Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Glengonnar Camp

I came across some old postcards at an antiques fair recently. These triggered some memories!

The images were of the Glengonnar Camp, near Abington. This was one of five such camps built in 1939-40 in Scotland as a Department of Health initiative aimed at improving young people's health by giving them an opportunity to live for some months in a healthier environment than in the city. Because of the war, it was not until 1947 that the Scottish National Camps Association was established. The history of the Scottish Outdoor Education Centres can be found here. Still in existence now as a charity, the website is here.

Through the years, the camps have been used by a variety of organisations. My memories of Glengonnar are of a Scripture Union Inter-School camp one Easter holiday. Previously I had attended a similar camp at Dounans, Aberfoyle - my first ever 'adventure' away from home.

The West Coast Main Line passes Glengonnar, and when I first moved down here to Skip I would look out of the train window when travelling from Lockerbie to Glasgow, across the river, and see if I could pick out the wooden huts through the trees. Then one day, I realised they were no longer there, and I learned that the camp had been demolished.

Passing Abington in my car recently I stopped off with my camera.

There is little trace now of Glengonnar camp.

The oil tanks give a clue to what was here before.

If you listen closely, walking around the site today you can still hear the sound of hundreds of children enjoying the outdoors!

The base of one of the huts.

One of the postcards had been sent to an address in England in 1955. It says, "Dear Aunty Ruth. Having a great time here. Weather is very changeable. The food is not very good."

My own memories are of having lots of fun in a variety of outdoor activites, an abortive attempt to walk to the source of the River Clyde, and taking part in the camp concert in some discomfort, having staved my thumb taking part in a 'wide game'. On arriving home, my parents took one look at my hand, and a short time later I was waiting in Accident and Emergency at the Southern General Hospital. Yes, my thumb turned out to be cracked. My first broken bone!

The whole Glengonnar site is currently for sale, in five lots, see here.

Original photos are © Skip Cottage

Sunday, April 02, 2017

At the re-opening party

Friday lunchtime. The barriers were up, the cameras were in position. Something was about to happen at Carlisle's Citadel Station.

The hard-working media were on hand. BBC Radio Cumbria's reporter was finding out how far people had come to join the party!

I have my hands full with one camera. Here was someone proving that men can multitask!

"The train now arriving at Platform 1 ..." was a steam hauled special to celebrate the re-opening of the Carlisle-Settle line which had been closed for more than a year following a landslip at Eden Brows, the traction provided by No 60103 Flying Scotsman.

It was an important occasion.

 Music was provided!

It is difficult to convey the excitement which Flying Scotsman generates!

Those who had been on the train itself had begun to party early!

Cumbria's finest were on hand to ensure suitable behaviour.

Having parked the rake of coaches, the locomotive and the support coach reversed through the station, on its way to turn using the Upperby triangle.

An hour or so later, Flying Scotsman was back to collect the coaches.

I always have a special thought for the member of the support staff whose job it is to couple up the coaches.

With the masses corralled behind barriers by the 'event staff', the 'Reopening Special' sets off south.

Waves from those lucky enough to be on board.

Lots of enthusiasts were out in the countryside to see Flying Scotsman traverse the line. Examples are here and here. See it passing Eden Brows, the site of the landslip, here, and going over the Ribblehead viaduct, here. And here's a taster of what it was all like from the train!

Photos © Skip Cottage