Glasgow Gallivanting: July 2020

Strathkelvin Railway Path and Billy the Train

In early July, John took a week off work. This coincided with the time when restrictions on how far you could travel for leisure in Scotland eased slightly, and we ventured into the countryside for the first time since lockdown. Not too far, just over the city boundary to East Dunbartonshire where we discovered a network of trails on and around the old Strathkelvin railway path, several of which we followed. I’ve written a post about that week which will follow shortly, but since then we’ve covered another couple of the trails. The first started in Milton of Campsie where we came across this cute display in the old station.

The second took us to Lennox Castle. I always thought this had originated as a Victorian “lunatic asylum” but, although the house was built between 1837 and 1841, it didn’t become a hospital until 1936 as a “mental deficiency institution” – such terrible terms to modern ears. The castle itself became the nurses’ home, and patients’ accommodation was built in the grounds: this was demolished after the last parts of the hospital finally closed in 2002, but the castle itself remains as a sad ruin and a reminder of all the suffering souls who lived there.

I did another Twitter walk for the Women’s Library this month, this time in Garnethill, and my fellow volunteer Melody has made a trailer for the same walk. Both are below for anyone interested. On the trailer, my voice is the one that starts by telling you the walk is available to download. It has been great fun doing these, and we hope to do more.

Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk Trailer from Glasgow Women’s Library on Vimeo.

As lockdown eases, the growth of my collection of photographs of rainbows and teddy bears is diminishing. Indeed, many of the old displays have been taken down. We’ve seen more painted stones this month though, mostly in the small towns in East Dunbartonshire that we visited. People have been very artistic in lockdown!

So it’s been a month of easing restrictions with two major events: I’ve had a haircut and a birthday! Unfortunately not in that order. My birthday was the day after restaurants were allowed to re-open, so we had dinner out for the first time in four months. It felt strange and rather lacking in atmosphere, but it’s progress. What will next month bring?

A Glasgow perspective: picture this

Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man logo adorns a pub wall in Finnieston. I have a folder full of street art images: this is one which definitely benefits from Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. Originally there were three men, but the third had an ugly red barrier in front of him. Chopping him off has made his companions much more dynamic so that I almost believe they are about to stride out from the wall.

Here are a few (a lot?) more which work as squares, starting with a couple from the City Centre. Glasgow has its very own panda (by Klingatron) in Gordon Lane, and what looks like the world’s most economical taxi (by Rogue-One) is in nearby Mitchell Street.

The mural of St Mungo and his robin, by Smug, is on High Street and has featured before, but this is a new perspective. It’s hard to get a good photograph from the road – there are often cars parked in front, and you can’t stand back far enough without being mown down by traffic. I like this image of him taken from the grassy area behind. This was in February – there would be too many leaves on the trees for it to work now.

Details now from two contrasting mosaics in stations. On the left, in Central Station, is part of a mural by professional artist Jude Burkhauser. It dates from 1989 and was commissioned for Glasgow’s reign as European Capital of Culture in 1990. The other tiled mural is from my local station, Hyndland, and runs the full length of the pedestrian tunnel under the platforms. It was designed by local schoolchildren and dates from roughly the same time.

Two perspectives on this colourful work on the Forth and Clyde canal at Ruchill which I watched being created last year. In the first, I captured the artist, Sharon Scotland, at work, and in the second John got a nice reflection in the water below.

Of course, not all murals are commissioned and sanitised. Another pedestrian tunnel, this time under the Expressway at the Riverside Museum, has a changing roster of graffiti art. I like the little chap doing the painting: not so sure about the one at the end.

Negative Destination’s little figures and the Big Heids pop up everywhere, and often disappear very quickly. Here are example from the Kelvin Walkway at Inn Deep and behind Ruchill Church.

Time offers a different perspective on Mustio by the River Kelvin. The first image is from April 2019, the other is from June this year when both vegetation and supplementary graffiti had increased.

Finally, this was an official mural, named Betty Brown’s Eyes after a local activist in Garnethill who died in 2006. It was vandalised soon after it appeared and has since been painted over. Interestingly, the vandals have left a comment on their own artistic perspective. (Note to self, I might be overusing that word!)

This is my last contribution to Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. I’ve really enjoyed this way of collating some of the many unused pictures of Glasgow still lurking in my files, and may well continue with it at a later date – though without the necessity to make everything square. I might not continue with the musical accompaniment, but today I offer you – what else? – Blondie and Picture This. If you don’t love the luminous Miss Debbie Harry I’m afraid I just don’t know what’s wrong with you.

A Glasgow perspective: sign of the times

Looking up and around us more gave us a new perspective on Glasgow during lockdown. One of the things that started to catch my eye was a good sign, and pubs provided several examples. Above is The Aragon on Byres Road – given that this pub was established in a former butcher’s shop in the 1970s, I’m not sure of the significance of the monk but he looks good. A few more pubs below, some from towns just outside Glasgow when we started to roam a bit further.

Why does a house in North Kelvinside have a French road sign in front of it? You could hardly smuggle it back in your suitcase …

I like the juxtaposition of these two black metal signs for the Engine Works in Maryhill and Partick Housing Association. The former was literally an engine works not that long ago – Clark and Buchanan – but has recently been renovated as an events venue. The couple who bought it sank a lot of their own money into it, so I hope their business survives the current problems.

Nae fancy nonsense at GWR restaurant, and an example of the many Chinese language signs in the area around Glasgow University. How many Chinese students will return next year? Who knows …

I liked the two cycleway signs at Kelvingrove, and was intrigued by the mini basketball hoop and sign in North Kelvinside. Do the fairies play?

Two different kinds of paradise! Paradise is an alternative name for Celtic Park football ground, the huge sign of which can be seen from Glasgow Necropolis. “Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise” (Henry Mitchell). We came across this welcoming sign to Woodlands Community Garden on our way home from our one evening out in the last four months.

We loved this two-sided sign for Milton of Campsie Bowling Club.

And finally – I would have more belief that this was a centre of excellence if Terry could actually spell it!

I’m linking to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge and, as has become habitual in this series, I’ll play you out with a song. I’d decided on Sign of the times before looking for a video – and they’re all awful! So this is audio only, but you do get to gaze on a still of the very mean and moody looking Mr Bryan Ferry for two minutes or so. I’ll take that.

A Glasgow perspective: animal farm

Bears of Cairnhill Woods

The bears of Cairnhill Woods have made an appearance on this blog before. We paid them another visit during lockdown – and we found some of their friends! Bearsden is a town just outside Glasgow, so their bears, below, are punning. The fishing bear is in a garden about 15 minutes walk from us. I don’t think he’ll be catching much.

Many children put their teddy bears in windows to create a Bear Hunt for others – those have been well documented in my Glasgow Gallivanting posts throughout the pandemic period. But bears weren’t the only animals we spotted as our repeated walks so close to home gave us a new perspective on our local area by increasing our powers of observation. Alternatively, you could say, it unleashed our inner nosiness – but then, many people were positively inviting us to look into their gardens and windows! Here’s a (large) selection of what we found.

Small mammals

You might spot a couple of inadvertent selfies here. I offer no comment on the aesthetics of these displays.

Large mammals

A preponderance of lions! The prancing stag is outside a restaurant called – you’ve guessed it – the Prancing Stag. The sculpture shows cartoon character Lobey Dosser, Sheriff of Calton Creek, with the villainous Rank Bajin, riding Lobey’s two-legged horse, Elfie. It’s a Glaswegian thing, but Wikipedia explains it if you really want to know! Finally, you might wonder about the Highland cattle, given that these are all lockdown walks straight from our house – they (13 in all) live in Dawsholm Park which is just over a mile away.

Birdlife

The real life birds, apart from the swans, are thanks to John. All images are taken within walking distance, except for the heron and the farm sign which were from after regulations relaxed and we could drive to the countryside to take exercise (although we do have herons on the river and the canal near us – they just don’t pose so nicely very often though).

Mythical creatures

Can I count these as animals? Yes. Yes, I can. Why not?

Finally, today’s title inspiration is Animal Farm by the Kinks. This world is big and wild and half insane is a great first line and very appropriate today for so many reasons. I have the cats and dogs promised in the lyrics, but sadly not the pigs or goats. Must try harder next time.

Linked to Becky’s SquarePerspectives Challenge.

A Glasgow perspective: bridge over troubled water

Hump-Back Bridge, River Kelvin

There are many bridges over the Kelvin in Glasgow, but this one is my favourite. We have crossed it many times on our lockdown walks, and before. Built in 1908 by Messrs Orr, Watt and Co. Ltd of Motherwell, it links the Botanic Gardens and the Kelvin Walkway. It used to be black, and for many years it was blocked off awaiting restoration, until suddenly it burst back into life with its new blue and cream paintwork. Here are a few more perspectives on the bridge.

And here is a perspective from the bridge, looking up to the road bridge on Queen Margaret Drive from which the opening image was taken. As a bonus, here is the same view with John during our first year in Glasgow, 1986.

My second favourite bridge over the River Kelvin is this one at Garscube Estate, and by coincidence John also stood there in 1986. It seems our walking routes haven’t changed much in 30+ years!

The water doesn’t look very troubled in any of my photographs (though you should have seen it in February after two months of rain).  However, I’m not going to let that affect my choice of music. Bridge Over Troubled Water came out in 1970 and, although it certainly wasn’t my first record, it was the first LP I remember choosing and buying myself. I still love Simon and Garfunkel and regret never having seen them live as a duo, although I’ve seen them individually twice each. In both cases, the first time was great – and the second time? I should have held on to my memories.

Linked to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge.

A Glasgow perspective: three times a lady

A trio of trios for you today. In the first set we are back at Partick Burgh Hall, the roof of which featured in my first SquarePerspectives post. On the face of the building are these three lovely ladies representing Justice, Mercy and Truth.

Several libraries in Glasgow have female figures with books and children on their roofs. These three are at Maryhill, Woodlands and Govanhill.

The last trio is just outside Glasgow, spotted after the distance we could go to exercise was relaxed a bit. We discovered Jessie by accident when walking a trail near Lennoxtown. Later investigation showed that this was one of three sculptures by Jaqueline Donachie commemorating women in health and medicine who have associations with East Dunbartonshire – through education, working life or residence. We decided to seek out the other two: Elsie in Westerton and Irene in Kirkintilloch. The names don’t refer to any specific individual but represent first names that appeared frequently in Jacqueline’s research, and are a nod to just how many uncommemorated women there are. Obviously my inner women’s history nerd was very excited by this!

I’m linking to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge with occasional posts on the new perspectives on Glasgow that our lockdown walks have given us. We have been looking at everything in so much more detail and are often amazed at what we spot!

Today’s title is from the Commodores’ 1978 hit. Don’t be alarmed, there’s no sound till the singing starts. Take it away, Lionel!

A Glasgow perspective: the first time ever I saw your face

It began here in March. A short terrace just off Great Western Road, each door flanked on either side by one of these Egyptian-style faces. Surely we must have noticed them before? If we had, we’d forgotten.

After that, we saw faces everywhere. These two beauties (one a bit grumpy looking) are on the side of a large villa about 10 minutes walk from home.

These are on an old church, now Webster’s Theatre.

These are from Maryhill Halls, Glasgow Academy, and North Park House.

And finally, more private houses – some whose locations I can no longer remember.

I’m linking to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge with occasional posts on the new perspectives on Glasgow that our lockdown walks have given us. I know a few non-squares have sneaked in here – square doesn’t always work, but I’m sure Becky will forgive me!

Once again, my title is taken from a piece of music, this time from the inimitable Roberta Flack. What a voice!

A Glasgow perspective: up on the roof

Three months in lockdown tramping the same few routes from our front door every day certainly gave us a new perspective on our city. We began to spot small details that had previously eluded us in our rush to get from one place to another. Definite themes emerged to our collection of photographs and, just when you need one, along comes a challenge that allows them to be shared – the ones that look good square at least. Becky’s July Squares theme is perspectives – various interpretations are possible, and mine is “Point of View – a particular way of considering (looking at) something”. I’ll be dropping in occasionally with a new point of view on Glasgow.

Today’s theme is roofs. You might well recognise my header which is Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, an unmistakeable Glasgow landmark, but what about the one below? This splendid roof belongs to Partick Burgh Hall, designed by William Leiper in the French Renaissance style and completed in 1872. It was the home of Partick Burgh Council until the Burgh was annexed by Glasgow in 1912.

Here is a selection of other roofs and roof decorations, all within walking distance of home. As you can see, we found them endlessly fascinating!

My title is, of course, taken from the marvellous Drifters’ song, Up on the roof. Enjoy!

Glasgow Gallivanting: June 2020

Martyrs’ School

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve lived in Glasgow for 35 years and there is one Charles Rennie Mackintosh building that I have never seen before, so one sunny Sunday in June we made the Martyrs’ Public School, in Parson Street in Townhead, the goal of our daily walk. It’s one of the earlier buildings Mackintosh worked on, and hasn’t been a school for many years, though unlike others it hasn’t been coverted to housing but is part of the city’s social work department.

Commissioned by the School Board of Glasgow and built between 1895 and 1898, the architects were Honeyman and Keppie, the practice in which Mackintosh was a senior assistant: his strong influence can be seen clearly in the building’s style. At the time it was set in the middle of a densely populated area of tenement buildings which have long since vanished to be replaced by more modern homes (as seen in the first picture below) and a busy dual carriageway. Mackintosh himself was born at 70 Parson Street and a plaque next to the school commemorates this. The black sculpture has an inscription by Mackintosh: Without you, everything has a flatness. I feel as if I’m waiting for something all the time. I guess, but don’t know, that this was addressed to his wife, Margaret Macdonald.

Across the road two other buildings complete this island of tradition amongst modernity. St Mungo’s Church, designed by George Goldie in an Italian Gothic style, was built in 1841, with later work in 1877. Next to the church, to the east, is St Mungo’s Retreat.

On the way to Townhead, we stopped to look at the Orient Buildings in Cowcaddens. Originally a boarding house, then a warehouse, this iron-framed construction was designed by William James Anderson in an Italianate style and completed in 1895. We couldn’t help but notice that we were being spied upon from one of the windows …

Another place we have long known about, but never visited, is the memorial garden on the site of the Stockline Plastics Factory explosion in 2004 in which nine people died. One of our walks took us past it by chance and we spent a few minutes paying our respects. It’s beautifully maintained. The red building in the background of the first shot is the current Stockline Factory.

This next section is not something that happened this month: I’m including it specially for Geoff LePard who has, amongst many other things, been writing about his undergraduate adventures as a law student in Bristol. In one post he included a passage about his grapplings with the law of tort and the case of the snail in the ginger beer. I knew all about this – and I probably first heard about it around the same time as Geoff, because we both went to university in 1975 and my boyfriend in my undergraduate years was a law student. Anyway, enough said about him, he’s history, which coincidentally is what I was studying. Back to the snail …

The case in question originated in Paisley, the town my mum lives in, where a sculpture of May Donoghue, who drank the contaminated ginger beer in 1928, was erected in 2018. The plaque below explains it better than I ever could – and not till I was preparing this post did I notice that the artist is Mandy McIntosh, whom I have met a few times through a project she led at the women’s library.

Across the road is even more information, at the site of the Wellmeadow Café where Mrs Donoghue’s friend bought the ginger beer. Possibly only Geoff will want to read it, but I include it for him to peruse if he wishes!

I know I said I’d give up photographing the rainbows and teddies which decorated Glasgow during lockdown, but I haven’t – although I have cut down. This month, the Black Lives Matter message has been included in, or replaced, many of them.

And finally, last month I wrote about the virtual Twitter walk that I’d done for the Women’s Library. One of the other guides has done a short video trailer for the same walk, embedded below. Can you guess which voice is mine in the audio description? I’ll leave you with that puzzle – happy July!

West End Women’s Heritage Walk Trailer from Glasgow Women’s Library on Vimeo.

#WomenMakeHistory

As many of you know, I’m a big enthusiast for women’s history and at this time of year I would normally be leading groups on heritage walks for both Glasgow Women’s Library and Maryhill Halls. At GWL we’ve been trying to think of ways to take the walks online, and this week I led our first ever Twitter “walk”! Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can follow it by clicking on the tweet below.

We’re also inviting everyone to look out for representations of women in their own areas all over the world. Can you think of any statues, buildings, plaques, murals, paintings, graffiti, or street names in your area? My fellow guide, Joy Charnley, has written a blog post with some ideas which you can access from the first tweet below.

If you’re on Twitter and / or Instagram, post your findings and tag them with @womenslibrary and #WomenMakeHistory. I’ll be adding contributions to my Twitter feed daily, or as often as I can think of something – it could be as prosaic as a gatepost, as you can see in the second tweet above. It would be great if some of you could join me!