Glasgow Gallivanting: March 2021
March’s big news is that we got our first Covid jags, a hopeful event which makes us feel that there is finally a way out of the current pandemic. We were called to Glasgow’s central vaccination hub at NHS Louisa Jordan, which in normal times is known as the SEC Centre. It’s the shed-like building shown above, with the domed SSE Hydro and the Clyde Auditorium (more commonly known as the Armadillo because of the shape of the roof) peeking out behind it. Together they comprise the Scottish Event Campus, or SEC.
NHS Louisa Jordan, our equivalent of the Nightingale Hospitals in England, was created in the SEC Centre at the beginning of the pandemic to take the pressure off the rest of the health service in case it became overwhelmed by Covid cases. Fortunately it was never needed in that role, but staff at the hospital have:
- carried out more than 32,000 outpatient and diagnostic appointments
- trained over 6,900 healthcare staff and students
- vaccinated approximately 175,000 people
- supported the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service with over 500 donations
- provided Occupational Health services for the University of Glasgow for nearly 1,000 people
Quite an achievement! But who is the woman after whom the hospital was named? Nursing Sister Louisa Jordan was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, in 1878, and joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital (SWH) in December 1914. SWH was set up by Dr Elsie Inglis to tend to the wounded of the First World War. She thought at first that she could get funding from the Scottish Red Cross, but was told by its head, Sir George Beatson, that he could have “nothing to say to a hospital staffed by women.” Instead, the Suffrage movement raised the required money, but still the misogyny continued. When Dr Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps to offer them a ready-made medical unit staffed by qualified women, the War Office told her to “go home and sit still”. It was, instead, the French government which took up her offer and eventually there were 14 nursing teams sent to Belgium, France, Serbia and Russia.
Louisa Jordan was part of the 1st Serbian unit, based in Kraguievac, a city 100 miles south of Belgrade. She did not last long there. In February typhus broke out, and Louisa, who had experience of working in a fever hospital, was put in charge of the typhus ward. Unfortunately, she caught the disease herself and died on 6 March 1915. Elsie Inglis did not survive the War either, dying of cancer in November 1917. She too was commemorated by a hospital, the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh which operated from 1925 until 1988.
As regular readers know, I am always keen to find memorials to women, especially lesser known heroines. There was a certain amount of political controversy when the Scottish Government named the hospital after Louisa Jordan rather than Florence Nightingale, but I think it is only right to choose a local nurse. The latter is famous, but few had heard of Louisa – I hadn’t, despite being familiar with the story of Elsie Inglis and SWH. I’m glad that her place in history is now acknowledged.
And now for some lighter matters. In January, I featured some of Louise McVey’s graffiti ceramics. I haven’t spotted any more, but I found one rather nice example that I had inadvertently missed out, and one that has been updated. The formerly golden heart on Cleveden Drive is now pink and says “Broke” across it. Judging by the messy way it has been done, I suspect it was not by the original artist. Was it some lovelorn person expressing his or her feelings? If so, I wish s/he hadn’t, but I suppose that’s the nature of public art.
I thought we had discovered all the Covid art around the West End over the past year, but by walking round the back of Hayburn Park one evening, instead of round the front, we discovered a little gallery on the railings. Below are my favourites – I particularly identify with the lockdown locks! Hair salons are not yet open here…
Bell’s Bridge has also acquired some new graffiti art, some of it Covid related.
More attractive were two window art events that we explored in nearby neighbourhoods. First, Kelvindale’s Window Wonderland:
Queen Margaret Drive also held a Window Wonderland as part of its Spring Fling, but unfortunately the nights in question were very wet and we didn’t venture out to see decorated house windows lit up. We appreciated some of the shop windows earlier in the week though.
The final piece of street art we discovered this month is a mural of TV cook Nigella Lawson which is tucked away in a railway arch in Partick. It has been there, relatively unnoticed, since 2016, but a Twitter user has recently brought it to the attention of many more people, including Nigella herself. Comedian and actor Ford Kiernan commented: “They try recipes there, that’s what the fire extinguishers are for”, which highlights my feeling that the mural would be better with all the rubbish cleared away and a bit of touching up!
Last, but not least, we celebrated our Ruby Wedding (40th anniversary) on 21st March. Celebrations were not as we would have planned, even this time last year – who knew we would still be in lockdown? – but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. I doubt we have another 40 years ahead, but we are looking forward to whatever comes.