Friday 31 January 2014

Versatile Victorians

One of the things I love about Victorian builders and designers was their ability to merge the functional with the decorative. 

The Beacon clock tower at Customhouse Quay in Greenock is a fabulous example of this.  Designed by local marine artist William Clark (1803-1883) and erected in 1868, it is wonderful to look at and also contains features essential to its position on a busy quay.  I'm only going to describe some of them and leave the others for another day.  Let's start at the top -

weather vane

fog bell
fog light


 This picture shows the Beacon as it was in 1878.

(The photograph comes from the book  "Greenock From Old Photographs" (ISBN 950068713)by Matt Anderson and Joy Monteith, published in 1980 by Inverclyde District Libraries.)

The Greenockian

Sunday 26 January 2014

A Greenock Pigeon

This pigeon stood still long enough for me to get a photograph!

Photograph taken on Greenock Esplanade. 

The Greenockian

Saturday 25 January 2014

A Poem For Burns Night

It is Burns Night tonight - many Scots all over the world will be celebrating at Burns Suppers.  I wrote previously about the memorial in Greenock to Highland Mary (Mary Campbell) who was (allegedly/one of) the love of Robert Burns life.  She is buried here in Greenock.

Image from here
Robert Burns wrote this poem after her death.
Highland Mary
Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
The castle o' Montgomery!
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie:
Simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry;
For there I took the last Farewell
O'my sweet Highland Mary.

How sweetly bloom'd the gay, green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade,
I clasp'd her to my bosom!
The golden Hours on angel wings,
Flew o'er me and my Dearie;
For dear to me, as light and life,
Was my sweet Highland Mary.

Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
Our parting was fu' tender;
And, pledging aft to meet again,
We tore oursels asunder;
But oh! fell Death's untimely frost,
That nipt my Flower sae early!
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay
That wraps my Highland Mary!

O pale, pale now, those rosy lips,
I aft hae kiss'd sae fondly!
And clos'd for aye, the sparkling glance
That dwalt on me sae kindly!
And mouldering now in silent dust,
That heart that lo'ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.
Robert Burns

Such a sad poem!

Statue of Highland Mary, Dunoon.
The Greenockian
Joining Shortbread & Ginger for -

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Greenock Royal Infirmary

Its always great when historical image collections go online.  I have to admit spending hours looking through them just amazed at the range of subjects and the methods and styles of depicting them.  I especially look for anything connected with Greenock.  Today, the Wellcome Library have released a huge collection of images into the public domain.

A quick search and I came across this picture of Greenock's old hospital - the Royal Infirmary, Duncan Street built in 1868 designed by Salmon & Son.  The original infirmary was built about 1810.  The hospital was demolished in the late1970s.  You can have a look at a photograph of it here.

There are historical maps, photographs and documents to explore.  It is a fabulous resource.

The Greenockian

Monday 20 January 2014

Lyle's Golden Syrup - the Greenock Connection

Lyle's Golden Syrup - used by bakers everywhere and one of the most iconic tins in Britain.  Here's the Greenock connection - did you know that Abram Lyle (1820-1891) was born in Greenock?  In fact, he was a former provost (mayor) of Greenock in the 1870s.  His family were coopers in the town and Abram went into the shipping business, especially the importing of sugar from the East and West Indies.  He later founded the firm of Abram Lyle & Sons, sugar refiners.

Have you ever really looked at the picture on the tin?  It depicts a dead lion with a swarm of bees around it.  It seems a strange image to adorn a tin of food, but it would appear that the story behind it comes from the Bible (Judges 14:5-18) and it's a pretty horrible tale!  In the story, Samson kills a lion, the next time he passes the carcass, a swarm of bees have made a honeycomb in it.  He makes up a riddle about this "out of the strong, something sweet" - and that's why it is on the tin!  This trade mark was registered in 1904, although syrup was first put into tins in 1885.

Lyle opened a refinery in London, not far from that of his business rival, Henry Tate (of Tate Gallery fame).  The two companies were joined in 1921 after both men were dead.  Thus we have the company of Tate & Lyle, which had a refinery in Greenock until the 1980s.

So, the next time you open a tin of syrup or treacle, just remember the story of the logo and the Greenock connection! 

The Greenockian

Sunday 19 January 2014

Columns and Spires

Wellpark Mid Kirk Church in Cathcart Square in one of Greenock's oldest churches.

It was opened in 1761 and is still used for worship today by a Church of Scotland congregation (Presbyterian).  The spire was added in 1787 and is 140 feet high.  This shows the detail of a column at the front of the church.

Greenock's Municipal Buildings are just across the street and this is a view of the Victoria Tower from the church porch.

Joining InSPIREd Sunday - come and have a look at some other churches from all over the world.

The Greenockian

Friday 17 January 2014

Greenock Gates

These are the gates of Greenock's Municipal Buildings.

I don't think I've ever seen them closed before - in fact, I don't think I've ever really noticed them at all!  These photos were taken early on New Year's Day.

GMB - Greenock Municipal Buildings, I think that's what the initials are.

 Joining Friday's Fences.
The Greenockian

I wonder if anyone noticed something in the second picture of the submarine in my previous post?  Look at the very right of the photograph!

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Monday 13 January 2014

Directions For The Recovery Of The Drowned - 1841

Like most coastal towns and busy ports, Greenock has had its fair share of accidental (and not quite so accidental) drownings over the years.  This must have been quite a problem in the past before "health and safety" became the watchword to protect people from their own stupidity.

This ode entitled "Directions For the Recovery of the Drowned" was published in the Greenock Post Office Directory of 1841.

Directions For The Recovery Of The Drowned

When the cold corse shall have been brought to land,
Strip off its clothes with an industrious hand;
Cleanse well the mouth, th' obstructed nostrils clear,
And let each passage drink the vital air;
Wipe dry the body, wrap a blanket round,
Or some such covering as can best be found -
Nay - lend thy coat - 'tis sweet a life to save,
And snatch a brother from a watery grave.
Then on a plank, with head and shoulders high,
Convey the body to some cottage nigh.
Now let good order and good sense prevail,
And no confusion make thine efforts fail.
With common air the breathless lungs inspire;
Blow the faint sparks of unextinguished fire,
(For yet perhaps some embers may remain
Ready to kindle into life again):
Rub well each limb - a genial warmth impart
Around the stagnant regions of the heart;
Then down the gastric tube a cordial throw,
Some draught, to make the internal organs glow;
Should thy best judgment pierce the jug'lar vein,
Take heed! in time the vital stream restrain,
Lest thou too much from nature's fountain pour,
And so destroy the life thou wouldst restore.
Thus on proceed to rouse the dormant breath;
Ply the strong oar and struggle hard with death;
Nor cease thy toil till life's bright flame return,
Or till the lamp at length refuse to burn. 

Can't imagine the ordinary person trying to cut the jugular vein in any safe way! 

Here's a report from the "Caledonian Mercury" of 1844 about a man, Peter Campbell, who seems to have been quite a hero, jumping into the Clyde at Gourock  to save a young woman from drowning.  He even received a reward from the Duchess of Somerset who was impress by his bravery and the fact that it was the third time he had saved a life.

Greenock's Post Office Directories are available to view online at the excellent Inverclyde Council website.

The Greenockian

Sunday 12 January 2014

CalMac Ferry Coruisk

The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry Coir' Uisg' (MV Coruisk) was berthed at Gourock Pier on Thursday.  If you've ever been on a ferry trip in Scotland, chances are that it was a CalMac ferry!

Love the Cal Mac logo.

Coruisk is a freshwater loch on  the beautiful island of Skye.

You can read all about MV Coruisk and view deck plans here.

The Greenockian

Thursday 9 January 2014

Waterloo Road, Greenock

The new series of the BBC drama "Waterloo Road" (Shed Productions) started last night on TV.

It is set and filmed in Greenock.

The building was formerly a school - Greenock Academy in Madeira Street.

The views from the school are stunning - looking right across the River Clyde.

Often see cast and crew filming around the town and local area.  This photo was obviously taken earlier in the year - there's even sunshine!

The Greenockian

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Above the Red Door

It looks like a rather unremarkable door doesn't it?  It is a small side entrance to Greenock's Municipal Buildings, on the west side at Wallace Place.  However, if we look a bit closer ...

Perhaps a reference to Greenock's mastery of the sea.
there are some remarkable carvings in the stonework.  This is above the doorway.

The foundation stone of the Municipal Buildings was laid in 1882 and the buildings completed in 1886.  This was a time when Greenock was a major port and shipbuilding town.  This is reflected in the sculpted imagery.

To the left of the door are images of the Greenock's importance as a port - sailing ship, docks, warehouses and crane for loading and unloading cargoes.  The detail is incredible.  Look at the chains on the crane.

The right side of the doorway shows nature's bounty - cattle, crops, and a plough - for the food necessary to feed the Greenock's workforce.  The bee hive is particularly significant as Greenock was a major sugar importer and there were many refineries in the town.  The beehive is also a sign of industry - busy as a bee!

I hadn't realised until I took a closer look at my photographs just how much detail was in this tiny part of the building.  There's a lot more, but that's for another day!

The Greenockian

Friday 3 January 2014

Reflected In Puddles

I took these photographs at the weekend down at Customhouse Quay in Greenock.

Great reflections of the fence in the puddles.

Joining Weekend Reflections – pop over and see more fabulous photographs from around the world.

The Greenockian

An Elopement Spoiled - Greenock 1866

Customhouse Quay in Greenock was also known as Steamboat Quay because of all the steamships which went from there to the Highlands of Scotland, Ireland, London, Liverpool and many other destinations.  It was always a hub of activity with passengers and freight arriving and departing at all hours of the day and night.

I came across this newspaper cutting relating to an incident which took place there in December 1866.  It would appear that many, arriving by train from Glasgow, were to join the steamer Snipe to travel on to Liverpool.  "Among them was a respectable-looking man of about 56 years of age, and a well-dressed good-looking female of about 30 years of age, rather jauntily made up with a bloomer hat."  The article scathingly goes on "In fact, they looked like father and daughter bent on an excursion." 

However it would appear that an "elderly female" had her eye on them because the man in question was her husband who had eloped from their home in Edinburgh with this younger woman.  The wife, seizing her moment, rushed on board the steamer and tore the hat from her rival's head.  In the meantime the husband - "fairly subdued, meekly assisted his enraged wife to take his luggage ashore, during which the latter kept up a continued series of rebukes."  It would appear from what she said that this was not his first indiscretion and he, humiliated, went with off with his wife.  The article says that the other woman " proceeded on with the steamer to Liverpool without her companion".  I wonder what became of her?

Customhouse Quay today.
I wonder if this gathered as big a crowd as the bull fighting on the quay some months earlier!  Never a dull moment quayside!

The Greenockian

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Men Of The Clyde

This wonderful sculpture is in Clyde Square in Greenock, just across from the Municipal Buildings.  It is called "Men of the Clyde".

The plaque reads:-
"Men of the Clyde"
This statue represents an industrious Greenock
and was unveiled in May 1975 by
Provost Elizabeth Martin
Designed by - Naomi Hunt, DA
Sculptor - Malcolm Robertson, DA

I love the expressions on the workers faces as the pull the propeller.  The whole work has an amazing feeling of strength and stability.

It commemorates Greenock's long-gone shipyards and the thousands of men who worked in them.

A wonderful tribute.

The Greenockian