Wednesday 20 April 2022

Paisley Abbey. Unboxed Light Show.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


Following the crowds in Paisley heading towards Paisley Abbey. On the same month, March just past, that the crocus burst out in the city parks I saw a sign for the Unboxed event in Paisley which would be taking place in various locations throughout the UK week by week.

 It was a projection lightshow centered on Paisley Abbey, with several screenings during the hours of darkness each night over several days. I picked a dry clear night and headed down on one of the first evenings it was on as I thought it would make for good photographs... and even if it didn't I could wander around Paisley at night afterwards, something I haven't done for several years.

 It started quietly enough with a sizable crowd watching and was entertaining for what it was, attracting loads of children and families, for this early evening showing around 7:00pm. Paisley Abbey with all its dark nooks and crannies however was not ideal as a projection screen, whereas a blank flat wall would have been much better as you couldn't really follow the story properly- about the creation of the earth... fireballs... the age of the dinosaurs etc....  for a free show though it was quite impressive although I would probably have enjoyed it more as a young child rather than a slightly cynical jaded older adult. It was also very. very loud... sound wise... for supposedly dramatic effect to back up the visuals ...but also, no doubt, a cunning ploy to tempt anyone else in the town, dogs, wildlife, farm animals and humans, with working ears within a ten mile radius, who might not have known it was flock inwards towards it like moths to a flame....  which started to piss me off a bit...


The light show itself was fine and fairly spectacular but the accompanying blasts of music sounded much better from a distance as I soon found out later.

 Some nice effects on show though. To avoid the general mass of the gathered crowds nearby I picked a quieter spot off to the side with only a few folk in this vicinity. The week before I'd had Covid but was now testing negative. I'd received my three vaccine injections so it was much milder than it would have been, just like a cold for a few days but without a stuffed up nose, hardly any sneezing or coughing, and no sore throat. I didn't want it again though as I probably caught it on public transport, where more than a few people got on maskless.

Another lighting effect.

 What I presumed was the volcanoes and lava event. I have to admit I couldn't really follow the story much at all, just patterns of different lighting and garbled noise mostly to my sensitive listening devices and began people watching around me instead. Always a bad sign in a show.

 Paisley is an interesting town anyway with many fine period buildings so I drifted away at this point as the light show was just about over anyway although there would be another performance later as it only lasted 30 to 35 minutes each time.

 Standing beside Paisley Town Hall. Due to it's 'Paisley Pattern' textile mills ( an indirect inspiration for singer Prince and his record label) and it's worldwide thread, cotton and fabric industry Paisley was once home to wealthy industrialists who build many grand buildings in the town and made it one of Scotland's largest and most prosperous. Mind you it's a similar story for practically every village, town, and city I've visited over the decades who all seem to have specialized in some unique manufacturing industry or other before everything was dismantled from the 1960s/1980s on-wards. It's no longer as prosperous as it once was in its heyday... but then again... the general mass of the working class population, at any time in history, never seem to get much of the riches generated anyway, and the housing stock and living conditions, during it's so called 'golden era of wealth' often didn't match up as compared to earlier decades this has definitely improved. Aged housing stock and crumbling slums a fairly common sight back then...UK the 1960s to the 1990s  but there's very few of that type of housing estate left now... visually at least.

 Abbey Mill district and the river at night in Paisley.

A river walk in Paisley.

  "Christ on a cross! What's going on here? What's all that wailing and commotion about!?" a puzzled Roman centurion asked. 

 Back windows of Paisley Abbey. An earlier, more subdued, version of a light show and thankfully a silent one after the sound tsunami and tortured eardrums on the other side of this building. I could also follow what was going on in this one... without any musical accompaniment.  Jesus admiring some woodwork construction ( well, he was a carpenter after all) with a former 'lady of the evening shadows' looking on... as in M.M.

 Winter evening in Paisley. Like bagpipes the Unboxed music was better appreciated at a distance rather than standing right beside a speaker.

 Renfrewshire House council buildings.

 Open Plaza. Paisley Town Centre. 

 White Cart Water. Paisley river walk at night.

Plazza Shopping Centre. With two z's I'm now just noticing.

 Paisley Grammar School on the way back to the car. Founded by royal charter in 1576, making it one of the oldest schools in Scotland, this building dates to 1898 and although still fully used today a brand new secondary school is supposedly in the pipeline within the next five to ten years.

A last look at Paisley Town Hall.


Paisley Abbey back wall.


Period Tenement.

Paisley's open plan public areas at night.

Friday 8 April 2022

Glasgow. The Rose Red City on the River Clyde. A Gallery of Older Buildings.

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To compare Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, seen above, with the ancient city of Petra in Jordan may seem a leap into the surreal but both use a common building material that was readily available in the vicinity. Red Sandstone. 

 Handily, this could be found within Glasgow itself, when digging out some of the underground train stations, the circular subway line and sandstone quarries around the Clyde Coast and the Central Belt. 


Renowned for its sandy beaches today, obviously at some point in the geological past, real desert conditions must have existed here as compacted beds of sandstone are found all over the central belt coastline, especially in the west, as seen here.


Unlike granite it is easily carved and Victorian Stone masons took full advantage of this fact.


 When you wander round the Glasgow of today it pays to look up. 


Baltic Chambers. Red sandstone in all its glory. Although the modern buildings of glass and steel are exciting to see, the first few visits, the real architectural jewels in Glasgow's crown are its older buildings. The 1800's to the 1930s basically. The Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras cover that.


The 'lost city' of Petra was rediscovered in the early 1800s, Major discoveries of Egyptian relics and tombs mid 1800s to 1930s (Tutankhamun, 'the boy king'  was an early 1900s discovery)  The British in India, 1760s to 1940s so it's no wonder many of the period buildings in Glasgow reflect these influences. New, mysterious, thrillingly exotic and huge deals at that time, even more than they are today. 'Holiday snaps set in stone'.... for those that could not afford to travel there.... and as an visual advertisement of what was on offer... for those bold enough to go... or join up.

 None more so than Kelvingrove Art Gallery and museum sitting in the grounds of Kelvingrove Park, which itself boasts many monuments to the days of empire.

 While The Indian Subcontinent  has many 'British style' buildings it was a two way street with exotic ideas and architectural styles being transported here as well.

 The Beresford Hotel, built in 1938 in art deco style to take advantage of well heeled tourists flocking to Glasgow's Empire Exhibition held in Bellahouston Park in that year which also boasted the Tait Tower or Tower of Empire, a 300 foot plank of vertical smooth sided soaring steel with three high dive horizontal viewing balconies placed near the top. As this stood on the central wooded hill within the park it was almost 500 foot high in total verticality and could be seen on a clear day as a gleaming spike almost 100 miles away from the city. Not even the 30 storey Red Road Flats, just under 300 feet or the modern Glasgow Tower, less than 400 feet high if you subtract the thin needle stuck on top match than today. Sadly it only lasted a short while before being dismantled as too visible a target with the advent of the Second World War in 1939. A real shame.

 A side view of the Beresford- now converted into residential flats... I think. Over 12 million people attended the 1938 Empire Exhibition so it was a great success. This was taken during our city centre walkabout from Anderston Train Station (Anne and myself) as we were also photographing older buildings as well as brand new ones along our route.

 Another good starting point for discovering old Glasgow is from here, Glasgow Central Station. You can also get guided tours within the station to access the below ground substructure and arched tunnels holding up this massive building. Think of the total tonnage in all that stonework... then multiply it across the city. Nearby Bothwell Street, Waterloo Street, Hope Street and Renfield Street hold some of the best examples of red sandstone masterpieces, although many others are scattered around. The Merchant City is another area worth visiting ten minutes walk to the east from here.

Bothwell Street not far from Glasgow Central Train Station. The back sandstone tenement in the photo rising to 10 floors high.


Same area at night with the nearby glass  and steel towers of the financial district. Many cities all over the UK and the world have similar modern glass structures, many of them higher and more impressive than these examples so I hope we hang on to our period buildings as well.  I mention this as most of the older sandstone buildings have To Let signs up and with modern Wi-Fi, continuously updated technology etc.. I don't know if they will continue to attract future tenants. It's all very well being a fabulous listed building with ornate carvings and thick stone walls but if you are lying empty and costing money to maintain every year it's not a sustainable outcome in the long run.

What looks like an empty sandstone building in the city centre, one of several appearing slightly unloved and forgotten.  As I mentioned in my other city centre post  two weeks ago, (featuring the modern side of Glasgow), plans did get to the stage where a scale model of a future 3D Glasgow lay before the public's scrutiny on a very large table. Most of the old buildings, (featured in this post) would be flattened and a very modern Glasgow, with  fashionable 1960s style concrete cubes, would rise in their place.  Thank God that never happened. Inconceivable now. They discovered sandblasting instead to bring the buildings back to their original colour, washing off 100 years of soot and grime.

 However they did demolish a long corridor of buildings in the Kinning Park, Anderston, Charing Cross and Cowcaddens districts to build the M8 Motorway through this part of the city so hopefully not too much of significant architectural value disappeared at that time. Certainly the two remaining tenement buildings on either side of this now infamous sunken trench and noisy traffic corridor at Charing Cross are very special. No idea if the lost tenements demolished were equally fine or just dilapidated run of the mill slums. I certainly can't complain as I swapped an inner city existence of squalid, crowded and semi industrial 1950s Kinning Park (flattened to make way for this same motorway in the late 1950s/ early 1960s) for the green, sylvan, and altogether wonderful rural outskirts of Nitshill and a childhood of farms, dairy cows, woods, water-world magnificence, streams, small rolling hills, and meadows stretching to the far horizon. A very lucky escape and something which I will always be grateful for. I may not have discovered my lifelong love of nature otherwise, stuck in hectic Kinning Park. The name is misleading. It's not a park in that sense, rather a plot of built up inner city land without trees or grass, much like neighbouring Plantation. Only on old maps, going back 200 years, before the industrial revolution and Glasgow's gradual expansion to over a million residents by the 1930s was it ever green, flat and farmed.

 Glasgow City Chambers in George Square. Would they really have cleared all this away for a concrete cube landscape? Madness!

 Clydeport Building. Another standout icon for its detailed carving.

 Artwork around the roof of Clydeport.

 Pediment detail. Clydeport Building. King Neptune looks down.

Also on the roof of the Clydeport Building. An older form of Trident warfare.

 Merchant City District in Glasgow.

As is this building near the Trongate.

 Renfield Street. Something of a lesser shopping street now yet boasting some of the finest period architecture in Glasgow.

Glasgow's High Street. Quite a few modern TV and film productions  have used Glasgow and its outlying districts as  locations. Outlander, Trainspotting, World War Z, Under the Skin, Cloud Atlas... to name a few recent ones. The latest is a Batman or Batgirl film using the area around Glasgow Cross as Gotham City.

Britannia music hall in that area. Stan Laurel, the silent comedian, learned his craft as a teenager in the Glasgow vaudeville circuit of that era, performing short comic routines and sketches. 

 Glasgow Cross. Merchant City District.

 Period buildings looking down towards Nelson Mandela Square.

A mix of different building styles.

Glasgow is also a city of white and cream. An elegant corner here looking up towards Blythswood Square.

 Blythswood Street buildings and a different period style.


Eight floor tenement.


Another white/cream building on Bothwell Street.

Liverpool, London, and Globe Insurance Buildings.... or they were when first constructed as it's carved into the stonework.

Same building at night.


Trongate view. Merchant City District in Glasgow... or Gotham City... when the film comes out.



10 floor period building in Glasgow. An early Scottish Skyscraper. Most of City Centre Glasgow is either ten or twenty floors high with nothing above that height... as yet.

Splintering City Mural.

 GOMA Artwork from a few years ago.

Tobacco Warehouse built 1854, making it one of the last built in the city and the last gasp of the tobacco lords whose tall masted sailing ships brought the initial wealth to develop that early 1700s version of Glasgow.