Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

River Clyde clean-up and restoration continues

I never saw any of the pollution which once afflicted the River Clyde, which served as little more than a handy dump for all the chemicals and other effluents that poured forth from the industrialised and increasingly populated areas that bordered the river around late 19th and early 20th centuries. But I have seen the pictures, and they are grim – smoke and soot heading towards the sky to return to Glasgow when it rained, turning the city black, and outflows discharging directly into the river with no treatment for chemicals or ‘other’ content, poisoning the water, not to mention the surrounding ground.

That’s all gone of course, and even fairly recent pics of places such as Dalmarnock can show an unrecognisable view, today largely flat and green, but even in the 1960s packed with factories, rail terminals, coal-fired power stations, and even tenements jammed in between them.

The River Clyde was almost killed by such places all along its industrialised length, with flora and fauna unable to cope.

I don’t think it was all that long ago I happened to read news of the first salmon being found in the recovering river, and the river banks are now covered with assorted greenery (unfortunately including vast swathes of deadly Giant Hogweed), fish continue to return, and walk along the river often find swans and ducks swimming and feeding there.

This control gate lies abandoned at Carmyle, where it once controlled the weir next to a bleachworks, which must have been a major source of pollution in its day, when the river water would have been used for washing and rinsing, then simply dumped back into the river.

Carmyle Weir Gate

Carmyle Weir Gate

Salmon are able to access parts of the River Clyde for the first time in decades following work to improve water quality and remove barriers.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said millions of pounds of investment had reduced pollution and restored habitats.

The work has also put an end to the Clyde’s “stench”, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said.

Water quality has gone from “bad” to “moderate” – and “excellent” in places.

About 100km (62 miles) of waterways has also been opened up to migratory fish.

Sepa, which monitors the water quality of Scotland’s lochs and rivers, reported that the River Clyde was in “significantly better health than expected”.

Between 2010 and 2021, Scottish Water will have invested more than £600m in wastewater treatment works and sewerage systems in the area.

And the Scottish government’s Water Environment Fund has helped restore habitats by removing fish barriers and concrete channels.

This has allowed salmon to access the upper reaches of the Clyde catchment.

The fund has spent £3.1m on river restoration projects near Hamilton and Shotts, with more investment planned this year.

Ms Cunningham added: “That hard work and investment has seen water quality improve, aquatic species return to the waters, and an end to the stench which once made residents’ lives a misery.”

Via: River Clyde ‘healthier and stench-free’

Granted their claims are true, but I’ve been walking various parts  of the industrialised River Clyde for years, from Daldowie to the firth, and can’t recall coming across a ‘stench’ anywhere along the river side or walkway path.

Ms Cunningham’s statement gives a false impression that this is something recent, and that the people of Glasgow have lived with the ‘stench’ until recently, and fails to note that such extremes were dealt with decades ago.

She should try walking past some of the private waste contractors we now have to live with in our midst – such as the one across the road from Emirates Arena at Parkhead.

I wondered where the ‘stench’ was coming from as I walked there recently, and only realised where the source was while looking at Google Earth.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Lifeboat station sculpture

I wonder how many people pass by the lifeboat station of the Glasgow Humane Society and fail to notice the sculpture about one of the access doors?

It’s not exactly a high-profile location, nor is it particularly easy to spot, as the spot is littered with other odds and ends belonging to the station (there’s even some ‘classic’ cast-iron there, rescued from the street – but maybe another day), and since most folk wander around looking down at their phones in some sort of dumb trance, I doubt many see it.

It makes a change from usual stainless steel used for many such creations these days, as the plain old steel it’s been drafted from is weathering and rusting, and making it look completely different from those more usual shiny installations.

It’s a nice catch to make if in the area, and a shame to miss if passing nearby.

Clyde Sculpture

Clyde Sculpture

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Clyde rower

Not sure how I actually managed to catch this, as I was carrying the compact in my pocket.

Compact – find… find ‘ON# button… wait for Bzzz, whir, click, click, bzzz of start-up routine and self-test EVERY DAMN TIME!

Then try and frame shot with power zoom back and forth.

Not to mention having to use LCD on camera back as there is no real viewfinder.

Then wait while camera has ‘tea & biscuits’ as it sets things up in response to your plea for it to ‘TAKE THE DAMNED PICTURE’ after you press the shutter button.

Ok, in reality it does not take THAT long (except for low-light or night shots), but compared to the instant response of a dSLR, and the fact that it is ‘Always On’, the compact FEELS like it takes an eternity as it does its stuff at every power-up.

Clyde Rower Dalmarnock Rutherglen

Clyde Rower Dalmarnock Rutherglen

I believe this boatyard, across the River Clyde from the Dalmarmock Sewage Work, next the Dalmarnock railway bridge, and below Dalmarnock Road – is referred to everywhere online as the Rutherglen Boatyard, and is all that remains of the old yard founded by TB Seath.

Oddly, even historic record for the area show this Rutherglen boatyard on the spot, yet make no mention of Seath.

Seath built many boats, sailed down the Clyde and over the tidal weir to reach the sea, including the Cluthas which provided ferry services on the river.

Benmore, a 200 ft paddle steamer, was famously grounded on the weir on its deliver sailing, but was finally rocked off and set free!

It seems there is no sea access these days, closed off by various changes to the river, and a lack of dredging to maintain an adequate channel along the whole length.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s Smaller Suspension Bridge

Not too long ago I caught a fairly clean view of Glasgow’s Bigger Suspension Bridge, and that post has the details too.

This reminded me I had never bothered to take any pics of its smaller partner to the east, the St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge, built 1853-5 by Neil Robson, engineer (£6348), and I promised to correct that sin of omission.

I happened to be nearby yesterday, and fortunately had the compact in my pocket, so the pics are not great, but at least complete the pair.

I thought I wasn’t going to get a decent side elevation, as a downside of the arrival of spring is the greenery that obscure many views that are an advantage of winter sparseness, but fortunately there is a viewing pier a little way downriver.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge View East

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge View East

On the left is the lifeboat station of the Glasgow Humane Society, the service that usually attends to drag bodies out of the river. Look online for George Parsonage to find videos of their work.

Before I found the clear view from the pier I grabbed a couple of shots from the ends to show better detail.

The pylons consist of heavy entablatures supported by pairs of Corinthian columns almost 6 metres (20 ft) high , all of cast-iron. Flat link chains support a light lattice girder span. Described as an attractive and little known structure.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge View South

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge View South

Spot the gorgeous cast iron lamp-standards standing beside, and almost visually hidden, by the columns. I was too busy to notice them at the time, or I would have taken closer detail.

During 2005, the bridge was given a fresh coat of paint, enhancing work carried out in 1997 when the parapets and timber decking were replaced, and the ornamental cast iron features of the Corinthian columns refurbished.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge View North

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge View North

Sorry about the National Cycle Network pole – it’s just too close the structure to stand behind and still get a decent shot.

At least I don’t have to go do some more research and a summary of the bridge’s history lies nearby:

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge Plaque

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge Plaque

And, having two pics of the two bridges to compare – I can dispel the claim that one is a copy of the other.

Clearly, they may both be suspension bridges, but are quite different in design.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Baggyminnow Pond swan’s nest

I’ve been passing this swan’s nest on Baggyminnow Pond for some weeks now, but the dark nights (the only time I pass at the moment) meant that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get a pic. It’s on a pond in a field, distant from the road and streetlights, and no camera, or pushing the sensor would return a useable shot – a fast lens would have helped, but that class of glass is way outside my budget.

So, even though one of the pair was down on the river (this is just a few metres from the River Clyde) and seemed to be fetching lunch (head under water all the time, so no use taking a pic), I reckoned it was this pic of only one of the pair – or no pic at all.

I must be becoming over-critical, as I fell like saying ‘Sorry, this is just my little pocket zoom compact’, and the pic is not so hot.

Baggyminnow Swan

Baggyminnow Swan

 

May 7, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s bigger suspension bridge

Slightly by chance rather than intent, I found I had a pic of Glasgow’s larger suspension bridge (the smaller of the two – St Andrew’s Bridge – is a little more than a long stone’s throw along the river, to the east, but I seem to have missed it so far), the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge.

A pedestrian bridge dating from the 1850s (commenced 1851), it connects the Georgian Carlton Place to Custom House Quay.

It seems it gained some fame in 1983, seen in the TV film ‘An Englishman Abroad’, when it provided the setting for… Moscow: Actress Coral Browne travels to Moscow, and meets a mysterious Englishman who turns out to be the notorious spy, Guy Burgess.

The South Portland Street Suspension Bridge was the first purpose-built pedestrian bridge to cross the River Clyde, with the metalwork designed by engineer George Martin, and the Classical pylons by architect Alexander Kirkland It was paid for by the heritors of Gorbals. A toll of one halfpenny was supposed to be levied to cover the cost, but with alternative free crossings nearby this was quickly scrapped. No surprise there then, in Glasgow!

It seems the early design proved problematic, with structural faults on the 410 foot wrought iron suspension bridge. The masonry towers and  supporting iron chains proved to be sub-standard leading to the bridge being largely reconstructed by the engineering firm Bell & Miller in 1871, with further repairs to the deck and side rails being carried out in 1926.

It seems I got this pic at least partly correct: The fine profile should be seen against the sky, not, as it appears from most viewpoints, with a background of buildings. The pylons, of yellow-brown sandstone, are triumphal arches of Grecian construction, with square pilasters at the outer corners, pairs of fluted Ionic columns flanking the entries, and over the entablatures massive ashlar plinths through which the chains pass to rest on their saddle supports. There are two chains on each side of the bridge, each chain link being five flat wrought iron bars; wrought iron suspenders at about 1.5 m (5 ft) spacing; and a deck of wrought iron or steel cross beams and wooden floor.

The bridge retains its gas lampholders, now electrified.

South Portland St Suspension Bridge

South Portland St Suspension Bridge

The St Andrew’s bridge is only a couple of years later, 1853, some say a copy. But more details if/when I have a pic and can do a proper post.

Update

I can dispel the claim that one is a copy of the other – see Glasgow’s Smaller Suspension Bridge

Clearly, they may both be suspension bridges, but are quite different in design.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tidal weir illuminations

I don’t usually get a chance to see the River Clyde tidal weir in the dark, so catching it at this time of year is (for me) a rare chance to see it with all its lights on.

I’m used to seeing it in daylight, and it’s interesting to have a close-up look at its detail, but I hadn’t realised it had quite so many lights attached. So many, even in ‘darkness’, it’s easy to take a hand-held shot.

There used to be a well-known (in its day) ship builder (Thomas B Seath and Co of Rutherglen) upriver of the weir. Completed vessels had to sail down the river and have their journey timed to catch high tide so that they could pass over the weir. I can’t recall the name, but I recently read of the last vessel to make this trip, the largest at some 200 feet in length, so long it almost got stuck on the weir, and took a number of attempts to get it over the weir.

But they made it.

Clyde tidal weir at night

Clyde tidal weir at night

January 5, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

2107 starts

1 January 2017 was a little odd (compared to most), as I tend to take a ‘standard walk’ on the first day of the new year, and this often entails ‘forcing’ myself to go out. I recent years the weather has either been sodden with a steady downpour (at least not usually accompanied by howling gales), or frozen, together with snow of varying depths.

This year, it was almost a warm summer day – or at least around +5° C – and almost wind free.

The walk generally ends at Daldowie Crematorium, which was a little more interesting than usual, as the access road was in pieces, nearing the finish of seemingly endless works that have been crawling along for months, to add a new slip road to the M74. Maybe it will be finished by the time of next year’s Jan 1 walk.

The foundation stone of the crematorium building seems to be getting harder to photograph – maybe the cleaners should give it some attention. Patina may be nice, but it looks as if the plaque is beginning to decay a little, so perhaps a little gentle cleaning may be in order, occasionally.

Daldowie Foundation Stone

Daldowie Foundation Stone

While I’m there, I usually can’t resist a wander down to the River Clyde, just to see if anything has happened.

A few years ago, I found a makeshift hide, but it was abandoned, and has now disappeared completely (I think the branch on the left was being used as a support).

River Clyde Daldowie Bend

River Clyde Daldowie Bend

It was also slightly unusual to be able to see where I was going, as the scene below is usually just plain white thanks to the snow cover, so navigation is by memory (or following other footprints).

Daldowie River Clyde Corner

Daldowie River Clyde Corner

With the relative ease of access this year, there was also an opportunity to take a quick look at the abandoned World War II ‘tank traps’ or road blocks. These concrete cylinders were intended to be placed on road and routes to interfered with tanks and other vehicles, had a German invasion ever taken place, and disrupt easy movement of the enemy.

After the war, they were abandoned and dumped, so can turn up in odd places, with no obvious reason for their presence.

Daldowie Clyde Tank Traps

Daldowie Clyde Tank Traps

2017 might be better than 2016…

Black cat spotted on the first day!

Black Cat Hamilton Rd

Black Cat Hamilton Rd

January 1, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | 1 Comment

Discovering the Clyde

A new project has been announced by RCAHMS – Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland – RCAHMS

It will be interesting to see what it comes up with, since I’d have thought just about everything that could be dug up about the river had been, and was published somewhere, thanks to the heritage of all the sites along its route.

But you never know what you don’t know, so hopefully it will find some gems over the next few years.

From what I’ve seen, plenty has been lost from the banks of the river over the years, both in terms of the industries which it supported, and the ‘big houses’ that once enjoyed the view along its banks. I’ve been amazed to look at old books, and learn just how many rich merchants, traders, businessmen etc had their homes there, and nearly all have been demolished over the years.

There was the shell of one at the back of Belvidere (hospital) that was known as the Doctor’s House. but this was destroyed for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, to make way for some modern houses. First, the building was stripped to be a bare stone shell which stood for a few years, then when I passed recently, that had been razed, and foundations laid for new housed on the ground. Another ‘Lasting Legacy’ of the dopey games.

Discovering the Clyde is a 5-year programme that’s designed to improve understanding of how humans have created, been affected, changed and been changed by the River Clyde. A series of projects will examine aspects of the river from its source to the sea. We invite you to use this website to discover new ways of looking at the river, and start to create new ideas about the heritage of this amazing 176km long thread of history.

What will it do?

Through fieldwork, desk-based research, and messing about in the river, the programme will stimulate a flow of ideas and information about the historic environment of the river and people’s interactions with it. It will do this through a range of projects that will research the physical historical remains; data and archive material, and through engagement with local people, people with particular interests – and anybody who wants to get involved.

Who’s taking part?

The programme will generate information for a broad range of users and interested parties; from cultural heritage managers to planners and historic environment researchers; from academics to the public. Everyone can benefit from the fascinating discoveries and stories that will be revealed as the programme unfolds.

Get involved

We need your help to complete the programme projects. Whether you live near the Clyde, have an interest in the historic environment or work for an organisation with shared objectives, we want to hear from you. Find out more about how you can get involved.

Via Discovering the Clyde

Dalmarnock Clyde

The Clyde at Dalmarnock

August 9, 2015 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s sunken Dalek

When I had some spare time in Glasgow a while ago, I came across some cats in murals.

At the same time, I spotted a Dalek in another mural nearby, but it was too late to get any pics.

I had to go back recently, and managed to remember to detour along the road and catch the missing pic – I think the idea of it being lost in the river is quite good.

Dalek mural

Dalek mural

It’s part of set:

Dalek mural context

Dalek mural context

June 15, 2014 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Clyde Weir on a dry day

I forgot I had collected some pics of the weir on the River Clyde next to Glasgow Green.

These were taken a few weeks ago, so I’m guessing that once the recent rain started – and forgot to stop – this scene looked a little different.

It took a moment for me to realise what had drawn my attention to the weir, as I’ve seen it quite regularly and almost don’t notice it at all in passing, but on this day I noticed that there was no water flowing over any of the gates. As far as I could recall, this was something I hadn’t noticed before, and more notable because there was not water running at all. I have noticed that while there may be no flow over the main gates, there’s often still a small run at the edges.

In engineering terms the weir is described as an underflow tidal sluice, having  three adjustable gates, each is 80 feet long and 12 feet high.

While most rivers gradually turn from fresh to salt water as they flow towards the sea, the tidal weir on the River Clyde means that the change from fresh to salt water takes place abruptly, at the line of the weir itself.

Given the comment below, I should perhaps clarify my intended point here, which is intended to draw attention to the fact that the transition from fresh to salt cannot begin until the fresh river water passes the weir, after which it mixes with the salty sea water and gradually changes from fresh to salt as it heads for the Atlantic. Above the weir the water remains fresh, since the sea water cannot travel past the weir.

I also notice what appears to be a set of steps built into the gate on the left (the end that lies against the bank on the Glasgow Green side), usually hidden by the water running over this gate.

Clyde Weir 01

Clyde Weir 01

Clyde Weir 02

Clyde Weir 02

Clyde Weir 03

Clyde Weir 03

 

 

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 1 Comment

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