Glasgow Science Museum
Dundee Jute Museum
The Harbour at Aberdeen
News of AOUG in Scotland (11)
Glasgow Science Centre
At the beginning of May my husband and I travelled up to Glasgow to meet up with local members at the Glasgow Science Centre, with the view to reviving a local group. This venue is aimed at children with numerous hands-on science experiments and being a Friday, the centre echoed to the sounds of excited children. However the Centre’s pleasure is not restricted the small children as ‘big kids’ can have just as much fun if you allow yourselves to become absorbed in the experiences. My favourite was where you could wave your hand, or any object you had in your hand, over a series of sound boxes to create tunes. Children were wildly waving their hands around whilst running up and down the length of the sound boxes but I discovered that with a walking stick, I could stand in one place and if I moved the stick quickly enough, I could manage to achieve the music for ‘The Entertainer’ at a speed to be recognisable. Age does have some advantages!
However the free standing metal Glasgow Tower shaped like an aircraft wing set vertically into the ground and sited just outside the Science Centre was the highlight of my husband’s day. At four hundred and seventeen feet high, it holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest tower in the world with the whole structure being capable of rotating three hundred and sixty degrees. So whilst the women in our party opted for another coffee, the men set off to venture up this tower. The whole tower rests on a thrust bearing just twenty six inches wide and was built to rotate under computer control to face the wind and then to turn gently with the wind. However due to safety and engineering problems throughout its history, the tower is usually locked still, as it was on the day of our visit. There was the option of five hundred and twenty three steps but our menfolk opted for the lift instead to experience a magnificent view across the city of Glasgow.
Dundee Verdant Works Jute Museum
Having travelled up to Scotland with the aim of reviving several local groups, it was a pleasure to meet up with local folk at the Verdant Works in Dundee. We began our visit with a coffee in the little café at the reception of the museum before setting off to explore the many exhibits. This museum site had a wealth of models, machinery and artifacts telling the story of jute and its importance to Dundee and provided an absorbing insight into the life of the factory workers and a comparison with the lives of the wealthy Jute Barons.
We began in the office area, where recorded voices gave the full sized models life. Here we heard not only the conversations of the various employees but also their thoughts, which gave an interesting dimension and insight to how they felt about their situation. Then through to the various displays to show where jute came from, how it was prepared and processed into the many everyday items that would have been common place in industrial Britain. Here we learnt that unfortunately the uses of jute went into decline with the inventions of many plastic alternatives for the most common items.
The jute industry had employed the same families for generations and a past employee showed us how the various processes had worked, demonstrating on half sized machines, that had previously been used by apprentices. As she set each machine going we got a small insight into the noise and dust that would have been a continual hazard for the factory workers. As with the cotton, or woollen, mills of the North of England, children were employed to crawl under machinery and repair broken threads to keep the machines working and thus accidents were common place. This was a fascinating tour.
Jean Hertzog – AOUG Treasurer
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
It was a wild weather day when we arrived at the shopping centre to meet local members for coffee prior to a visit to the Maritime Museum. Large boats had been tethered in the harbour overnight and the sounds of their engines had emitted a low throbbing sound throughout the night whilst we had slept in a hotel nearby and now the wind was singing through the ropes and playing tunes as we passed.
The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, overlooking the harbour, is housed in a building designed in 1593 for the local Provast and told the story of the North Sea, the off shore oil industry and the ship buildings and history of the clipper ships. After becoming derelict, the National Trust of Scotland took ownership who leased it out to the Aberdeen City Council to open as this fascinating museum. The museum has also since been extended into a converted adjacent church. The museum houses very interesting exhibits including suits worn by oil workers and displays of how drilling for oil is carried out but I particularly impressed by a nine metre high model of the Murchison Oil Platform in the centre of the exhibition space which is accurate in every detail. Then having completed the tour, and consuming a warming beverage, we left the shelter of the front doors to brave the cold and driving rain.
Ramsey Hertzog – Region 05
Executive Representative – Vacant
Edinburgh Group – Lewis Mckay 01314 453598 firstname.lastname@example.org