July – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 01)
The Banner Says…
Hoping for the return of one of Glasgow’s most dear green places
Regular readers of the Scottish Banner may have noted we often acknowledge an anniversary of a historic occasion, place or building within our pages. Earlier this year when I learned it was the 125th anniversary of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens in Glasgow I assumed we would likely cover it.
However, we haven’t as sadly the building has been closed since 2018, though the Palace has reopened the Winter Garden have not due to the cost of much needed repairs. I have visited the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens many times over the years and on a cold ‘driech’ day the glass roofed Gardens were an oasis in the midst of the city.
A palace of pleasure and imagination
The iconic building sits in the historic Glasgow Green, Scotland’s oldest park, in the east end o the city. The Palace was built in the style of the Italian Renaissance, in red sandstone and the Gardens in a steel framed Victorian glasshouse structure and called ‘a palace of pleasure and imagination’ at its opening in 1898. The idea for the People’s Palace began in the late 1800’s when Glasgow leaders felt it was important for a cultural asset to be made available for the citizens in the poorer east end. In the late 1800’s life was hard in Glasgow’s east end, and it was quite an overcrowded place with large families living in small spaces.
To have a multi storey museum with art, exhibitions and a diverse variety of flora nestled in the hard-edged east end of Glasgow was a huge thing. At the opening in 1898 Lord Rosebery proudly declared it was ‘open to the people for ever and ever’. Since the 1940’s the building has been a champion of Glasgow’s social history.
The museum is considered to be Glasgow’s only museum in the city for and about the heritage of Glaswegians. It tells a very important part of the story of Glasgow, a story of its working-class history and what Glasgow was built on. It is a building that represents ordinary people and champions social justice. The exhibitions in the Palace include unique insights how Glasgow was for our parents and grandparents such as how a family could live in a one-room Glasgow tenement family home of the 1930s, also photos and film from a Glasgow long gone, political history and just what it was like for the women who laboured (and socialised) at their local ‘steamie’ to do the laundry. Much of that (harder) life is long gone, but no doubt it has helped shape the Glasgow of today.
Dear Green Place
In recent years Glasgow has done an outstanding job in refurbing or opening new museums across the city, such as The Burrell Collection, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Riverside Museum which we have featured each in this publication. The Winter Gardens sadly has fallen into disarray and though it is four times larger than the Palace itself there is no timeline to reopen it.
It has been said that the glasshouse was designed in the inverted shape of Lord Nelson’s ship HMS Victory, however victory has not yet come for the Winter Gardens to reopen. The airy structure was bathed in natural light and featured palm trees and exotic plants and really was a great place to escape to. I hope the city leaders of the ‘Dear Green Place’ find a way to bring back this treasured civic asset and allow Glaswegians, especially those in the east end, and visitors alike to enjoy this green historic oasis. I will be sure we announce the Winter Gardens reopening when that transpires.
In this issue
One place that is having an anniversary as we go to press and is celebrating is the Fife town of Glenrothes. The town officially came to be in 1948 and sits in the heart of Fife. Planners were thinking coal when the town started but the town has reinvented itself with the electronics industry and has a diverse collection of art works across the region, including a fondness for hippos.
Scotland is littered with a variety of ancient sites. At times they can be right in front of us, and we do not always even know it. One person who does is David C. Weinczok, who highlights some of his favourite sites located around Scotland. Perhaps you have discovered a special site of interest, if so please share it with us.
The Cairngorm Railway is the UK’s highest railway (reaching over 1,065m above sea level) and was closed in 2018 due to safety concerns. Earlier this year Scotland’s only funicular railway once again welcomed passengers back on board for the roughly five-minute journey to the top of the Highlands. This will be sure to be popular with not only snowsports enthusiasts in winter, but to visitors throughout the year to take in this stunning location.
Happy Birthday tae us!
Another anniversary I cannot not mention is the Scottish Banner’s birthday! With this issue the Scottish Banner proudly turns 47. I appreciate all the support of our readers, followers, friends and advertisers in helping us get here. Without it reaching this anniversary would not have been possible, so thank you and I do hope you enjoy this edition.
Have you visited the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens in Glasgow? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
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