Helen Rose’s Outdoor Diary: Binghams Pond and Dawsholm Park
We are still in lockdown from Covid 19 virus and I have to limit my walks to local parks in the hour per day we are permitted to exercise. Fortunately we have several parks in Glasgow’s West End. Glasgow is known as the Dear Green Place as it has so many beautiful parks – around 90 at the last count. Some of these are very small like Bingham’s Pond.
When I was young and lived in the West End, I looked forward to a trip to Bingham’s Pond, travelling along Great Western Road on a tramcar. At that time, there were little paddle boats on the pond for children accompanied by an adult. These days are long since gone but you can still see a evidence of where the boats were tied up. Another attraction was feeding the ducks.
Bingham’s Pond was created in the 1880s on the site of old brick and coal pits. The boathouse was built circa 1885 and became a tea room. The eastern part of the site was sold in 1956 and in the 1960s this part of the pond was filled in and a hotel and a car park were built. The Corporation acquired the area that was left for a small public park. It took its name from the Bingham family, who for three generations hired out boats in the summer and ice skates in the winter. They established a tea room in the club house.
Binghams is basically now a wildlife pond with an island in the middle where swans nest. When I visited a month ago the swans had ten fully grown cygnets but now they have flown the nest and the parent swans are in their nest in the centre of the pond presumably on their eggs with a new brood of cygnets about to appear. A few days later I was walking nearby on the Forth and Clyde Canal towpath when I came across a swan on its own that came right to the edge. I assume it was one of the fledgling swans from Bingham’s Pond.
Being spring, the ducks have mated. They are mostly Mallard Ducks and paired off in the pond so I expect to see ducklings soon. The area around the pond was lovely with bulrushes and marsh marigolds along with a host of daffodils. During these days of lockdown, nature has become very important on daily walks.
On my walk home I passed some chalked out street games for children. There were notices for children passing to try them out with instructions. As a child, I liked peever, which we played on chalked out beds. The beds were basically squares with numbers and we hopped from one number to the next pushing a peever, usually a tin of shoe polish. The peever was originally a flat stone and the game is known officially as hop-scotch. It was good to see children reverting to these harmless games during lockdown when they could not play with other children but could make virtual contact through a street game.
The park was created from lands purchased by Glasgow Corporation from Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth, in 1922. As well as the woodland area (originally called the Belvidere plantation), the Council also purchased some grassy areas to the south of the woodland. Sir Archibald then gifted an area of land contaminated with oil shale waste adjoining the eastern boundary of the woodland. The council levelled and grassed over that area to form a recreation area laid out with football pitches but these are no longer in use.
The access to this park is at the Council Recycling Centre which is not attractive. However, once inside the park it is a delightful wooded area as it is mostly left in its natural state. It feels like walking in the countryside even though it is within the city boundary. There were spring blossoms on the trees and it was lovely to wander the paths and admire the trees while listening to the birdsong. With little traffic on the roads, the wildlife is moving more in to the city. When I left the park, the police were on bicycles checking that people were observing the social distancing rules.
From the park the the nearby Temple Gasometers can be seen. These two derelict gasometers were built to store vast amounts of coal produced gas and the container expands and contracts under pressure going up and down. The first was constructed in 1893 with the second following in 1900 as demand increased. Gas was produced at the gasworks by heating coal to produce a mixture of hydrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. The by-products of this process, coke, coal tar, and ammonia were sent on to an adjoining chemical processing plant for further use. Coal was supplied to the gasworks by rail and there was a railway tunnel under the canal.
The gasworks closed in 1968, as extracting and piping in natural gas replaced the need for local manufacturing and storage. The gasometers were still used for storage for a number of years, but eventually they were no longer needed and eventually decommissioned. Left to the mercy of the elements, they became silent spectres of the past but were listed in 2018 as an important part of the Industrial past to be protected and preserved.
Coming attractions: There is so much beauty in the local parks, nature and interesting history – in the next few months I will write about the Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park.
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