Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mystery sign spotted at Barrowland – man with a barrow

It’s odd when you spot something in plain sight that you have simply never, ever, seen before.

While everybody latched on the main illuminated sign on the front of the Barrowland ballroom, I can’t recall seeing any pics of the ‘Man with a barra’ that I spotted on the SIDE wall recently.

I only spotted it as I happened to have been looking at the recent Billy Connolly mural nearby, and was still just idly glancing at building walls for no good reason.

I have absolutely no idea whether or not this is something new, relatively new, or has been up there since the beginning of time.

Similarly, given the time of year, there’s a slim to nil chance of me being around this area when it will be dark enough to learn if this sign – which clearly has wiring and neon – is ever illuminated, or even works.

I’d say it’s been up there for years, unnoticed and probably not lit for years – reason being that it was clearly once animated, with the figure have two sets of neon lights to simulate walking, but one set has clearly been gone for years. At a guess, I’d say the wheel on the barra would have a similar animation to make it appear to be rotating. The neon is all there, but does it work?

Unless there’s some reason for it to be on earlier (if it works), I won’t be seeing this in the dark until we hit November.

If you haven’t seen it, have a look up next time you pass Barrowland, or are at the Barras.

Barrowland Barra Sign

Barrowland Barra Sign

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

Van-Lee Transport gates (noticed at last)

I find myself frequently complaining about the lack of ‘old goodies’ surviving around Glasgow nowadays.

It’s not a new complaint, and it’s one I can actually date to starting to make before 2000.

Back in the days of Ye Olde Film Camera I had the bright idea of driving into Glasgow on Sundays (that far back, Sunday was still relatively quiet as the ending of restricted Sunday trading was still to become the norm), but it proved to be less successful than I had expected.

It was probably triggered by the elimination of most of the surviving artefact from the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival, which I had been collecting the odd pic of as they were gradually lost. When they had gone, I started looking elsewhere for interesting remains.

But it was really too late, and after only four Sunday trips, I really couldn’t find anything sizeable or notable around the city centre, or its less well-known corners, to photograph.

That’s not to say there nothing, just that what remained was generally well-known and relatively easy to find in existing collections or records.

Since then, it’s gradually become harder and harder to find something unusual, especially after nonsense such as the 2014 Commonwealth Shames saw the council and other interested parties razing any sort of remains or featured that were considered ‘untidy’.

I’ve become so disillusioned by this sanitizing and purification of the view to make Glasgow appear to be modern, clean, and tidy, that I miss many items of interest simply because I’ve reached the stage of no longer expecting to find any.

Case in point – the gates seen in the pic below.

Van-Lee Transport Gates

Van-Lee Transport Gates

I’ve probably walked past these particular gates hundreds of times now, yet failed to ‘see’ them.

They’re not particularly noteworthy or even noticeable, and might not even be that old, in historic terms, and it’s a shame about the vandalism, and the permanently present wheelie-bins in front of them.

Their style is not modern, so they could be decades old, but…

I think Van-Lee Transport is still alive, and have been able to find pics of their lorries taken a few years ago (although none are recent), but while I can usually research companies and find records, couldn’t do the same to confirm this one.

However, pics of their lorries carry the same livery as the gates, so it looks as if they have never caught the disease that afflicts many, and ‘modernised’ just because some adviser has told them to.


Now I wonder how many ‘interesting’ features I might just be walking past these days, and missing simply because I am so used to seeing them they have effectively become invisible.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Baillieston mystery pole identified

It’s some time since we posted a pic of the oddly placed pole seen at the left side of the pic below, then it was part of a discussion in the forum, and as far as can remember was not posted here, in the Blog.

It’s fairly well hidden at this time of year thanks to the undergrowth behind the fence, but come the cold weather it becomes much more obvious once the surrounding leaves have gone.

That original query and discussion proved fruitless, and apart from a few suggestions that didn’t really provide plausible reasons for its presence, nothing was concluded. It was noted that this was a tram terminus, and out of sight, behind the pole and trees, there lies a small electrical substation which used to provide power for the trams.

Baillieston Mystery Pole

Baillieston Mystery Pole

But now we know.

Purely by chance, while visiting one of Glasgow’s museums, I had a seat and noticed it had a small library where visitors could browse through courtesy copies of the books for sale in its shop.

Quite a few were old photo collections that covered the east end (and I already have my own copies), but there were a few I had not seen before, so I had a look through them.

As luck would have it, one of them covered Baillieston, and as I flicked through the pages I noticed it included some early 20th century pics of Baillieston Cross and its traffic.

Better still, it showed a view taken from the area out of sight to the right of the above pic. Not sure where from exactly, as it was from a high viewpoint. It may have been commissioned as I don’t think there were ever any tall buildings there.

Back to the pole…

It is one of a pair, and the one which was located a few feet to the right of the remaining example was removed when the footpath and road were revised and/or updated. Today, the footpath is a different width from that seen in the earlier pic.

The two poles held a large road sign – which was clearly declared redundant when the changes were made, and removed along with the outer pole near the road which would then just have been an obstruction.

Since the inner pole was behind the fence, and may have become redundant, it was not in anybody’s way, so was just left where it was, and forgotten.

Probably nobody even notices it nowadays.

They’re probably too busy… avoiding the remains of a modern version of the same thing, also now redundant, BUT still with BOTH poles extant – the inner pole lies on the access track to the small substation mentioned above (so no undergrowth to ever hide it), while the outer pole lies on the footpath, near the kerb, and lies at a noticeable angle from the vertical, indicating that it has been ‘kissed’ at least once by careless driver parking next to it.

Later Baillieston Sign Poles

Later Baillieston Sign Poles

It pays to look twice!

I almost missed these completely simply because I seldom walk on this side of the road (all the shops are on the other side),


July 26, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

This is your street. Not your personal bin.

It looks as if Glasgow is having another go at its litter louts with a new campaign.

Wandering around various burbs, I’ve come across the following sign placed high on many lampposts:

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

While I like the sentiment, I suspect the people who will really like it are the residents who are fed up with those who litter, while those who litter will just laugh at it, and pay absolutely no attention whatsoever.

While I was raised not to drop litter, and don’t – ever – anything goes in my pocket or a bag to be disposed of later, I see very few children who have been taught not to litter. And they become the adults that also have no care regarding litter.

It’s sad to walk along the street, especially with shops, and watch the behaviour of people as they leave shops.

Those leaving convenience stores, newsagents, and fish & chip shops are amongst the worst offenders.

Often unwrapping cigarette packets, the wrapping is discarded instantly without a second thought.

But the saddest sight is that of the kids, especially the smallest ones, as they come out with packets of sweets or similar treats, and these are already being opened and unwrapped as they leave the shop, and you can see they have NEVER been taught not to litter, as the wrappers are dropped as soon as they come off, without as much as moment’s thought about what they are doing. They don’t even know they are littering. Putting the wrappers in their pocket does not even occur to them.

And if the council, a community worker, or police officer DARES to pull anyone up, or issue a fine?

THEY are slated as the ‘Bad Guys’, unreasonable and oppressive, just out to make money and pick on people.

If they wanted to do that (make money), they’d be better to collect all the discarded McDonald’s packaging that fills our streets (buyers of this muck are amongst the worst, just opening their car doors after visiting a drive-through, and dropping the lot on the road), return it to source and charge them for each piece of branded litter they return.

I can dream.

July 23, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, photography | , , , | 1 Comment

Spoilt Rotten Cat

I’m sure a funny sign I pass quite often must have been inspired by this old joke:

Stranger: Mr Smith, your son is spoilt.

Mr Smith: He is not, I’ve brought him up properly.

Stranger: I didn’t say you spoilt him, but that road roller…

Spoilt Rotten Cat Sign

Spoilt Rotten Cat Sign

I’m sure this isn’t the one I wanted to catch a pic of.

That one was bigger, and even funnier, with the longer text of…


June 30, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Another painted footpath appeal

While I’ve yet to come across any of these ‘Public Warning’ signs in my own area, I do seem to spot them while wandering elsewhere.

This time it was a chance find on the streets of Westburn, near Cambuslang.

While my own streets have sprouted dozens of the advisory (not obligatory or legally enforceable) “Twenty’s Plenty” signposts, there are no footpath ‘repeaters’ like this example, one of a number spotted as I walked through the main street through Westburn.

Clearly completely invisible to drivers on the road, this is clearly aimed at the locals, and placed near the village shop.

Note the cute little speed numbers shown within the ‘O’ characters of the words in the bottom line.

In Town Slow Down Footpath Sign

In Town Slow Down Footpath Sign


Typically, having never come across this particular hint before, since seeing this one, I’ve tripped over at least two more examples in different areas. Although it should be said these have been much fainter and worn than the above.

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Funny camera sign for illegal rubbish dumpers

I must have passed this sign dozens of times without realising it was there, warning anyone dumping rubbish around the official bins for the Alexandra pub in Dennistoun’s Bluevale Street that they were ‘on camera’.

Camera Dump Sign

Camera Dump Sign

And the best bit?

Follow the arrow on the sign and there actually is a camera to be found there – whether or not it’s real, still works, or is connected to a recorder…

That’s anyone’s guess.

Dump Camera

Dump Camera

May 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | 2 Comments

Job sign is blunt and to the point

I first spotted this sign on April 1, and given the significance of that day, and the fact that I had never seen it, or come across another one before, was not sure if it was real.

While I approve of its simple and blunt message, I’m also usually dismayed by union approached to such things, and would not be surprised to find strikes being called to have such a sign banned on the basis that it was somehow ‘unfair and threatening’ to the poor, persecuted union members.

But after looking closer at the site concerned, I saw more of these signs posted around the perimeter, and a pile of them lying beside the… tea room.

I’ve also checked my own industrial sign supplier, and see that it is fact one of a number of such blunt signs that combine various equipment omissions that will lead to employment problems.

No Job Sign

No Job Sign

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 3 Comments

No dog fouling

Sprayed on a local footpath.

I always like these over-simplified signs which are open to interpretation.

Does it inform us that there is ‘No dog fouling’ in this area, in the sense that a survey has been carried out and that it was found that there were no, or zero, dogs found to be fouling in the area, and this sign has been proudly sprayed to tell everyone lucky enough to walk here?

Or is there only one ‘dog fouling’ here, and its name is ‘No’.

Or is it instructional, and people are expected to shout ‘No’ if they see a ‘dog fouling’.

Or is it meant for dogs to read, saying ‘No’ to any ‘dog fouling’.

Or is it a pic of ‘No dog’ taken while he was ‘fouling’ and intended to shame him into not doing it again.

Can I go on? Thankfully, no (I have other things to do).

Not sure exactly where, I think near Haymarket St and Marfield St in Carntyne.

I only saw 4 sprayed nearby, so wonder if it is just a resident’s handiwork, and not an official instruction.

Seems a little unfair, as I walk the streets quite a bit nowadays, and have been quite impressed as nearly every dog walker I see, even on grassed areas, seems to be prepared to carry little black plastic bags, and collect their pet’s ‘soft warm gift’ without flinching. So much so, passing overflowing street bins in anything resembling warm weather is now best carried out at a distance, or at least holding breath until past. An unfortunate effect of council cuts and reduced collections combine with a successful campaign to gain dog walker’s cooperation.

No dog fouling

No dog fouling

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

Barrowland neon does light up

There’s a definite downside to being forced off the road (aka not driving) in that you lose the desire to go to risky places carrying camera gear that might look expensive. Low light photography become a thing for early winter evenings when you can walk to possibly interesting places when there are still crowds around, rather than going places in the dead of night when they are deserted, and only likely to have people you would probably rather not meet being nearby.

I had no idea the Barrowland Ballroom neon still worked, let alone was in use, but there it was one (dark) afternoon/evening, flashing away and looking impressive.

As an aside, seeing it has made me wonder where I could find anything similar, since all the other (large) neon adverts are long gone from Glasgow.

I don’t have a sufficiently wide lens to catch the whole frontage in one shot, and panorama stitching results in distortion when used so close to the subject, so this was a chance to exercise some perspective correction filtering I had been using for another project. Provided this is applied correctly (and ignoring the anomalies that can arise for non-planar views) the results can be pretty good, as this corrected shot illustrates:

Barrowland night tweak

Barrowland night tweak

The coach wasn’t going anywhere, and is the only real flaw.

It was harder timing this shot to catch all the lighting active than to correct it, since the stars and letters are not all illuminated all the time. Now alerted, you should be able to spot the variation in intensity of some of them.

‘Experts’ (who I suspect don’t even own a camera) keep telling me to shoot this sort of scene in RAW, but I’m sorry, I’ll be ignoring them and sticking with jpg while the results come out like this, and I don’t  have to work harder.

For reference, this is the original view, which I had to capture from one side and at an angle to get into a single frame.

This was partly dictated by the lens, but at the time, was also forced on me as it was the only place I could get a clear and unobstructed view (forgetting that coach), and I’d probably have been given a hard time if I’d tried climbing onto the roof of pub/shops just behind.

Barrowland night natural

Barrowland night natural

January 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

STRICTLY NO PHOTOGRAPHY at this Photo Experience

I’m almost tempted to leave off the ‘oxy’ when noting the funny oxymoronic ‘Photo-Experience’ signage I spotted in the St Enoch Centre (and had all but forgotten until I started indexing some of my recent pics).

While it’s fair to say we know what they mean, it would have been nicer had they taken some proper advice and prepared a more friendly and polite request, rather than this rather crude and blunt effort, which would be more appropriate on something like a security sign outside a Top Secret military establishment (where you might get shot for ignoring it).

No photo photo experience 01

No photo Photo Experience

I’ve been playing with some distortion filters, so thought I’d give this one a try, to make the warning clearer, especially the extra on the left:

No photo photo experience extra sign

No photo Photo Experience extra sign

Surprisingly effective correction, for little or no effort.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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