Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2017

Canal House, Speirs Wharf

It’s been a quiet month for travel, for me at least – John spent a chunk of it working in China, so I don’t suppose he feels the same. Foul weather has meant I haven’t been very far afield, but I have tramped about Glasgow in between rain storms and have a few local buildings to show you.

Speirs Wharf

A Sunday afternoon stroll with John took us down the Glasgow spur of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Port Dundas. Here, Speirs Wharf has been a residential area since the late 1980s but originated in the 19th century as the canal’s headquarters and the City of Glasgow Grain Mills and Stores. As well as Canal House (above) we found other attractive reflections on our walk.

Temple

Forth and Clyde Canal at Temple

On a gloomy Sunday while John was away, the sun suddenly broke through about 3.30pm. I set off along the canal again, but in the opposite direction. I could almost have been in the countryside until Temple Gasometers came into view.

Temple Gasworks were built in 1871 and closed in 1968, but the two large gas holders, dating from 1893 and 1900, were still being used until a few years ago.

Historic Environment Scotland recently sought views on plans to schedule the structures as Category B Listed buildings. I don’t know the result, but the local paper reported divided opinion between those who wanted them conserved and those who would flatten them. I’d be in the former camp these days, though we used to live very close to the gasometers and I hated them then. Now, I can see their beauty as part of our industrial heritage (and I don’t have to pass them every day which helps).

Also at Temple are Locks 26 and 27. The pub Lock 27, which you can see in the background of the portrait image, used to be our local. It’s still handy for a post-stroll pint but wasn’t open on this day.

Jordanhill

At Lock 27, I left the canal and headed for Jordanhill. Some of you might remember this is the University Campus I used to work at. I swore I would never go there again after my last visit a couple of years ago when it was so sad to see the semi-derelict state of it (the campus closed in 2012 and has now been sold for housing), but that’s where my footsteps took me. Nothing has changed – there is some controversy with the development and local people are protesting about the number of homes to be built with little or no improvements in infrastructure. The handsome red sandstone David Stow Building is one of three that will be kept. The other picture is not pretty, I know, but that’s the entrance I used for work every day.

I found it funny to see the bright blue library book drop still there: locked – I checked. I probably locked it myself five years ago. On the door is a notice informing users that the library closed on 1st June 2012, telling them where to take their books in future, and thanking them for their custom over the years. I know I wrote that and put it up and I’m amazed no-one has ever taken it down. I’m just glad I can laugh, it’s all bygones now. I have no regrets.

Down by the Riverside

Another reason that October has been constrained is that I have been fighting with a broken-down boiler which took 6 visits from 4 different workmen to fix, so I have spent a lot of time hanging round the house. One visit was supposed to be on the Sunday afternoon in the middle of the saga, but the engineer phoned to say that he was still waiting for parts and would come on Monday instead. So we set off down the River Kelvin Walkway and then along the Clyde.

The last time we visited this former pumping station it still showed signs of having been a restaurant (first picture below). Eighteen months later, the restaurant’s conservatory has been replaced with a glass still-house for a new whisky distillery. Exciting!

On the other side of the river, we spotted the Waverley (the last ocean-going paddle steamer in the world – red funnels) and Queen Mary (the only remaining Clyde-built turbine steamer which is now being preserved as a museum ship – yellow funnels). We crossed over to have a look.

Both ships are berthed by the Glasgow Tower, a rotating structure which you are supposed to be able to ascend but which spends more time inactive than not. From its podium, we got a good view of the Glasgow Science Centre and some of the other weird buildings by this part of the river.

The last bit

I came across this piece of street art near Glasgow University. It’s by an artist new to me, Pink Bear Rebel, who focuses, I’ve read, on anti-Trump protests and rebelling against the ‘meaningless of life’. I’ll be on the look-out for more.

And the boiler? Well, as of last Tuesday we have heat – just as well, because overnight frosts have returned. It also gives me this month’s Scottish words lesson because it’s been a sair fecht to deal with (sore/hard fight; something problematic).

I hope your October has NOT been a sair fecht!

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3 Day Quote #2: Proverbs

Jordanhill Cartouche
Jordanhill Cartouche

Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

It’s day 2 of my 3 Day Quote Challenge, for which I thank La Sabrosona.

For two decades, I looked at this quote almost every day of my working life. The pictured cartouche adorned the gallery of Jordanhill Library where I worked – it wasn’t original to Jordanhill, but came from one of its precursors as a teacher education institution.

Why have I chosen it for this challenge? Three years ago, Jordanhill closed and its courses moved to the main campus of the University of Strathclyde. The university has now announced that the site is ready for sale and will probably be developed for housing. The three red sandstone buildings from the first half of the 20th century will be converted to apartments, and the less attractive 60s and 70s buildings demolished. In the early Spring, I took a walk around to see it as it was for the last time. Except, of course, it wasn’t as it was.

I entered by the front gate where the Principal’s house still peeps through the trees. Less welcoming was the gate across the drive and the overflowing, smelly bin – the campus is obviously still attractive to dog walkers. Eurgh!

The original teaching building, named after 19th century educationalist David Stow, is still beautiful from any angle.

The Henry Wood Building, which housed the library, isn’t – and never was!

The student residences will certainly scrub up well, and they have a beautiful outlook.

The Crawfurd Building looks not too bad from a distance, but its sunken garden is sadly overgrown.

Worst of all is the Smith Building at the back gate – but look! There are still bulbs coming through.

In the old days, the campus would have been a sea of colour with well-tended flower beds, but it’s still pleasantly green and I hope you can see what a lovely place it was to work. But my message is – never go back. The important things carry on – generations of teachers learned to train up a child in the way s/he should go, and they are still learning that today. In the end, that matters far more than the place.

Gallus Glasgow J: Jordanhill

David Stow Building, Jordanhill
David Stow Building, Jordanhill

Jordanhill – what can I say? I arrived there in 1990 to work in Jordanhill College Library (later part of Strathclyde University), a job which I thought I might do for two years or so. Twenty two years later, I had the sad job of closing the library down when the University decided to centralise on one campus. Ah well, life goes on and I look back with happy memories (helped by the fact that I documented the closure pretty thoroughly on social media) but no regrets.

Those memories came in handy last year. There aren’t many “J”s to choose from in Glasgow, and Rosemary Cunningham has also used Jordanhill for her (extremely gallusGlasgow Alphabet. When she was creating the map to go with it, she wanted to talk to one person from each place – and there I am, quoted on the back of it. Fame!

Glasgow Alphabet map
Glasgow Alphabet map

Part of the campus had been sold off for housing some years before closure and now the rest of it is up for sale. The three original buildings, including the David Stow above, will be converted into apartments and the rest will be flattened for new build. I recently took a nostalgic walk to the old place to see it again before it becomes unrecognisable, and will blog about that after the challenge.

The next A to Z post, K, is on Monday when I’ll take you to the river.

A tale of two unis

Last weekend, my sister and her younger daughter were visiting, staying with my parents. It’s hard to find activities which everyone from 13 to 85 can join in with, but we scored an unexpected hit with…… universities! This wasn’t as dull as it sounded. I work for Strathclyde University Library at its Jordanhill Campus, which is a lovely parkland site in the West End of Glasgow. My Mum and Dad have never been there and, as the campus is closing in the summer, I wanted them to see where I worked before it disappeared. Jordanhill was originally a teacher education college (read about its origins in Wikipedia), starting in this building, the David Stow, in 1921:

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Subsequent building has not been as attractive! The Library is housed in the Henry Wood Building:

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Inside, the Library is more visually pleasing though:

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And the campus is lovely, here’s the sunken garden for example, outside the Crawfurd Building:

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This was such a success that we repeated the exercise the next day at Glasgow University where John is Head of the School of Engineering. It is very historic, dating from 1451, though has only been on its current site since the nineteenth century:

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We visited, amongst other things, the recently-refurbished Hunterian Museum…….

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…….and an engineering lab, also recently refurbished:

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Again, the campus as a whole is lovely with the historic cloisters…..

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……and views across the park to Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery:

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My niece seemed to enjoy herself (well she didn’t complain), especially standing at the microphone in a lecture theatre and giving us all a talk. She went away with bags of freebies: badges and bookmarks etc, including some for her big sister who had been left at home studying for her GCSEs. So there you are: how to entertain your teenage niece in one easy lesson. Take her to university!