Glasgow’s Spitfire LA198 at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

(Images: Urban Ghosts. Supermarine Spitfire F21 LA198 in Kelvingrove Museum)

British aviation fans often describe the Supermarine Spitfire as the most beautiful aircraft to ever grace the skies. And with good reason; its elegant design and high performance have made R.J. Mitchell’s acclaimed aircraft a flying legend, while its decisive role during the Battle of Britain – as the pilots of RAF Fighter Command fought tirelessly against the might of the German Luftwaffe – has cemented its place as a national icon.

This is embodied perfectly by “the Glasgow Spitfire”, which is proudly displayed amid the late Victorian grandeur of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the city’s West End. Despite inhabiting different points in time, the two seem like a perfect match, echoes of vintage design and engineering at its most graceful.

This particular Supermarine Spitfire, serial number LA198, is a late model Mark F21 airframe fitted with the more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine, as opposed to the Merlin, which allowed those earlier Battle of Britain machines to take on their formidable German adversaries. The vintage fighter, coded RAI-G, also has a five-bladed propeller.

Spitfire LA198 served with No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit, between 1947 and 1949. 602 had formed as a light bomber squadron in 1925. In 1938 its role changed to one of army-cooperation and by the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, it had become a fighter unit.

According to a plaque inside the Kelvingrove Museum: “The 602 pilots were the first part-time squadron to be equipped with Spitfires – on 8 May 1939. The squadron was disbanded at the end of World War II in 1945, but reformed a year later. They continued to fly Spitfires until 8 May 1951, exactly 12 years after the planes first arrived.”

The Spitfire F21 was developed in 1944 as World War Two was nearing its bloody end game. After the war LA198 was placed in storage and, after a three year spell as a gate guardian at RAF Leuchars during the 1980s, eventually passed to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where she hangs among the animals in one of several grand halls.

Read Next: Vintage World War Two Fighter Planes Hidden Away for 40 Years

Public Inconvenience: Disused Toilets in Canaan Lane, Edinburgh

The disused public toilets in Edinburgh's Canaan Lane, in the Morningside area of the city.

(Images: Urban Ghosts; the disused public toilets in Edinburgh’s Canaan Lane)

Public toilets are known as “conveniences” for a reason, but those caught short in Edinburgh should know that these well-placed essentials are becoming an endangered species. The old loos at the foot of Morrison Street were demolished last year to make way for the Haymarket redevelopment, around the same time that the council announced plans to close a swath of public toilets across the Scots capital in a bid to save the city money.

One of those buildings was an unappealing 1960s block in the otherwise pretty Canaan Lane. The post-war loos, which stand opposite one of Edinburgh’s best loved pubs, The Canny Man’s, in the Morningside area of the city, is set to be replaced by a six-storey residential building that has itself drawn criticism from residents and community leaders.

As of yesterday, the abandoned public toilets are still standing. The structure itself appears to remain in good order, though the area around it is overgrown and blighted with litter. Meanwhile, nearby in Morningside lies an interesting local oddity, hidden in plain sight behind the traditional tenements: the Wild West of Edinburgh.

Ghost Stations of the London Underground (Mapped)

(Image: Dylan Maryk. Schematic map showing the ghost stations of the London Underground)

There are dozens of ghost stations across the labyrinthine London Underground network, and we’ve written about many of them before on Urban Ghosts. As we’ve seen, most of them are not entirely closed, but rather consist of abandoned running tunnels and platforms in otherwise active stations. In a way this makes them even more compelling, as tens of thousands of people passing through a station daily may have no idea that, close by, a long-sealed Tube platform lies silent and deserted. If you’ve ever noticed a gated entrance or mysterious tunnel, an abandoned Tube station may lie beyond.

For those interested in the hidden history of the Tube, Dylan Maryk compiled the above map, showing the many ghost stations of the London Underground, in cooperation with Us Versus Them. Based on the traditional schematic, the map is not entirely new. But it nevertheless remains relevant, as many of these disused Tube stations were closed down decades ago and reflect the constantly evolving nature of the English capital’s transport infrastructure.

To zoom, simply hover over the image.

Read Next: Abandoned London Underground: 10 (More) Derelict Tube Stations & Deserted Platforms

Ancient Hill Forts of Britain & Ireland Compiled into Online “Atlas”

Maiden Castle Hillfort in Dorset

(Image: Bing Maps. Maiden Castle, Dorset, is one of Britain’s best known hill forts)

As with the ancient stone circles that preceded them, Britain’s Iron Age hill forts have fascinated academics and amateur historians for centuries. Now, a group of researchers at the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and University College Cork have catalogued thousands of ancient earthworks across the country into a new website.

Working with citizen scientists and historians, academics identified some 4,147 hill forts across the UK and Ireland, from the well-preserved to the barely discernible. Almost 40 per cent of these ancient sites, which date mostly to the Bronze Age, were found in Scotland, with an impressive 408 in the Scottish Borders alone.

Castlelaw Hillfort in the Pentland Regional Park outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Image: Bing Maps. Castlelaw hillfort in Penland Regional Park)

Despite their name, hill forts weren’t purely defensive structures. They were also likely used as trading centres and social gathering places. Some sites date back to the late Bronze Age, emerging as early as 1200 BC. Their intricate construction typically follows the contours of hills, though some were built on low-lying land.

Experts spent five years researching and documenting the hill forts of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man. These ranged from the relatively well-known and well-preserved, like Maiden Castle in Dorset, to the more esoteric, where barely a trace remained.

(Image: Bing Maps. The Iron Age hill fort on Rothbury Moor, Northumberland)

Professor Ian Ralston, from the University of Edinburgh, told the Scotsman: “Standing on a windswept hill fort with dramatic views across the countryside, you really feel like you’re fully immersed in history.

He added: “This research project is all about sharing the stories of the thousands of hill forts across Britain and Ireland in one place that is accessible to the public and researchers.”

(Image: Bing Maps. Carl Wark near Sheffield)

The collaborative project, by the University of Edinburgh, University of Oxford and University College Cork, was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Academics gathered a wealth of information from citizen scientists, enthusiasts and amateur historians, and compiled it into a valuable website that compliments existing resources like the Megalithic Portal and Canmore.

Professor Gary Lock from the University of Oxford said: “We hope it will encourage people to visit some incredible hill forts that they may never have known were right under their feet.”

You can explore the “Atlas of Hillforts” website here.

Read Next: 10 Historic Landmarks of the Neolithic British Isles

Floral Design Transforms NYC Garbage Cans into Beautiful Bouquets

(Images: via inhabitat)

Empty bins may not be a fact of daily life in Edinburgh, but across the pond in New York City, they’re positively blooming. Lewis Miller and his team of floral designers have transformed empty garbage cans into oversized bouquets, pairing exotic flowers with pale blooms that spill out onto the sidewalk around them.

Rather than repelling pedestrians, the trash planters are actually drawing them closer, as passers-by lean in to smell the roses rather than the rancid odour normally associated with rubbish bins.

Lewis Miller explained: “we are storytellers through the art of floral design, transforming an arrangement into a love song and an event into an indelible experience.”

The “vases” have popped up on street corners throughout New York City. Among the arrangements/installations are roses, sunflowers, flowering azaleas and an assortment of greenery.

WebUrbanist writes: “The temporary installations may not be a permanent solution for bad-smelling trash in a city well known for its street-side waste, but at least they offer a colorful (if passing) reprieve from the normal contents of these containers.”

Check out more of Lewis’ work on Instagram. If you’re a fan of guerrilla gardening, you may also enjoy these inspirational examples of urban interventionism.

Mega Construction: New Islamabad International Airport

Artist's impression of the New Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan's most modern airfield and its first greenfield airport.

(Image: Yasir292. New Islamabad International Airport)

Whenever we’ve featured the spectral form of an airfield as seen on Google Earth, it’s often been a forgotten wartime base or the crumbling runways of an abandoned international airport. It makes a change, therefore, to reveal one that’s under construction, like this megaproject in the Attock District of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

New Islamabad International Airport lies due east of Fateh Jang on the edge of the sprawling Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area. Flights are scheduled to begin on August 14, 2017. The facility will have two runways and serve 15 million passengers each year in its first phase, and 25 million thereafter.

Under construction: New Islamabad International Airport in Pakistan.

(Image: Google Earth)

The project was conceived back in the 1980s in a bid to replace the overstretched Benazir Bhutto International Airport, which at the current time remains the main airport serving the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. But repeated delays ultimately pushed the opening of the 3,572 acre facility to 2017.

When it eventually opens, New Islamabad International Airport will be Pakistan’s most modern airport, able to cater to the largest and newest generation of airliners, including the giant Airbus A380 and Boeing’s 747-8. It will also be the country’s first greenfield airport and feature state-of-the-art aviation met services from the outset.

The New Islamabad International Airport terminal building.

Read Next: 10 Modern Megaprojects That Are Currently Under Construction

The Geddes Family’s Tiny West Port Garden, Edinburgh

West Port Garden in Edinburgh

(Images: Urban Ghosts. West Port Garden, inspired by Sir Patrick Geddes)

Venture along West Port toward Edinburgh‘s historic Grassmarket, and you’ll pass a small community garden on a steeply terraced site. At first glance, the pleasant green space appears little more than a curiosity amid the capital’s bustling Old Town, a welcome break from noisy pubs and densely packed tenements. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the West Port Garden has an important place at the heart of Edinburgh’s social history. West Port Garden Edinburgh

The West Port Garden was established in 1910 to provide a much-needed green space for residents, particularly children, living amid the crowded slums. Inspired by town planner Sir Patrick Geddes, and designed by his daughter Norah Mears, the garden was one of several to be found within the city’s Old Town during the Edwardian era, but more than 100 years later only a handful survive.

West Port Garden

The Geddes’ recognised the importance of children playing outdoors and interacting with nature. Their garden, which incorporated a sandpit, swings and plants donated by local people, was maintained by a group of female volunteers, supervised by Norah until her death in 1967.

The tiny garden along West Port in Edinburgh's historic Old Town

The West Port Garden became increasingly neglected over the years. Then in 2013 the Grassmarket Residents’ Association embarked on a project, funded by Edinburgh World Heritage, to restore Geddes’ vision to its former glory. Gazetteer for Scotland writes that the small garden now “provides a haven for nature” in one of the busiest corners of the city.

The Geddes Garden

In an age when open green spaces are increasingly important within urban redevelopment, one can look to the tiny West Port Garden as being rather ahead of its time. But it’s also an intriguing glimpse into an older Edinburgh, where access to nature was scarce, and a key part of the Scottish capital’s hidden history.

Established in 1910, Edinburgh's Geddes Garden allowed children growing up in the Old Town slums to interact with nature and learn about gardening.

Elspeth Wills of the West Port Gardening Group told the EWH website that visitors often stopped to chat when she was working in the garden. “They are fascinated by its history and how it started as an initiative of Patrick Geddes’ Open Spaces Committee”, she said. “The team of dedicated women volunteers maintained the garden as the equivalent of a play group for children living in the overcrowded slums. Thanks to support from Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh Council we can now share that story with everyone who passes the entrance to the garden.”

Read Next: 10 Offbeat Tourist Destinations in Scotland

RTP: Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA453 (022) Withdrawn From Service

Tornado GR4 ZA453 reduced to produce

(Image: Paul Lucas; Tornado GR4 ZA453 over Bruntingthorpe, 2015)

ZA453 (022) has become the latest Panavia Tornado GR4 to be ‘reduced to produce‘ at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire. The airframe, which first flew on March 17, 1983 and was delivered to the RAF four months later, made her final flight last week (June 15th) from her base at RAF Marham in Norfolk to Leeming for RTP. The retired strike jet will now be stripped for parts and her empty hulk disposed of for scrap.

ZA453 was originally built as a Tornado GR1 and converted to GR4 standard in 2003 as part of the type’s Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) programme. The airframe also took part in Operation Granby, the name given to British military operations during the 1991 Gulf War. She’s was photographed back in the UK (here) wearing ‘desert pink’ and the tail code ‘EG’, and fitted with a replacement intake part from a grey/green camouflage jet.

Tornado ZA453’s last trip to the breaker reflects the dwindling numbers of GR4s in the RAF fleet. The type will remain in service until March 31, 2019. Below is a photograph of a former 41 (Test and Evaluation) Squadron Tornado, ZA600, showing what ZA453 may look like after completion of the RTP process. (You can read more about ZA600 here.)

Panavia Tornado ZA600 after being reduced to produce (RTP).

(Image: Peter)

Hat tip: Howard Sinclair

The Tornado F3 Mockup Used for Fire Training (RAF Leeming)

The caption pretty much sums it up! Back in the days when RAF Leeming was an active Tornado F3 station, the fire section used this mockup as a training aid. In the old days, fire dump hulks were usually the remains of real aircraft that had been retired from flying duties and condemned to the burn pit for use by RAF firefighters. Some withdrawn airframes can still be found (often for crash rescue training rather than burning), as we’ve seen at places like Manston and Predannack, but full scale replicas like this one are now the norm. We’ve scoured RAF Leeming on Google Earth for signs of this Tornado F3 mockup, but so far haven’t found it. If you know its whereabouts, please leave us a comment. Now that the RAF’s Panavia Tornado interceptor fleet has now been disposed of, there may not be as much need for this rig.

10 Disused Staten Island Railway Stations

Uncover 10 disused Staten Island Railway stations.

By the 1840s, Staten Island residents recognised the need for a reliable mass transit system in order for their part of New York City to grow. Their petitions led to the incorporation of the Staten Island Railway in 1851, a major infrastructure project financed by Cornelius Vanderbilt. On June 2, 1860, the route from Tottenville to Stapleton was completed. This modern transit system incorporated both ferries and trains. Over the years records were set (the drawbridge at the Arthur Kill station was once the largest in the world), and various stations were rebuilt or abandoned completely. This article uncovers a number of disused Staten Island Railway stations that once formed part of the backbone of the borough’s transport infrastructure, only to be closed forever and, in some cases, demolished. Many of these stations line the abandoned North Shore Branch of the SIR, and may one day find themselves open for commuters again.

Atlantic Station

Closed: Atlantic station on the Staten Island Railway

(Image: MTA of NY)

No-one’s quite sure when Atlantic station opened in the Tottenville neighbourhood of Staten Island, but it’s thought to be some time between 1909 and 1911. It was named for the place it was built to serve, mainly transporting workers to and from the nearby Atlantic Terra Cotta Company factory. These workers churned out many of the decorative features seen on buildings all across New York. Abandoned NYC says that even though the factory was demolished in the 1940s, some rubble – and occasionally even the terracotta tiles they were so famous for – remain extant at the site.

Despite the factory’s demolition decades ago, Atlantic station remained in use until January 21, 2017, when its two platforms finally closed. The disused Staten Island station “ along with its sister station, Nassau “ was replaced by a single facility between the two: Arthur Kill. The need for Staten Island Railway stations to comply with accessibility laws made it more cost effective to build a whole new station, marking the end of an era. Atlantic “ like Nassau “ had had little investment since the 1960s, when new uncovered and shelter-less platforms were built. Access to the disused station is now restricted.

Elm Park Station

Abandoned Elm Park station on Staten Island.

(Image: Jim.henderson)

Elm Park station lies on the abandoned North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railway. The ruins of the station, which lie beneath the Bayonne Bridge, are intriguing to behold. But the story of how it came to be there is equally fascinating. When the now-disused Staten Island Railway station was originally opened in 1886, it was as a surface station. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Elm Park was moved to its current location below street-level, and its platforms rebuilt.

When the North Shore Branch was abandoned on March 31, 1953, Elm Park closed with it. The years have not been kind to the disused station, which lies derelict. Access steps have been removed and the structure itself stands in overgrown decay. In the last few years, the abandoned Staten Island station has been at the centre of another sort of mass transit concept: a proposed aerial tramway, running from Elm Park, along the Bayonne Bridge, and to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s Eighth Street station. But crossing state lines complicates the project, and feelings about it are mixed.

Livingston Station

Remains of disused Livingston station on the abandoned North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railway

(Image: Jim.henderson)

Livingston station once sat at the opposite end of the North Shore Branch to Elm Park and today, only a few indications of its one-time presence endure. Like Elm Park, it opened in 1886 and was closed on March 31, 1953. But unlike Elm Park, the ruins of which can still be seen, Livingston station was demolished upon closing. The station sat along the water, on land that was once the site of the mansion belonging to the man who gave the area its name: Anson Livingston. His home was known as Bleak House, and was purchased by the railway for use as a station building. It served several industrial buildings in the immediate area, including the Richmond Light and Railroad Company, which operated streetcars.

The disused station site is now employee parking for the Con Edison facility across the road, but there is a chance it may once again be returned to its mass transit roots. The proposal involves rebuilding the disused Staten Island Railway station into what’s now a parking lot, in order for it to become a hub for light rail and bus services.

Nassau Station

The disused Staten Island Railway station of Nassau.

(Image: Adam Moss)

Like Atlantic, above, Nassau station closed down on January 21, 2017. And like Atlantic, it was named for one of the nearby factories whose workers used its platforms on a daily basis: the Nassau Smelting & Refining Company. From 2006, the site “ which has changed hands multiple times “ became the location of a major cleanup of toxic materials. Sold in 2016 for a proposed mixed-use development, it’s possible the wider area could soon be revitalised.

It’s too late for the Nassau station, though. Expanded in 1971 in a project funded in part by Nassau Smelting, the station didn’t undergo the same modernisation during the 1990s as others on the line. Decay set in early, and parts of the disused Staten Island Railway station were closed as early as 2010. After the opening of Arthur Kill, Nassau was closed and demolished.

Port Richmond Station

The SIR's abandoned Port Richmond Station

(Image: Jim.henderson)

Port Richmond station opened in 1886 and closed on March 31, 1953 as a part of the series of closures that brought the abandonment of the SIR’s North Shore Branch. When Port Richmond welcomed its first passengers, it was a wooden surface station with two higher level platforms. It also welcomed fishermen; with the nearby bridge, it became something of a popular fishing spot.

In 1935, the station got something of an overhaul when it Port Richmond Viaduct was added. The mile-long bridge was a part of a station overhaul with an eye on increased safety, and at the time it was touted as the longest in the US. That was back in 1937, and there’s a chance the viaduct could now give the station a new lease of life. Curbed New York reports that the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation kick-started a 2017 competition for ideas to revitalise the area. A $10,000 prize was offered for the best way to repurpose the abandoned railway viaduct between Port Richmond and Tower Hill. One of the most popular suggestions was a linear park, making it possible that Port Richmond might again become a destination.

Richmond County Bank Ballpark Station

Closed: Richmond County Bank Ballpark station on the Staten Island Railway

(Image: Adam Moss)

Richmond County Bank Ballpark station also lies on the abandoned North Shore Branch between Wall Street and Richmond Terrace, where it was built with a specific purpose in mind: transporting people to and from the ball game. It was opened on June 24, 2001, and would only be operational on days when the Staten Island Yankees were playing at the nearby Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Until the opening of nearby Arthur Kill, it was the newest station on the line. But as it was only open through the baseball season from June to September, its use was limited.

Perhaps, therefore, it’s not entirely surprising that Richmond County Bank Ballpark station was first on the chopping block when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was faced with budget concerns. To add insult to injury, the official closing date of the now-disused Staten Island Railway station coincided with the team’s 2010 home opener on June 18, leaving baseball fans with no choice but to walk from Saint George station or catch the bus.

Sailors’ Snug Harbor Station

Historic remains of the Sailors' Snug Harbor station on Staten Island.

Abandoned railroad tracks at the disused Staten Island Railway station Sailors' Snug Harbor.

(Images: 1, 2 Jim.henderson)

The side platforms and northernmost track have been removed, the latter paved for recreational use through this disused Staten Island Railway station. A second track lies overgrown and forgotten alongside. Opened in 1886 and closed on March 31, 1953, Sailors’ Snug Harbor station lies serene in its abandonment. It can be found at the northern point of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, an 83-acre park that took its name from a previous use as a home for retired sailors.

Founded after a bequest from deceased Revolutionary War soldier, Captain Robert Richard Randall, the estate opened in 1833 and retained its purpose into the 1960s, when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors must now take the bus from St. George Terminal, but the disused station may reopen amid plans to reactivate the Staten Island Railway;s abandoned North Shore Branch. Perhaps its old platforms will once again serve those attending events at Snug Harbor.

Tower Hill Station

The closed Tower Hill station on the Staten Island Railway in New York City.

(Image: Jim.henderson)

Tower Hill sits along the North Shore Branch between Port Richmond and Elm Park, and it’s also been targeted for its revitalisation potential, along with Port Richmond. The viaduct, which was added to the stations in the 1930s, is at the centre of a proposed adaptive reuse project spearheaded by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. Future plans may be boosted by the fact that, as Curbed New York reports, the viaduct remains in good condition, despite the fact that its stations themselves have been disused for decades.

Tower Hill station was the subject of of the same 1937 construction project that also raised Port Richmond from ground level to its current elevated position. Although it closed less than 20 years after this work was completed, it remains one of the more intact of the Staten Island Railway’s defunct stations.

West New Brighton SIR Station

Forgotten track at the disused West New Brighton station on the SIR

(Image: Jim.henderson)

Little remains of the West New Brighton ghost station. Opened alongside other North Shore Branch stations in 1886, and closed with them as well, the station “ also known as West Brighton “ lay between Port Richmond and Livingston. During its heyday, West New Brighton boasted Victorian architecture, a station house on the eastbound platform. The platforms were connected by an overpass. Originally made from wood, a concrete bridge replaced the original trestle in the 1930s, when it was still a popular place for locals to fish from.

The disused station’s future has been the subject of ongoing talks. But pay a visit to the site today and you’ll find that only the barest traces remain. One set of tracks is completely gone. The other is still extant, sunk into the earth. Infilled with planks and paved over to allow truck access, heavy wear and tear means they’ve begun to reemerge beneath the road.

Woods of Arden Station

Site of the long-abandoned Woods of Arden station on the Staten Island Railway

(Image: Google Street View. Site of the abandoned Woods of Arden station)

Erastus Wiman was a Canadian businessman turned Staten Island resident, and when he moved to the island after being made partner in a major NYC mercantile firm, he set about developing the area to its full potential. According to SILive, this included the establishment of reliable mass transit, and Wiman became instrumental in consolidating the operation of the area’s ferries and trains under the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In addition to opening the Staten Island Amusement Company and buying the Metropolitan Baseball club, he also bought a property, which he called Woods of Arden.

It’s good to be influential, and in 1886 Wiman oversaw the opening of the Woods of Arden railway station, at a cost of $112.55. As much a resort, inn, and summertime vacation spot as it was a home, Wiman arranged for the construction of Woods of Arden station to give him and his guests with easy access to the estate. It’s unclear when exactly the station closed, but it’s believed to have happened in 1894 or 1895. That’s about the time Wiman encountered major financial difficulties. In 1895, he was put on trial for forgery after cashing a check that he signed in his firm’s name. Even though his original conviction was overturned, Erastus Wiman was sued again. He sold his properties and died after suffering a stroke in 1901.

Read Next: 10 Abandoned Subway Stations and Forgotten Subterranean Platforms of New York City