In praise of… Kelvingrove Park

As part of Glasgow Science Festival this year, we’re inviting you to submit your favourite photographs and memories of Glasgow’s parks for our ‘Parklife’ competition and exhibition. In today’s blog, festival staff Dr Zara Gladman discusses her favourite spot in the West End: Kelvingrove Park.

KGme

When I was six I fed the ducks in Victoria Park; fifteen years later I saw Karen O headline a music festival on the same patch.  In 2004 the sun was blazing (and so was I) at Belle & Sebastian’s much-talked-about Botanic Gardens gig. And I’ll never forget that giant teapot in Festival Park in ’88.

As a weegie I’ve had my fair share of Glasgow park memories. But without descending too far into sentimental drivel, there’s one Dear Green Place for which I will always retain a fondness: that is, The Notorious K-G, Kelvingrove Park.

For students in Glasgow, there are a few certainties:

1) Over the course of your university career, you’ll snog an idiot in a crap indie band; the probability of bumping into him on the subway the next day approaches 1.

2) Buckfast will pass your lips at least once.

3) As soon as exam leave begins, Glasgow will miraculously interrupt its perpetual winter to deliver a scorching heatwave, heralded by the cheers of guilt-riddled, caffeinated students across the city: ‘TAPS AFF!

In times such as the latter, there’s only one place worth visiting: the library The Hill. Kelvingrove’s grassy oasis offers some respite from the neglected scraps of lecture notes littering your desk and a chance to expose your translucent skin to those precious rays. It’s a place where students, skater kids, neds, goths, hippies, hipsters, jakeys and those geeks with the diabolos live harmoniously, albeit for a few hours.

By winter, KG takes on a more romantic hue, especially after a decent bit of snow. The Hill is christened with IKEA bags, baking trays and other household items pioneered as sledges.

kgsledging

It took several hours to regain feeling in my bahookey

Of course, Kelvingrove offers more than a place to skid down hills or bask in the sun clouds or perv on those lads doing capoeira.

My background is in ecology, so it would be improper of me not to pay lip-service to the park’s resident fauna: an important corridor for West end wildlife, the ‘grove is home to an array of species, including the grey heron, great spotted woodpecker, goosander, chaffinch, blue tit, red fox and otter. The river itself supports brown trout and salmon.

Finding salmon in the luggie - part of the Clyde River Foundation's Kids in the Kelvin project

Finding salmon in the Luggie, one of the tributaries of the Kelvin – part of the Clyde River Foundation‘s ‘Kids in the Kelvin’ project

The landscape of Kelvingrove Park was laid out between 1852 and 1867 by architect Sir Joseph Paxton – the same chap who designed the Botanic Gardens and London’s Crystal Palace. The ‘West End Park’ (as it was then known) was intended as a haven for Victorians to escape the rapidly expanding slums of the city.  Over 160 years later, the park continues to foster happy memories for many a weegie. Me ‘n’ aw.

To finish, here are some lovely images of KG from The Glasgow Story.  Can we start a petition to bring back the water chute?!

Sir Joseph Paxton's original design for the park. More info here.

Sir Joseph Paxton’s original design for the park.

Kelvingrove House was built in 1783. It was demolished in 1899 and replaced with the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Kelvingrove House was built in 1783 and became the city’s first municipal museum in 1872.  In 1899 it was demolished and replaced with the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

oldy

‘Exhibition’ by Harry Spence (1860-1928). In 1888 and 1901, Kelvingrove Park was the site of an International Exhibition to celebrate Glasgow’s position as Second City of the Empire.

The miniature railway as part of the International Exhibition in 1901 was a big hit with park visitors

The miniature railway as part of the International Exhibition in 1901 was a big hit with park visitors

The water chute on the Kelvin, another popular attraction in 1901

The water chute on the Kelvin, another popular attraction in 1901

Children playing in the Stewart Memorial Fountain on a hot day in 1955

Children playing in the Stewart Memorial Fountain on a hot day in 1955

To learn more about the history of Kelvingrove and Glasgow’s legacy of Victorian parks, check out these websites.

Share your favourite Glasgow park memories and photos by entering our ‘Parklife’ competition. Images will be displayed in a special exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on 15th and 16th June. Details of how to enter are here.

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4 thoughts on “In praise of… Kelvingrove Park

  1. Hiya, the Luggie is actually one of the three tributaries of the Kelvin – they are the Luggie, Glazart and the Allander. They are around 20 miles away and not much to do with the Kelvingrove Park.

    Fun fact – the green corridor that the park is part of is home to a herd of deer that roam up and down it. If you head out for a walk at first light you will see them.

    A*

  2. Pingback: Parklife competition: deadline this Friday! | Glasgow Science Festival

  3. Pingback: Glasgowld | a photogenic world

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