh exhibition.

Jacky Brookes, manager of the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project in Loch Ewe, said: “We’re delighted the exhibition is happening and hope it will help raise the profile of getting a permanent museum”

We have had occasion to mention the museum project at Loch Ewe before:

Ross-shire museum call for Arctic Convoy veterans

HMS Scylla, a Dido-class cruiser of the Royal Navy, served with the Home Fleet on Arctic convoy duties, and is seen below while anchored on the Clyde:

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

Click on the image below to see a British Pathé short, shot in Scandinavian waters, and showing various shots of ships in a large convoy en route to Russia where:

Aboard the cruiser ‘Scylla’ Lieutenant-Commander McKean in a fur hat keeps a running commentary on the battle for the benefit of the ship’s company.

A column of black smoke rises into the sky after one of the ships is hit. The Scylla draws alongside the minesweeper ‘Harrier’. The two ships are lashed together while travelling at speed as the Scylla and takes on survivors of a torpedoed freighter.

The escort Commander, Rear Admiral Burnett, is put in breeches buoy and slung across to a destroyer so the Scylla can go ahead with survivors. C/U of Burnett on a ship, smiling and looking through binoculars.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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