Saturday, 19 December 2015


This is an impressive building in Hamilton, just south of Glasgow. But it was merely the hunting lodge of a much bigger property, Hamilton Palace. It is located within the former estate of the Dukes of Hamilton. They were hugely wealthy and built the hunting lodge in 1734. The lodge consists of a pair of pavilions linked by a wall. It was intended to be an impressive sight against the skyline when viewed from the palace a mile away and linked by a tree lined avenue. When I add that the lodge had a leopard house you'll get an idea of the extravagant luxury here.

The Dukes' wealth came from their ownership of the Lanarkshire coal mines. But the mines caused subsidence which, in part, led to the demolition of the palace in 1929. The palace was the largest non-royal residence in Britain and perhaps Europe. The lodge was abandoned at that time and fell into disrepair. It was restored by the local council in the 1980's and the lodge and grounds is now a well-visited attraction.

The lodge was so named because the Duke also held the French title of duc de Ch√Ętellerault.

Hamilton Palace

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

London Pubs

On a recent visit to capital I snapped some impressive drinking establishments. Mostly Victorian but some a lot older.

Duke's Head, Putney. Beside the River Thames and no doubt popular with the rowers from the nearby clubs.

The Bricklayer's Arms, Putney. The first Thursday in the month is S&M night. Don't ask me how I know, I just do.

The World's End, Chelsea. English Heritage call it "a fine example of a public house in the gin palace genre".

The Jolly Gardeners, Putney. A good place for "al Fresco" drinking. Outside it has "potting sheds". They have fierce infra red heaters that will cope with any cold you'll get in London.

The Railway, Putney. Part of the vast Witherspoon empire.

 The Spotted Horse, Putney. Over 250 years old.

The Coat and Badge, Putney. More outdoor boozing. Do they know that there's cows on the roof?

 The Admiralty, near Trafalgar Square

 The Clachan in central London. A common pub name in Scotland.

The Eight Bells, Fulham. Established in 1629 but the building is a century or so younger. My "local" in the capital.

 The Half Moon, Putney. A famous music venue and a nice pub.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Burns National Monument, Mauchline, Ayrshire.

Robert "Rabbie" Burns is Scotland's national poet and there are many statues and memorials to him. The National Monument was built in the Scottish Baronial style in 1889 to commemorate the centenary of his death. It was a museum and later a tourist information office but now seems closed to the public. Built at the same time were cottages for the elderly.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Pineapple, Airth, Stirlingshire

This is one of the best known "follies" in Scotland. It was built in 1761 as part of a six acre walled garden by the Earl of Dunmore. At the time pineapples were an exotic and rare fruit and a symbol of wealth and generosity.

Amazingly this tropical fruit was grown here in the 18th century in hothouses that used to exist at the front of the building. On the day I visited it was cool but sunny. In front of the building it was pleasantly warm because the building faces south and is in an elevated position to catch the sun. In addition the buildings on either side of the Pineapple contained furnaces that heated the walls and therefore the hothouses. The chimneys of the furnaces are disguised as urns at eaves level.

The effort in cultivating pineapples in a cool climate was huge. They had to be heated and tended for three years to obtain the fruit. At the time this building was constructed a pineapple in Britain would cost £5,000 at today's prices. I bought one on Monday from Lidl, it cost 50p. Not grown in Scotland, of course, but Costa Rica.

I couldn't find a photo of the hothouses but here they are in an old map

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Botanic Gardens Garage

This is a very rare example of an early multi-storey car park (parking garage). It's located in Glasgow's West End and takes its name from the nearby Botanic Gardens. The front is clad in terracotta tiles. The building was built in parts between 1906 & 1912 and may be oldest building of its type in the UK. Wikipedia claims that the first multi-storey car park in the world was built in Chicago in 1918, so they're not always correct.

It was built in the early days of the motor car for the occupants of the nearby tenement buildings to park their new contraptions. There are pumps inside so it must have been used as a filling station in the recent past. The building is currently unused but in reasonable condition and there are plans to covert it into a gymnasium.   


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Schoolmaster's House, Moniaive, Dumfries & Galloway

This building dates from 1865 and has a striking appearance from the use of contrasting grey whin & painted masonry. The clock tower can be seen from anywhere in this small village and thus gave the schoolchildren no excuse for being late for class.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Corona Bar, Shawlands

One of my old watering holes. The first home I owned was a flat near this famous Southside pub.

On a corner site bounded by a dance hall (The Malborough in my day, the Shed now) the pub was built in 1913 and is a slightly garish building set amongst the uniform Victorian sandstone of the area. The pub had a strange setting as a "pub within a pub". In my day "Maxwells" was an "L" shaped establishment in the Malborough building surrounding the Corona. When I drank there it was probably pretty much as the Edwardian original.

So if you want to visit an old fashioned Glasgow boozer…forget it, you're too late. Some time ago the Corona was opened out and joined with Maxwells to form a soulless barn of a pub - part of the John Barras pub chain, I think.   

*** Update***

I read in my local newspaper that the west end bar & restaurant "The Butterfly and the Pig" is taking over the Corona. They are planning to "restore many original features".  

*** Update#2***

I stuck my head in the door of "The Butterfly and the Pig" and it's still a dump.