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Michael Marra

Dundee songwriter/singer Michael Marra died a few months ago. The Guardian’s obituary is here.

The obituary mentions his songs General Grant’s Visit to Dundee and Frida Kahlo’s Visit to the Tay Bridge Bar saying they illustrate Marra’s humour. Well, maybe. What is most astonishing is that General Grant (as President Grant) actually did visit Dundee. I don’t think Frida Kahlo ever frequented the Tay Bridge bar, though, which is an example of idiosyncratic humour.

I didn’t mark Marra’s passing at the time because I was searching for a particular song of his which I remember from the first time he came to my attention. This was on an STV programme after the late evening news many moons ago. For this one he strode, wielding his guitar, through a flat in the process of refurbishment.

The song was the almost bizarre Painters Painting Paint which I have now been able to access. You can find it if you scroll down to number 36 on this webpage.

His gravel voice was not to everyone’s taste but he was a significant figure on the Scottish music scene, not least for his influence on it.

This You Tube clip says “Mother Glasgow cover.” In fact Marra wrote the song and it was Hue And Cry who covered it.

Michael Marra: 17/2/1952 – 23/10/2012. So it goes.

Dundee Law War Memorial

The most prominent feature of Dundee Law is the War Memorial erected there.

The east side commemorates the men of Dundee who died in the First World War.

War Memorial on Dundee Law from east

The west side commemorates the Second World War dead.

War Memorial on Dundee Law from west

The door must allow access to the inside. Apparently the device at the top is a lantern of remembrance which is lit on four occasions through the year:
25th September; in memory of the Battle of Loos,
24 October; United Nations Day,
11 November; Armistice Day
and Remembrance Sunday.

This is the view of the Memorial from just in front of the radio/mobile phone mast which also sits on the summit. You can see the rail bridge across the Tay in the background to the right here.

War Memorial on Dundee Law

Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 6 (ii)

I walked up Dundee Law (a conical hill that is the city’s highest point) for the first time yesterday.

From it you get fine views over the city and the surrounding countryside – except that yesterday it was misty so the views weren’t so fine.

It is a good vantage point to see the North Tay Works, or the McGregor and Balfour building, which I have featured before.

North Tay Works from Dundee Law

Glebe Park, Brechin

Brechin City’s ground is one of the tightest in senior football. They have recently been threatened with fines if they do not increase the pitch’s area, apparently because it is not large enough to meet UEFA‘s standards.

One of the reasons for this is that a beech hedge runs along behind the terracing on one side of the ground. You can see it in this photo I took on Saturday.

Beech Hedge, Glebe Park, Brechin

There is no scope to move this as Brechin do not own the land behind the hedge. The hedge is, in any case, one of the joys of attending a match at Glebe Park. To remove it would be a sacrilege.

And when are Brechin likely to play in a European tie anyway? And, if they did, why can they not use Dundee’s stadium, or Dundee United’s, both of which are compliant?

It’s nonsensical. The hedge must stay and Brechin not be fined.

This is the David Will stand, behind one of the goals. It is reputed to be able to seat more people than actually live in Brechin! In his time David Will became one of the top administrators of football; ironically eventually a UEFA official.

David Will Stand, Glebe Park, Brechin

You can, by the way, view Dumbarton’s new home strip in the above photo in which I can see six of our players. It’s basically an all gold effort with trimmings.

Here’s a panorama of the ground from the stand. A stitch of three photos.

Panorama of Glebe Park, Brechin

There are two more beech hedges, on the right as you look at the above, split by the smaller stand which houses the changing rooms.

Here’s a close-up of the nearer one.

The other beech hedge

All in all it’s a lovely wee ground.

Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 7: St Peter and Paul Primary

The school is in Byron Street and has some Art Deco touches.

St Peter and Paul Primary School, Dundee

This is a stitch of three photos to get it all in.
There’s a nice porthole window above the window above the arched doorway, extreme left.

St Peter and Paul Primary School, Dundee 3

Note the pillars on the entrance gate. The porthole window above the doorway balances the one at the far end.

St Peter and Paul Primary School, Dundee 4

The otherwise strict verticals and horizontals are interrupted by the arches over the windows and doorways on this gable end block. The building on the right is probably the janitor’s house.

There’s one more photo on my flickr site.

Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 6: MacGregor and Balfour Building

Now known as North Tay Works – off Loon’s Road.

North Tay Works, off Loon's Road, Dundee.

Note the typical Art Deco verticals and horizontals and pastel colours. Designed by a local architect William M. Wilson, this was built for timber merchants MacGregor and Balfour in 1937-8 and added to at the rear in the 1950s. It is now B listed and known as North Tay Works. It is situated, up an alley really, off Loon’s Road in Dundee. This is a stitch of two photos. Somebody’s garden prevents getting the whole from the front in one picture. The windows are either original Critall ones or very sympathetic replacements.

There is very nice Deco styling to the doorway and note the curved windows.

North Tay Works,Dundee: entrance

The rear was apparently added in the 1950s but the curve is in sympathy with the 1930s. The glass bricks are in keeping too.

North Tay Works,Dundee: back left

It has had a recent revamp but unfortunately appears to have no occupant at present.

See more pictures on my flickr site.

Edited to add:- I have added a view of this building from Dundee Law in a later post.

Slight Hiatus

Well Christmas has been and gone, and my birthday just before it.

We had both boys, plus the younger’s girlfriend, with us for a few days. A nice family time. Among other things as presents I got a few more tins for the collection; mainly containing biscuits.

Yesterday I was van driving again, the road and the miles to Dundee. Not to mention humphing furniture flat packs up two flights of stairs at the other end.

I can barely move today.

So there’s not been much time for posting.

There has also been a full scale thaw.

Dundee In The Snow

We were back up in Dundee on Friday taking more stuff to the flat our son has bought.

The weather was still interesting.

Above is the block of flats where his flat is, below is the entrance road.

That’s where the van got stuck on Tuesday. Here you can still see the ridges in the snow/ice:-

This is where you would normally park:-

The access road is lined with tenements. There were some great icicles hanging from one of them but the picture didn’t come out too well.

The main roads were fine, though.

Re-numbering Art Deco

For those of you who care about these things I decided a while ago that the numbering system I was using for my Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage posts had become too unwieldy.

For really signature buildings (or those geographically remote) I have retained the Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage title but otherwise I now list buildings under a narrower geographical heading, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee etc.

As a result I thought it better to re-number some earlier posts retrospectively and edit the posts accordingly.

For the record the changes are:-

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 6. Bon Accord Baths: now Aberdeen’s Art Deco Heritage 1

SADH 7. Carron Restaurant: now SADH 6

SADH 8 (and update.) Nardini’s: now 7 (and update)

SADH 9. Northern Hotel: now Aberdeen 2

SADH 10. Tarlair Swimming Pool: now 8

SADH 11. Ascot Cinema: now 9

SADH 12. Kelvin Court: now 10

SADH 13. Victoria Cinema: now Edinburgh’s Art Deco Heritage 1

SADH 14. Green’s Playhouse: now Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 1

SADH 15. Murraygate (I): now Dundee 2

SADH 16. Murraygate (II and III): now Dundee 3

SADH 17. now Dundee 4

SADH 18. Causewayside Garage: now Edinburgh 2

SADH 19. Dumbarton: now 11

SADH 20. Tobermory: now 12

SADH 21. Perth: now 13

SADH 17 (ii). Lilybank Mews: now Dundee 5

SADH 9 (ii). Beach Ballroom: now Aberdeen 3

SADH 22. Stonehaven Swimming pool: now 14

End of public information announcement.

Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 5. Lilybank Mews.

Since my younger son is now living in Dundee I’ve become even more acquainted with that city. This building is quite close to his flat and I came across it as I was making my way home after moving him in. Next time I took the camera but it was getting late and quite dark when these pictures were taken.

Lilybank Mews

This is a stitch of three photos I took of this building which is situated on the corner of Arbroath Road, Dundee.

Here is a close up of the central entrance.

Lilybank Mews Centre Entranceway

There is interplay between horizontal and vertical so typical of Deco buildings but not much by way of extravagant flourish.

I thought it must have been a mill at one time. It had obviously recently been converted to flats, though.

I’ve just discovered it was formerly known as Lilybank Works and the “distinctive chamfered corner and recessed entrance” dates from 1949, very late for Deco styling.

Also called the Taybank Works it was the last of Dundee’s jute mills. There is a photo here of the building still sporting a Tay Spinners Ltd sign. The new Taybank works apparently replaced Lilybank Foundry after the Second World War.

Of the jam, jute and journalism, for which Dundee used to be famed, what is there now left?

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