Beneath the Brolly: 8 Fun Umbrella Facts
Hello there, lovely readers. Gillian here. It might be non stop drizzle (or downpour) in Scotland at this time of year but that doesn't mean we have to consign ourselves to getting drookit, or - even worse - a boring, black brolly!
So, because there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong weather accessories, I'm excited to introduce my brand-new Tunnock’s Tea Cake and IRN-BRU luxury umbrellas. These windproof, double canopied wonders have a wooden and fibreglass handle and shaft and are designed to brighten up even the dreichest of Dundee days.
To celebrate this launch I thought it would be fun to get under the canopy and explore some uncommon umbrella trivia. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of umbrellas, Scottish style.
1. The First Waterproof Umbrella
The concept of the umbrella dates back thousands of years, but the first truly waterproof umbrella as we know it was created in the 19th century. Samuel Fox, an English inventor, patented the steel-ribbed umbrella in 1852. His innovative design made umbrellas much more durable and effective in keeping people dry.
2. A Rainy Record
Now, let's talk about Scotland's notorious rain. On average, Glasgow sees over 170 days of rainfall per year, making it one of the rainiest cities in the United Kingdom. It's no wonder that umbrellas are an essential accessory for Glaswegians and visitors to Scotland’s biggest city.
3. The Aerodynamic Umbrella
Ever wonder why your umbrella flips inside out on a gusty Scottish day? Well, here's an interesting tidbit: engineers have designed some modern umbrellas to be aerodynamic. These wind-resistant wonders are constructed with vents that allow air to pass through while still keeping you dry. So, even in the gustiest of Scottish gales, your umbrella might just stand its ground.
4. The Royal Umbrella Tradition
This fact takes us to a very cool Scottish tradition involving umbrellas. At the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is a world-renowned spectacle featuring military bands and performances, a red umbrella is presented to the guest of honour as a symbol of protection from the unpredictable Scottish weather. It's a symbol of hospitality and a testament to the Scottish people's warm and welcoming nature.
5. The Big Highland Umbrella
An interesting fact about the Hielanman's Umbrella in Glasgow (that most of you Central Belt Scots will know only too well) is that it's not actually an umbrella at all! The name "Hielanman's Umbrella" is the local Glaswegian nickname for the Victorian glass walled railway bridge which carries the platforms of Glasgow Central station across Argyle Street. The name stems from Highland travellers arriving at Glasgow Central Station and using the bridge as a meeting point and shelter from the rain.
6. The Largest Umbrella
The largest umbrella ever made measures a whopping 53 meters in diameter! This giant umbrella, known as the "Umbrella Sky Project," was displayed in Águeda, Portugal. It provided much-needed shade and an incredible burst of colour to the streets during hot summer months, creating a spectacular visual spectacle for visitors.
7. The Artistic Umbrella
Umbrellas have long been a recurring motif in paintings, films and literature, often symbolising various themes such as protection, isolation, or even the passage of time.
One of the most famous movie examples is the unforgettable singing-in-the-rain scene from the 1952 film Singin' in the Rain. The Singing Butler, painted by Scottish artist Jack Vettriano in 1992, shows a glamorous couple dancing on a beach, flanked by liveried servants shielding them with umbrellas. This whimsical piece sold in 2004 for 744,500 making it the most expensive painting ever sold in Scotland at the time. It’s still the best selling art print in the UK!
8. Umbrellas in Space
Umbrellas aren't just handy on Earth; they've also found their way into space exploration. Astronauts use specially designed umbrellas to protect themselves from the harsh environment of space. These space umbrellas shield astronauts from the intense heat and radiation of the sun, making spacewalks and repairs on spacecraft possible.
So there you have it, 8 intriguing facts about umbrellas with a wee touch of Scottish charm thrown in. Whether they are protecting us from rain, snow, sleet, sun or electromagnetic space radiation, the humble brolly plays an important role in Scottish culture.
Umbrellas are not only a staple of modern life but a true symbol of resilience and practicality - much like the Scots themselves! And now, with a little help from our uniquely Scottish GK umbrellas, they are also a symbol of fun and self-expression.
Check out our mini-range of Tunnock's and IRN-BRU brollies here.