Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill area – where my father and his brothers lived on Cathcart Street. At the time they moved there, Govanhill was considered an aspirational neighbourhood. But more on my father’s neighbourhood in another instalment. 

We met Bruce outside the gates to the 143-acre Queen’s Park. There, he explained how the Glasgow city council  prepared for rapid population growth in the late 1850’s. It first purchased these 143 acres that lay about three kilometres outside the city boundaries. Only after the park was developed and established did Glasgow allow residential development on  “feued” land. The fixed land rent paid for the park development and its upkeep. 

Feu – a Scots legal term meaning: noun – a perpetual lease at a fixed rent; verb (fees, feued, feuing) grant land on feu.

The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1991

That Dear Green Place

The Glasgow municipal council of the mid-19th century referred to its parks as the lungs of the city necessary for the physical and mental health of its citizens. This remains continued guiding criteria for the current city government. Now Glasgow has over 90 parks! 

Pollok Country Park

Pollok Country Park

…covers 361 acres and is the largest of the parks surrounded by city neighbourhoods. Walkers and cyclists have 11 kilometres of trails that wend their way though meadows, formal gardens and along the banks of the River Cart. A team of working Clydesdales and a herd of 50 highland cattle, normally showstoppers, have to play second fiddle to the The Burrell Collection located in an awe-inspiring building in the heart of the park. It also features Pollok House, the ancestral home of the Maxwell Family who gifted the park’s lands to the city. Not enough green – Pollok has two neighbouring golf courses. 

Kelvingrove Park

River Kelvin and the University of Glasgow

…was our neighbourhood park for eight days. At 85 acres, it is much smaller than Linn Park at 200 acres and much, much smaller than than Mugdock Country Park that boasts 667 acres of park land just to the north of the city. We were only three minutes away from Kelvingrove’s statue of Field Marshall Lord Roberts. Trails took us down to Great Western Road, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and the University of Glasgow. The River Kelvin winds its way through to Great Western Road and the Inn Deep Pub located in old railway tunnels underneath a grand old Caledonian Railway building. 

The Necropolis

The Necropolis

may be a strange place for a picnic but it is an unusual green space. The Merchant’s House of Glasgow established the cemetery in 1833. This thirty-seven acre home to over 50,000 souls sits behind Medieval Glasgow Cathedral dedicated to Saint Mungo. Entrance is across the Bridge of Sighs over Molendinar Burn. However, the first burials on the Necropolis took place in 1832. Glasgow’s Jewish community had established a burial ground on its northwest slope that was subsequently declared full in 1851. The Necropolis boasts 3500 monuments in an informal park setting and magnificent views of the cathedral and of Glasgow, all  in a mature green setting. Many of the monuments are by well-known designers, architects, and sculptors so a kind of outdoor art museum. 

“Glasgow’s a bit like Nashville, Tennessee: it doesn’t care much for the living, but it really looks after the dead.”

Billy Connolly , Glasgow Native and Comedian

Glasgow Green, the Botanical Gardens, Victoria Park, – I can’t write about them all. Discover them yourself in that Dear Green Place. And maybe you will run into Billy:

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