Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Soaves return to Baillieston shops

I recently noted that after moving from the shops in Baillieston – to a vacated former TV shop, then café, on the outskirts – an ice cream parlour appear to have closed, and speculated that the move had not been a good idea as the footfall at the quieter spot was insufficient.

Although not received as a comment here, I was later told the shop had indeed closed, and gone back to shared premises in the middle of the main street, and I would guess a better return from lower operating costs and more passing trade.

Story confirmed when I spotted this recently.

Soaves Return

Soaves Return

Referring to the original post…

The little clothes shop is said to have a new taker, and will open again (no details).

And then what can only be described as fantasy…

That the former bank building is going to open under the auspices of one of the big businesses I refer to as ‘Coffee Cons’.

It now has another sign indicating it has restaurant planning permission – but a new restaurant already opened recently, just along the road, so I guess that is not really going to help moving a building this size with its attendant costs of ownership.

A bank might eat those costs for a while, but you will have to be coining it to make this building viable.

Baillieston Bank Building

Baillieston Bank Building

I won’t give them free publicity by naming them online, but they cost city worker a fortune, selling paper cups of brown slops – coffee with various silly and trendy names – for around £2.50 or more a time.

People fail to think, and buy this stuff, costing them well over £100 a year for little more than hot water.

It’s no wonder these cash black holes use paper cups, and avoid any refers to… MUGS.

If an ice cream parlour can’t cut it here, then I doubt there’s any way a franchisee would be able to cover their costs operating from this deserted area with few customers to pay for such a huge building and the franchise costs.

It’s only the founder that becomes a millionaire and enjoys the trapping of wealth from such plans.


August 8, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Perth City Hall designs go on show

It’s a far cry from the first headline about Perth City Halls being proposed for demolition:

Plans to demolish Perth City Hall unveiled

Now the building has a number of proposals for its future:

Proposals for the re-development of one of Perth’s most historic buildings have been unveiled.

The B-listed Perth City Hall, which was built in 1911, has lain empty for more than 10 years and had been threatened with demolition.

However, it was saved after those plans were blocked by Historic Scotland.

It is now hoped the building will help boost Perth’s visitor attractions, with plans to transform it into a venue for the visual arts.

The council said the hall would become a major new venue, displaying museum and art collections alongside iconic loans from elsewhere and touring exhibitions from the UK and abroad.

It will also provide community and learning spaces.

Via: Architects’ designs for Perth City Hall unveiled

No hurry though – The final decision on the design will be made in the summer, with construction expected to begin in 2019.

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs - top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs – top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins – Images via BBC News

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

East End Orthodontics appears

Following on from an earlier post about the surprise appearance of (yet another) funeral director in the east end (is this a hint, should I move?), I got a similar surprise when I wandered through the same area again.

This time, all finished and installed – and I never saw even a moment of the place being fitted out – we have East End Orthodontics.

I think they mean ‘dentists’ in normal language, but want to be posh or more up-market, or… something.

Regardless, this was ever so slightly unexpected since this unit was not even being worked on when I came across the new funeral directors, and it was the units to the right of this sighting that were actually being worked on – but as can be seen from pic, are still boarded up.

So, NEVER assume!

East End Orthodontics

East End Orthodontics

Incidentally, that was a WEIRD pic – originally I just used it as it came, but the verticals diverged slightly (and I mean VERY slightly, only evident when the left of the original pic was against a true vertical window border) and made it look very distorted, and as if it bulged out in the centre.

All I did was align the left vertical – and all the oddness disappeared almost completely.

So, I learned something new with this one.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | 2 Comments

South Rotunda saved

Not a place I see often these days (for many years to be honest), but I did reach the South Rotunda recently, and was aware that it has been saved recently, after being acquired by a company that carried out a complete refurbishment of the structure to convert it into their offices.

For those completely unfamiliar with it, suffice to say its original purpose was to house a pair of hydraulic elevators that took vehicles (that meant horse & cart as it opened in 1895) up and down to a tunnel under the river, with a separate tunnel accessed via stairs for pedestrians.

I’ve already made some notes about it elsewhere, so you can read more details here, in our Wiki:

South Rotunda

It’s really strange to see it like this, at a junction, and next to a bridge over the River Clyde.

I watched the roads being recreated here after the Glasgow Garden Festival, when the place was a near desert and there was hardly a car, or person, to be seen. Now it’s practically a main thoroughfare, and quite a shock to see all the traffic flowing here.

South Rotunda

South Rotunda

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The intriguing plans for Glasgow’s neglected lanes

It’s a shame that so many people are ready to cast scorn on any initiatives proposed by Glasgow City Council out of hand, without the slightest consideration of their merit. Granted, the council has suffered (and in some cases still does) from the possible existence of ‘Ego Projects’ at the behest of some councillors, but such dismissal is probably as bad as those wayward proposals.

I know, I used to be a member of a forum that enjoyed attacking the council regardless – but then I realised this was just mindless hate on the members’ part, and left.

I’m sure they’ll be having a little ‘hate orgy’ this week, and dancing around burning copies of the Glasgow City Council’s draft strategy and public consultation documents for the improvement of some 90 lanes within the city centre.

That would be a mistake.

While I was initially sceptical after seeing stories about the strategy in the media, actually looking at the detail for myself revealed a sensibly researched review and proposal within this strategy, and one which I hope will eventually come to be financed and adopted.

In fact, the strategy runs to some 90+ pages in a well presented document:

Draft Lane Strategy for Public Commnet (pdf document)

Council approves next stage of strategy for Glasgow’s city centre lanes

I’m familiar with many of Glasgow’s lanes (and seldom venture into them, and certainly not in the dark), and those that come to mind at first are not appropriate for the plan, being the back of many business, or access to their services. They also suffer from one of our good/bad ideas – giant wheelie bins for their waste. Admittedly better than the piles of black bags and waste, they still take up space, and can ‘go walkies’ since few lanes are level – I used to work near West Regent Lane for example. As can be seen, it’s needed for access, and the lane surface is old, failing, and on an incline.

West Regent Lane

West Regent Lane

Similar, but not on an incline, is Renfield Lane, but it has a fine crop of business related wheelie bins:

Renfield Lane

Renfield Lane

These are NOT the lanes of the plan, although it suggests that improving their condition would still make for a better, cleaner environment, provide improved access, and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

In fact, taking the time to look at the proposals without an ant-council bias shows the selection of a small number of lanes in areas where they could be developed as attractions, and turned into public spaces with shops, restaurants and bars.

This has happened in other areas of the city, and those lanes have become favourites with both locals and visitors.

With this in mind, it’s now worth reading the media coverage:

Glasgow’s back lanes in line for Melbourne style revamp

World-inspired revamp for Glasgow’s 90 city centre lanes

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Surprise funeral directors

This was something of a surprise, and a reminder that unexpected things can happen when you are not watching – in this case while my regular walking route happened to be in another direction for a while.

Building seen has been abandoned, or more accurately unoccupied, for years.

A long long time ago it was a car dealer’s, might even have been built for that use originally. That eventually closed, then it was a Job Centre for a while. I’m not sure if it was before or after that, but I think it was some sort of office for a while, but was fairly anonymous, so I have little recollection.

It looks as if the agents have decided to divide it up into smaller units, with the funeral directors having established their presence while I was absent, and another premises (no clues yet) being fitted out next door.

Given how long this place has lain empty, I hadn’t expected to ever see anything there again.

Shettleston funeral directors

Shettleston funeral directors

February 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Railway signal boxes look for new uses

It will be interesting to see what sort of plans arise regarding the re-use of old railway signal boxes, either already retired, or due to be retired as part of modernisation and improvement plans for the rail network.

I was almost surprised to read about this, as all the signal boxes I can think of having seen in recent years have all been closed and abandoned.

It seems many are listed, to varying degrees, so the owner (Network Rail) still has to maintain them, even if not in service and decommissioned, since listing confers responsibility, but so far, does not provide any cash. If the boxes can be let, then the interior could be maintained by the lessee, while the exterior remained with the network. Some could become cafes. Other suggestion include re-siting the boxes to allow them to be reused, perhaps at heritage railway sites.

Heritage plans for 70 Scots signal boxes – The Scotsman

Derelict Murthley (sealed and devoid of its stairway) is pictured below, but could be re-sited if funding can be put in place.

June 6, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Last evidence of Glasgow Zoo erased

While it’s not a particularly recent event, this is the first time I’ve been able to visit the former entrance to Glasgow Zoo and grab a pic to show that it has now gone completely, together with any remains of the zoo which had survived on the ground behind. This was the last piece of zoo grounds which the developer consumed to build houses on. Although I’ve been past a few time since the turn of the year, it should come as no surprise to learn that the weather was usually just too wet to risk taking an ordinary (ie not waterproof) camera out.

Needless to say, but just for completeness, all the zoo roads and building that had survived on this last piece of ground have been razed, and the ground cleared to make way for more new build.

Glasgow Zoo no more

Glasgow Zoo no more

For those not familiar with the view as it was, visible on the left (behind the wall) is one of the new houses nearing completion, while the gap on the right (with the pieces of temporary fencing scattered around) used to be the entrance, complete with wrought iron gates, and gatehouse to the left. This was largely destroyed by arson many years ago, and the shell stood until it was demolished a couple of years ago.

The old shot below gives an idea of what was left, in 2008:

Glasgow Zoo entrance remains

Glasgow Zoo entrance remains

March 31, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

Save The Coliseum – in Porthmadog

A tad further away than most of my subjects, but with good reason.

Pictured below is the Coliseum cinema located in Porthmadog, North Wales, opened in 1931 and of Art Deco styling (with many features apparently still surviving within), it seems it quickly gained a reputation for the quality of it sound system, described by the press of the day as “perfect”.

Coliseum Cinema Porthmadog

Coliseum cinema, Porthmadog © Jaggery CC via geograph (2012)

Fast forward through its years of success, it becomes significant when booked as the venue for screening rushes (in filmmaking, the raw, unedited footage viewed daily after being developed and printed) for a strange new television being produced by, and starring Patrick McGoohan – which would go (despite, or perhaps because of, its length of only 17 episodes) to become a cult television series still popular today.

This was, of course – The Prisoner.

The cinema was threatened with closure in 1983, but an appeal saw the local people raise enough money to keep it open, and in 1994 it received nearly new projectors when Barclays Bank Ltd closed it training centre and donated them to The Coliseum.

However, fast forward to 2011, and falling audience numbers meant that the cinema had to close its doors.

Worse news was to arrive 2014, when the group set up to save the cinema had its plans rejected by the Coliseum Shareholders, who voted to sell the property rather than grant a long-term lease to the Friends of The Coliseum.

As will be seen below, the agent’s description worryingly wastes little time in getting to the stock phrase: “suitable for all types of redevelopment“.

You can read the Friends’ story here:

Save the Coliseum

The Coliseum web page:

The Coliseum

The advert:

Property in High Street, Porthmadog, Gwynedd – Dafydd Hardy – North West Wales Leading Estate Agent


The property comprises an art-deco style cinema which was originally constructed in 1931. The cinema traded for many years and closed in 2010. The building can accommodate 500 people and includes both ground floor and balcony seating. There is a reception area, office, projection rooms and a basement within the cinema together with a large car park to the side. The property provides a site that is suitable for all types of redevelopment, subject to the necessary planning consents.

An account of its days when The Prisoner was being filmed:

Unmutual Prisoner Locations Guide – Coliseum, Porthmadoc (McGoohan/Portmeirion)

We used to see the Coliseum in the flesh until 1998, as we generally travelled down to Portmeirion (where most of the action was filmed) for the annual Prisoner Convention, but were obliged to give up this up after that date, and have never been able to get back. Due to our slightly odd travel arrangements (due to work commitments) we were never able to visit the Coliseum, where screening of selected episodes of the series were laid on for the conventions, together with related material.

Sadly, it’s hard to see what could be done by the Friends to save the cinema in the time available, as dwindling numbers are hard to convert.

The Internet has probably played a part, and we are in the same sort of scenario as seen by the cinema in the 1970s, when most closed, or were supplemented (or completely replaced, by use as bingo halls.

We can only watch and see what does, or does not, happen 300 miles away (that the door to door distance from where I am to Porthmadog) in North Wales.

March 2, 2014 Posted by | Appeal | , , , , | Leave a comment

£6.3 million redevelopment approved for Helensburgh

We’ve mentioned Argyll and Bute Council’s £30 million CHORD programme before, first to note its existence, and more recently when the plans for Rothesay were announced. CHORD’s aim is to regenerate key coastal towns on the Clyde, and others in line for investment are Campbeltown, Oban, and Dunoon.

In an announcement that the council claims will see the largest town in the area see “the most major improvement works it has seen for decades”, £6.3 million has been approved for the redevelopment of the town centre and West Bay esplanade, and the town’s Colquhoun Square will become an open space, able to host outdoor events.

Helesburgh Colquhoun Square

Helesburgh Colquhoun Square © Stevie Spiers

The tender process will now begin with work due to start in late February 2012 and finish in early May 2013.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, board member of the Helensburgh CHORD project, said: “This is arguably the most significant decision taken for Helensburgh since Argyll and Bute Council came into existence in 1996. Independent assessors have concluded that this project has the potential to support and grow the area’s business base and act as a catalyst for attracting new investment, as well as helping to attract new residents and increase visitor numbers. I’m sure every town in the country would jump at such an opportunity, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.”

When work starts in Helensburgh next year, contractors will upgrade the “streetscape” in the town centre’s main shopping areas and outside the town’s Central Station.

Work is expected to start next year, when contractor will upgrade the town centre and area outside Central Station, and improve signs which guide visitors.

via BBC News – Helensburgh set for £6.3m redevelopment.

See also: Helensburgh CHORD Project Updates | Argyll and Bute Council

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment


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