Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens is an Arboretum and public park located in the West End of Glasgow, Scotland. It features several glasshouses, the most notable of which is the Kibble Palace. The gardens were created in 1817, and run by the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow (founded by Thomas Hopkirk of Dalbeth), and were intended to supply the University of Glasgow. William Hooker was regius professor of botany at Glasgow University, and contributed to the development of the Botanic Gardens before his appointment to the directorship of Kew Gardens in London. The gardens were originally used for concerts and other events, and in 1891 the gardens were incorporated into the Parks and Gardens of the City of Glasgow.
The site was once served by a railway line, and Botanic Gardens Railway Station remains today in a derelict state as a remarkable example of a disused station. It is hidden behind some trees and a metal fence blocks access to the platforms. Kirklee railway station also lies just inside the gardens.
Kibble Palace is a 19th-century wrought iron framed glasshouse, covering 2137 m2. Originally designed by John Kibble for his home at Coulport on Loch Long in the 1860s, the components were cast by Walter Macfarlane at his Saracen Foundry in Possilpark. Eventually brought up the River Clyde by barge to the Botanic Gardens, it was fully erected at its current location in 1873 by Boyd of Paisley.
The building structure is of curved wrought iron and glass supported by cast iron beams resting on ornate columns, surmounted on masonry foundations. It was initially used as an exhibition and concert venue, before being used for growing plants from the 1880s. Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone were both installed as rectors of the University of Glasgow in the palace, in 1873 and 1879 respectively - its last use as a public events venue, before becoming wholly used for the cultivation of temperate plants. The main plant group is the collection of New Zealand and Australian tree ferns, some of which have lived here for 120 years and which now form the national tree fern collection.
In the 1920s a statue was added in the palace to "King Robert of Sicily" a figure from the works of Longfellow. This is by the Scottish sculptor George Henry Paulin.
In 2004 a £7 million restoration programme was initiated to repair corrosion of the ironwork. The restoration involved the complete dismantling of the Palace, and the removal of the parts to Shafton, South Yorkshire for specialised repair and conservation. The plant collection was removed completely for the first time ever and the ironwork was rebuilt over a rearranged floorplan, giving the Palace a prolonged life. It re-opened to the public in November 2006.
- grid reference NS568675
- Botanic Gardens: Information from Glasgow City Council
- Kibble Palace: Information from Glasgow City Council
- Photographs of the Kibble's Restoration
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