Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

News of the Waverley’s return in 2020 looks good

While I suspect the total funding it not in place, the latest (good) news about the Waverley suggest those looking after the repair and restoration are up to speed, as it takes time for all the goodies needed for the work to be prepared, and for the work to be planned.

Leave that too late, and the whole project can slip far behind the required schedule.

Plans to return the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer to full service have taken a major step forward after its owners placed an order for new boilers.

A “make or break” £2.3m fundraising appeal was launched last month to safeguard the future of the Waverley after the ship was withdrawn from service following the discovery of significant structural defects.

Today, Paul Semple, general manager of Waverley Excursions, confirmed it had placed an order for the ship’s new boilers at Cochrane Limited, an internationally renowned boiler specialist firm in Annan, with a view to securing the Waverley’s future for the next 20 years.

While those behind the appeal stressed the need for further donations, the order is seen as a significant step towards returning the steamship – a longstanding fixture on the waters of the Firth of Clyde – to full service.

Mr Semple said: “This is the first step in returning Waverley back to service, and we’ve only been able to take that first step because of the donations we’ve received so far.

“We’ve spent the last two months, since we announced Waverley’s withdrawal, planning the technical refit. By the nature of it, we have to start ordering the major components now, and that’s why we’ve therefore placed the orders for the new boilers.”

He also clarified that the £2.3m appeal target covered not only the cost of replacing the boilers, but included the need or a new electrical switchboard in the engine room, generators, and an oil and water separator.

The costs of the overhaul in the shipyard would be “significant” in terms of lifting the ship’s funnels off, he emphasised, with other expenses including insurance, pilotage and towage fees.

Historic steamship the Waverley could sail again in 2020

While the news is good for the Waverley, once again the ‘Comment Section’ after the article is a complete embarrassment to Scots and Scotland as it is hijacked by the sort of mindless moron who can only express their twisted opinions in places where they can do so without fear of ending up in the Clyde, under the Waverley.

It would have made a nice opening scene for ‘Taggart‘, as the Waverley’s paddles stirred up body parts, and the shocked crew called for an emergency stop, and camera panned across their shocked faces 😉

Pacific Quay PS Waverley

Pacific Quay PS Waverley

Waverley hopes to be sailing by next year as new boilers are ordered

12/07/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Moat Brae – still in the news (now set to open)

Possibly occupying this blog’s position as the longest running active story, Moat Brae has popped up the news once again.

A Georgian landmark credited with inspiring JM Barrie to write Peter Pan has been turned into Scotland’s first dedicated children’s centre for literature and storytelling.

A new look has been revealed for Moat Brae, the house and garden in Dumfries where the novelist played as a child, a decade after it was saved from demolition.

Campaigners led by actress Joanna Lumley raised £8 million to restore and redevelop the property and its grounds, which date back nearly 200 years, into an international Peter Pan-themed attraction.

Born in Kirriemuir, in Angus, Barrie spent much of his childhood playing with school-friends Stuart and Hal Gordon at their home and garden after moving to Dumfries when he was 13.

Barrie, who lived in Dumfries between 1873 and 1878 later wrote in his memoirs of how Moat Brae had been the original inspiration for Peter Pan, stating: “For our escapades in a certain Dumfries garden, which is enchanted land to me, was certainly the genesis of that nefarious work.”

The trust which has been spearheading the birth of Moat Brae said it was expected to provide a magical environment and a resource for people of all ages to play, learn and be inspired by the place JM Barrie referred to as “enchanted land.’”

It is hoped more than 31,000 visitors a year will flock to the newest attraction, which has created 18 jobs and is expected to generate some £1.3 million for the Dumfries economy.

Dating back to 1823 and built to a design by Walter Newall, Moat Brae was in private ownership until 1914, when it was turned into a nursing home, which closed in 1997.

It was proposed to be bulldozed and turned into sheltered housing until campaigners managed to win a stay of execution in October 2009.

‘Enchanted’ Dumfries home that inspired Peter Pan is turned into a children’s storytelling centre

Moat Brae

Moat Brae © Copyright Darrin Antrobus

02/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Hill House set to reopen inside ‘cage’ on 08 June 2019

The work to enclose Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh is reported to be nearing completion, with the house making a ‘soft’ opening on 08 June, and being fully opened to visitors on 10 June.

The cage provided a ventilated enclosure which allows air to circulate around the exterior, to help dry the building, while a steel roof over the house prevents rain from reaching the house, and continuing to soak it, and continue a process which has been likened to ‘dissolving like aspirin’.

Innovative materials and methods were used in the build back in 1904, but the long term problems they were to bring were unknown at the time.

I’ve mentioned this before:

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

Giant chainmail box begins around Mackintosh’s Hill House

Hill House survey confirms extent of water/weather damage

I can’t nip along the road for pics, but these articles show how the work was carried out, and what visitors can expect to see:

Mackintosh House inside chainmail National Trust for Scotland

Mackintosh House inside chainmail National Trust for Scotland

Mackintosh’s Hill House reopens inside a box

Box to protect Mackintosh house from ‘dissolving like aspirin’

02/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 2 Comments

PS Waverley gets £179,000 boost to recovery

The full boiler refit will need some £2 million to complete the work, but the first £179 k for dry docking has been secured.

Over £170,000 has been awarded to help a world famous steam ship sail again.

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) has announced that it will provide immediate funding to support efforts to “Save The Waverley” following the withdrawal of the Paddle Steamer Waverley.

Waverley’s operators, Waverley Excursions, confirmed that the ship will need new boilers if she is ever to sail again with all sailings cancelled this season.

PSPS National Chairman, Peter Morley, commented “The PSPS was gifted Waverley for £1 back in 1974 as she was then, and still is, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.

“This week PSPS Trustees voted unanimously in favour of an immediate cash injection to Waverley of over £170,000 to fund the recent dry docking bill. This level of support will allow Waverley’s owning charity to bring forward plans to raise in excess of £2 million to replace the ship’s boilers.

“I appeal to everyone who has sailed on Waverley or wishes to see her back in steam to support our fund raising efforts to Save The Waverley.”

£170k lifeline cash awarded to Paddle Steamer Waverley

I really did toy with the idea of setting up a small museum (dedicated to tech) after spending a lot of my free time visiting museums, large and small, but it doesn’t take much research to convince you of the need for personally deep pockets, or a long string of friends, of friends, of friends… who have the relevant contacts in order to make such a thing a reality.

I had neither.

And am in some awe of those who can do this.

I’d probably also have to say I hold some others in contempt, as I’ve seen some people use their contacts to (apparently) raise millions to float their ideas of museums/ attractions, only to disappear without a trace. I’m not referring to fraudsters who get the cash then abscond (they may have been for all I know), but those who seem to line up all the backing, consume resources, then just evaporate with nothing to show.

The costs associated with the Waverley, and the long-running restoration of the Maid of the Loch, are, for me at least, a sobering warning as to how close to the edge such projects can be, even if they are successful and popular.

In the background, they can be eating money like they are burning it.

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

28/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Don’t forget PS Waverley

The Waverley may not be paddling up and down the Clyde, but is currently berthed at the Science Centre so you can at least go along and have a look.

I was passing that way last night, so grabbed a quick shot while I could.

Repair/restoration appeal

Sorry about the ladder – I didn’t have my cutting gear in my back pocket!

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

22/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Kinloch Castle plans

One of the buildings which remains very much in the ‘At Risk’ category is still managing to attract support from those who don’t want to see it lost.

That’s in notable contrast to the now usual gathering of ‘Morons United’ in The Scotsman’s comments section after the article.

There, it’s the usual collection of naysayers and those who just want to destroy anything that doesn’t fit into their tiny moronic little world.

I imagine they have the same minds as the current crop of ‘declutterers’ – people who charge YOU by the hour simply to tell you what to throw out (of your own ‘stuff’)to make your house tidier.

Multi-million pound bid to save Scots castle from ruin

Kinloch Castle

Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph


06/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

The Maid of the Loch will open to visitors at Easter

Nice to see the Maid of the Loch continues to progress toward the ultimate goal of sailing on Loch Lomond once more.

Following a cash injection from the Scottish Government, the tearoom will be opening with guided tours of the ship and nearby Balloch Steam Slipway will be available.

Seems the work in hand will see the addition of a lift!

That will help in getting between decks – they never had things like that when the paddle steamer was originally in service.

From Easter weekend onwards, the Maid of the Loch will open every day until the end of October. Opening hours and any closures due to works on the ship will be posted online.

Some people like to be glum, but I’ve always held out for this restoration to have a successful conclusion, no matter how slow progress may seem at times.

I sailed on the Maid as a kid, only a few years before the paddle steamer was taken out of service and disappeared, so never even got the chance to go back.

Then I was wandering around a park somewhere at the bottom of the loch, near Balloch, and came across what seemed to be little more than the abandoned hull one day.

No Internet or easy way to ask about it then, so I’m afraid I forgot about the find (I didn’t even get a pic), and it was years later, as the recovery project was made public and an appeal was made for ‘scavenged’ parts to be returned to help with the restoration, that I learned it had not been scrapped.

  • Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain.
  • It was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and was launched on March 5, 1953. It entered service later that year.
  • The ship operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years, and as with other steamers, cost pressures led to the ship being laid up after a last commercial sailing on August 31, 1981.
  • A series of attempts to bring the boat back into service under a succession of owners were unsuccessful, to which it gradually deteriorated at the side of the loch.
  • Since 2016, it has been undergoing restoration work at Balloch Pier thanks to The Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Maid of the Loch set to open its doors on Easter weekend

I intend to make a serious attempt at a revisit to see the steamer. Last time I did it things went very badly, as I was able to drive, but my car’s battery decided to expire without warning in the car park near the Maid. Rather than a nice visit, I ended up spending the rest of the day getting buses, trains, other vehicles, and long walks in order to get a new battery and rescue my car.

This time I’ll either cycle (I did just over half the trip last year, and it was easy) – even though the Glasgow/Balloch is reputedly one many try, but never finish 🙂

Alternatively, I’ve been looking at alternate transport I can afford (ie free) and found that the same route that can me to Helensburgh also goes to Balloch, so might be a nice day out.

I need a decent pic.

When I last visited and actually took a digital pic, the camera I used was so down-market (at the time, a 1 MP Olympus cost around £560 – I know because I had to buy one for work) that it only pretended to take a 640×480 pixel image. In reality, the resolution was about half of that, and it interpolated the capture to scale it to that number.

I don’t even have those image, or I do, but the barely used hard drive they were stored on failed, and fixing/recovering is a job I need to get around to one day. Before you ask, IT was the backup, and only had a few hours use before going wonky. Of course, it was also the only backup drive I’ve ever really needed , as the source did fail.


Was there ever any follow-up to the incident that occurred during the slipping of the vessel some months back?

I don’t recall seeing anything in the news after the initial report, and the media had looked as if it was going to feed well on it.

16/04/2019 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

People’s Palace looks set to reopen as planned during Easter 2019

Having done a lot of jumping up and down when closure of the People’s Palace (temporary, while works were carried out to provide emergency exits), and Winter Garden (effectively permanent until something in the order of £7 million can be raised for restoration) was first announced, the media and those looking for some free publicity by making a lot of noise about the closure, but not actually doing anything to help other than make stupid, time-wasting claims/comments, seemed to dry up and disappear.

It has now been announced that the People’s Palace will reopen during the Easter holidays, with some £350,000 of work being carried out to make it safe, and replace facilities that were previously located in the Winter Garden.

Following a £350,000 programme of works, the city’s social history museum will open independently of the Winter Gardens during the school holidays.

The Winter Gardens requires window replacement costing up to £7m.

The People’s Palace has seen several alterations during the works, including the addition of a new cafe and shop on its ground floor, access to public toilets and a new fire escape, which was previously located within the Winter Gardens.

School groups will be able to access a new purpose-built packed lunch area on the top floor of the museum, replacing the former space available within the glasshouse.

The museum reopens with a new photography exhibition, which captures daily life in the city in 1955.

Recent view of the Winter Gardens open while work was being carried out.

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, said: ‘The People’s Palace is just that; it’s the official residence of the stories, the images, and the memories of the people of our great city, entertaining and informing Glaswegians with displays of how we lived, worked and played in years gone by.

“There was an understandably strong reaction to the suggestions of the possible closure of the People’s Palace, a clear demonstrations of its affection amongst the Glasgow public. So I’m pleased that it is now scheduled to reopen and vindicates our pledge that we would undertake the work to allow it to remain open while a long term solution is found to the challenges of the Winter Gardens. The People’s Palace collection belongs to Glaswegians and we’re glad they will continue to enjoy access to it.”
‘End of its life cycle’

The Winter Gardens will remain closed indefinitely.

The structure is in need of repairs.

The sealant used to secure thousands of windows in the glasshouse has reached the end of its life cycle and requires wholesale replacement.

Glasgow’s People’s Palace prepares to reopen after works

Winter Gardens’ future unclear as People’s Palace reopens

People’s Palace set to reopen after £350k repair works

I took a run past at the weekend, and the place was tight shut, with no new notices attached.

But the Doulton Fountain, in front, was back on and in full flow.

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain

People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Obviously not a current pic, as the lights are on!

01/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Nice follow-up to Rose Street Foundry mural (mosaic) story from 2013

I first came across this mosaic (inaccurately referred to as a mural back then) when looking at some info relating to PLUTO, World War II’s famous ‘pipeline under the ocean’ which allowed fuel to be pumped across the Channel from England to France to support D-Day invasion operations.

Surprising connection to PLUTO revealed in Inverness

What I didn’t spot in the intervening years was any mention of a project to restore those mosaics, which were noted to be decaying in the original post.

Mosaics returned to former Inverness foundry building

That project is now complete.

A set of mosaics celebrating Inverness’ industrial past have been reinstalled following restoration work.

The panels are now back in place at Rose Street Foundry, also known as AI Welders, in Academy Street.

Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has been leading the efforts to revamp the vacant site.

Owner Cairngorm Taverns Limited was awarded a grant of £960,000 by the project last year to bring the building back into use.

Piece of history restored as mosaics return to foundry



29/03/2019 Posted by | Transport, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Nice to see progress reported with TS Queen Mary

Having mentioned the depressing lack of interest with regard to some maritime projects and vessel rescues (which I won’t divert into here), it’s actually quite nice to be able to mention positive progress with regard to the TS Queen Mary, now permanently berthed on the River Clyde next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

I even managed some pics (in better weather than we have now – I haven’t been down there for ages, and only passed quickly a few weeks ago, during the ‘warm’ spell). Still there 🙂

TS Queen Mary

TS Queen Mary

It makes a nice change not to be mentioning some bad news about one such project.

The Princess Royal has backed efforts to restore a historic steamship, which is berthed in Glasgow.

The TS Queen Mary, which is undergoing a multimillion pound refurbishment, returned to the city for the first time since 1977 in November 2016.

Friends of TS Queen Mary said Princess Anne’s decision to become the ship’s royal patron was a “huge honour” which would boost the restoration work.

The steamer was named after her great-grandmother Queen Mary.

Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary Iain Sim said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become our Royal Patron.

“This is a great boost for our ongoing work to restore this British icon to her former glory and to preserve her for future generations.”

The TS Queen Mary was built in 1933 and was affectionately called “The Glasgow Boat”, having sailed daily from Broomielaw.

Trustees say that once restoration works are complete, the TS Queen Mary will offer educational experiences for school pupils.

It will also be offered as a venue for functions.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “I’m incredibly proud to support this multi-faceted project to refurbish and promote this iconic steamer as an exciting visitor attraction as well as an educational, interactive maritime experience.

“Its permanent berth at Glasgow Science Centre is the perfect location for what was once the world’s largest and most luxurious Clyde pleasure steamer.”

Princess Royal backs Glasgow’s TS Queen Mary restoration

12/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Central Station tour venue set to be restored

I didn’t realise it was as long as four years since tours started beneath Central Station – I’m sure I noted them, but can’t find the mention (I have a recollection of moaning about the cost, now £13, or maybe the need to book, rather than just drop in).

It seems that the success is leading to fame, as it features on TV, and to expansion, with plans apparent for more restoration

Plans to restore a hidden derelict platform beneath Glasgow Central are “on the right track”, Network Rail has revealed as Scotland’s busiest station prepares to star in a new BBC series.

The platform – which closed 55 years ago – has been a highlight of the popular behind-the-scenes tours of the station.

Now, it could be returned to how it looked when the low-level section opened in 1896, complete with a steam train on re-laid rails.

Station manager Susan Holden said a museum of artefacts found at the station was also proposed.

Souvenirs would also be produced for those taking the tours, which have attracted 44,000 people in four years.

Plans to restore hidden platform beneath Glasgow Central ‘on right track’, say Network Rail

I can almost hear fans of other derelicts (such as the Botanic Gardens) complaining “But why not OUR favourite station?”

As regards Central, I used to visit the car park area there quite often (years before the aforementioned tours began, or were even being considered, almost before ‘UrbEx’ was a thing. One of the fascinating aspects of such a visit was departing the station from the car park area on the upper platform, and descending to the lower level. This route (then at lest, I don’t know about today) went through a series of apparently derelict tunnel, fenced off to prevent access, but also with light evident in the distance. Too far to see anything though, other than a glow.

I always wondered if they were accessible, having heard of ‘interesting’ things to be found down there, ever since a temporary exhibit called Glasgow’s Glasgow was held in the same space some years before (1990, when Glasgow was European city of Culture), but had been cleared away when it ended, and the place apparently sealed up again, at least as far as public access was concerned.

02/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

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