Friday, 26 February 2010


Springburn (to the north of Townhead) used to be a centre of heavy industry and full employment. Around 25% of the world's locomotives were manufactured in Springburn. There is an excellent account of the area's history in the Wikipedia entry; for more history and for some fabulous old photos, see the Springburn Virtual Museum section of the invaluable Glasgow Digital library - 

This area had the largest chemical works in Europe, the remnants of which (the 'Stinky Ocean'), you can still smell in Fountainwell Road (see Sighthill Towers: Before the Fall) and also what was possibly the highest chimney in the world 'Tennant's Lum' (435 ft; demolished 1922).
For Stobhill Hospital, see Hospitals; for the Nov 09 by-election here, see Glasgow North-East
Some Springburn shops

The Talisman; once a popular bar

No one listened: cops on patrol in Springburn


This work by Vincent Butler RSA was unveiled in 1989

The man - in anachronistic working gear - represents Heritage, the girl represents Hope

The work faces Springburn Museum

Lawyers of one kind or another shout out their presence 

This drinking fountain was presented to the people of Springburn in 1902by the Cowlairs Co-operative Society; originally sited at Springburn Cross. There are quite a few drinking fountains such as this throughout Glasgow. Their significance is a civic and communal pride in the fact that clean water from Loch
Katrine was available to all. As with the great Victorian sewage systems, we have been living on that past glory as it were in a dream; and forgotten that someone has to pay for maintaining that extraordinary legacy

A falling population means schools such as this being closed or merged

St Rollox Church of Scotland from the other side of Springburn Rd; it does fine parish work; see Churches.  Sighthill towers are no longer in background, of course

Springburn Leisure Centre

Springburn Park; created in 1902, an intriguing park, and not much visited by outsiders; the north side of the park is a designated 'Site of Importance for Nature Conservation' there is abundant bird life, ponds, a rockery and - sometimes - roe deer; see

Most days here are quiet

A nicely curving side path

One of the park's pretty wee memorial gardens

Winter path to the ponds: a monochrome world

Some bird life; see the park friends site mentioned above for a list of the birds you may see

Swans and ducks can be crabby but these all seem to live in peace

Note fed-up heron on right

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Glasgow North-East by-election 2009

The Glasgow North-East by-election was held in November 2009, following the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin
MP. There is a good wiki article -,_2009
The constituency territory is mostly Springburn and bits of Maryhill and was expected to be a straight and close fight between the SNP and Labour. The reality was a bit different. The turn-out was an abysmal 33% (the lowest ever in a Scottish by-election for Westminster) of which the Labour candidate took 59%. The SNP came second with 20%, the Tory 5%, the BNP 4.9%. The Solidarity candidate, the once-charismatic Tommy Sheridan got 3.9%, and the candidate for Sheridan's esrtwhile party, the Scottish Socialist Party (which before it collapsed in feuding had 6 Holyrood MSPs), got 0.7%
I remember this was when it was new - looked really good
Tommy Sheridan - the self-described 'The best fighter that money can't buy' -was expected to do fairly well. An early sign that all was going badly was in a Guardian media interview in which Sheridan responded with increasing bile to easy questions, while Galloway stood at his side muttering things like 'Judean Liberation Front'. One of the most puzzling and least analysed aspects of British politics is why working-class constituencies - unlike elsewhere in Europe - do not vote for left-wing parties (parties to the left of Labour that is). The BNP candidate may have lost his deposit, but still outpolled Sheridan and the other socialist pygmies put together. Later, in his Daily Record ciolum, Galloway drew a lesson for the fading appeal of socialism in general - 'Left-wing politics of the kind Tommy - and, to some extent, I - represent have missed that floodtide. We will have return to the drawing board, or else be beached for ever.'

Another fighter who 'coulda been a contender', John Smeaton. 'Smeato', the baggage handler who became a media star by helping others to overpower a terrorist at the Glasgow Airport carbomb attempt, stood for the Jury Team, in a campaign that could be summarised as 'Smeato Goes to Westminster'. He got 258 votes, 1.2%.

Most posters were defaced quite quickly; in the case of the SSP, it's likely that a Solidarity activist got this one. In true socialist tradition, the SSP and Solidarity hated each other much more than they hated the capitalist parties.

These three are rare SSP survivors. . .
. . . as is this one attacking the Labour candidate, which must have gone up on the eve of the poll
The SNP candidate, a member of the ultra-conservative and secretive Catholic organisation Opus Dei, was not regarded as one of the SNP's brightest lights, but when he was picked it was expected to be an easy fight. He looked good on this car hoarding. . .
which reverted to its original message of cleanliness once the polls closed
The Scottish Socialist Party also put a few forlorn banners such as this. Their candidate got 106 less votes than Smeaton.
Election fever

A few days after the poll. No one felt much like taking the 'Strong Local Candidate' posters down with any urgency

Monday, 22 February 2010

Sighthill Stone Circle

The Sighthill Stone Circle was erected in 1979 by the Glasgow Parks Department under the supervision of astronomer /  SF writer Duncan Lunan, and is claimed to be the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain for 5000 years. As a child (see Sighthill: Before the Fall) I used to play on here, the highest point in the the park, which we called Jack's Mountain. See

The circle should in theory  be a great tourist attraction, but is lonely, exposed, and your visit may be noted, even after the demolition of the Fountainwell Towers
The project ran out of money and was never completed
There are patches of faded  graffiti on some of the stones. . .
. . .which fit quite well against the background of towers. . .
. . .and while some graffitti is more recent, even the frolicsome  Glasgows Ned tend to avoid this place.
This point was quite probably of some neolithic significance. . .
. . . and the few visitors  who come may experience presences. . .
. . . inside and outside the circle
Up here there is not much in the way of trees or bushes but what there is looks fitting. . .

. . .sitting comfortably in a summit of rises, dips and hollows. . .

. . .and rising vegetation

This untrimmed attempt at capturing the whole thing is actually not too bad at its original 20Mb size; note  shadow of the author to the left of the first stone