Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Good news for anyone suffering from ‘Burrell Withdrawal’

I was in Kelvingrove recently, and a little surprised to see there was minimal reference to the Burrell Collection – just the display showing the planned refurbishment works. Previously there had been a display area showing some selected items, but that area was cordoned off (and bare when I pulled the curtain back slightly).

However, it seems that was for good reason, and a new Burrell Collection has just opened there.

A specially curated exhibition that draws on the strength of the medieval treasures contained within the Burrell Collection has opened at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The exhibition has been curated by Sir Paul Ruddock, former Chairman of the V and A Museum in London, who is regarded as the most significant collector of medieval material in the world.

Burrell at Kelvingrove: Collecting Medieval Treasures draws from the range of objects collected by Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) to bring together works in wood, alabaster, stone, metal, ivory, ceramics and stained glass and also includes paintings and tapestries.

Sir Paul’s selections from the Collection include a Triptych altarpiece containing a carved alabaster panel depicting the head of St John the Baptist, an Aquamanile that has Hebrew inscriptions from around 1300, the tapestry Peasants Preparing to Hunt Rabbits with Ferrets dated between 1470 and 1490 and a stained glass depicting Princess Cecily made in England between 1482 and 1487.

This is the latest in a series of exhibitions being held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum demonstrating the quality and breadth of Sir William Burrell’s collection while the listed building that houses it in Pollok Park is being refurbished.

Special Burrell Collection exhibition opens at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery

The exhibition will run until 27 May 2019.

So, just bad timing on my part, thank goodness.

I’d really just gone to Kelvingrove by chance, for a look at what they had there after visiting Pollok Park recently, for a look at the work on the building.

Burrell Arch 2

Burrell Arch

Be interesting to see what’s the same, and what changes.


Oct 22, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

They really are refurbing the Burrell building

While it’s handy to have the media reports on things that fall within one’s sphere of interests, it’s also slightly worrying that one must depend on the competence of the reporter or writer concerned.

While most are reputable, it’s always possible for an innocent mistake to be made in a report, or some detail to misinterpreted – both are thankfully rare, and nearly always corrected. But, while some are properly corrected (with an alert or acknowledgement of some sort), some media sources still just edit the original quietly, leaving the only clue to be a change to the publication, triggered by the edit.

Then there’s the more insidious ‘Sponsored Article’ which may really be an ‘Opinion Piece’ for some activists or agenda group masquerading as a legitimate article, or simply a blatant advert sneaking behind a similar masquerade. Thankfully, even if they have sold out by currying such drivel, most reputable media sources also flag such content (usually to be found at the foot of the article, together with the source or author’s name), but not until the end – so always check the end of suspicious content before reading, so you can choose to skip it.

It was a whimsical remark about trusting media tales that made me think about the above, after taking the opportunity to take a spin past the Burrell Collection, or rather its building, in Pollok Country Park recently. It’s no secret that the collection is currently closed while the building is upgraded, and the closure for the £66 million revamp is set to last for four years, from 2016 to 2020.

I didn’t manage to work out an easy way to get there (since being priced off the road), and didn’t manage a revisit before it closed, but found an acceptable solution recently, and took the chance to test it out, albeit on a really grotty evening.

So, I can say I’ve not only read about the Burrell’s refurb and upgrade, I’ve actually seen that it’s real!

Wish I’d thought of this long ago – it really is years (many) since I last saw the collection, now have another two years to wait, and may not last that long!

The building is ringed by a perimeter security fence.

Burrell Collection Building Works

Burrell Collection Building Works

And there’s no way you’re going to sneak in the front door either.

Burrell Collection Building SealedII

Burrell Collection Building Sealed

Aug 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Article on derelict buildings hijacks Mackintosh fire publicity

It was disappointing to see a Scotsman article use the Mackintosh Building fire as little more than ‘clickbait’ to attract readers.

It begins:

The Mackintosh building is an exceptional example of Glasgow’s architecture, but the city has many other listed landmarks in need of repair, writes Chris McCall.

Glasgow School of Art not the city’s only architectural masterpiece under threat

Sorry, but the Mackintosh building is in need of repair following a fire (two fires to be exact), and was a working building in daily use prior to that, and not lying derelict, or devoid of money, or maybe even a living or solvent owner.

There’s no relation between raising funds and restoring the Mackintosh building (if that is what is to happen), and building which have fallen out of use, been abandoned and become derelict, or belong to owners who cannot, or will not, pour money into them for no other reason than to retain the building because it is listed.

Equating the two scenarios is not only wrong, but potentially damaging to any plans that may be made to raise funds to tackle them.

Those who may be willing to contribute to such plans for either scenario would, I suggest, come from quite different backgrounds, and have diverse reasons for becoming involved.

Setting aside considerations such as insurance, contributing to any fund-raising regarding a building such as the Mackintosh (formerly working and productive) would be motivated by the will to restore a historic structure, with the justification of also restoring a working building. Fund raising, grants, donations etc etc are important to this task as it has to be completed as quickly as possible, and return the building to service.

But the same is not true of the abandoned derelicts, no matter how high the grade of their listing, they have no purpose other than to be historic relics, and money-pits if they do not have, or cannot be found a purpose, or reason for being.

I would love to see them all being worked on and restored to their original condition, rather than being left to decay.

But I know from studying the past of a few I have spotted around Glasgow, and having watched some merely being made wind and watertight, the cost of just maintaining them can run to six-figures.

Who pays?


There may be NO owner. The owner may have died, and it is part of their estate, but not passed on to anyone.

There may be an owner, but the chances are they are old, or lost everything in a business failure that once supported the cost of the building.

The owner may have money, but why should they pour it into a building that provides no return, and would ruin them?

The public, by appeal? Why, if they get no return or benefit?

The council? Do you want your Council Tax raised to fund the restoration and preservation of listed derelicts?

The Government? Same question as previous – do you want to pay more tax to fund the restoration and preservation of listed derelicts?

Save some?

Saving some is possible – we have two obvious models that work.

I mention these not to promote them, only to show they exist.

First is The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland. These are notably charities that take on and care for properties (and other features), and depend on contributions, donations, and volunteers.

But they are not a bottomless resource, and if you follow the Trust’s efforts then it’s not uncommon for them to give up on some cases if they can’t raise the funds or resources to maintain them.

Second is the wealthy, or to be fair, not so wealthy, who have inherited such properties from their wealthier forebears. If they are still in the family business (whatever that was), then they’ve probably got the spare cash to maintain their property. But many such owners inherit properties and titles, and little else if the business that made their predecessors wealthy has evaporated. They may be lucky if the property is historic and can be opened to the public and charge visitor fees, run restaurants and cafes, but may not be, so they are left with huge bills for maintenance. It’s no wonder some simply leave.

This is NOT new

This problem has been more apparent since the Internet made it easier to share this knowledge amongst interested parties.

And, I don’t mean today’s Internet – I’ve been following this issue since the Internet allowed groups to come to together and share locations of such places, so that means this issue began to become a more widely publicised issue anything from twenty to thirty years ago.

Little has changed.

Other the loss of a number of building that were at risk from this problem.

One improvement (if it can be described as such) is the appearance of the Buildings at Risk Register. No longer is the existence of such places a secret shared between an informed few, the Register has details of these buildings, and tries to make them known to potential buyers.

The Buildings at Risk Register has been in operation in Scotland since 1990 (when few probably even knew of its existence).

But where do we go from here?

I opened being (negatively) critical of the article cited, and I don’t apologise for doing so.

But this was only with regard to its opportunist references to the Mackintosh Building and its fate.

The core subject of that article is one that needs to be addressed, and addressed as a matter of urgency – few of the building referred to are getting better as time passed. In reality, they are all decaying, and are also slowly being lost as a consequence.

Attitudes need to change.

For example, this quote from the end of the article shows that a major change in approach is needed. I’ve already suggested that the council can’t be expected to hand out cash (unless Council Tax is raised), but it surely has to come up with better answers than this:

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council told The Scotsman that owners of listed buildings had a responsibility to maintain them.

They added: “The bottom line is we will support our built heritage and offer advice where appropriate.”

It’s nice to find a survivor, even if it is bolted shut – a necessary evil, since an unoccupied building will be targetted by thieves, who will happily destroy if for the sake of a few pounds as they strip anything they can steal and sell.

I think this was last one I found, when I ventured along some streets off my usual path.

I found an old bank

A fairly significant historic building, it lies abandoned, but at least enough money was found to make it wind and watertight, and secure it.

But it highlights the problem – if no occupants or use, and significant costs just to maintain it, who pays?

And don’t just run your mouth off and shout ‘Council’ or ‘Government’ – I remind you that ‘their’ money is your money, and comes from taxes.

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

Something new?

I asked for something new, after quoting the dismal contribution from Glasgow City Council in the previous section.

Maybe they asked the WRONG spokesman (Eh? Should that not have been ‘spokesperson’?).

This was published just after that.

The Scottish government has published guidance on communities’ right to buy neglected and abandoned buildings.

It includes advice on how community groups should apply to purchase a property, and explains the decision-making process.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Land Commission suggested that local authorities could take over abandoned buildings and land.

Councils could then put the property back into “productive use”.

The Scottish Land Commission estimates there are 30,641 acres (12,400ha) of vacant land.

The government guidance also covers land and foreshores.

Guidance on community buyouts of neglected buildings

Note TWO things.

The suggestion is that “local authorities could take over abandoned buildings and land.

And that ‘Councils could then put the property back into “productive use”.’

Was somebody reading my mind while I was writing this post?

Note ONE more thing – no mention of funding.

Jun 30, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Hill House protection project get close to funding target

Back in February, I noted the ambitious project to erect a protective box around hill

House in Helensburgh, the family home by Charles Rennie Mackintosh commissioned by publisher Walter Blackie.

Although the project has secured most of the funding needed for its completion, £500 k of the £4.5 million target is outstanding, so the hoped for start date of June will slip.

However, a date of 05 July 2018 has been set for the work to begin.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) appealed in February for £1.5m in donations towards the £4.5m total cost of a major renovation project.

Work will begin on 5 July, with a giant mesh box being constructed around the house.

It is expected to remain in place for at least five years, protecting the property from the worst of the weather.

Mackintosh Hill House appeal passes £1m milestone

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

I haven’t been to Helensburgh for years – I really should threaten the piggy bank, and see how the trains are doing.

Sad to say, last time I did this I found the news was full of stories about the service being withdrawn due to incidents at the town’s station.

Jun 28, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Busy Baillieston

Thanks to the less than spring-like wintry weather of recent weeks, and some other problems, Baillieston has been out-of-bounds recently, so I’ve not been able to watch the changes there in detail.

But they’ve been going on, even without me watching.

The old Airdrie Savings Bank building on the main road polished up quite well, and the overflowing coffers filled from the sale of overpriced coffee in paper cups, it seems to have been the first past the finishing line.

I wonder what the small shops think of this ‘chain shop’ being parachuted in think?

I’m still needing to be convinced that (what I think are) the economics of this operation can be viable in this location. Soaves had to give up the bigger shop it took just across the road (I see that now has a sign showing it has been taken by someone, so we’ll have to see what appears there) and move back to sharing space in a smaller shop along the road – one which this place could maybe kill.

Airdrie Savings Bank Building Redevelopment

Airdrie Savings Bank Building Redevelopment

I’ll never be inside (this incarnation at least) so here’s the “Nose pressed against the glass” view of the interior.



Along the road, the Baillieston Credit Unit takeover of the old Chamber’s shop is still ambling along.

The scaffolding is gone, the former little barber’s shop has been reconstructed, and the ground behind is now being worked on.

Chambers Redevelopment

Chambers Redevelopment

Still further along the road, and with just under a month to go, Lidl’s refurbishment is presumably all going according to plan, and it will reopen on the 17 May.

It will be interesting to see what takes so long to change inside what is effectively a big shed with open floor space for self-service shelves and rack for the customers, and a few checkouts, plus stores area out of sight.

It doesn’t (or should I say didn’t) really look all the different from the most recent stores built nearby – or, frankly, from Aldi, which also brought a new store in, nearby-ish.

Maybe the real change lies under the skin, and the redevelopment is more to do with the fabric of the building, and the equipment etc instilled, replacing old, tired equipment with more efficient and newer hardware.

Lidl Refurbishment

Lidl Refurbishment

Apr 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Now Lidl joins the Baillieston closures

Don’t panic though…

This closure is just for refurbishment.

This was notified last week, with the store closing on the 18th (March) and planned to reopen on 17 May, a Thursday, which is handily the day Lidl usually throws out some extra offers.

Lidl Baillieston

Lidl Baillieston

Guess I’m lucky to still have Tollcross, Dennistoun, and Rutherglen to choose from.

Mar 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Caledonia Road Church

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of coverage of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thompson’s Caledonia Road Church in Glasgow’s Gorbals area these days. Thomson was an elder of the congregation, had a family pew there, and worshipped in the church until his death. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Southern Necropolis, not far from the church.

I looked on a popular photo-sharing web site, and found most of the pics dried up some years ago, with only a handful from more recent times.

I ended up there purely by chance, and was surprised to find there was some sort of refurbishment of the derelict structure, burnt out by vandals many years ago, leaving only the stone structure in place.

It’s just struck me how many times I have passed this place during my life, yet was always going somewhere else, and never thought to look closer.

Built 1856-57 it remained in use until the early 1960s, when it was vacated (1962), and then burnt-out a few years later (1965).

This poster on a gate which now closes off an enclosed courtyard gives more details – it was all locked up and looking unused when I was there, so maybe something else tainted by the ‘Kiss of Death’ from Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games ‘Lasting Legacy’.

Maybe if I go back in summer, on a sunny day, I’ll find it buzzing and full of people and projects.

For a selection of aerial views, and earlier shots of it when complete, and in ruins, take a look at the Canmore record:

Glasgow, 1 Caledonia Road, Caledonia Road United Presbyterian Church

For more current information, and of plans noted in more recent years, check the Buildings at Risk Register:

Caledonia Road United Presbyterian Church (Former) or Hutchesontown and Caledonia Road Church (Former)

So far, plans for extensions, museums, and other significant projects of any scale have failed to progress.

Caledonia Road Church Poster

Caledonia Road Church Poster

The view from the front as you approach remains superb.

Caledonia Road Church Front

Caledonia Road Church Front

A closer look at the distinctly ‘Greek’ style of the side.

Caledonia Road Church Side

Caledonia Road Church Side

A look at the rear, where a gate has been added to enclose the courtyard, and the walls have been restored to complete the enclosure.

Caledonia Road Church Rear

Caledonia Road Church Rear

The spacing between the bars of the gate is actually smaller than it looks, but I manage to ‘spray’ a number of shots around the interior, and made a best effort at stitching them together. I still haven’t really mastered this, but I’m getting better. I didn’t even think of shooting the blank sky, just for filler. I could have filled it in myself, but no real point in spending the time.

Caledonia Road Church Interior Stitch

Caledonia Road Church Interior Stitch

A small detail, which indicates much work was carried out back in 2001.

Caledonia Road Church Date Stone 2001

Caledonia Road Church Date Stone 2001

And finally, a little local colour – bright yellow, of course.

Caledonia Road Church Buckfast

Caledonia Road Church Buckfast

Feb 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend project bike

One day, I’ll take this home as a ‘weekend project’.

NAH! Or only if my brain melts or I happen to come into a bike shop going cheap.

It’s intriguing to reflect on the cost of parts for bikes/bicycles – just like cars, the cost of spares quickly racks up, and the cost of rebuilding or refurbishing either can quickly exceed the cost of a new one. And that come ready to go AND with a warranty/guarantee too.

This isn’t the only such example – I wonder why people take the time to lock up their bike to a rack… then never come back for either the bike or the lock.

Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper

Feb 21, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | 2 Comments

Baillieston Credit Union seems to be on the move

Bad timing meant no pic to back up my claim that it looked like the Baillieston Credit Union (BCU) might be the next occupant of the former Chamber’s lady’s clothes shop.

Better luck this time, and a nice clear view of the sign on the wall beside the building.

Chambers Wall Baillieston Credit Union

Chambers Wall Baillieston Credit Union

I keep referring to this, but it can still be amazing to see the difference the steady change from yellow sodium street lighting to white LEDs makes, as this is virtually a daytime pic taken in the ‘dark’ of night, a fact that only the dark sky sitting over the top of the wall confirms.

Feb 13, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Rhindsdale Tavern revisited, also, Chamber’s former shop looks like BCU

Well, not really revisited, just happened to spot the change as I was visiting the shops.

Last time past (and it really was the last time, not been near since) I wondered if the shutters had gone up, although my less than perfect memory does recall the doors being closed for periods, the life suddenly returns.

Looks like the recent weeks of closed doors are not a sign of the end, and there was still life there last night.

Rhindsdale Tavern Still Lives

Rhindsdale Tavern Still Lives

I await my next passing of this point with interest.

Bonus note on former Chamber’s shop

I couldn’t get a pic last night, but if I make an assumption, then it looks like the old ‘Chambers’ shop is not being revamped as flats/accommodation, but is set to become the new home to BCU, that’s Baillieston Credit Unit if not obvious.

While there’s currently no change to the facade (I think), work seems to have been going on out of sight, and there’s a sign announcing the imminent arrival of BCU here, nailed to the wall to the right (not seen in this recent pic).

Need to watch this one too.

Baillieston Chambers Conversion Reveal

Baillieston Chambers Conversion

Feb 5, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Hill House project expected to begin in June

The project to erect a protective glass box around the Mackintosh Hill House in Helensburgh seems set to begin in June.

The National Trust for Scotland are appealing for donations so they can “box” the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh.

Assembly of the box is expected to begin in June this year, protecting the property from snow, rain and wind.

The construction project has already received £3m but another £1.5m is needed by spring to reach the target.

The project will mark the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth in the charity’s biggest ever appeal.

Via Appeal to see Rennie Mackintosh designed Hill House ‘boxed’

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Feb 2, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

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