Wednesday, 23 September 2015

How I spent Doors Open Day in Glasgow

scotland scottish flags george square glasgow

bagpiper george square glasgow doors open day

Two things about me.  I love local history and I'm a cheapskate.  To have a whole week dedicated to learning more about Glasgow's architecture and past, and to have every event, walk and open building be free to access is basically my idea of heaven.  This year I got my act together in time and managed to snag tickets for some interesting walks on Doors Open Day (which lasts a whole week in the city so...Doors Open Week?)  I crammed four tours into Saturday and also visited a handful of buildings open for general nosing around.  There's a chance I wasn't very active the next day...

Here's what we got up to -

Glasgow Photography Walking Tour
I was out of bed and in town for 9am to spend three hours walking around with my camera in the presence of an actual photographer, hoping to pick up some tips.  The tour was run by Dreghorn Photography, who also spent the day teaching us bloggers a thing or two at last year's Toast of the Town workshop.  Although I remembered a few of Stuart's pointers from that class, it was great to get a refresher and also go a bit more in-depth - I learned what a couple more camera settings do and got to wander around with my tripod, a tool that normally never gets to leave the house.

vintage lamp glasgow trades hall doors open day

trades hall glasgow doors open day

st andrews in the square glasgow doors open day ceiling chandelier clock

st andrews in the square glasgow doors open day ceiling chandelier clock

The group met at George Square where we had a quick chat then set off to take photos!  There was another Yes rally setting up that morning so there were plenty of interesting and patriotic shots to capture.  Afterwards, we moved on to the Trades Hall and finally St Andrews in the Square.  Both buildings were beautiful, although the decor inside the church blew me away.  That clock!  Those chandeliers!

west brewery kegs drums beer doors open day glasgow

West Brewery Tour
Tam joined me in time for the next adventure, a tour of the West brewery.  I think Tam picked this outing, although it might have been me trying to fit all the places into one day that led us here.  West is a micro brewery located inside the old Templeton carpet factory.  Anyone who's been in Glasgow Green or to the People's Palace will have seen this iconic building, and I was definitely up for exploring the inside.  Of course, the only parts we saw were the (delightfully dog-friendly) bar and the brewing room, but it was exciting nonetheless.  The tour was pretty short but our guide was fantastic - like a beer genius and comedian rolled into one.  We also got to taste four different grains used in the brewing process.  They were...interesting...

(Book a tour of West here)

barras pipe factory glasgow doors open day

barras market glasgow doors open day

Barras Walk
The meeting place for this one was a cafe inside the Barras with no signage whatsoever.  By the time we'd found my friend Leanne and asked a couple of people where the cafe actually was, we'd missed the start of the walk.  A very nice lady pointed us in the right direction though, and we caught up, having only missed a pit stop to check out a nearby church.  The walk mostly covered the area around the outskirts of the famous market and took in Saint Luke's church, which reopened that night as a gig venue, and The Heilan Jessie, one of the oldest buildings in the area and now a pub.  We learned about Bible John, a serial killer who murdered women he met in the Barrowlands Ballroom, and the McIvers, who founded the Barras market in the 1920s.  The walk ended up being a bit shorter than advertised, so we had time for a peek into the Pipe Factory, which is now home to studios and the world's oddest bathroom.

row of vintage buses glasgow bridgeton bus garage vintage vehicle trust doors open day

macbraynes vintage bus glasgow bridgeton bus garage vintage vehicle trust doors open day

colourful vintage buses glasgow bridgeton bus garage vintage vehicle trust doors open day

Bridgeton Bus Garage
This was unexpectedly my favourite visit of the day.  I'm not sure why that's so surprising, since the Riverside (previously Transport) Museum is one of my top places to visit in Glasgow, and anything vintage-related gets me excited, whether it involves buses or bustiers (see what I did there?).  Either way, I didn't know the Vintage Vehicle Trust existed until now and I'm so glad we got an insight into the work they do.  The walk started with a seat, as we all gathered in a modern bus to hear some safety rules and learn about the background of the trust.  We started the walking part with a glance into the workshops (from outside unfortunately, due to all the hazards!) and then it was into the main garage to get more info on the history of transport in Scotland.  We each spotted buses we remembered from school days although I was particularly taken with one that had gorgeous leopard print seat covers.  Apparently buses were better before we were born.  Our guide also told us about their upcoming open day, which I think is the perfect time for a return visit and a better look at some of those colourful interiors...

britannia panopticon music hall glasgow interior doors open day

britannia panopticon music hall glasgow interior bunting flags

Britannia Panopticon Music Hall
The only unplanned stop of the day, but probably my absolute favourite place in Glasgow to take visitors to (sorry Riverside).  The Panopticon is the world's oldest surviving music hall and is part of an ongoing restoration project to bring it back to its former glory.  The last time I was there I noticed a couple of changes, so work is happening on it whenever funding allows.  They have various bits of memorabilia on display and even a book published about the hall, which I might have to get my hands on soon.  It's not a huge space but it's well worth a visit on the weekends or during one of their special events.  I love that such a fascinating part of Glasgow life is being preserved right there among the rows of shops on the high street outside.

Has anyone visited any of these places?  Any favourite parts of historical Glasgow?


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