Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Go visit the Lighthouse, but look deeper inside

I’ve featured a wander into the Lighthouse before, but that was focussed on the building and some interesting feature noted regarding only that aspect.

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

I’ve dropped in quite a few times since, mainly to get some exercise by climbing up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, but there are occasional, changing, exhibitions featured there (I don’t think there was a decent one worth mentioning any time I’ve fallen through the door), and more interestingly, a permanent, dedicated exhibition space feature Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his life, and his work.

It seems to be slowly changing and expanding. (Unfortunately, bits of the audio-visual displays seem to be… unreliable).

I’m not sure how many people know about it, or visit, since its located on one of the upper floors, doesn’t have much in the way of signs or publicity, and when I’m there – I’m almost alone, with few others to be seen.

I’ve always meant to make a trip to look at this display more closely, but it seems to alter each time I drop in, with pieces moved around, or not seen.

The most stunning aspect is series of models of projects Mackintosh DIDN’T have the opportunity to complete.

Last time I was there, I thought they’d cleared those models away for some reason, or put them into storage – they weren’t to be seen where they had been before, at the entrance to the Mackintosh exhibition area.

I found them later, as I wander up to the top of the building, where they were found sitting on one of the landing.

I should have grabbed some pics, but the place was closing by the time I came across them.


I see one of local media sources has made that trip, taken some  pics, and added some archive material too…

No one has left their mark on Glasgow quite like Charles Rennie Mackintosh has.

Rightly heralded as one of the most innovative architects of the 20th century, the buildings he designed that stand tall in the city encourage visits from people from far and wide in pilgrimage to appreciate his genius.

And while the likes of The Lighthouse, the House for An Art Lover, Scotland Street School Museum and the Mackintosh church are all well known tributes to his originality, foresight and spirit of creation, they should also be looked at in tandem with the designs that never went past the drawing board.

The unbuilt Mackintosh gems that would no doubt have furthered his legacy and brought about a new level of architectural beauty to a city in Glasgow that already bears witness to his genius.

Competition entry designs that were brought to life in model form and exhibited within The Lighthouse and the House for An Art Lover in recent years.

The incredible Charles Rennie Mackintosh designs that never made it off the page

The article’s worth a look.

And the models are worth a visit.


24/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

Another look at Central Hotel’s clock tower ‘doors’

The recent warm spell that tool the place of last year’s Beast from the East gave me a chance to take a quick climb to the viewpoint at the top of the former Mackintosh water tower on The Lighthouse.

It’s a pity the viewpoint doesn’t have more recognisable features to spot from its height, but a lot of the view is filled by fairly anonymous rooftops, and is also being obscured as quite a few tall building have been added to Glasgow in recent years.

If making the effort to climb the (long) spiral stairway to the top, I’d recommend having a look at something like Google Earth beforehand, and picking some spot to look for, or try to identify while up there, and make the climb worth the effort.

On this occasion, I had just gone up for fun, since I happened to be there, but took the opportunity to update the previous long view in which I had spotted what looked like doors on top of the clock tower of the Central Hotel.

I still don’t know if they are false or not, but they do look real until you look at them in more detail.

This was the first time I noticed them from the tower.

On this occasion I was able to catch a higher resolution view.

Central Hotel Tower Doors

Central Hotel Tower Doors

17/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Entrance light at The Lighthouse

This was just a quick pic of the light fitting installed just inside the entrance to The Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane.

It looks better in real life than in a pic.

Ignoring the two dead lamps (it really could do with a little TLC or maintenance), like most subjects that emit light rather than reflect it, the illuminated parts can be too bright to be recorded accurately without underexposing the surroundings.

I slightly underexposed this to try to counteract this effect, and boosted the shadow detail so the background didn’t become top dark and lose details. Even so, not enough, as the illuminated areas are still ‘blown’. It’s awkward there as the narrow line affects and limits the background light.

Maybe another try on another day.

Given the subject, I was surprised to see the camera stepped in and chose a high ISO setting – an option I usually active as I prefer to use hand-held all the time, and make sure that flash is never deployed.have

Lighthouse Light

Lighthouse Light

10/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Memory fail at The Lighthouse

I was passing The Lighthouse when I remembered I was supposed to go there for a pic.

That much was OK.

Unfortunately, when I got there, my memory was working perfectly, the way it always does, and I had NO IDEA WHY I was supposed to go there for a pic.

To be fair, I did remember that the subject was the metal security gates which close over the entrance when The Lighthouse is closed, and I did indeed get that pic, as you will see below.

Click for bigger.

The Lighthouse Security Gates

The Lighthouse Security Gates

So, if I got the pic – what did I forget?

Just one small detail…

I was supposed to take the pic when the place was OPEN, and the gates are slid to one side, and stacked on top of one another.

This reveals a secret – which will now have to be the subject of another post.

27/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Hill House rescue works release Mackintosh items for Lighthouse display

Work to help preserve Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh have provided the opportunity to display some of the contents in Glasgow’s Lighthouse.

Good old Scottish weather (and Helensburgh doesn’t help by being beside the sea, and having a nice salty atmosphere) means that while Mackintosh may have been a revolutionary designer, what were cutting-edge materials and building techniques of 1902 have not stood the test of time, and The National Trust for Scotland is currently carrying out an extraordinary conservation project which involves enclosing the house in a mesh box, in order to protect it from the weather and allow it to dry out.

Since this has required the contents to be moved out of the house, it has allowed them to be moved into The Lighthouse as a temporary exhibition, so you can see them even if you can’t get to Helensburgh.

Working with his wife, Margaret Macdonald, Mackintosh designed the rooms and interior features of the house including those most well-known: the entrance hall, drawing room and main bedroom. Items from all these spaces are represented in this exhibition of more than 30 objects from the house, including chairs, light fittings, beds, mirrors, and tables.

Emma Inglis, curator (Glasgow and West), the National Trust for Scotland, said: “The Hill House is the most complete surviving example of Mackintosh’s whole-house approach to design. He designed the architecture of the building, interior decoration, and household furnishings to work in unison, creating rooms rich in interest and colour. Fundraising is still ongoing to save the Hill House and this exhibition is an opportunity to display objects which represent the heart and style of the Hill House.

Find The Hill House at The Lighthouse between 04 August and 23 September 2018 in Gallery One.

This is the drawing room of Hill House, as seen in 2017.

Click the image to see the huge original by Tony Hisgett on Flickr, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

It’s actually one of a number of photographs you will find with it, taken inside the house.

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

06/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lighthouse – Part Four

Just a quick finish, since I did threaten Part Four at the end of Part Three.

It’s really for completeness, since I seemed to have collected views from most direction seen from the Tower.

I didn’t bother with pics from the Viewing Gallery, since it is not as high as the Tower.

It’s also not really that good for pics. Shooting through the glass windows of this room always seems to catch reflections, no matter how hard one tries to avoid them.

Only two pics this time, of the two streets the Tower looks down upon, Mitchell Street, and West Nile Street.

The Lighthouse View Mitchell Street

The Lighthouse View Mitchell Street


The Lighthouse View West Nile Street

The Lighthouse View West Nile Street

With so few pics for this, I thought I should scrape the archival barrel.

This is the entrance to Mitchell Lane as seen from Buchanan Street – pity they didn’t line up the illuminated signs and make them all straight.

If you look to left of centre, you should be able to make out some of the vertical ‘LIGHTHOUSE’ sign in stylised letters, mounted over the entrance in the lane.

The Lighthouse Mitchell Lane Buchanan Street

The Lighthouse Mitchell Lane Buchanan Street

27/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The Lighthouse – Part Three

Part Three of the Lighthouse visit series, this time taking a look at the views seen from the Tower.

This is a closer view of the Viewing Gallery mentioned Part Two.

On the right wall you can see the external view of the door to nowhere I dubbed ‘Mystery Door, which is really just for access.

The Lighthouse Viewing Gallery And Mystery Door

The Lighthouse Viewing Gallery And Mystery Door

This next view is relatively wide, with the City of Glasgow College building on the left, and the Travelodge in Queen Street on the right.

The best part is the Gallery of Modern Art, which had illuminations around it, and I was taking these pics in the evening.

The only problem with these pics seems to the lack of colour from the grey and overcast sky on the day. This seems to have affected everything, including the Travelodge. Although this has a particularly blue line of illumination around its facade, even this has come out as little more than white as seen by the camera, although was intense as seen by eye.

I’ve still to find a satisfactory reason for this disparity, which I have come across in a number of sources with blue illumination.

While the obvious/easy answer is just to dismiss it as camera sensor sensitivity in that part of the spectrum, it’s not that simple, as I’ve found that the camera will record the colour accurately if close to the source. This means the whiter part of the emission travels, but the blue part is not as strong (bright) as it appears to be, and dissipates before reaching the sensor if distant.

But this does not identify the type of light source, which I’d like to know.

It’s NOT simply because the colour is blue – I have pics of other buildings with blue signs and illumination which have not suffered this loss of colour over distance.

Click the pic for a bigger version.

The Lighthouse East View Stitch

The Lighthouse East View Stitch

The next view is wider still, looking up West Nile Street on the left and reaching round, and just past, the St Enoch Centre on the right.

It’s less detailed, but can still be clicked on for a bigger version.

The Lighthouse East View

The Lighthouse East View

Next up is a just a better view of the City of Glasgow College, and a big mural on the building to the right (a newer college building).

The Lighthouse View City Of Glasgow College

The Lighthouse View City Of Glasgow College

Next, a closer look at the roof and canopy/dome of GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art).

The Lighthouse View GoMA Roof

The Lighthouse View GoMA Roof

This was a closer look at the Travelodge facade in Queen Street (mentioned above), but still no blue.

For information – see those high flats in the background to the right of the Travelodge? I don’t live there, but that’s roughly where I walk into Glasgow to get my pics.

The Lighthouse View Queen Street Travelodge

The Lighthouse View Queen Street Travelodge

The pic proved interesting – when I finally got it home and looked at it… I had NO IDEA what it showed!

I had to do some thinking, and identify other features before I remembered where I had been pointing the camera.

It’s actually a very unusual view of Central Hotel, next to Central Station.

You’d never be able to see this from the street or ground level, which is what threw me at first.

The Lighthouse View Central Hotel

The Lighthouse View Central Hotel

I had to zoom in and crop the top of the hotel tower.

It looks as if it has two white doors that could be a real surprise (shock) for anybody sneaking up that tower and opening them without knowing where they lead to. Almost as much fan as the ‘Mystery Door mentioned earlier in the Lighthouse Tower.

Central Hotel Tower

Central Hotel Tower

There might be a Part Four.

I’ve found some more pics looking down from the Lighthouse Tower onto the streets below.

26/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The Lighthouse – Part Two

Looks like the media has finally run out of victim to report for lynching over the Mackintosh Building fire, so I’ll just stick Part Two of My Lighthouse ramblings in the slot.

There’s not really a lot to take pics of inside The Lighthouse (excluding anything you might like to collect from the Mackintosh Gallery).

Most of the interior has been refurbished and brought up to present day standards to allow the space to be reused for modern offices, presentations, and displays.

The most interesting original features are the internal wall and atrium space, which has been cleaned and taken back to the original brickwork, and lead up to the large central chimney. It’s quite difficult to get access to some of the most interesting features, so…

For a great collection of pic showing the interior, and telling the story of the original building see here:

The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Glasgow Herald Building

This view looks back from the modern viewing gallery seen in Part One, and shows the chimney, and the open tower where the pic of the gallery was taken from. You can see some tiny people under the tower canopy, which give an idea of the scale of this thing.

The Lighthouse Tower And Chimney

The Lighthouse Tower And Chimney

Back inside, while waiting on one of the floors for the lift to the viewing gallery (notably ONLY accessible by the lift), I noticed an exterior door, and considering where it was, thought it was ‘interesting’. Where it might lead was a bit of a mystery.

The Lighthouse Mystery Door

The Lighthouse Mystery Door

Taking a closer look.

The Lighthouse Mystery Door View

The Lighthouse Mystery Door View

Closer still (just for confirmation) it really does open onto nothing at all. Open that and step out – you won’t be turning around and coming back in!

The Lighthouse Mystery Door View Below

The Lighthouse Mystery Door View Below

Little label explains all -(did you spot it in the first pic above?) Hope the key’s locked away somewhere safe.

The Lighthouse Mystery Door Explained

The Lighthouse Mystery Door Explained

I might do Part Three.

It seems a shame not to use the pics I grabbed from the tower, looking down on some of the city centre streets, and across the city into the distance.

25/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The Lighthouse – Part One

Since we can’t expect overworked journalists to work over the weekend, there was no new news on the Mackintosh Building fire today (Saturday).

Since I never got around to pulling any pics from visits to The Lighthouse, I thought I’d fill the slot I been using for fire news with some of those pics.

I think I only have a couple of sets, and managed to dig up the first lot.

Most of the pics were actually taken from the outdoor viewing area at the top of a set of spiral stairs, but I’ll leave them out as not relevant.

The irony of Mackintosh’s fire precautions designed into his commission can’t go unnoticed:

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a young draughtsman in the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie when he designed the Mitchell Street building, which now houses The Lighthouse. The Herald Building was Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s first public commission.

The building, designed in 1895, was a warehouse at the back of the printing office of the Glasgow Herald. Mackintosh designed the tower – a prominent feature of the building – to contain an 8,000-gallon water tank. It was to protect the building and all its contents from the risk of fire.

The former Glasgow Herald building was renovated and launched as The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City, a project suggested by the 1999 UK City of Architecture and Design bid committee. It took its new role after 15 years of silence, having stood unused since the Herald moved to new offices in the early eighties.

I should add that much of the building is given over to the various functions of its job as Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City, with one floor dedicated to Mackintosh and his work.

This year, the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth, The Lighthouse will be offering building tours each Saturday throughout 2018. These are on a first come first served basis, begin at 1pm, and last for about 40 minutes.

You can’t easily get a view of the entrance in Mitchell Lane (it really is a narrow lane), so I made do with a view of the lane having the entrance on the right – and still invisible since it is recessed.

To make up, I caught a Glasgow celebrity waiting outside.

Mitchell Lane Lighthouse Entrance

Mitchell Lane Lighthouse Entrance

Once inside, this spiral staircase leads the tower where the water tank mention above was located, and is now open for visitors to look at the views over Glasgow.

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

This show the building’s large chimney, and the new viewing gallery, which is part of a modern extension to the building.

The Lighthouse Chimney Gallery

The Lighthouse Chimney Gallery

I have to confess that the most amusing thing was the choice of toilet signs, used throughout the building.

Sample Lighthouse Toilet Signs

Sample Lighthouse Toilet Signs


23/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain From Above – Scotland’s Industrial Might at The Lighthouse 14 Feb – 27 Apr 2014

I only came across this exhibition a few days ago (but doubt I’ll be in Glasgow before it ends), and there’s still time to catch it at The Lighthouse in Glasgow’s Mitchell Lane, as it runs from 14 February to 27 April, 2014.

Drawing on many rare and previously unseen aerial images, this exhibition traces the histories of factories, shipyards, mills, ironworks and their surrounding communities over three decades, from 1919 to 1953. Industries are shown operating at peak and also in decline, as the ‘bird’s eye view’ tracks the impact of social, political and economic change on the urban fabric of Scotland, from the Great Depression to reconstruction in the aftermath of the Second World War. While many buildings are now gone, they live on in the memories of workers and their families – the economic powerhouse of the past is the heritage of today.

Via The Lighthouse – Glasgow : Visit : Exhibitions : Britain From Above – Scotland’s Industrial Might

There a bit of a coincidence with this, as I recently found a little shop selling assorted bric-à-brac (ok, junk) and other items, probably collected from house clearances and similar.

First time I passed, I noticed a dish full of mounted (but not framed) B&W pics of Glasgow. They looked to be largely industrial, but I didn’t have time to take a closer look.

Next time I was there, they had migrated to the wall, and I could see they originated from a well-known Scottish archive. I even recognised some of them, and knew where to download them (for personal use, of course.)

I thought they were just a single collection, but while discussing them, learned they were £2 each, or could be bought in sets for a reduced amount – and I didn’t ask any more.

I’m being deliberately vague, as I don’t want to make the guy in shop grumpy by affecting his sales (the prints are high quality and nicely mounted), not do I want to end up in the midst of some copyright nonsense involving the archive, which I know gets a little ‘nippy’ if it finds its material being used in a way it does not approve of.

26/04/2014 Posted by | Civilian, photography, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment


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