Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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


April 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.

March 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

February 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

February 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.

February 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

February 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

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | 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

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

An interesting Christmas

I like to collect some of the (illuminated) garden displays that pop up around ‘my’ streets at this time of year.

Pickings have been a little sparse, thanks in no small part to me being grounded, but also due to the extreme cold snap that hit (and presumably scared folk back indoors for a few days).

This one appeared during that period.

Interesting Christmas

Interesting Christmas

One of a pair of nearby (to each other) houses that sold recently, and were extensively modified – the other was a bungalow that had its roof removed and a whole upper story added, an intriguing process to watch.

But this one was probably more interesting.

I knew it had been owned by the owner of a business I/we had done one job for.

A chance remark to a neighbour revealed (if true) that he was ‘Worth a good few million’. No reason to doubt this, knowing his business in our industrial estate, and others he had elsewhere. In a way I was impressed by his ‘normal’ house and car(s). The last genuine millionaire my work took me to had a huge house in a select area, and a Rolls heading the fleet in his private driveway.

Anyway, this one threw us out as ‘incompetent’.

We weren’t, but I reckon it suited him to be able to shift the blame for failure to complete a contract he started for a major manufacturer of electrostatic air conditioners. That job had been to provide monitors for the inline testing of every unit manufactured, and required a jig to measure multiple power supplies in the order of 20 kV.

His unit was fine, apart from a small problem – each of the five LCD digital voltmeters (DVM) used would fail catastrophically after a few minutes operation. Not cheap after a while as they were around £50 (trade) apiece.

We were called in to look at the problem, but found that the DVMs failed so fast we couldn’t test anything. A MKI eyeball on the design seemed to show the proper voltage dividers etc in place, but after we had burnt through a set of DVMs he just took the jig back and told us we were useless. The two businesses fell out at that point, we wanted paid for work to date, and he wasn’t paying ‘For nothing’.

Some years later I came across the same DVM modules being used happily in another job (‘normal’ volts this time, not kV), and when I pulled up the ‘Design and Use’ notes for the modules, guess what?

They had a specific design note advising against use in ANY HIGH VOLTAGE APPLICATION as they had been found to be highly sensitive to electric fields and would break down under such stress.

I guess our advice, had we been allowed to get that far, to “Use different indicators” would have been right.

But, on reflection, I think the speed with which we were thrown off the job means we were just used as mugs, and thrown to the dogs so his company could say ‘Not our fault, the contractor screwed up (so give us our money please)’.

Back at the house…

I’m always amazed at how much work ‘New Buyers’ will do to a house, even one owned by a millionaire.

In this case, the roofing was discarded and new tiles fitted, then all the windows were ripped out and new units fitted, the front porch was torn out too. It had been closed and glazed, it now just has two glass panels and is open. The tiling was smashed off the steps and renewed too. The wall around the property was stripped, re-rendered, and recapped. New block paving was laid to replace the existing. Some new fencing went up, and although it’s mostly hidden from the road, I could see that an extension to the rear was extensively stripped and refurbished as well.


Many thousands spent on a house that was, or should have been, in near ‘walk-in’ condition and I would have thought needed only redecoration, carpeting, and furnishing to taste.

I can understand this extent on a ‘fixer upper’, but in this case I’m left wondering why.

That said, it seems to be the norm nowadays – I’ve watched a number of housed sell nearby, and if they sell again, even if only months later, the first thing that arrives is a series of skips, and most if it is carted away each time.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Restored Campbeltown Picture House reopens on 22 December 2017

I’m tempted to be naughty and say the picture house will open just in time to close again, for Christmas holidays.

However, I’m sure they want to give the fixtures and fittings, and all the toys, a trial run without any hiccup causing them to close for a day or two for snagging.

Not being negative, just practical.

The Picture House in Campbeltown was first opened in 1913.

The art-nouveau building closed in 2014 and has now been fully restored, with the interior based on its appearance in the 1930s.

The cinema will reopen 22 December with a screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A number of other new releases will be shown in the following weeks.

Via Date set for reopening of Campbeltown Picture House


Campbeltown Picture House

Campbeltown Picture House

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Campbeltown Picture House finally reaches restoration goal

One of the (many) things that has irritated me in recent years has been the discovery of Campbeltown Picture House – long after the days I was either able to visit the place at the drop of a hat, or was there on a reasonably regular basis most years.

Still, I was at least able to watch its fight for survival since it was closed, and its supporters were able to work on raising the money to save it, and eventually even restore it to its original glory after a £3.5 million restoration, at least as it was following an earlier refurbishment in 1935.

Described as one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the country (maybe even the first, according to some accounts), it opened in 1913, and was designed by the celebrated cinema designer Albert V Gardner, who studied architecture at The Glasgow School of Art between 1901 and 1905

Gardner embellished Campbeltown Picture House with a blue sky with moving white clouds projected across it, and two plasterwork buildings (known locally as the “wee houses”) on either side of the screen. The effect was to give the auditorium the ambiance of a Mediterranean courtyard.

These special features have been meticulously restored with other elements of the original design such as the art deco lights recreated by contemporary craftspeople.

Few of these atmospheric cinemas now survive with Campbeltown Picture House being the only example left in Scotland and one of only a handful in Europe.

The cinema celebrated its centenary in 2013 but closed a year later while efforts to secure its refurbishment continued.

Via Campbeltown Picture House returned to former glory

Campbeltown Picture House

Campbeltown Picture House

As it’s been so long since I was able to go to Campbeltown, I was also interested to read that:

Two derelict hotels have been reopened, a new golf course built and the town hall and other nearby buildings restored.

A seasonal ferry service to Ardrossan has also been established to provide an alternative to the long road journey to Glasgow.

The hope is that the restored Picture House could help attract more tourists to the area.

The biggest problem I had when I was in the area (to sneak around the then still active RAF Machrihanish) was to stop bursting out laughing if stories about it being Scotland’s Area 51 crossed my mind, with invisible secret aircraft flying around, and an entire underground city hidden below, accessed by giant elevators hidden in the hangars (and Project Aurora was always a favourite of the local conspiracy theorists).

Wonder if it is still down there?

Perhaps now accessed via secret underwater caverns, visited by the UK’s secret nuclear submarine fleet, since the base has been sold off.

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

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