WHERE IS IT? Nestled on the banks of the River Clyde in the East End of the city, between the Gorbals and Gallowgate districts
The park, the oldest in the city, is thought to be the birthplace of Rangers Football Club when members of the local rowing club caught sight of the relatively new sport being played on Flesher’s Haugh in 1872, a piece of land that extended the park eastwards. The original space was conceived three hundred years before this when King James II granted the land to Bishop William Turnbull and all the people of Glasgow.
Since then it has served a variety of purposes, from grazing animals to washing clothes; indeed the first of Glasgow’s steamies, The Washhouse, was opened on the bank of the Camlachie Burn, one of two burns which originally ran through the swampy parkland (the Camlachie Burn now runs under the James Martin Fountain, named after the 19th Century Baillie (senior councillor) who was best known for opposing a rich new housing development in a time when the city’s east end was in shambles. It was cast in the popular Moorish style by Walter McFarlane.
Upon the grass sits the beautiful People’s Palace Museum and Winter Gardens. It was originally designed and built to inspire those living in the East End, an area considered to be over-populated and those living there were often doing so in squalor. It now serves as a social history museum, with the greenhouse extension to the back offering the chance to see unusual and exotic plant life. The Palace is fronted by the Doulton Fountain, a masterpiece by architect Arthur E. Pearce built in 1888. It celebrates the reign of Queen Victoria, with four life-size water carriers from four British colonies pointing in the directions of the compass. Queen Victoria visited Glasgow in 1849 and was the first monarch to do so since the 1600s. The statue of her on the peak of the fountain was destroyed by a lightning strike only one year after the fountain was moved to Glasgow Green in 1890.
To the east of this lies the Templeton Carpet Factory, completed in 1889 a decade after the fountain arrived. Disaster seems to haunt this area; soon after it opened, 29 people were killed when the back gable wall collapsed during a storm. A year later, a fire broke out in the factory, claiming yet more lives. Since those days it has been transformed into a Business Centre, and now houses apartments and West’s Bar, where you can nip in for a tasty pint brewed on site in their basement.
Towering high in the centre is Nelson’s Monument, which was the first monument to be raised in the Vice-Admiral’s name less than a year after his death in 1806. Beside this is an odd-looking stone etched with writing that reveals the inspiration of the land. In 1765, James Watt (whose statue can be found in George’s Square) conceived the idea of a separate condenser for the steam engine while out for a stroll. Some of his followers and fans have accredited this invention with kick-starting the industrial revolution.
Other sights of the park include the Justiciary Courthouse across from the western entrance, designed by architect William Stark (ironically, a man best known for designing lunatic asylums). On the other side of the road rests the McLennan Arch, which was originally part of the old Assembly Rooms on Ingram Street built in 1796. Almost 100 years later, the building was demolished, but the central arch was saved, and eventually found a home in Glasgow Green. At the opposite end of the Green is the Time Spiral, a set of stones arranged in a spiral formation, each tagged with a commemorative plaque detailing a significant historical event in the city's past.