SOCK: Somme Observed Community Knitting

Somme Observed Community Knitting
Somme Observed Community Knitting at the People’s Palace

The railings on either side of Glasgow’s People’s Palace are festooned with colourful blankets at the moment. During the First World War, Queen Mary’s Appeal for Knitters exhorted the women of Britain to produce 300,000 pairs of socks and 300,000 woollen belts for soldiers, a target which they exceeded. This inspired current members of Glasgow Knit and Stitch to form SOCK – Somme Observed Community Knitting – as an appropriate way to commemorate both the soldiers of Glasgow’s three Pals Regiments who took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the women at home who knitted for them.

Each knitted or crocheted square represents one soldier – about 3,700 in all. Come September, the blankets will be cleaned and given to local charities working with refugees and homeless people.

What a tremendous idea – a memorial with a practical use afterwards. Thanks to Beverly McFarlane, one of the knitters, for alerting me to it.

Somme Observed Community Knitting

January: Winter Gardens

People's Palace and Winter Gardens
People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, Glasgow

The picture above has appeared on this blog before, but I’m recycling it for Jude’s new Garden Challenge. Her theme for January is Winter Gardens – head to her blog the earth laughs in flowers to see her own entry, and check the comments for others.

What I haven’t shown you before are these photos of the inside of the Winter Gardens, two of which were taken from the balcony on the top floor of the People’s Palace. It’s very green and more spacious than it looks. I’ve been to a conference reception in the paths and clearings amongst the plants, and the café area – which just creeps into one shot – can be hired for weddings, graduation dinners and so on.

If it’s colour you’re after, head west to the Botanic Gardens where the hothouses are a delight in any season. Reds everywhere at Christmas! Disclosure: I’m far too impatient to take photos like these. All credit to John.

Or how about this? Between Christmas and New Year we had a short break at the Forest Hills Hotel near Kinlochard, which has beautiful grounds and gardens. When we arrived, it was dark and festively lit.

And it was lovely in a different way by day.

We had some rather damp walks when we were at Kinlochard – more on them to follow tomorrow.

Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace

People's Palace and Winter Gardens
People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

Glasgow Green is our oldest park, established in the 15th century. It’s also home to the People’s Palace (social history museum) with its magnificent Winter Gardens. Other landmarks include the Nelson Monument (1806, thus predating Nelson’s Column in London by three decades), the William Collins Fountain commemorating a 19th century Lord Provost (Mayor) and the McLennan Arch, a remnant of Assembly Rooms which were demolished in 1890. The arch has led a peripatetic existence since, landing in its current position in 1991.

On our last visit, we had a specific object in mind. The People’s Palace was hosting the five shortlisted maquettes for a proposed statue of Mary Barbour, a social activist who led the Glasgow rent strikes in 1915. These two were my favourites  – read more and see the other maquettes on Adventures of a Retired Librarian.

When we emerged, dusk was falling. The Doulton Fountain in front of the Palace looked spectacular.

Doulton Fountain
Doulton Fountain

By this time, we were hearing the siren voice of WEST Brewery, housed in the Templeton’s building. We didn’t resist.

An hour later, we re-emerged to find the Palace and fountain had taken on a ghostly appearance. Or was that just the beer? You decide!

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain
People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Bench series: Alex Harvey

Alex Harvey bench, Winter Gardens, People's Palace, Glasgow
Alex Harvey bench, Winter Gardens, People’s Palace, Glasgow

I had neither camera nor my photography expert with me when I went to see the Sensational Alex Harvey‘s bench in the Winter Gardens at Glasgow’s People’s Palace, so please forgive the iPad pictures. This is for Jude’s Bench Series – her November theme is benches with messages.

Alex gets two messages. First, the inscription on the back:

The last of the teenage idols
The last of the teenage idols
Let me put my hands on you
Let me put my hands on you

There’s also a plaque with his dates of birth and death, and a bust in the garden behind the bench.

Finally, before leaving the Gardens, I spotted this from George and Irene. Have a nice day!

People’s Palace bench

People's Palace bench
People’s Palace bench

On a recent visit to Glasgow Green, I spotted this unusual wooden bench in the garden outside the People’s Palace. I don’t remember noticing it before, nor the statue of the Pied Piper (shown below with the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory in the background), but that’s probably just me being unobservant. Coincidentally, I had just read that Jude at Travel Words was looking for wooden benches for her monthly Bench Series, so I thought I’d enter that for the first time.

So what was I doing on Glasgow Green? I’d arrived for a rehearsal for March of Women, an adaptation of a suffragette pageant that I was taking part in to mark International Women’s Day. John McPhun, a timber merchant and East End councillor, helped to found the People’s Palace in the 1890s. His daughters inherited his sense of social justice and became suffragettes. Two of them – Margaret and Frances – were imprisoned in Holloway and subjected to force-feeding. They were featured in March of Women, played by Maggie McDonald and Teresa Cresswell respectively.

Interested? There’s a full account of March of Women on my other blog, Adventures of a Retired Librarian.

The People’s Palace

The People’s Palace is Glasgow’s social history museum. My latest visit was with Glasgow Women’s Library’s Seeing Things project – although I’ve been many times before, it was interesting to visit the Palace with a group and get different people’s take on the exhibits. Here’s what caught my eye.

Glasgow’s Doors Open 2013

Doors Open Days happen throughout September in different cities in Scotland – this last weekend it was Glasgow’s event and we went exploring on Sunday, concentrating our efforts on the area near Glasgow Green between the City Centre and the East End.

Glasgow Green

It was a lovely day so we wandered round the Green first – it’s home to a beautifully restored fountain, the People’s Palace and the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory (modelled on the Doge’s Palace, no less). The latter is now an office block and also houses WEST Brewery, which proved to be an excellent stop for lunch. So it was almost 2.30pm before we got going on Doors Open proper. Oh dear….

The Pipe Factory

As with Templeton’s above, this building features intricate and ornate brickwork. I’d never heard of it before – this was its first outing in Doors Open – but it was originally a clay pipe factory (nothing to do with bagpipes as I thought it might be) and is now home to a group of architects, writers and artist who are turning it into studios. The group has kept the Pipe Factory name.

Barrowland Ballroom

As we left the Pipe factory, I overheard a young woman excitedly telling her friend about another Doors Open she had discovered just round the corner: an old ballroom. I though to myself “new student, not been here long” because the Barrowland is a Glasgow legend. It’s now a rock venue, and as seedy as they come: even during the day, entering the black, windowless bar felt like descending into hell! This was a rare chance to see backstage – and to discover that the stars don’t enjoy much more luxury than the punters. I think the pictures flatter it (the exterior shot at night is from a previous visit). If all this sounds as though I hate it, I don’t, I love it. Our next date with Barrowland is next month (Nick Cave).

The Barony

The Barony, formerly a church, completed in 1890, is now the ceremonial hall of the University of Strathclyde. Despite having worked for the University for 20 years I had never been in, so this filled a gap in my education. By this time, everything was starting to close so we wended our way home to rest our weary feet.