Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Diggers on the river

I first spotted this group on the River Clyde a few nights ago (this matters, since I’m never there at a time to see them in action), together with some other plant and machinery plus skips on some more (smaller) pontoons moored nearby.

I think I wrongly assumed (then) that these were involved in dredging the river here, because I’d been discussing the old dredgers that used to be seen on the Clyde, with chains of buckets that scraped the riverbed, and would occasionally come up with odd body part or two, just help get an episode of Taggart started.

Having passed this a few more time, I think they’re actually involved in maintenance work on the rocks which I believe reinforce much of the riverbank, as I spotted fresh rocks on the decks, and on the banking in the background.

Pity I tend not to be around during working hours, I’d know for sure – but then again, that would be too easy.

Clyde River Works

Clyde River Works


So, not sure what made the memory cells fire at the right moment, but while passing the rocky pontoons I forgot to stop and catch earlier – I remembered!

Skips’n’rocks – clearly they can take quite a weight before there’s any danger of them sinking.

Serious point to note – how the load is balanced on that pontoon.

Forget that, and enjoy the red faces as the whole lot leans over, and all the goodies slide into the river.

River Clyde Works Rocky Pontoon Digger

River Clyde Works Rocky Pontoon Digger

(Another) Update

I happened to be in the museum of transport (Riverside) a few days after taking this pic, and was a tad sad when I watched the clever (but small) conveyor system that shows a selection of the ship models, and flashes up details on a screen as each model passes.

It’s a very nice feature, but I suspect shows far fewer of these models at any given time than was previously on open display in the gallery they once occupied upstairs in Kelvingrove.

The reason I noticed this was down to the time I spent waiting for a model of a Clyde dredger to come around.

But it never did as there is not a single one on the conveyor.

Nor did there appear to be a dredger in any other of the shipping, or Clyde, related displays.

I don’t usually complain, but this surely has to be a mistake, given that the River Clyde, and the Clyde Channel, is largely man-made in respect of it commercial and shipping access, and not having a single representative of the thing that mad that possible in the busiest years just seems wrong.


September 4, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Oh look! BAE Systems

Although I’ve seen plenty of other pics of BAE Systems facility on the Clyde, it’s not somewhere I’ve been, and from past trips down the river, was sure it far down it compared to my usual haunts.

I was having a bit of an explore last night, just a little bit further from my usual reach, and decided to look at some new flats along from Riverside (transport museum).

I was more than a little surprised to find they faced the BAE sheds I was used to seeing in the news – not so far down the River Clyde at all!

I guess I must have spent to much of my time wandering around the likes of Yarrow’s and John Brown’s in the past, and had just made a mental assumption that this place was somewhere near those sites, and had never even bothered to check.

Chalk up another success for the warning “Never assume, it will make an ass out of u and/or me“.

While I’m on a roll, I might as well assume that’s a Type 26 frigate poking out the door, it’s the last contract I remember reading about.

River Clyde BAE Systems

River Clyde BAE Systems

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Naval, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

I found The Site Of Allan’s Pen (it’s on Glasgow Green)

I usually preach “Look Up” to people walking around Glasgow, as there are many interesting finds to make in the city centre by doing this. I’m sure many features are missed by many people, too busy looking in shop windows and the like.

But the more general “Just open your eyes and look” is equally valid wherever you may be.

In this case, I was near the new Polmadie Footbridge works, on a part of the Clyde Walkway that has access back up to the main road, and was wandering around the spot (ok, I was photographing abandoned Buckfast bottles) when I noticed a slightly different stone set in the wall along behind the undergrowth along this path, so had a closer look.

I didn’t realise it had an inscription and was a plaque, since the embedded metal letters and the stone are now almost the same colour under the gloomy light down there, but it turned out to be an interesting spot.

This pic is the best I could do at the time, it wasn’t very light, and flash didn’t help. Unfortunately, the weathered stone and metal lettering appear much the same colour, and even trying to enhance the pic made little difference, such is their similarity.

I’ve tried repeating this on a sunny day, the result was even worse.

The grey stone and the grey metal letters are just too close in terms of colour, and the letter are flush with the stones, so both would need to be cleaned to make a difference.

The Site Of Adam's Pen

The Site Of Allan’s Pen

Fortunately, I have quite a nice collection of Glasgow references to look through, and was able to identify this one, although I had never come across it before.


Pen in common parlance means to coop up or confine. In the present instance, in East-end vernacular it is a big close or passage. Thus a close was generally taken to be a passage about five feet wide, but a pen close was always considered to be wide enough for the passage of a horse and cart. Allan’s Pen however, so far as the writer can remember from the remnant of it remaining in his day, through which he has passed many a time, would be about eight feet by eight. It was virtually a subway or tunnel, the side walls of stone and arched with brick, extending from the south-east exit of Glasgow Green to Rutherglen Bridge, and was constructed by Alexander Allan of Newhall to give him unbroken access from his demesne to the river. This was done by turfing over the erection. It was an outrage on the public rights, but no action was taken as happened later in the Harvey’s Dyke case. But the river coming down in high flood with broken ice during the ensuing winter destroyed the greater part of the structure, on seeing which the proprietor made only half-hearted efforts at repair. Meantime his action had incensed the Bridgeton people, who were at that period mostly employed as hand-loom weavers and nearly all strongly imbued with Radical ideas. The result was that every one became Mr. Allan’s enemy, and he, while largely interested in the sugar trade of the West Indies, was also a manufacturer in the city and gave out webs to be woven. In this he was boycotted, as the weavers declined to work to him, even at increased rates. This was the first check that his arrogant and over bearing attitude to the public got.

The origin and history of Glasgow Streets

The plaque seen above appears to have been installed by a descendant.

Creation of the Clyde Walkway removed most, if not all, remaining evidence of the ‘Pen’.

I need to make a return trip, having seen that there may be a further marker on the street above, which I didn’t cover.

There are also recent, but not very old, pics of the same wall while there were still tenements above, and show the wall before the trees and grass were added to the path. Unlike today, the plaque was in the open and obvious, it is now lost behind trees and bushes.

Try here for one such pic.

Return trip

I did make the trip back, and the marker I read of was indeed located on Newhall Street, above the plaque.

Allan's Pen Marker

Allan’s Pen Marker

I didn’t see it as I passed behind it, from which direction the (weathered) concrete marker looks like little more than a broken plank sticking out of the ground (sorry).

There’s a second marker, even less noticeable than the first, probably due not only to their thinness, but also the angle it sits at relative to the road.

Allan's Pen Marker 2

Allan’s Pen Marker 2

While the Sun lit the first obliquely, and picked out the wording, it was behind this one due to the angle, so its engraving was not so easy to make out.

A closer pic shows the detail.

Allan’s Pen Gate refers to the fact that these two markers sit on either side of a short road that leads off Newhall Street towards the Clyde Walkway and Glasgow Green, also the Polmadie Footbridge (being rebuilt as this post is being written, having been closed and demolished for safety reasons some time ago).

Allan's Pen Gate

Allan’s Pen Gate

It’s a pity these markers are not more noticeable, and just melt into the background if you’re not aware of their presence.

Since I was there anyway, I took a more general and wider shot of the wall and walkway where the plaque is mounted, giving a similar, but present-day view of the online pic that shows the tenements and grass/tree free view of the same site some years ago, and prior to the demolition of those tenements.

The plaque is located on the wall behind the space between the two benches.

Newhall Street and the marker are up the steps to the left, and behind the tree.

Allan's Pen Clyde Walkway

Allan’s Pen Clyde Walkway


August 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

When the River Clyde collapsed (even more)

I’ve already been lucky once, and found some remaining evidence of how the banks of the River Clyde subsided when the tidal weir failed and allowed the river level to fall below its now long-established normal level.

I thought the subsided walkway I found that day was all that was left of the damage caused during that event, since it had taken me so long to get anywhere the affected area.

I was wrong.

Wandering even further west of that damage, along Adelphi Street, I came across an even more extreme case of subsidence following the loss of water level during weir failure.

The first find looked impressive enough, but this second area had even better (worse?) evidence remaining of the damage.

I find it amazing that this degree of damage could follow after what amounted to only hours of reduction in the level of the river compared to its usual height, maintained for decades by the weir, yet so quickly defeated as the banks drained.

If that was your cycle path – you’ve had it (it’s OK, they marked out a new path to the left).

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

Poor lamp.

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

This was the most impressive section – just look at the row of kerb stones suspended in mid-air after the ground fell away below them.

You probably couldn’t have made that happen if someone had offered to pay you to do it.

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

River Clyde Tidal Weir Subsidence Adelphi Street

I don’t suppose anybody else is in any pleased about this, but I have to confess I am, as I really wanted to see what had happened, and was disappointed at not being able to make it along for a look at the time.

(OK council, you can fix it all now.)

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Polish fire on the Clyde

Remember the (presumably stolen) suitcase I came across on the banks of the Clyde last week?

Click the thumb for bigger reminder:

Polish On The Clyde

I was along the same path this week, and guess what?

Someone took an intense dislike to the case and stuff still inside, and set fire to it.

You should be able to recognise the spot, but there’s no case there now, just some charred remains.

Funny thing – they left all the books and papers scattered around the spot untouched. They might have taken the time to throw them on the fire and at least tidy the spot up a little.

Polish Fire

Polish Fire

One good thing – I found a nice new ballpoint pen there this time.

May 31, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

That 1988 rowing pic I asked about?

While I blog for my own reasons, independent of any readers, it’s still sad to note that the few comments/responses the material once got have dried up completely.

I guess ‘Social Media’ has killed this sort of thing.

I posted a pic taken from about the River Clyde in 1988, with rowers shown on a section of the River Clyde I couldn’t identify from present day aerial views…

Clyde Rowers From The Air

Clyde Rowers From The Air

Now that I know where this is, I also know why it wasn’t immediately obvious where it was, and why it didn’t make for an easy find using present day aerial views.

The first problem was one of assumption, deliberate or otherwise, that the pic had been shown with North at the top.

I know it’s a notional thing, but if this scene is inverted compared to its appearance on a map – those rowers are actually rowing downriver, to the south east.

The building seen to their right can still be found at the back of Richmond Park. Such buildings can usually be found and identified on old OS maps, but this one seems to be absent.

Clyde Riverbank Building

Clyde Riverbank Building

Incidentally, this pic caught one of Glasgow City Council’s safety initiative from years gone by – when all the spikes were sawn off their railings and fences. This followed a number of incidents where children (and others) had managed to fall and impail themselves on these old features, sometimes fatally.

The second problem was just nature – seen from above, most of the ground detail is now hidden below trees, and simply cannot be seen.

Don’t forget – the Google view below is inverted compared to the original pic shown above. That little building is on the south (lower) bank seen in the view below. You can also see how the trees have grown to completely the cover the view of the path and two benches seen in that original view.

Even this view is now out of date – the area on the south bank of the river (where the building still lies) is currently fenced off and has been cleared for extensive land works, not further identified.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Polish on the Clyde

It’s funny how some spots of the River Clyde’s banks seem to collect rubbish, while others seem to stay clean, and the odds of finding something interesting (carried along and dumped by the river seem to be low.

I’ve mentioned this before, and think the reason is down to the route the river takes, and it doesn’t pass close to populated places near people (who can drop goodies) until it reaches Glasgow.

However, in this case, although the stuff was on the riverbank, it wasn’t the river that dumped it there.

Looks like some Polish traveller had their luggage stolen, and it was taken down to river, where it could be raided on a steep bank out of sight of the road.

Nothing of value was left, only a selection of Polish literature, notes, and cheap stuff like odd pens.

Polish OnT he Clyde

Polish On The Clyde

There was ONE interesting detail though – the packaging for a soft (toy) hand gun.

While not illegal, increasingly restrictive firearms’ legislation in Scotland, and the chances of a “Shoot first and ask questions later” response by armed police, who can’t be sure if a good replica is a genuine firearm or not, or the state of mind of the person issuing threats with it, are sufficiently high to render it a ‘Bad Idea’.

Soft Pistol Packaging

Soft Pistol Packaging

The damp had got to the printing, and while I could see the details identifying the usual ammo and its weight (plus the obvious muzzle velocity claim), it wasn’t clear if this was CO2 or spring powered.

Oh… Found it!

Armed police arrest man after ‘gun’ report

(Just kidding).

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh look… a rowing club

Wandering along the unfamiliar (to me) south bank of the River Clyde, I was slightly surprised to find the home of the Glasgow Rowing Club (established 1983) while somewhere near Polmadie.

That’s not to say I didn’t know there was a club building somewhere down there, noted when I’d been studying maps of the area for other locations, but it never really clicked with me, since I’m more local to the ‘other’ side, where there’s a bigger and presumably older/longer established rowing club building (actually home to the Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club, this boathouse is B listed, a two-storey building completed in 1905), and I have often seen that one in use. I just didn’t know the one on the other side was active.

After all, there’s a matching club building a little to east of that larger one, notable for a Taggart scene involving firearms set on its landing stages. Identified as the University of Glasgow Boat House, this comprises a long, two storey brick building built in 1924..

There were rowers on the river at the time, but as this club house was bolted up tight, they must have come from the other one, but I wasn’t going that far.

Glasgow Rowing Club

Glasgow Rowing Club

Nice to see the graffiti cleaned off – would be even nicer to hear the vandals concerned made a big splash nearby 😉

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

River Clyde pilgrimage point?

I can usually come up with a reasonably sensible reason/use for odd things I spot while wandering, but…

This one probably has a practical application for the person who ‘installed’ it (or they’ve just seen far too many crazy Russian ‘lifehacker’ videos on YouTube, repurposing plastic bottles as cups, or shoes, or even gas masks), but if there is a general use, then it escapes me.

I’m certainly in no hurry to touch stagnant water containing who know what!

But on a more amusing note, it could be inspired by the holy water receptacles found in churches, but installed on the fence along the River Clyde, as it blocks easy access for many, so could be provided so that Clyde Worshippers can touch the hallowed waters without having to scale the fence (if they can) and risk sliding down the bank and taking an early or unwanted bath.

Alas, for the many, I’ve seen only this one, near Polmadie, so worshippers still have to at least make their pilgrimage there.

And, no, I’m not even going start guessing about that padlock.

Clyde Worship Point

Clyde Worship Point

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Oh look! A new footbridge over the river

I took a long bike ride along the River Clyde some months ago.

The route isn’t one I’d choose to walk, simply because the meandering riverbank walkway adds miles to an already reasonably long walk into the city centre.

I spotted some concrete pillars rising from the river near Polmadie and Oatlands, which I thought looked like the remnants of some sort of bridge. Searching around when I returned home revealed that these were the remains of a footbridge which had been declared unsafe, and demolished/removed.

This (missing/demolished) bridge was built around 1955, and was itself a replacement for a still earlier bridge, built around 1900. The first one was wooden (as opposed to the later concrete), and partially destroyed by fire in 1921)

No pics of those pillars since I didn’t know what they were (and they didn’t look ‘interesting’), and there wasn’t a chance to go back for them later.

I also read that the bridge was to be replaced, and by the time I wandered back (walking direct, as opposed to following the river is LOT shorter and quicker), work had started on the new footbridge, as per this sign.

Polmadie Footbridge Reconstruction Sign

Polmadie Footbridge Reconstruction Sign

These views are taken from the south bank. I usually don’t see this view as I  live on the north side.

Although I didn’t collect pics of the supporting pillars, I think I have made up for that now, as the muck and weathering seen below suggests they are the originals, and are being reused for the new bridge, so I didn’t miss out completely.

New Bridge

New Bridge


New Bridge

New Bridge


New Bridge

New Bridge

24 weeks?

Who knows – that might be long enough for me to get back for another pic.

Bonus fact – Diving Boards!

By chance, when reading up on the bridge’s history, I spotted a real oddity.

Nothing is now visible of four spring boards strung out over a distance of 94m along the north bank of the River Clyde which are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 25-inch map (Lanark 1865, Sheet VI.15 (City of Glasgow)). They appear to have been removed by the 1890s and they are not shown on the 2nd edition of the 25-inch map (Lanarkshire 1895, Sheet 006.15).


April 13, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

When the River Clyde collapsed

One of the great irritations I enjoyed recently(ish) was not being able to get out and visit the Clyde Tidal Weir when it suffered a control gate failure, meaning the level of the river could no longer be regulated in response to its flow.

The best I could manage was a later visit, for a pic just to mark the event.

However, what I found more irritating after that was seeing pics of the riverbank, or more accurately, the footpath along the river. This had suffered damage and subsided after the lower water levels led to loss of ground support, allowing the ground to collapse.

While I saw some fuzzy pics, and some news coverage, I’d really wanted to get along there, but it was a tad too far at the time.

I thought I’d missed my chance after reading that some remedial work had been carried out, but it seems this was only partial, and I recently discovered areas of subsided pathway still existed.

This is where Ballater Street meets Kings Bridge over the river – specifically the short stretch between McNeil Gardens and the main road. It becomes Adelphi Street once it crosses the road, and carries on into the city centre.

I found this section was still closed and barricaded by fixed fencing and diversion signs.

Arriving from the east, it doesn’t look too severe – until you look at the detail, for example, the section between the two closest lampposts. Looking at the bottom of the third post between those two shows how deep the subsidence goes.

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

Viewing the same stretch from the other end, from the fence at the back of the above pic.

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

A closer look at the subsidence in the distance seems to look even more severe.

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

Clyde Riverbank Collapse Kings Bridge

I carried on along to the suspension bridge, but there were no further damaged areas seen, and I already knew there were none on the other bank, which I’d been along previously.

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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