Saturday, October 31, 2009

Greenock: McLean Museum 2

More photos and a couple of videos from inside my favourite museum! I love visiting this place whenever I'm back in Greenock, though never have long enough to browse thoroughly - there's so much to see, far more than my photos show.

Below: a private insect collection which was donated to the museum

The link to my original post and other photos from this museum is here

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dunoon: Bishop's Glen

This is a lovely place to walk just inland from Dunoon on the Cowal, through the forest of birch, sitka spruce and Scots pine, at the heart of the Dunoon Woodland Park. Its original name was the Balgaigh Glen but it was changed in the 1950s, part of a tourist initiative by all accounts, and from then on took its name from the nearby hill known (for centuries) as Bishop's Seat (504m). This is a fair climb which we have not yet undertaken but there are apparently wonderful views of the Firth of Clyde from the top - it's definitely on the list for next year! For now, here are some of my photos from some of the woodland paths.

The Balgaigh Burn and rowan trees

In the middle is a beautiful reservoir which once provided Dunoon with its drinking water (before Loch Eck was used instead). Now a home for many varieties of wildfowl and also used for fishing.

It's a wonderful place for other wildlife too and one of the few remaining places in the UK where red squirrels can be seen. Alas, I didn't spot any!

A location map is here

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This peaceful and pretty village on the edge of the Clyde is on the east shore of the Cowal peninsula, just four miles from Dunoon. All my photos were taken from Shore Road.

I thought this gate was very attractive!

The view across the Clyde towards Inverkip

We came across this tub of apples on a public bench - such a friendly idea to offer them to strangers!

The post office/grocers is the only shop left in the village now although there used to be fourteen

I hope to be back there next year - the whole of the Cowal is delightful

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Greenock: Brisbane Street 2

On a personal level, a few photos of my childhood home - 47 Brisbane Street (first floor, to the right of the door) which I revisited a little while ago - and some views of the street itself.

Above, from the front steps, looking west. Below: the Greenock Westburn Church of Scotland at the east end of Brisbane Street - the block of flats behind spoiling the view!

There are some old black and white photos taken in the back garden of our flat here

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Greenock: John Galt

The prolific author, John Galt (1779 -1839), was one of the most famous and successful businessmen and Scottish writers of his day. He was born in Irvine but moved to Greenock when just ten years old. From 1796 - 1804 Galt worked as a junior justice clerk in Greenock before moving to London to study political economy and commercial history. He began to write in his twenties, trying his hand at verse and then, more successfully, essays and novels. In 1809 Galt spent a period of time travelling on the Mediterranean and he became acquainted with Lord Byron, which led years later to his great biography, The Life of Byron. He returned to London, married, and wrote many successful works, including The Ayrshire Legates, The Steamboat, Sir Andrew Wylie, The Gathering of the West, The Provost and Lawrie Todd. After several years spent in Canada, he was then forced to return to Britain under a charge of debt which led to a prison sentence. He continued to write many books, including his autobiography, and eventually retired to Greenock in 1834.

My photos of the John Galt memorial fountain on the Greenock Esplanade are below.

More information about his life here

Greenock: Birdie Bowers

The Antarctic explorer, Lt. Henry Robertson (Birdie) Bowers (1883-1912 ) was one of the group of four who trekked with Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in March, 1912. All five tragically died on the return journey and the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers were found in their tent in the November of the same year, eleven miles from their supply camp.

He was born in this house at the corner of North Street on The Esplanade in Greenock. It was known as 'Bower's Folly' as it was set well apart from the other villas.

Bowers was brought up by his mother after his father died in Rangoon. He went to sea first on the Worcester and sailed around the world five times on the Loch Torridon. He was then in the Royal Indian Marine Service, commanding a river gunboat on the Irrawaddy before serving on the H.M.S. Fox in the Persian Gulf. Although Bowers had no previous polar experience, he met and impressed Sir Clements Markham who recommended him to Scott for his next exploration.

Bowers was a short man, only five feet four inches high, and had a distinctive beak-like nose which gave him the nickname of "Birdie". The English explorer, Apsley Cherry-Garrard said that his "capacity for work was prodigious", and that "There was nothing subtle about him. He was transparently simple, straightforward, and unselfish". Scott wrote in his diary of Bowers: "As the troubles have thickened about us his dauntless spirit ever shone brighter and he has remained cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable to the end".

When I visited the Esplanade last and took these photos, I could see no plaque or other memorial to Bowers there. However, there is an impressive memorial to him in St. Ninian's Church, Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute, where his mother later settled and where he spent much time.

There's more detailed information about his life in the Wikipedia entry here

Since I wrote the above, I have heard from Robert of Greenock who has told me that there is, in fact, a plaque which I had missed!

At the bottom it can just be seen that it was donated by John S Thomson and placed there by the Cloch Civic Society in 1973. Many thanks to Robert for this information and for allowing me to use his photo in the blog!