The doors – and my eyes – have been opened!

PhotoGrid_1439926537846-2By Laura Coventry

EVER wanted to uncover many of Scotland’s best-kept secrets about its buildings? I have!

A keen photographer with a background in communications, and an interest in architecture and buildings, I was in no doubt about where I wanted to volunteer – the Scottish Civic Trust before/during Doors Open Days.


The Riverside Museum: one of my favourite buildings

Over the last six weeks, I have been involved in the social media output for Doors Open Days, which is coordinated nationally by SCT; Tweeting (@DoorsOpenDays) daily; and updating its Facebook ( status.

We invited followers to submit photographs of their favourite building and tell us why, as well as share their most interesting facts about buildings they have visited, which you can still do using #dodscotland.

Blogs, like this one, from local coordinators were also published. An avid Instagram user, I was delighted to see Doors Open Days launch their account on the photo-sharing platform.

5000 likesDuring my time at Doors Open Days, we also celebrated Doors Open Days’ 5,000th like on Facebook, a number that continues to grow daily.

I felt a sense of pride each day as I arrived at the stunning Miller Street building – the Tobacco Merchant’s House – and worked on publicising the national event alongside project officer Frances Hendron and fellow volunteers Zach Claudino and Karlie Wu.

Through volunteering, I was lucky to access free training courses on social media and blogging with experienced heritage professional and creative practitioner Alison McCandlish (@CrenellatedArts).

I have learned many things, but one of the big surprises for me was discovering how many Doors Open Days events happen during the month of September – did you know that this year more than 900 venues open their doors?!

Of course, being a volunteer for Doors Open Days, I, naturally, attended events – a particular highlight was venturing into Andrew Muirhead & Sons at Dalmarnock Leather Works and seeing behind the scenes at the Glasgow leather manufacturers while learning of their huge international client base, which includes supplying leather for global airline giants Emirates, KLM and Ryanair!

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“My Favourite Building Changes Every Week”

Pollockshows Burgh Halls

Ruth’s favourite building is Pollokshaws Burgh Hall

BECAUSE she is exposed to some of Glasgow’s most fascinating buildings on a daily basis, Ruth Morris says her favourite building changes every week.

The events and development coordinator at Glasgow Building Preservation Trust says this week her favourite is Pollokshaws Burgh Halls on the city’s southside, but next week it might be St Andrews in the Square.


St Andrews in the Square

Ruth said what fascinates her most about the “stunning” Burgh Halls is the treasures that are still being unearthed to this day, she added:

“It has a Gothic interior and old Glasgow college exterior and many a hidden little places, including a clock tower that during Doors Open Day you can join a tour to go up it – yes you can literally be inside the clock!

“I just find the history of the building, the area and the enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable community that are involved so fascinating.”

  • Ruth Morris is Events & Development Co-ordinator at Glasgow Building Preservation Trust and organiser of Glasgow’s Doors Open Day, for the full programme and to book an event visit:
Posted in architecture, Buildings, burgh halls, Clock, Clock tower, Culture, Doors Open Day, Doors Open Days, Events, Facts, Free, Glasgow, Gothic, Guest, Heritage, History, Information, interior, Photos, Pollokshaws, Reviews, Scotland, treasures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A privilege not to be missed”

Falkirk Steeple

Falkirk Steeple towers about town and dominates the skyline

CURIOSITY is the reason you should visit Doors Open Day in Falkirk this year, according to local historian Geoff Bailey.
The Keeper of Archaeology & Local History at Falkirk Community Trust is gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year, DOD2015, which takes place on 19th and 20th September.
Because of his passion for buildings in Scotland, Geoff struggles to pick a favourite one: “All buildings are intrinsically fascinating but the chance to explore the history and fabric in depth and deepen our knowledge of the structure is a privilege not to be missed.”
Last year, ahead of Doors Open Day 2014, the historian carried out a survey of Falkirk Steeple and was surprise by what he found. The historic steeple, in the town’s high street, has dominated the Falkirk skyline since it was built in 1814.
He said: “I was amazed at how much of the special measures taken to secure the prison cells were still present. One of the volunteers, who is an expert in police history, then provided much of the historical background – which we published in Calatria 31.”

Posted in Buildings, Culture, Doors Open Day, Doors Open Days, Events, Facts, Free, Guest, Heritage, History, Information | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great opportunity to uncover “good stories” and “be nosey”

generic dod - programmesUNCOVERING the good stories behind Scotland’s buildings fascinates Frances MacArthur the most about Doors Open Day.

She’s recently discovered some interesting facts about a building she’s frequented regularly for many years.

Frances, Cultural Development Manager for East Dunbartonshire, revealed: “Any building with a bit of history fascinates me, but especially anything with good stories behind it, so for that reason, Glasgow’s Central Station is my favourite.

“Having used it hundreds of times, I only recently really looked at it and found out a bit more about the people who built it and the part it has played in our history.”

Locally, it’s Barony Chambers in Kirkintilloch that interests Frances the most.

Frances is local coordinator for East Dunbartonshire Doors Open Day

Frances is local coordinator for East Dunbartonshire Doors Open Day

She added: “Last year it celebrated its 200th anniversary.

“In its time it has served as the civic centre of the town, and still houses the town bell and clock. Nowadays it is part of the Auld Kirk museum complex and is used for storage, meetings and art classes.”

Why attend Doors Open Day? According to Frances, “it is a great opportunity to be nosey and find out more about the heritage all around us”.

Posted in Buildings, Culture, Doors Open Day, Doors Open Days, East Dunbartonshire, Facts, Free, Heritage, History, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photoblog post: Pipe Factory, Glasgow

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Gillian Hayes of Dapple Photography took these photos of The Pipe Factory as the latest instalment for our photoblog post series.

The Pipe Factory is next to The Barras in Glasgow. This former Italian Renaissance inspired factory was designed by M Forsyth of Airdrie in 1877.  Now used by a group of artists, writers & architects who run an open studio under the name of The Pipe Factory, since forming in 2011.

The building is on the at risk register. It is an example of some of the most intricate and ornate use of brick to be found in the city. Its adoption by the Pipe Factory has revived both the building and the wider Calton community.

13_©dapple photography_pipe factory 15_©dapple photography_pipe factory// All photos courtesy of Gillian Hayes, Dapple Photography

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Impact Arts at The Briggait, Doors Open Day Glasgow


David Shrigley’s life drawings were the main attraction at The Briggait during Doors Open Day last weekend. The Turner Prize nominated artist, who is patron of the Impact Arts project, has curated a selection of 200 drawings currently on show in the building’s courtyard for Live Drawings for Sale.

The Briggait was originally the city’s fish market and has now been transformed into a vibrant new home for over 80 artists and cultural organisations, alongside hosting exhibitions and events, including the recent installation The Empire Cafe during the Commonwealth Games.

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// All photos courtesy of Impact Arts

// Illustrator and artist David Shrigley is hosting the sale of 200 drawings of his piece Life Model to raise funds for The Young Gallery on the 25th September 2014


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Edinburgh Preview: Benjamin Tindall Architects, 27th September


Benjamin Tindall Architects are opening their office to the public as part of the annual Doors Open Day  this Saturday. Here’s some background information on their building and its site:

Built on part of the City Wall, their building on Victoria Terrace has seen re-use over four centuries as a tannery, an Institute for the Relief of Incurables, sweet manufacturing, a bomb shelter and a copper etching works. Victoria Terrace was built c.1845, and it and the building follows the line of the old city wall, the Murus Castri, which itself dates from 1426.

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BTA invite visitors to come and learn about the history of the building and surrounding area, admire the unusual views across the City’s Southside, including Heriot’s, Greyfriars and Arthur’s Seat and see work of the Practice.

Benjamin Tindall Architects is a practice with varied work including  Masterplanning new settlements, Conservation Plans, new buildings, interventions, repairs and exhibitions to furniture design, and a portfolio including several local historic buildings along the Royal Mile that are open on Doors Open Days. They are known for their appreciation of the Art and Craft of architecture and sensitive approach.

17VT stair

Benjamin Tindall Architects are opening their office at 17 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, to the public as part of the annual Doors Open Day event on Saturday 27th September between 11am – 4pm. 

A tour through the building, via their courtyard garden, will emerge in the West Bow.

// All photos courtesy of Benjamin Tindall Architects

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Guest Blog post: Euan’s Guide on accessible venues in Edinburgh


Euan’s Guide is an online guide to accessible places written by disabled people, their family and their friends. They are based in Edinburgh and love to take part in Open Doors Day each year. This year, they have kindly put together a list of their favourite accessible venues that are taking part in the event. Here’s their guest edit of selected venues, including soundbites from their original reviews:

The National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge

The National Library of Scotland is located in the centre of Edinburgh and has received a 4.5 star review on Euan’s Guide. One of our reviewers has told us that:

imagesGetting in was easy as a powerchair user with wide doors and level access. A platform lift takes you up to the main level where everything was accessible. I could get around the exhibition, shop, cafe and the accessible loo.


Image: Euan’s Guide

 You can book a tour of the National Library of Scotland by calling 0131 623 3734.

The Hub, Lawnmarket

image: The Hub

Although it may look like a church from the outside, The Hub is actually a performance space for Edinburgh’s International Festival. The Hub’s spire is also the highest point in central Edinburgh. We have been informed that the Hub is surprisingly accessible:

imagesThe Hub is one of those places where you can be quietly surprised by the ease at which you can get around, the friendly staff, and the opportunity to spend a quiet moment or two enjoying tea in the Hub’s cafe. Worth a visit if you’re in that part of town. The main function room is stunning in its size, design and first impression! 

 You can visit the Hub between 10am and 4pm on Sunday to enjoy this remarkable building.

 The Filmhouse, Lothian Road

image: Filmhouse

We have three positive reviews of The Filmhouse cinema. Despite the building having narrow corridors and a small lift, the staff are commended on their positive attitude.

You can book tours of the projection room by calling 0131 228 2688.

 The Assembly Rooms, George Street


The Assembly Rooms is over two hundred years old and has recently undergone an 18-month extensive refurbishment. It has received two very positive reviews on Euan’s Guide. One review describes praises the staff at the venue: ‘full marks to the staff who were great from the point of arrival through to accessing the lift, giving directions and welcoming.’

Guided tours of this venue are available on Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

There are lots of accessible places to explore during the Open Doors weekend in Edinburgh, and more at Euan’s Guide online. If you discover one that isn’t featured, please let the team know by submitting a review here. Happy exploring!

// With sincere thanks to Euan and the team at Euan’s Guide

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Photoblog post: Clydeport

09_©dapple photography_Clydeport

We have a series of photo blog posts from Glasgow-based professional photographer Gillian Hayes of Dapple Photography, from selected venues from the Glasgow’s Doors Open Day programme.

Next up is Glasgow’s Clydeport, the grand central head offices of the shipping company are seldom open to the public. Therein lies a number of fine features; french walnut panelling and Stephen Adam stained glass within the late 19th century building. The architect was Sir John James Burnet.

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// All photos reproduced with permission, courtesy of Gillian Hayes, Dapple Photography

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Photoblog post: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow

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We have a series of photo blog posts from Glasgow-based professional photographer Gillian Hayes of Dapple Photography, from selected venues from the Glasgow’s Doors Open Day programme.

Here are photos from The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons on St. Vincent St. The College is a grand building in the centre of Glasgow, and occupies three 19th century houses. It has finely decorated Beaux Arts interiors, first built in 1820 with later additions by JJ Burnet. Its collections are on display, including rare books, medical instruments, portraits and contemporary art. These provide food for thought for visitors whilst the centre’s Edinburgh counterpart in Old Town is under extensive refurbishment.

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 // All photos reproduced with permission, courtesy of Gillian Hayes, Dapple Photography

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