Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Ye Olde Glasgow at the People’s Palace

I’ve tried to get a pic of this old painting of Glasgow along the River Clyde for some time, but every time I get the catch home and take a look – it’s been ruined by reflections in the glass.

I finally managed to avoid them for once.

It’s worth spotting this painting in the Viewing Gallery at the top of the building.

Old Glasgow Painting

Old Glasgow Panorama Painting By John Knox

A little detail.

John Knox Panorama Detail

John Knox Panorama Detail


February 14, 2018 Posted by | Maps | , , | Leave a comment

Missed by the BBC – Smudge!

Thanks to a hat-tip from our near silent followers, I was made aware of a nice cat-related story featured by the BBC:

Bureaucats: The felines with official positions

It’s a great article, and has brought a few characters to light which I’d never heard of.

If you’ve read the story of the CIA’s ‘Acoustic Kitty’ (which was NOT run over after the project ended), then you’ll not be surprised by the failure of the tale regarding the Belgian authorities, who in the 1870s recruited 37 cats to deliver mail via waterproof bags attached to their collars.

Yes, the Belgians clearly thought THAT through 🙂

But, sad to say, the story missed out Smudge, the People’s Palace cat.

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge was definitely part of the Bureaucatic system.

Smudge Memorial

Smudge Memorial

I’m NOT criticising the BBC for missing this one.

After all, when I visited the People’s Palace to find the memorial shown above, which is a paving stone visitors have to pass over in order to enter the north door of the Winter Gardens, not one of the staff had a clue where it was – which I thought was rather sad.

That said, anyone who was around at the time will also be aware of the departure of the then curator, when Smudge left with her, under circumstances which can best be described as gloomy, and Smudge’s memory was largely erased thanks to some sort of difference with the council. I’m aware if this as my mother was then in contact with the curator.

See ‘A strange decision‘ in this web site, which goes into more detail, and proves this is not my imagination:

Smudge, the Trade Union Cat. The People’s Palace Museum, Glasgow.

That seems to be long forgotten now, and I collected this during a recent visit to the People’s Palace.

Sadly, only a pic, and of an item I was completely unaware of, unlike the ceramic Smudge seen above, which I do own.

Smudge Mug 1990

Smudge Mug 1990

Display details.

Glasgow Peoples Palace Smudge Mug 1990 Description

Glasgow Peoples Palace Smudge Mug 1990 Description

I also kicked of a fairly extensive discussion here, some years ago.

Smudge, People’s Palace cat

January 28, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace air display

I couldn’t think of something appropriate for the first post of 2018, although I had planned a series of relevant pics, they needed some fettling and that wasn’t finished.

Scratching around material collected but yet to be used, I remembered forgetting about a chance find from the People’s Palace, which even labelled itself.

If you’re familiar with the layout, and recognise the spot, then you’ll also appreciate why it’s so dusty, and why those items have been left where they lie.

Peoples Palace Air Display

Peoples Palace Air Display

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, council, photography | | Leave a comment

Did they really pinch the lemons from the trees in the People’s Palace Winter Gardens?

Found this pic tucked away in a dusty corner after some wandering.

Although the sign is amusing at first, it’s really rather sad and pathetic.

It’s a shame that visitors to somewhere like the Winter Gardens at the People’s Palace actually NEEDS a sign pleading with them NOT TO REMOVE FRUIT FROM TREES.

The fruit in question was lemons, and as you can see, there were none to be seen.

Like all such actions, the selfish actions of a few ruin things for many.

Speaking personally, it’s not even the theft of the fruit that offend me in this case, but having to look at that otherwise quite unnecessary and depressing sign planted in the middle of the display.

Peoples Palace Lemons

Peoples Palace Lemons

November 17, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Irony at the antique shop window

(Full disclosure: Sad to say, this is actually an old post that got lost in ‘Drafts’ years ago, but since I found it and it was almost complete, I’ve finished it since the content remains interesting. However, the shop mentioned is long gone these days, and has been upgraded and opened as something else.)

Irony: There are plenty of clever definitions of various flavours of irony to be found in dictionaries, so I’ll go with a plain language version that didn’t come from such a source, A simple way of putting it is that irony usually signals a difference between the appearance of things and reality.

It’s been some weeks since I visited Parkhead Cross, and even more since I walked along Westmuir Street to get there. Other needs generally see me going along Shettleston Road, or Tollcross Road, and missing this one. It’s kind of depressing, as quite a few of the shops have thrown up the shutters in recent times.

However, new ones do appear, and when I did get near the cross itself I noticed what appeared to be a ‘new’ antique shop. Some would just call it a junk, or second-hand, shop, but it doesn’t really fall into either of those categories either. The reason I say that is down to the eclectic selection of items that (visually at least) are genuine antiques and could be valuable to the right collector, and I could also see some items which would be classed as architectural salvage, and command a fairly hefty price tag.

Parkhead Shop

Parkhead Shop

(I’ve since been past again, but did not have time to stop and look closely, but spotted a pile of original B&W prints in card frames, which appeared to be 1950’s survey pics taken over Glasgow. By the time I get back there though, I expect they will be gone.)

One thing caught my eye, almost hidden in a wooden cabinet with glass doors – a ceramic Smudge.

Smudge, for non-Glaswegians, was the famous Glasgow cat that resided in the People’s Palace, and was immortalised by a short run of ceramic copies of her likeness, and once sold in the museum’s shop, later came to be known as ‘replicats’ by some. Sadly, I have no idea what they cost, which varied as they were produced in different sizes. I believe 50 were planned originally, but the number was increased to 500 due to their popularity.

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge Ceramic

(This image actually came from Pinterest, which I have no idea how to work. I don’t have details of the source, and Pinterest blocks access if you click on an image, unless you respond to their blackmail and register an account to gain further access – and I will NEVER register with such a site.)

All the Smudges were hand-finished, and I think the one I have looks better than the one above.


Where did the irony come from?

While I was standing at the window of this shop, trying to spy enough detail to work out if I was looking at collectibles or modern copies (not worth anything), I was repeatedly approached by a local elderly ‘character’, trying to ‘tap’ me for 2 p. While this made a nice change from the usual kids or neds that generally accost me here, and want me to go into the shop and buy alcohol or cigarettes for them, I still wasn’t contributing.

If I need 2 p, I can generally find such a coin in the street, and almost suggested he try the same – and that’s where the irony came in.

When I turned around from the window and walked away… the first thing I saw lying on the pavement was a tiny 5 p coin, just waiting to be rescued. So, if he’d taken my advice (which I’m sure he wouldn’t), he’d have been 3 p up on the deal he wanted. As it was, I got the whole 5 p!

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery – Part 3… a question is raised

Paying attention to detail can pay off – and has provided a little surprise regarding the recently mentioned Viewing Gallery at the People’s Palace.

In this case, I came across an old postcard said to be from around 1910 (the Palace was built around 1898) which showed that the gallery was NOT part of the original building. I found another B&W pic, undated but from the same era and showing more of the Green, but even this small image of the building was enough to show the gallery was not present.

I made some enquiries, still to be answered, but here is a clip of the pic that sparked my curiosity about when the gallery was added:

People's Palace 1910 B&W detail

People’s Palace 1910 B&W detail


The good news is that while nobody knew the answer to my question, they did know who to ask.

I’ve now got a fairly robust list of document identifications relating to building and modification to the People’s Palace, courtesy of the Glasgow City Archives.

The downside of this is that the records are still paper so, in order to read them, a trip to the room at the back of the Mitchell Library is needed, since that’s where they live.

What can I say?

Might happen, might not.

They do advise an appointment, and I’m no longer ‘good’ at appointments, although since I already have the doc IDs, they also indicated that most would be available ‘on-demand’, with just a few needing advance warning to be made available.

Still, I do find it a little sad that there’s apparently nobody floating around that can just go “Oh yes, I remember that… it was done in…

Unless YOU know better.

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Templeton’s, People’s Palace, Winter Gardens etc

With some odd pics left over from the recent sorties around Templeton’s and the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, mostly squinty or just a bit random, I wondered if there was anything interesting to be found in them.

Turned out there was, and by chance I learned that it was possible to get all three reasonably arranged in a single shot.

The first pic I played with only caught Templeton’s and the People’s Palace, and was way off horizontal, so had to be levelled, then the buildings still looked as if they were leaning into the centre, so more perspective corrections.

Lastly, a new toy for helping edit out stuff like wires and poles was trialled (not used it before) and once I understood it, found it got rid of a white flagpole and some security and street lights that were spoiling the view of Templeton’s – these can be seen in the other pics, for comparison.

Templeton's People's Palace

Templeton’s People’s Palace

This last pair (which should really just be one, but I noticed something) ended up being an exercise in fiddling with perspective adjustment/correction just to get a final image that looked ‘right’ rather than ‘wrong’.

Nothing is ‘square’ in the view – it may look fine to the eye when seen ‘live’ and in context, but when the unaltered pic is seen alone, with rectangular borders, all the buildings look as if they are drunk. Templeton’s is built on a slope, and the ornamental façade joins the block on the right at an obtuse angle, not 90 degrees. The People’s Palace looks as if has been built off the vertical, while the Winter Gardens seem to be both at an odd angle and can look odd as the frame is curved. Just for good measure, that hedge in the foreground is not straight, but is a semi-circular curve.

The final effort still looks as if the various bits are at slightly odd angles, and lean, but are better than the original shot, which I also manage to take with the camera far from horizontal.

And, no, I did not notice that damned twig on the left!

Templeton's People's Palace Winter Gardens

Templeton’s People’s Palace Winter Gardens

Spot the difference in this bonus pic (it’s not that damned twig – I just decided to try losing it for fun, and was surprised at how easy it was to make it go away):

Templeton's People's Palace Winter Gardens

Templeton’s People’s Palace Winter Gardens

The obvious difference was… the light in the People’s Palace Viewing Gallery was switched off for the few seconds it took to get the second pic. I wonder why?

It was near closing time, maybe a hint in case anyone was up there.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery – Part 2

After I posted the discovery of the People’s Palace Viewing Gallery recently, it struck me the item was incomplete – no exterior view!

The interior pics show it is almost a stairway to nowhere inside the building, leading only to that upper window.

From the outside, the stairhead and gallery rise above the glass roof of the Winter Gardens, almost (to me) like a little gun turret or similar. It was handy being there late enough for the lighting to pick it out.

While this one hold a stairwell, the matching feature on the other side is home to the building’s lift, so not really anything to see there.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above  Winter Gardens

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above Winter Gardens

I struggled picking a closer view of the gallery since no matter how I framed the shot, converging and diverging verticals combined with the shooting angle to make an image that just looked ‘wrong’ when seen in isolation.

In the end, I selected two pics that eventually managed to be tweaked to look reasonably ‘square’ or ‘straight’, and not give the impression that I had been drunk and unable to hold the camera.

I just wanted to show the detail of the structure, and the interior I had shown in the previous post.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior


Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

Peoples Palace viewing gallery exterior

I’d like to say I learned something while trying to present these views, but other than finding them very awkward to make look as if all the angles lined up, I couldn’t find any particular method, and ended up using ‘trial & error’ along with the MKI eyeball until things just looked ‘right’.

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Little Barrowland sign at the People’s Palace

I recently chanced across the Barrowland sign all lit up one evening, which for me at least was interesting since I had no idea it even worked let alone was maintained and used – I’m simply not usually there when it’s dark.

I’d largely forgotten the Barrowland display in the People’s Palace – while it occupies a corner it’s kind of dark, and hidden behind a column that reaches to the ceiling.

The column is home to a small reproduction of the Barrowland neon sign, which can be seen best from the stairs leading to the next floor up. Sad to say, while this is a genuine working neon sign, when I noticed it recently only the main word ‘Barrowland’ was lit. The stars were not working, although the pic might suggest they are. This is just an effect of the phosphors being slightly excited by nearby lighting.

I’ll have to remember to watch this one in future, and try to catch it all lit one day.

People's Palace Barrowland neon sign

People’s Palace Barrowland neon sign

January 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery is an official thing now

The recent closure period of the People’s Palace Winter Gardens ended up having a positive result.

I found the ‘new’ Viewing Gallery that had been created at the top of the stairwell.

People's Palace Viewing Gallery doors

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery doors

This really was a surprise for many reasons, not least of which being my recent fixation with the closed Winter Gardens.  This meant that even though I would be standing right beside these doors when on the balcony that overlooks the garden area, I never turned to look at these doors. The balcony is just off the top floor gallery, reached via the main stairs, so I never use the internal stairway behind these doors.

As it was, I only saw the inviting ‘VIEWING GALLERY Please Enter’ sign  because the garden area was unlit and in darkness, so my eye was drawn to the brightly lit stairwell area behind the doors.

I have to confess to… ‘sneaking’ into this area for some years (as in 20+), although not for some time, since I’m sure it became a dumping ground (sorry, storage area) for ladders and cleaning equipment, also some years ago, and it became awkward to get into (if my memory is wrong about this, I apologise).

Today, it is clear and clean, provided with seating, and has a number of pictures on the wall, showing the area’s past.

Viewing Gallery seating

Viewing Gallery seating

The seat is not as low as it looks, the image is a little bit squished due to the lack of space to take a complete pic at one go.

Viewing Gallery

Viewing Gallery

I did have a word with the staff about it…

They told me the gallery had been formally created over a year ago, but weren’t really sure exactly when.

They also assured it had always been ok to go up there for a look, and that the area had just been made more friendly and convenient for visitors since strangers would not be aware it was there, only locals or regular visitors would have realised the stairs went a little way past the top floor itself, and offered the opportunity of the view.

There is, as always, just one tiny problem – the bright and clean area makes taking a pic from this gallery tough, as the bright lighting makes reflections from the multi-angled windows almost impossible to avoid, as the following views show. Only one came out, and I’ve no idea how I largely avoided the reflections in that one.

Ignore the black bits, they’re just a result of creating the panorama.

Gallery view reflection left

Gallery view reflection left


Gallery view reflection right

Gallery view reflection right


Gallery view reflection minimal

Gallery view reflection minimal

Maybe best to wait for summer, or just get there earlier – these shots may not all look ‘dark’, but street/path lights are all lit, so this is late in the winter day.

Complimentary binoculars are provided too, at height for adults and children, so no need to remember them (the binos, not the children).  I’ve inset the plea for care, at the base of each mounting.

Viewing Gallery binoculars

Viewing Gallery binoculars

Just to round of this item, here’s a view I was beginning to think I was never going to see again.

Peoples Palace clock balcony

Peoples Palace clock balcony

Looking back up at the balcony where I’ve been forced to take pics of the closed Winter Gardens from for months.

The Viewing Gallery is just behind the lit circular window towards the top left.

Although the clock is possibly not far off the actual time, it’s actually broken and stopped at the moment, as confirmed by looking at the relative positions of the hour and minute hands – ten to five (or is it six) never looked like that on a working clock!

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Winter Gardens reopen

I’ve been so glum visiting the People’s Palace in recent weeks/months that I almost forgot I had found the Winter Gardens to have been OPEN once again when I happened to drop in a few days ago.

I also remembered to take some overlapping shots from the balcony this times, so I could try stitching them together to get a wider view than I usually manage – the results are not bad at all, but I always forget the weird effect that take place with the closest areas, so the view below is actually not as wide as it could be, were I learning faster.

It’s only a few weeks since I was last there, but the place was still ‘locked’ up solid, and in darkness – this was a consequence of some glass panels falling, with the obvious need to close the place for some inspections and to make sure it was safe.

Although not visible, I’m pretty sure they have altered the floor layout and arrangement of the beds. It’s not something I memorised, but from my summer visits I have the feeling that things are not as they were.

Nice to see the place with the café open, table out, and people enjoying the space once more.

People's Palace Winter Gardens

People’s Palace Winter Gardens

Roughly the same view taken a few weeks ago, in semi-darkness, but aided by a little tweaking to make it look almost like a daylight shot. Sometimes even I am surprised about what can be recovered from the gloom.

It’s interesting to compare the foreground distortion in the view above with the undistorted image below.

Although it’s extensive, the view still looks pleasing – to my eye at least – and I should confess at least some of it is down to me manually correcting some other distortion effects which were NOT pleasing to the eye, but this did exaggerate the effect to a greater extent than the image stitching alone.

I don’t get upset about this now, since the alternative is not having the image at all!

Glasgow People's Palace Winter Gardens closed

Glasgow People’s Palace Winter Gardens closed


January 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

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