Glasgow canal walks

Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill Locks
Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill Locks
The Forth and Clyde Canal runs very close to our house and we love it for a Sunday afternoon stroll. We have three choices – east, west or the spur that runs into the city centre. I’ve already written about the spur (here) so this post will cover the east and west walks we took in November. Now, you will probably guess that the photograph above does not show Glasgow in November! That was in June, but it’s the only time I’ve ever seen boats going through any of the canal locks so I wanted to include it.

Let’s walk east first. We join the canal at Maryhill where there used to be interesting, if not infamous, buildings above its banks such as the Glasgow Magdalene Institution for the Repression of Vice and Reformation of Penitent Females. Yes, really! Shockingly, this only closed in the late 1950s after a number of inmates escaped, leading to an investigation into their (mis)treatment. Today, the site is covered in houses with a golf course on the other bank, so nothing very picturesque. The camera only comes out when we reach Lambhill Stables.

The Stables were built around 1830 when horses pulling barges were the main means of moving goods along the canal. Today they have been restored as a community facility with a café, heritage displays and a garden. The Stables are closed on Sundays, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. First, there is the memorial to the Cadder Pit Disaster of 1913.

A stroll round the garden results in some unexpected sightings. A robot in Lambhill!

Through a gap in the hedge at the back there are good views towards Possil Loch and the Campsie Fells.

Back on the canal towpath, we walk a little further then turn into Possil Marsh and Loch nature reserve – though there is so much marsh that we don’t actually see the loch again, as the track can only go round the very edge of the site. We do see, through another hedge gap, the splendid entrance (James Sellars, 1881) to Lambhill Cemetery and the plaque to commemorate the Possil High Meteorite which fell nearby in 1804. (This photo is a cheat, taken from an earlier walk. I couldn’t make the writing on the plaque legible, even in close-up, so I thought you might as well have a long view with the bonus of John).

It gets dark very early in winter, and the sun was setting as we walked back home.

A couple of weekends later, we set off west to walk another section of canal. Once again, it’s quite built up but there are times when you can pretend you are in the country. Not when you see a Saltire-painted tarpaulin and Nessie on the opposite bank though! And a curious cat who probably has as little idea about what is going on as we do.

It’s also easy to link up a canal walk with the River Kelvin Walkway. Here’s one we did in October, taking in the Botanic Gardens and its Arboretum.

Finally, you never know what you might come across on the canal. One of my volunteer “jobs” is leading walks from Maryhill Health Centre (aimed, for example, at people giving up smoking or finishing physiotherapy) and sometimes we have pop-up artists. Below, you can see members of the delightful Joyous Choir living up to their name and a small ceilidh band. Shortly after this picture was taken we danced The Gay Gordons up and down the towpath which prompted a certain amount of curious windae-hingin’ (hanging out of windows) on the adjacent Maryhill Road. It was fun!

This post seems to have got out of hand and strayed away from the original east-west walk! I kept thinking of more to add. Expect more rag-bag posts in the New Year as I clear out photos and ideas that didn’t get used in 2016. Linking this one to Jo’s Monday Walks. Her latest is about Roker Beach and Park where I spent many happy hours as a child.

Street art: Maryhill

Gallery 1: Murals

After I wrote my last post about Mary Hill, I thought I’d add something about the street art around the area. These murals first appeared during last year’s A to Z Challenge as part of Gallus Glasgow S: Street art.

Gallery 2: The Hub at Wyndford

I’ve often walked past this building and spotted the red banner on the brick wall in the first photograph below. Recently, I walked round the other side to see what else was there. A valiant attempt has been made to cheer up this rather run-down former school which is now being used as a community hub. I don’t think there are any tigers locally, but the buildings in the final two photographs are recognisably Glasgow. The one I’ve highlighted is the Armadillo, which also featured in last year’s challenge.

Gallery 3: Maryhill Locks

These railings run between the canal and the road at Maryhill Locks. They were designed by Catherine Rozdoba-Hallows and made and installed by the Maryhill fabrication company Scott Associates. I couldn’t decide which I liked best, so have included them all! They tell the history of Maryhill and the industries which grew up along the canal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at this area of Glasgow which doesn’t normally feature on the tourist trail.

People Make Glasgow: Mary Hill

Maryhill Burgh Halls
Maryhill Burgh Halls

Today is the day when many of my blogging friends are revealing their A to Z Challenge themes. I had a brilliant idea for a theme, based on the success of last year’s Gallus Glasgow. (Actually, what I mean is that pal Helen MacKinven had the brilliant idea for me. Check out her site if you want to see a poodle in pink shades.) People make Glasgow is the city’s current marketing slogan, and the idea was to choose some of the city’s historical figures to show how they still influence Glasgow today. The downside is that I left the research too late and had too many letters missing, so it’s going to appear as an occasional series instead. This is the first.

One way of influencing a city is to have part of it named after you – impressive! Mary Hill (1730-1809) and her husband, Robert Graham, inherited the Gairbraid Estate because Mary’s father, Hew Hill, had no male heirs. Mary and Robert ran into money troubles after speculating in coal-mining, but their big break came when parliament approved the planning of the route of the Forth & Clyde Canal in 1768, which went through the estate. They were compensated for this and once the canal was completed, around 1790, their land along the canal suddenly became much more valuable and they sold it with the condition that if a town was to develop in the area it would be named after Mary.

Maryhill became a burgh in 1856 and was incorporated into the City of Glasgow 1891. Its Burgh Halls were built in 1878, fell into disrepair in the 1960s and were rescued and reopened in 2012. A major factor in raising money for the refurbishment was the stained glass – 20 panels featuring the small industries and factories in 1870s Maryhill. Normally, stained glass is seen in churches and palaces, so I think it was visionary for the time to create windows showing ordinary people in their ordinary working clothes going about their daily tasks.

Maryhill Burgh Halls stained glass
Iron moulders and calico printers

I live very close to Maryhill, and since last autumn I’ve been volunteering as a Heritage Tour Guide at the Burgh Halls, on both the general tour and the Women of Maryhill tour which I’ve researched and developed myself. I graduated in history a very long time ago and I’m really enjoying being able to put that to use in retirement. You can see me (red stripey jumper) at the tour launch below …

… and enjoying tea and scones with some of the participants after the most recent tour on Saturday.

If you’re in and around Glasgow, keep an eye on the Maryhill Burgh Halls website for news of more tours and events.

 

A Glasgow canal walk

Glasgow's canals guideThe Forth and Clyde Canal, which runs sea-to-sea between the two rivers, has passed through Glasgow since the eighteenth century, though it ceased to be navigable in 1963. However, the multi-million Millennium Link Project saw it reopen in 2000/2001. Inspired by the Maryhill Walking Trails and Glasgow’s Canals Unlocked booklets, we set off on Sunday to walk from home to the end of the spur leading into the city centre. There is still some dereliction alongside the banks, but there is also green space and some (for Glasgow) quite exotic-looking new housing. The booklets helped us imagine how the canal would have been in years gone by, with a multitude of industries using its waters: iron, lead, rubber, oil, glass and timber were all produced here.

Maryhill walks guide

We joined the canal at the nearest point to our house at Kelvindale. The photos will guide you along the same route that we took.

Soon after joining the canal, we reached our first aqueduct. The rest crossed roads, but this one straddled the Kelvin. The disused piers in the river once carried railway lines across it.

River Kelvin from the aqueduct
River Kelvin from the aqueduct

Next, we reached Maryhill Locks –

Maryhill Locks
Maryhill Locks

– and not long after that, we left the towpath temporarily to visit Maryhill Burgh Halls for a delicious lunch at the Clean Plates Café. When opened in 1878, the halls had 20 stained glass panels depicting the trades then carried out in Maryhill, and eleven of the panels are now back on display. The walks booklets point out where the scenes from the stained glass might have taken place. More modern is this panel showing the different trades’ badges.

Maryhill Trades
Maryhill Trades

Back on the canal, we soon reached Murano Street Student Village, site of a former glassworks. Apparently, Maryhill was once called the Venice of Glasgow on the grounds that it has a canal and a glassworks named after the famous Murano works. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but we’d already passed the Mondrian Flats which looked very European to me, so I was beginning to wonder if we really were still in Glasgow.

Mondrian Flats
Mondrian Flats

We took another detour at Firhill up a steep path to the flag pole atop Ruchill Park. From here, Glasgow University dominated the view. Nearby, the 165-foot high water tower (1892) is almost all that now remains of Ruchill Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Glasgow University from Ruchill Park
Glasgow University from Ruchill Park
Ruchill Watertower
Ruchill Water Tower

Continuing along the banks, the University remained prominent and we met several swans.

Glasgow University from the canal
Glasgow University from the canal
One swan!
One swan!
Two swans!
Two swans!

We passed Firhill, home of Glasgow’s other football club (i.e. the one that’s not Celtic or Rangers), Partick Thistle, commonly known as the Jags.

The Jags!
The Jags!

The picturesque Applecross Workshops are probably the oldest remaining buildings on any canal in Scotland.

Applecross Workshops
Applecross Workshops

Spiers Wharf, formerly mills and a sugar refinery, was converted into flats in the 1990s. The blue painted shop front is Ocho where we stopped for a coffee.

Spiers Wharf
Spiers Wharf
Spiers Wharf
Ocho at Spiers Wharf

Just after this, the canal spur ends in a huge construction site which will soon be Pinkston Paddlesports Centre. After having a look at that, we retraced our steps to Spiers Wharf and took the path down to Cowcaddens from where we could get the Subway home. The underpass here is decorated with 50 Phoenix Flowers, called after the former Phoenix Park which was destroyed to create the M8 motorway above.

Phoenix Flowers
Phoenix Flowers

Before leaving Cowcaddens, we took some photographs of Dundas Court, formerly Dundas Vale College and before that the Normal School for the Training of Teachers (1837), a precursor of Jordanhill College where I worked for over 20 years. It’s now offices.

Dundas Court
Dundas Court

An urban walk can be just as enjoyable as a country walk – I feel I learned a lot about my home city on this one.

Stained glass and puppets

We’ve lived in our present house for nearly twenty years, and every time we leave it we pass this at the end of the road, yet we’ve never been in:

20120915-194714.jpg

Doors Open Day seemed a good chance to rectify this so we visited on Saturday morning. The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre has existed since 1981 and has been in its current premises (an old council cleansing depot) since 1989. It’s a lot more attractive inside than it looks from the outside! They do puppet shows, birthday parties, workshops with schools, exhibitions, training and much more – check the website for details. We met founder Malcolm Knight, manager Sarah Lee and Ken Barnard who, at 90 years old, is still carving marionettes in the workshop. Definitely worth a visit, especially for those with small children.

The Theatre and the masks on its walls:

20120915-200636.jpg

20120915-233840.jpg

20120915-233858.jpg

The Café and exhibition area:

20120915-234005.jpg

20120915-234154.jpg

In the workshops:

20120915-234324.jpg

20120915-234414.jpg

20120915-234859.jpg

20120915-234916.jpg

20120915-234930.jpg

After this, it was on to Maryhill Burgh Halls, which I blogged about on an earlier visit. This time they had special events on for Doors Open Day and we went to a talk by Alec Galloway on the stained glass, old and new. When opened in 1878, the halls had 20 stained glass panels by Stephen Adam, depicting the trades then carried out in Maryhill. It must have been a hive of activity. Ten of the panels are now back on display – here are a couple of examples, the Iron Moulders and the Calico Printers:

20120916-125727.jpg

What surprised me is that there seems to be no documentation from the time to identify the exact locations and the people depicted in the panels, and no pictures of them in their original positions in the Hall. Research has come up with some likely possibilities and there’s an interesting booklet you can pick up to read about it. There’s also a display in the foyer of miniature replicas of all 20 panels set against a map showing roughly where the businesses were that they are thought to represent. What is known, is that they were ahead of their time, as most stained glass at this time was in churches and showed religious subjects. I think their simplicity is modern too, and you would not be surprised if you were told these were the new designs.

Alec went on to talk about the new panels which he designed and created. The brief was to reflect Maryhill as it is today, but not to replicate the style of the original glass. After much research and workshops with local people, not to mention time spent in Jaconnelli’s café, ten themes emerged for the panes. Techniques used included screenprinting photographs onto the glass with fascinating results – as with the original glass, you can pick up a booklet in the halls to find out more. Here are the Space Age and Regeneration panels:

20120916-230635.jpg

The first has a QR code in the corner, which actually works, making it possibly the first interactive stained glass panel in the world.

Because we had other things going on over the weekend, that was all the Doors Open we had time for this year, but we made the most of what we had and learned a lot from both visits as well as enjoying them.

Maryhill Burgh Halls

20120815-184405.jpg

Maryhill is an area of Glasgow close to where we live which, although not particularly touristy, has some interesting developments going on. It dates from the coming of the canals in the 1790s and was called after Mary Hill who, with her husband Robert Graham, sold the first land for the township in 1791. Today’s destination was the former Burgh Halls, opened originally in April 1878 along with the adjacent police station, and derelict for many years before being sold to a Trust which raised the funds to reopen them earlier this year (although there’s still work going on on the roadway outside as you can see above). Today, the buildings house the main hall, meeting rooms, offices, a cafe and much more. For further information about the halls, including pictures of the stained glass, both original and modern, see the Trust’s website – there’s also a walking trail round more of Maryhill which I hope to follow very soon. Today, there was just time for lunch with a friend.

We entered through the gates below, which lead into a courtyard which was once the site of the Maryhill Fire Station. New gates by Andy Scott depict period firemen and their equipment. To the left is the Maryhill Leisure Centre, refurbished from the old Baths and Washouses (1898). However, we turned to the right to the Halls and the Cafe.

20120815-191701.jpg

The Clean Plates Cafe is part of the Grassroots Organics family. It serves soup, sandwiches and a few other dishes. I had a hummus and aubergine sandwich and David had the aubergine skewers, both delicious. For future reference, I noted the presence of an all-day veggie breakfast ……….hmm, tempting. Upstairs, there were some old pub signs on display:

20120815-193717.jpg

20120815-193737.jpg

From the top picture, you can just see down into the cafe. This sign once sat on metal rails above the entrance to the Olde Tramcar Vaults and the soldier in his sentry box sat outside the HLI (Highland Light Infantry who used to be stationed at the nearby barracks).

Finally, we nipped across the road to Maryhill Library, a 1905 Carnegie library which also has interesting local history displays. I liked the report of its opening from the Daily Record and Mail in which the Lord Provost described libraries as “avenues of knowledge and wealth” and “potent factors in the destiny of a nation.” If only this spirit were alive in more places today.

All the buildings I’ve mentioned are listed, and all appear in the Maryhill Trail. A late breakfast in the cafe, followed by a couple of hours walking the trail could be a really good way of spending a Saturday morning. Watch this space!