For Glasgow Doors Open Days 2012 we had booked the Clyde Tunnel in advance, quite amazing to see inside a structure which we have been through many times, by bike, foot and vehicle. For some reason I had thought that the bike/ pedestrian tunnels were separate, but they are actually located underneath the vehicle deck. It is amazing to think that these were all hand dug, so relatively recently. The tunnel master (his job title of old) explained to us how the tunnel was monitored and the elaborate technology which ensures its safe operation. He also told us about an incident where a vehicle transporter tried to go through, even through they were too high, and ended up taking to roof off several new cars (apparently on the first day of their job!) and also an amusing tale of an unfortunate flooding incident in recent torrential weather where one man still asked to be let into the pedestrian tunnel as “it’s OK, I can swim”. Oh dear. We got to see the imposing ventilation structures and a peek inside the control room was fascinating, 18 cameras all taking various views but also an unusual view down on the cars. It sounds like an odd thing to see, but if it’s ever on again I would say (a bit like Irn Bru factory tours) “not to be missed”.
Whiteinch library is not on the Doors Open Day programme, but I always try to make an effort to support my local (or not so local) libraries. It is one of those buildings which has retained its old in and out timber doors and is quite a pleasant building to spend time in, particularly as there is a huge display of local books, old maps and photographs on the walls from the area in days gone by. There were maps saying “site of Clyde Expressway” so it was interesting to see what was visible then and now, and how the area has changed. I loved their sign in the entrance.
Victoria Park fun day was not actually part of Doors Open day either, but it is right next to the Partick Curling Club, which is in the brochure! The curling club is a fascinating little building, which actually sits in what is now a Council storage yard. Don’t let that put you off visiting though, it is a fascinating find (made all the more fascinating by virtue of the Victorian fun day, our route to the park was interspersed with a pipe band concert, views of penny farthing bikes and carriage rides through the flowerbeds. Idyllic). Volunteers from this day were on hand to give a guided tour of the clubhouse (complete with coal fire), explain the club history and let us try out the stones. Have you ever tried to pick up a curling stone? Its very, very heavy. This Victorian lady makes it look easy though.
A run on the 44 bus from Victoria Park took us to Woodlands Road, where the Arlington Baths Club is tucked away off the main street. I had always wanted to see this (the oldest baths in Europe) but I had not got round to it at previous Doors Open Days (my gran used to have a small plate which said “now you have a round tuit”, come to think of it, no excuse then). The Baths is famous for its Turkish suite, with an amazing star filled ceiling (I wished it was possible to be a guest for the day, for relaxing there would have been just the ticket, the heat in daytime clothes is a little crazy but we managed to resist the urge to lie down and stay there; I’m guessing this would be a little against the club etiquette).
Just nearby to the Arlington is the Methodist Church, a building we had been past many times but never ventured into. This is the weirdest layout of church I have ever been to, for when you go through the main door, the main area of worship is actually upstairs! The Methodist Church were not the first religious owners of this building, it infact was built by the Swedenborgians in 1909. The stained glass is beautiful and varied, we managed to answer the children’s passport question with a little assistance from the minister (I won’t tell you incase it ruins the competition) who pointed out that it was not the most obvious answer, but could be seen if you looked hard enough (any excuse to have another nosy at stained glass, as you may have been able to tell by now I have a particular fascination with it). Here is an extract from the memorial window.
Our Saturday was finished off by a visit to Chillies West End (a daal makhani cooked to perfection, with aloo paratha which could have been straight from Darjeeling), this is a great restaurant to visit with friends as it is a thali/ tapas concept so you can choose smaller portions of several things which you like the sound of and tempt yourself whilst looking across at the Park spires.
On Sunday we had booked on the Discover Festival Walking Tours of Bridgeton with Olympia Preview. This was a thoroughly pleasant way to spend a few hours as we had an introduction to Bridgeton and its new public realm, a presentation on the history of the Olympia from Clyde Gateway and then a sneak peek behind the scenes before it opened. I had seen the Olympia gradually transforming over the course of the last year or so as I go past it fairly regularly, so it was great to see inside (hard had and high vis jacket in tow). There were stunning views from the rooftop balcony and windows (whoever uses these offices will enjoy that). Some of the second floor boxing facilities were rapidly taking shape, part of the floor was in situ. The curved staircase was also nearly finished, with an elegant spiral stair from top to bottom.
Back at the Clyde Gateway office we had a story telling session, I think we enjoyed this just as much as the kids (weaving tales). Great way to get people thinking about the heritage of the area, everyone should have a story teller.
The Barrowlands was our next stop, a place many people will have been, but probably not in an “admire the architecture” sort of way. It was so fascinating to have a good behind the scenes tour, seeing the glamorous (and not so glamorous) dressing rooms, backstage and even on stage… had fun standing on stage and pretending to have an adoring public! The guide told us about the star patterns in the ceiling, and also that they had also proved a popular souvenir for many acts since the days of it being a concert venue, and apparently one dropped on David Bowie’s head at one point. There were some great photos of acts of the past, and from when it was a ballroom, and one thing which remains from the “original” is the wheel from the barra (now illuminated and at the top of the stairs in the foyer).
The 75 North Glasgow Arts Network was an unusual concept, new to Doors Open Day this year. In approaching the stop at Cowcaddens subway I was wondering how a service bus was going to work as a means to do an arts tour but actually our enthusiastic guide made this easy. People on the bus sometimes joined in, mentioning other things to see and the driver was also interested in it, he asked for a map at the terminus!. We saw some works in progress (and also spied some “Monuments that Move Me” cycle rickshaws taking people up to Possil). We had been to the Whisky Bond on Wednesday to go to two excellent and engaging talks on the New Glasgow Society and Glasgow’s Postwar Listed Buildings; there are some excellent events planned (sad to have missed the one on collaborative work, but now I know what’s happening I will keep an eye on it, a creative factory and a half. I’m particularly fond of their flyer “make it here”. Also along the route there are guerrilla gardening spaces, murals and sculptures, well worth a look. We saw the very early stages of the Love Milton space taking shape, pegged out on the ground. The 75 bus tours will be running again in March, so if you missed it, you can go then and explore all the arts and community projects which the North of the City has to offer.