Forth and Clyde Canal

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Postby Ronnie » Mon Jun 14, 2004 12:14 pm

On the route between Kirkintilloch ("The Canal Capital of Scotland", apparently) and Bishopbriggs, Old Cadder Parish Church is well worth a stop. The graveyard was a favourite haunt of bodysnatchers, who sped off with their catch by boat to Glasgow, and there are still reminders of the ways people protected their loved ones from "The Resurrection Men". These include a watch house, iron cages over graves, iron railings around family burial plots and ... my favourite ... a mortsafe. This is a kind of cast iron "over coffin" that would be placed over a coffin to prevent it being dug up. It is just lying there on the grass ... Brill.
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Mon Jun 14, 2004 2:49 pm

I have been told that Kirkintilloch came into existance as an "inland port", a bit like Spiers wharf, I suppose. Funny to think of ocean going ships sailing thru Kirky but there it is. There are the remains of moorings etc. next to some of the bridges. Next time I'll take the camera and try to upload some uninteresting pictures of semi rotten piers.
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Postby Ronnie » Mon Jun 14, 2004 2:52 pm

Cyclo2000 wrote:uninteresting pictures of semi rotten piers.


Haud me back :!:
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:29 am

Had a look at Old Cadder Churchyard the other night.
The Mortsafe is just lying out on the grass right enough. Makes you wonder how effective it could have been given that there's no lid...and no body. Woooooo... The watchmans hut with its impressively large hearth is worth stopping for alone, but the highlight for me is the one remaining cast iron gravestone, the like of which I've never seen before. There have been two in the churchyard but the one nearer the door has been largely destroyed. The remaining example is now so rusted that from a distance it looks like stone. The cage at the other side of the church is quite the beasty, too.

Well worth a wee detour if cycling the canal.

Do not be tempted (as I was) to explore the path marked "public right of way" to the back of the church. It simply loops you back round to the canal via Cadder Golf Club with golf-balls singing around your head the whole time. Also, when I found myself in the middle of the course I confess to getting quite disoriented and imagined that the canal towpath must be away to my right over the ridge. It isn't. It's straight on.

On a different note....the wee Clyde Puffer that I reffered to in my earlier post is called "Wee Spark" and does indeed sit at Joes Wharf but much earlier on the path than I thought before. It's just outside Kirkintilloch going East to West (or just before going the other way).
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Postby DMcNay » Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:34 am

Cyclo2000 wrote: but the highlight for me is the one remaining cast iron gravestone, the like of which I've never seen before. There have been two in the churchyard but the one nearer the door has been largely destroyed. The remaining example is now so rusted that from a distance it looks like stone. The cage at the other side of the church is quite the beasty, too.


There's one in the Bent Cemetery in Hamilton which is reasonably protected by a nearby tree. Unlike the one in the Necropolis or at Janefield its not totally rusted through or destroyed by the tree roots.

Ronnie, who was it got a photo of it? I'm not sure if I did. Did Colin?
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:53 pm

Ah yes, the Bent Cemetery. Funny in it's self of course but have you never noticed the sign at the entrance that says sonerously

"monumental erections must not be touched!"

Of course this cemetry is now the resting place of generations of Dukes and Duchesses of Hamilton. They were moved there after the Mauseleum in Hamilton Palace Grounds subsided so much that the crypt used to flood in winter. Indeed, the monument would have collapsed long ago had it not been for it's unusual method of construction. Rather than being merely mortared together, these huge stones are interlocking, like a jigsaw (or a pyramid. The Duke that built it was Egypt obsessed. Witness his genuine Ancient Egyptian sarcophocus in black marble, the plinth for which still stands like an alter at one end of the mausoleum. You will see that it was very small and the rumour was that they had had to break his legs to get him in it. In fact, what they did was to thin out the walls of the sarcophocus until they were almost translucent. This had the effect of making the marble weep condensation on cold nights...very creepy).
One New Years Night some friends and I went up to the tomb and tried the door....but that's another story.

The Mausoleum as you see it now is some 15-20 feet lower than when originally built.

Footnote...and this doesn't even appear on the official Palace Website.
The Duke had an Icehouse close to the palace which is still there. I only found it after an old proffessor at a University I was visiting asked me where I lived. When I told him right next to Hamilton Palace Grounds, he told me of the approximate location of the Icehouse in relation to the Mausoleum. He said he'd found it by accident when playing in the area of Barncluith village (now under Strathclyde loch) as a boy but he doubted anyone now would be able to find it or even know of it's existance. It is exactlly where he said it was, and still intact.
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Postby DMcNay » Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:50 pm

Myself, Ronnie, Modern Fossil and kn0wledge did the tour of the Mausoleum a few weeks back.

The sign you mention at the Bent Cemetery doesn't exist. We went there after visiting the mausoleum.

Are you sure the icehouse isn't the Mausoleum keepers cottage?
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Wed Jun 16, 2004 3:38 pm

My dear boy, I lived in Hamilton for over twenty years, 10 of them not 500 yards from the Bent Cemetery and the other ten in a flat overlooking the Mausoleum. The sign is on the right opposite the strange little brick built 70s keepers house as you go in. It is green and white and very closely written. There is a similar if not identical sign outside the cemetry in Wellhall Road Hamilton should you wish to attend there.

And yes I'm sure that the Icehouse is quite different from the building that you are refering to IE the ramshackle boarded up and badly subsided lodge slightly to the NW of the Mausoleum (among the trees)
The Icehouse is at some remove from there. I don't think even the park Rangers would know where it is.

As regards the Mausoleum, I have been priviledged to have had unaccompanied unlimited access to the structure. More importantly, I have also been shown how and for what it was used, by perhaps the last man alive who was able to demonstrate definitively.

Not the friendliest little chap, are you? You really shouldn't be so pompous.
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Postby duncan » Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:08 pm

Cyclo2000 wrote:Not the friendliest little chap, are you? You really shouldn't be so pompous.


no need for that - I don't think the Dr was being 'pompous', just disagreeing with the facts in your comment. you've corrected him on that, nuff said.
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Postby Ronnie » Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:55 pm

Cyclo2000 wrote:Had a look at Old Cadder Churchyard the other night.
The Mortsafe is just lying out on the grass right enough. Makes you wonder how effective it could have been given that there's no lid...and no body. Woooooo...


The mortsafe was put over the coffin, with the open end down the way, like the lid of a butter dish, and the earth piled on top. Graverobbers only dug small pits, down to where the head of the coffin was, broke off the top of the lid and dragged the body out with a rope passed under the shoulders. When they dug down to a "full metal jacket", they gave up. Also, they used wooden shovels to deaden the noise, and if they struck a mortsafe, the noise would have helped put them off.

I hope that helps to explain it.
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Postby Ronnie » Wed Jun 16, 2004 7:05 pm

Cyclo2000 wrote:As regards the Mausoleum, I have been priviledged to have had unaccompanied unlimited access to the structure. More importantly, I have also been shown how and for what it was used, by perhaps the last man alive who was able to demonstrate definitively.


Intriguing ... are you going to tell us - apart from providing a resting place for dead Hamiltons - how and what for the Mausoleum was used? Are we talking about sons of the widow?
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:36 am

If I tell you I'll have to rip my left breast asunder. At least I think that's right, I'll need to look in the manual. :wink:

The purpose of the building is Masonic. It's shape/height/width etc. conform to the Golden Mean...but I've said to much already...
Rectangles with sides related by phi (1.61803398874...), are said to be Golden Rectangles. Their geometrical properties are such that if you create a new rectangle by 'swinging' the long side around one of its ends to create a new long side, then that new rectangle is also Golden. Start with a square (1 x 1) then swing the sides round to make rectangles. You'll wind up with Golden Rectangles every time.
Ancient Archtecture is filled with these shapes, applied in a certain ratio.
I've already mentioned the essentially Egyptian nature of the construction. The Neo-Classical facade masks the private obsessions of "El Magnifico".
Similarly, in modern architecture Le Corbusier designed using a "Golden Sector" which was derived geometrically but based on "ideal" measurements taken from the human form. He called it "Le Modulor" and included relief representations of a standing figure on many of his buildings, notably the Unite d'habitation de Marseille which I visited many years ago.

We do seem to be straying from the Forth and Clyde canal rather widely. Perhaps we should continue this in a seperate forum, should anyone want to set one up.
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Postby DMcNay » Thu Jun 17, 2004 11:39 am

duncan wrote:
Cyclo2000 wrote:Not the friendliest little chap, are you? You really shouldn't be so pompous.


no need for that - I don't think the Dr was being 'pompous', just disagreeing with the facts in your comment. you've corrected him on that, nuff said.


Wasn't actually being pompous. I don't remember seeing that sign at the cemetery, and there's a photo of me standing at that very pillar. I'll check it again, but I think the sign's been changed.

As for the building being used for ...other....purposes, would the echo not prevent it from being used in any practical way?
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Postby DickyHart » Thu Jun 17, 2004 12:11 pm

square go ootside the bent cemetry at 4pm

lets lay the smack down!! HG style :)
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Postby Cyclo2000 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 12:43 pm

The sign is entitled bylaws, and there is certainly one outside Allanshaw cemetry Wellhall Rd. still cos I went by the other week and it was still by the gate.

As for the echo, it's been suggested to me that even that had a purpose. Note that certain musicians have used the Mausoleum to record in and play in specifically because of the echo. That could imply that the church had different reasons for not using it as a Chapel other than the supposedly disruptive echo. The Duke's wife, after his death, built a new catholic chapel in Cadzow Street in place of this one. Why?
Look, the interior has 8 sides and 4 alcoves. It has 8 niches above the level of the chapel. I've never counted the number of squares on the coffered ceiling but I can guess what they'll add up to. There are two lions recumbent on the East side and above the entrance to the crypt 3 carved heads representing life, death and immortality. But...there were two others in the grounds immediatley beside the Mausoleum. One of a man being crushed by a horse which was moved to the Low parks in Bothwell Road and since I think vandalised away to nothing (it may still be there you'd need to look) and another statue of which by the 1960's only a plinth remained, long since gone I should imagine. You'd need to hunt around the bushes. The second statue is popularly supposed to have been of Bonny Prince Charlie and is supposed to be hidden somewhere in the High Parks. If it is, I've never seen it but my elder brother says he has, back in the early 60s. So who knows? Be sure of this, everything is symbolic.
You should look into the life of Alexander the 10th Duke and his architect David Bryce (and even the sculptor Handyside-Ritchie). Had they connections with a certain Scottish organisation, run on Masonic lines and mentioned elsewhere in these forums?

Again, if we're gonna go down these lines we must start another topic

PS There is a local tradition that Handyside-Ritchie commited suicide. It's said that he was never paid for the Statues he carved the Duke because of a mistake and that facing penury he took his own life. BUT again there is another tradition perpetuated quite convincingly by local acolytes...that the mistake is there for a reason. See if you can spot it on your next visit.
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