Pure sky
One that got away



There is something fascinating about the urban periphery. I don't mean shanty towns; in fact I mean the opposite. Instead of people crammed into makeshift habitats, I mean habitats that were fully intended to be peopled, but are not.

I can remember, when I was a boy, exploring in some local woods with our pet dog and coming upon, first, lots of rhodedendron bushes among the woodland, a sign of cultivation, then the back of a big old mansion, all derelict and smashed. Spooky to wander around and peer into. (Years later it was done up and became the Rushpool Hall Hotel, and very splendid it is).

On the Costa Blance in Spain some years ago, I remember driving and walking around an abandoned holiday resort: roads all laid out with drains and lamp posts, but overgrowing with grass. Deserted buildings; an empty swimming pool.

Today I happened to turn down a side road on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, just to see where it went, and stumbled across Polphail. Cordoned off, after a fashion, with temporary site fencing, it was easily visible from a concrete access road along which a public footpath was signposted.

What a weird place. It looked to be fairly modern - 1970s, maybe; concrete-built two-storey accommodation blocks, with all the windows smashed and a few wall-sized graffiti cartoons of people.  Spooky as hell - especially when I heard, from within one of the darkened rooms, a deep, guttural, hacking cough.

Signs say bats live there. Apt.

My camera's GPS metadata places it at this lat/long: 55.87047667, -5.30587667.  Here's the place on Google's Streetview, although the caravans at the entrance have now been moved some way further back. There are warning signs on the fencing that it is an offence to disturb the bats.

I thought it might have been a holiday home project that had failed. But, searching later, I found that it had been built in the North Sea oil boom as housing for workers who were going to construct concrete rigs in a huge dock excavated nearby. But the rigs never got made so it was never occupied. Here's a BBC News report.

The demolition promised a few years ago clearly has not happened; however, a smart new marina  promised in the old dry dock is now up and running, and very swish it looks.

Here's a Scotsman report on the graffiti project, and of course I have some photos on my site. There is a much fuller set of photos on Flickr.

Interesting, turning down side roads.



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