Streets of Glasgow: Washington Street

Washington Street: the words Washington Street carved into a red brick building with two windows above and below.​
Washington Street: the words Washington Street carved into a red brick building with two windows above and below.
Washington Street: tall buildings on either side of a street with lower buildings further along on the left.​
Washington Street: tall buildings on either side of a street with lower buildings further along on the left.

It was hot and sunny in the big city and I was there for lunch and to see a brand new mural. I had already seen it from the train but wanted to see it up close so off I went through the business district, quiet a lot of the time right now but particularly on a public holiday, to Washington Street. I recognised the hotel but hadn’t noticed the old school house nor the business units next door. The latter had the look of the main stand at Ibrox, all imposing in red brick, and I could hear folk talking and generic bass-heavy noise from somewhere. I could see the river and I knew walking along that what I was looking for was on the right. Once I noticed it, I walked to the end of the street anyway before turning back to see what I had come to see, a mural put there by Adidas in honour of the Scotland men’s team qualifying for the Euros. It’s coming hame, all right. Since I don’t do well with the heat, hame felt like a great place to be heading rather than further into the city. I settled for the Broomielaw, making the most of high buildings and the shade they offered.

Thanks for reading. This is the eighty ninth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured here include Argyle Street and Waterloo Street. The Broomielaw featured in Intercity as well. All parts of the Streets series can be found on its very own page.

Streets of Glasgow: Parnie Street

Parnie Street: a street sign with Parnie Street on it on a red and brown building.​
Parnie Street: a street sign with Parnie Street on it on a red and brown building.
Parnie Street: a city street taken from a low angle. To the left is a camera shop and scaffolding beyond.​
Parnie Street: a city street taken from a low angle. To the left is a camera shop and scaffolding beyond.

Parnie Street had been on the Streets of Glasgow possible list for a while but it became a definite when I was on King Street and had business in the area. I liked the name but all I knew about it was that it was once the home of the Glasgow Women’s Library, which is now in Bridgeton. It goes around the back of quite a few cultural institutions, including Streetlevel Photoworks and the Tron Theatre with a skull carved into the side of that building. I averted my eyes and moved on. By the sign which still denotes the Glasgow Women’s Library was another for a company selling school uniforms. It was a bit old-fashioned. A camera shop sold lens and proper apparatus for proper cameras as well as badges. Sadly Esca is now defunct, an Italian restaurant where I have good memories of a pre-COVID age. Two office chairs were plonked at a suitable social distance outside another shop, which was a suitably bonkers Glaswegian touch. Parnie Street had the air of a back street which has known better days and that sense only became more acute with the amount of bars and restaurants still closed due to restrictions. We have to believe that there will be better days ahead.

Thanks for reading. This is the eighty-sixth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured here include King Street, Trongate, Argyle Street and St. Andrews Street, which follows here next week. The Streets of Glasgow page has a complete list.

Streets of Glasgow: Parson Street

Streets of Glasgow: Parson Street, from the blog.  Image description: a street sign with Parson Street written on it. The sign is on a lamp post with blue sky behind.
Parson Street: a street sign with Parson Street written on it. The sign is on a lamp post with blue sky behind.
Parson Street: a church and three-storey building to the right, a red three-storey building to the left, a tower block and trees ahead.​
Parson Street: a church and three-storey building to the right, a red three-storey building to the left, a tower block and trees ahead.

Between the two parts of Glebe Street, I turned the corner and walked the equally short Parson Street, home to St. Mungo’s RC Church, the church house and the Martyr’s School, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Aye, him. He got around. He was actually born on Parson Street in 1868, the street looking much different then as much as Townhead would have, not divided by a motorway or with tenements all levelled, as it is today. There is a plinth that notes Mackintosh’s origins in the area, which thoughtfully shows a map of what the area would have looked like at the time. On the day I was there, two books had been left on the plinth, both new, both quite appropriate for these times and for Mackintosh himself. I’m not sure why they were there but I hope someone benefits from them. The Martyr’s School, a tall, imposing Mackintosh school, is a decent looking building and now houses Council offices so it isn’t normally open all that often. The church across the street was to be open for private prayer later, as the regulations then allowed, and I looked at it for a moment, a crucifix tall and high across the front, its elegant golden sandstone glistening in the cold spring sunshine. It is home to a Passionist congregation, their mark also on the neighbouring church house, high up, and it is one of few surviving buildings in Townhead which survived the 1960s. The three on Parson Street are all imposing buildings, pillars of society in a quiet, secluded street right at the heart of the city.

Thanks for reading. This is the eighty third Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured here previously include Glebe Street, Cathedral Street and Alexandra Parade. The other posts in the series appear on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Streets of Glasgow: Glebe Street

Glebe Street sign: a street sign saying Glebe St. above a sign pointing right towards St. Mungo’s Church.​
Glebe Street sign: a street sign saying Glebe St. above a sign pointing right towards St. Mungo’s Church.
Glebe Street: looking up a street towards trees with the side of a church to the left. The sky is blue with several white clouds.​
Glebe Street: looking up a street towards trees with the side of a church to the left. The sky is blue with several white clouds.

For many Scots, I suspect their first thought when they hear ‘Glebe Street’ is the Broons. The Broons, stalwarts of The Sunday Post, live on Glebe Street and it is quite a common Scottish street name. A glebe is a park linked to a church – there’s a Glebe in my home town, for example – and it’s only natural that the Glaswegian Glebe Street runs right by a church and is very close to another. Much of Glebe Street runs by the side of St. Mungo’s RC Church, a church dating back to 1841, designed by George Goldie. What I didn’t realise until I walked towards the Necropolis later is that Glebe Street continues at the other side of Stirling Road, a spur of a traffic junction leading to the Royal Infirmary. There is a defunct shop on a traffic island and daffodils on the verges. The church has cool decorative touches on the Glebe Street side and I admired those for the few moments it took to walk by it. On the other side of the road is St. Mungo’s Primary School with coloured-in Easter eggs hung on the railings when I was there. A guy was walking his dug on the other side of the street. Since Townhead has changed very drastically since the 1960s, it is hardly a surprise that the street is dissected by another main road and the noise of the nearby M8 is ever present. Materially, it isn’t much, two bits of street with a path in between them but architecturally there’s a church, a Rennie Mackintosh building across the way (the Martyr’s School, which I’ll cover in Parson Street next week), the Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Cathedral peeking out, so as the Broons might say, it’s fair braw.

Thanks for reading. This is the eighty second Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets covered here include Cathedral Street, Alexandra Parade and Parson Street, which follows here next week. All of the posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Union Canal

It feels particularly apposite to write about the Union in a week when very big Union flags have been in the news but this is about the far nicer prospect of the Union Canal, not the antics of certain clowns down at Westminster. It feels only right since I wrote about the Forth and Clyde Canal last week. The Union Canal runs from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh through the west of the capital and West Lothian out to Falkirk. I mostly know the Edinburgh section as far as Slateford, where it meets the Water of Leith, a waterway covered here a couple of weeks ago. The last time I was along there was a year past October when I walked along part of the Canal to Meggetland where the Hibs and Hearts development teams were playing. I think I walked part of the Water of Leith walkway first and remember going through Gorgie on the way. The aqueduct at Slateford is particularly fine – it runs adjacent to the railway and over the Water of Leith – and there’s a set of stairs leading down to the Water of Leith from the Canal. Fountainbridge has been poshed up in the last twenty years or so with offices and restaurants scattered around the side of the canal.

Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.​
Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.

I was just thinking about the Forth and Clyde and Port Dundas which is in Glasgow. Port Hamilton is the name of the area of Edinburgh at Fountainbridge and I wondered who Hamilton was. It was the Duke of Hamilton of the day, of course, and the Port there was built from 1818-1822, so Canmore tells me, to support Port Hopetoun, which was closer to Lothian Road. Canals were much more important then for industry and commerce at a time when railways were much more limited and roads were much less reliable. Port Hamilton was more for coal, while Port Hopetoun had a broader range of things going on. Port Hopetoun was filled in during the 1920s and its site is now a cinema.

As I said, I don’t really know the Union Canal outside of Edinburgh aside from its western terminus at the Falkirk Wheel. That even includes the section in Linlithgow, a town I know quite well. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to remedy that soon, especially since the John Muir Way runs by the side of the Canal in that part of the world. I realised just now, looking at a map of the John Muir Way, that I do know the Union Canal as it passes over the Muiravonside Country Park near Linlithgow – the same place where I learned what an aqueduct was. I always thought aqueducts were cool, a wonderful effort of engineering. Thankfully there’s quite a few along the Union Canal, making it of architectural interest, as much of history and natural beauty in many parts.

Thanks for reading. A piece about the North Sea will follow next week.

Saturday Saunter: Maps, bings and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been a beautiful day here in Glasgow, sunny and quite pleasantly warm. Very Spring-like. Whether it will still be like that on Saturday as this is posted, who knows. I imagine as this is posted that I will be easing my way into the day gently before watching the football. As well as the Livingston-Hibs game, this weekend sees the return of League 1 and League 2 in Scotland after a couple of months hiatus, undoubtedly a good thing and more relevant than a certain game taking place at Parkhead this weekend.

Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.​
Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.

Maps have helped many of us through the last year of not being able to travel as much as we might like. I have a few, including a decent wedge of Ordnance Survey maps covering most of Scotland. Hopefully I will be able to use some after 26th April. The Ordnance Survey seem to have had a similar thought, taking the opportunity to ask its mailing list’s subscribers where they want to walk to once lockdown has concluded. Plus sell them maps. As for me, I will be consulting the Urban Nature map of Glasgow that I acquired recently and seeing where I could go for a walk in the meantime. For example, I had a very cool walk in Rosshall Park the other day and it felt a lot further out of the city than it actually is. Over the last year I have got to know some incredible places here in the city and even when it is possible to travel, I hope to still be a regular in quite a few of Glasgow’s fine parks.

The Guardian published an article about the bings of West Lothian, heaps of spoil from industrial workings that dominate the landscape, visible from the motorway and the railway. West Lothian is quite a fascinating part of the world, encompassing both the old Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, born in the Palace by the Peel and Loch, and the New Town of Livingston, with its many roundabouts and football team who play at a stadium named after an Italian restaurant. The bings symbolise the depth of industrial history of the area, of shale and coal mining, and the Shale Trail looks like it will be a good addition to the area, using modern technology to tell the tales of the local area as people walk or cycle along the 16-mile route.

I’ve read quite a bit in the last few days. I’ve finished Nick Hewer’s autobiography and Antlers of Water, the anthology of Scottish nature writing I started last week. Antlers of Water is immense, very varied with poetry and all parts of Scotland covered by its various writers. Nick Hewer I enjoyed more as I got going as he talked about his journeys to farflung parts of the globe including Mongolia and Sierra Leone. I’ve been working between two books this week, the Eric Stevenson book I started a couple of weeks ago and Hidden London, about the abandoned and disused parts of the London Underground. My to-read shelf has two football books and a nature book so we’ll see I’m in the mood for next.

Before I go today, I’ve been thinking about how to write about the news of the weekend. I came to the conclusion that my voice is much less relevant than those of others. One is the mother of Moira Jones, who made a thoughtful statement on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th March 2021. Thanks for reading. A post will follow on Wednesday but I’m not sure what that’ll be just yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Trails

I was going through books recently and came across a bunch of Heritage Trail leaflets for different parts of Glasgow. The ones I’ve found are Pollokshaws, Crookston and Langside, all south of the river, though the Council have trails for quite a few parks and parts of the city on their website. There is also the St. Mungo Trail but that encompasses Traprain Law, Culross and various other places most definitely not in the City of Glasgow local authority area as well as Glasgow Cathedral, which is, thankfully. The Urban Nature map of Glasgow which I acquired recently shows parks, playing fields and public transport links though historical places is a wee bit beyond it. The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for Glasgow (342) covers a lot of those though covering every historical place in Glasgow would need either a rather big map or teeny tiny writing. Glasgow has a very varied history and a lot of it is covered by themed trails and tours, such as those for football and the many from the Glasgow Women’s Library. There will probably be quite a lot of folk who have been doing the same walk throughout the various lockdowns over the last year and they will no doubt be experts on their particular patch and could do tours. ‘On your left is a kitchen showroom with a display showing the time, date and temperature. I was here when it was 27 degrees and when it was below freezing.’ ‘Ahead of you is a railway bridge conveying trains between Glasgow and Inverclyde and Ayrshire. The railway was opened in the 1840s.’ The mind boggles.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green ​roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.
Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.

I might follow one of the ones nearest me one day soon and see where I end up, maybe Bellahouston Park’s one which talks a lot about the sculptures around the park.

A lot of cities and towns have a trail to follow so see if there’s one near you. If possible, follow it and see what you come up with. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday Saunter: Tree roots, maps and old football grounds

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Wednesday with The Chase on in the background for that’s how I roll. Not sure what I’m going to write this time but you can be assured that there will be no mention of the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton, a certain ex-morning TV presenter or of the scenes around Glasgow after a certain football team won the Scottish Premiership. As this is posted, I will probably be easing my way gently into the morning before watching the Hibs play Ross County later.

I’m now continuing this on Friday night with Dr Janina Ramirez on in the background talking about Turkey. I’ve been listening to a few virtual talks in the last couple of days as well as audio books and a radio documentary. The other night I listened to a documentary on Radio 3 about Fanny Dickens, Charles Dickens’s older sister, who was a particularly accomplished musician and, unusually for the mid-19th century, her parents paid for her to get an education. Coincidentally I was listening to an art lecture earlier about 1920s Scottish art and David Young Cameron was mentioned, as was his sister, Katharine Cameron, who was also a painter though again much less recognised. I also listened to a talk put on by the Bodleian Library in Oxford featuring Jim Akerman of the Newberry Library in Chicago and he talked about maps and how they relate to American identity, discussing travel by various groups for various purposes, including safe places for African American people to stay and travel to in the 1930s as well as the Underground Railroad.

 East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.​
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.

While I have books on the go, I have been reading more magazines and audio books recently. I think both have their merits – in short, when it comes to reading, it all counts. I got my copy of the latest edition of When Saturday Comes the other day and read most of it in a single sitting, particularly interested in articles about commentators’ notes, the abuse that James McClean receives for choosing not to wear a poppy, and football stadiums which are no longer used for football. That last article suggests preserving parts of stadiums in whatever developments spring up on their site, for remembrance or just to preserve the heritage of the place. It shows Highbury, the former Arsenal ground which is now flats, and I can confirm that the development there is sympathetically done. It’s more unusual for traces of grounds to remain in any other way than a token memorial or street names. The Morrisons supermarket that sits on the site of Brockville, Falkirk’s old ground, is cool and has an old turnstile in the car park and Falkirk-themed photos around the walls of the shop. The only ones I know in Scotland that are still in situ are Cathkin Park, the second Hampden and former home of Third Lanark, and Firs Park, once East Stirling’s ground which is now derelict. I watched a YouTube video about Firs Park recently.

Despite growing up in East Lothian, I cannot claim to have explored every corner of my home county and of course I can’t go there at the moment. One place I haven’t visited is Inveresk Lodge Garden, a garden in Inveresk, just outside Musselburgh. The new edition of the National Trust for Scotland’s members magazine features an article about it written by Chitra Ramaswamy, for my money one of the finest journalists in Scotland, and there’s a line about lockdown walks that I really like. ‘Familiarity can breed obliviousness as well as contempt’. We don’t always see what’s happening around us, even if we often tread those paths.

Scottish readers will know that we’ve had a lot of rain in the last few days, often heavy showers. That’s okay as we haven’t had a lot of rain recently though of course I have successfully managed not to be caught in it. A couple of times this week I’ve nipped down to Rosshall Park, which is small but has a lot of interest. A few of the trees have deep, sprawling roots spreading down a slope towards the path I was walking on. I spent my last walk with my head up appreciating the varied tree skyline.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 13th March 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. I’ve had a few kind comments about the Rivers post from Wednesday so thanks for those too. Next Wednesday’s post will be about Glasgow and maps. A very good morning to you all. Peace.

Rivers

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about rivers. That’s been fun but I’m going to draw it to a close this week by talking about a range of other rivers that I might not know as well. Some are in England, others closer to home.

Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side ​and Glasgow University tower on the left.
Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side and Glasgow University tower on the left.

Glasgow, of course, has several rivers, including the Clyde, Kelvin and White Cart Water. The Kelvin runs through the west of the city, joining the Clyde by the Riverside Museum. What I didn’t know until just now as the Kelvin went off my map is that it starts near Kilsyth in East Dunbartonshire, stretching for about 22 miles. I know the Kelvin best as it wends through Kelvingrove Park, the University of Glasgow towering above. There it is an elegant river, surrounded by trees and elegant buildings. A riverside walkway does exist, going as far as Milngavie where it links with the West Highland Way, and one day I will try and walk some or all of it.

The White Cart Water runs not far from me; indeed, I caught sight of it earlier today while walking in Rosshall Park. The White Cart Water goes from the Clyde at Renfrew, through Paisley to Crookston and Pollok Country Park, ending at Eaglesham. What comes to mind when I think of the White Cart is the section by Pollok House with a weir and a small waterfall, as well as a pleasant stone bridge linking the park and the nearby golf course. I also think of it passing through Paisley, by the Town Hall, Abbey and Anchor Mill.

Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral ​on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.
Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.

Down south, the Wear brings up Durham, the Cathedral and Castle high above, and Sunderland with an elegant green bridge joining the parts of that city together. The Thames has had a lot of words written about it and I know it right at the heart of London, crossed by many bridges, a dirty big river running through the metropolis. I also think of Mudlarking, the interesting book I read last year about the objects to be found by and in the river.

As a seaside person who now lives in a city, rivers have become ever more important as a way to be beside water as well as appreciate their own merits, whether beside wells, bridges or Magdalen Green. I’m lucky to be near three of them and they bring inspiration and interest in so many ways.

Saturday Saunter: Books and Glasgow views

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been much milder the last couple of days and the snow has melted, which even for me is a good thing. As this is being written I will probably be having a lie in before watching the football later. It’s been a long two weeks since Hibs were last in action, too long.

I’m in one of those modes where I’ve started a whole bunch of books but haven’t finished any of them yet. At current count, I have Nick Hewer’s autobiography, Snapshot by Daniel Gray and Alan McCredie, Rob Roy And All That by Allan Burnett and an audiobook of Alice in Wonderland read by Alan Bennett. I think Alice in Wonderland will be finished first – it was a decent soundtrack for cleaning earlier – and it’s got about 45 minutes left. Nick Hewer is the outgoing host of Countdown, soon to be succeeded by Anne Robinson, and his memoir is arranged by letters rather than chronology. Snapshot I’ve written about before and Rob Roy And All That is a Horrible Histories-type book about one of Scottish history’s foremost figures and one I don’t know much about.

Aberlady Bay: a beach with sand dunes to the left. The sky has low cloud. The sea and land are out to the left in the distance.
Aberlady Bay: a beach with sand dunes to the left. The sky has low cloud. The sea and land are out to the left in the distance.
Hermitage House: a two level house with crenellated battlements. In front is a picnic area and sundial. All around are trees.
Hermitage House: a two level house with crenellated battlements. In front is a picnic area and sundial. All around are trees.
View from Dundee Law to Tannadice and Dens Park: looking from a hill and a trig point over a cityscape including two football grounds towards hills.
View from Dundee Law to Tannadice and Dens Park: looking from a hill and a trig point over a cityscape including two football grounds towards hills.
Falkirk Wheel: looking side-on to a hydraulic boat lift, with cogs and circular motions. There is a low sun to the bottom left.
Falkirk Wheel: looking side-on to a hydraulic boat lift, with cogs and circular motions. There is a low sun to the bottom left.
Bellahouston Park: looking down from a raised white wall over parkland towards trees and a block of flats.
Bellahouston Park: looking down from a raised white wall over parkland towards trees and a block of flats.

The other night I was catching up with The Sunday Times from the weekend, which featured 32 Scottish walks, one from every local authority. East Lothian’s was Aberlady Bay and Gullane Point – one of the finest walks in Scotland – and Edinburgh had the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill, also very fine. Dundee has the Law from Discovery Point and I’m also familiar with Falkirk’s, involving the Falkirk Wheel and the Antonine Wall, and Castle Campbell and Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire. All of these are historically interesting, picturesque in many cases. Glasgow featured the street art in the city centre. Don’t get me wrong. We have some incredible murals and street art in Glasgow but we also have many, many fine parks, some of which are lesser-known than others. There are fine views right across the city from Bellahouston, the Necropolis, Tollcross and the Forth and Clyde Canal, amongst others. We have rivers and burns, castles and much else besides, all within the boundaries of the largest city in the nation.

About a year ago I was in London for a few days. It feels like much more than twelve months have passed since I was there. I’ve been binging Hidden London Hangouts produced by the London Transport Museum, featuring discussion of old and disused Underground stations and other transport locales in the metropolis. It’s a really innovative way to fulfil their remit and it includes those of us who don’t get to London very often but remain interested in its hidden places.

Another interesting article I read was by the mighty Mary Beard, talking about witchcraft and abuse on social media. There’s been too many stories lately about folk getting abuse and even death threats on social media, including footballers and football managers, academics, politicians and people trying to share interesting things and thoughts. It honestly eludes me why people would prefer to vent and cause harm rather than just switching off their devices or scrolling on when things annoy them.

Our different perspective for today comes from Glasgow University. The Hunterian Museum has appointed Zandra Yeaman as its Curator of Discomfort. She has the specific remit to change institutional attitudes about its collections and their links to slavery and colonialism.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th February 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. It’s appreciated. A post about the Tweed will be here on Wednesday though I’m running out of rivers I have enough to blether about. Any suggestions will be gratefully received. Until then, a very good morning to you all.

Since this was written, I can confirm that Rob Roy and All That was finished first. Alice as read by Alan Bennett has been dispatched too.