People’s Palace Winter Gardens – World Monument Watch 2022
Help Save the People’s Palace Winter Gardens
Friends of People’s Palace Winter Gardens & Glasgow Green (FPPWGG) is seeking application to the World Monument Watch 2022 in order to achieve recognition of the importance of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens to the people of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond.
The iconic People’s Palace & Winter Gardens was closed on December 31, 2018. Following a £350,000 repair operation the museum reopened – although temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, the future of the Winter Gardens remains uncertain with repair estimates of between £5 million and £7 million.
Inclusion in the World Monument Watch would greatly help FPPWGGin achieving their aim to preserve this important part of Glasgow’s cultural and social heritage:
‘Glasgow’s People’s Palace Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green, are important part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage. The Winter Gardens is an iconic venue, which deserves to be preserved for future generations, and included in the World’s Monuments Watch – Please lend your support.’ Friends of People’s Palace and Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green.
Letters of support will be very much appreciated. Please email saying why you feel the Winter Gardens deserve to be saved.
The World Monuments Watch
The World Monuments Watch is a global program that seeks to discover, spotlight, and take action on behalf of heritage places facing challenges or presenting opportunities of direct relevance to our global society. For 24 years, the World Monuments Fund grassroots campaign has been bringing awareness to cultural heritage’s importance for people around the world today. The program has issued a call to action for 837 sites and worked with their communities to make a difference.
The People’s Palace
The People’s Palace is situated in Glasgow Green just beyond the Merchant City in Glasgow’s East End. Along with the Winter Gardens it opened 22 January 1898. At the opening ceremony, Lord Roseberry description was: “A palace of pleasure and imagination around which the people may place their affections and which may give them a home on which their memory may rest.”
It is fair to say that both the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens are firmly held in affection by the people of Glasgow. The Palace showcases the story of the people of Glasgow through Trade Unions, the Tobacco Lords, the way of life and people of the city. Favourite items include Billy Connolly’s infamous ‘Banana Boots’, designed for him in 1975 by the Glasgow pop artist Edmund Smith. Another popular display is of a typical ‘single end’ – a one room dwelling place in a Glasgow Tenement.
As well as the permanent exhibitions, the museum puts on special exhibitions in conjunction with other galleries (In February 2016 there was an exhibition of 40 original Billy Connolly’s artwork – the People’s Palace was the the only venue for this exhibition outside of London, which is in partnership with Washington Green Fine Art and Castle Galleries). Additionally special events and educational activities take place including family friendly workshops. Exhibitions, events and a variety of functions take place in the adjoining Winter Gardens.
The Winter Gardens
The Winter Gardens a vast Victorian glasshouse housing an amazing range of tropical plants is situated to the rear of the People’s Palace is. It is a beautiful, calm and inviting place and it is always warm, making it the perfect place to visit when the weather is cold and damp. You can enjoy a cup of tea and some home baking in lovely surroundings and catch one of the temporary exhibitions. The Winter Gardens earns its keep as it is a unique venue providing a delightful setting for many events including wedding receptions and concerts. I’ve been there often over the years including to my cousin’s wedding, where in between the celebrations and speeches you could escape for a conversation and catchup strolling among the impressive plants.
(Kim Traynor, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
It is very sad and worrying to see such an iconic venue under threat and particularly nonsensical when you think how much effort has gone into the renewal of the East End of the City over many years.
East End Regeneration
(Cutkiller2018, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
With GEAR (The Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal ) in the 70s and 80s right up until present day with The Glasgow Eastern Regeneration Scheme linked to Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2012 and the legacy of the games. This legacy continues with Clyde Gateway planned to continue until 2028 ‘to lead the way on achieving unparalleled social, economic and physical change across our communities over an area of 840 hectares in the east end of Glasgow and in Rutherglen.’
Extensive urban regeneration took place in the run up to the games with the aim of breathing in new life, with a focus on the East End. These included: the Emirates Arena, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the Hockey Centre and Tollcross International Swimming Centre. Around £1 billion was spent on road and rail transport infrastructure project including the M74 . There was significant social and economic regeneration including job creation and improvement to housing and infrastructure. Full details can be seen at Go Well Go East
There seems little point in breathing new life into an area only to remove part of what might be considered the jewel in the crown that is the Winter Gardens.
(Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
One of the aims around regeneration connected to the Commonwealth Games focused on climate change and sustainability: ‘Once the last race has been run, the Village will be transformed into an affordable, energy-efficient housing area where, thanks to tree planting and some very clever engineering, even the drainage is sustainable.”
These sustainable aims appear to fit very well with the Winter Gardens’ visual and sensory benefits to people’s wellbeing and the promotion of horticulture.
It would be ironic and embarrassing if the Winter Gardens was lost to Glasgow just as the city prepares to play host to International Climate Change Conference with its focus on tackling climate change and fostering climate action ahead of COP26.
Glasgow Green was given as a gift to the the people of Glasgow in 1450 by Bishop Turnbull the Bishop of Glasgow. It is the oldest public space in Glasgow and for centuries it was the city’s only public green space. It has a fascinating history – having been used for: bleaching linen, drying fishing nets and for swimming. It was also the site of many protests. In the 19th century it was a favourite meeting place for the suffragettes and between 1830 and 1914 huge demonstrations took place regarding the Reform Bill. Throughout the world the 1st May is celebrated as an annual festival of workers’ rights and solidarity and Glasgow Green has seen many May Day celebrations. The Green is also used as a venue for major events including World Piping Championships and every year the City celebrates November 5th with fabulous firework display on the Green. More recently Glasgow Green was the location of a protest for Black Lives Matter.
Apart from providing a fabulous green space offering biodiversity and wellbeing to the people. The green also has a number of historical and unusual attractions including The McLennan Arch, the entrance to the Green and the Templeton Building with its design based on the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
You can find out all about Glasgow Green in James Carson’s wonderful photo essay: Glasgow Green – A Park For All Seasons.
Pat Byrne, March, 2021
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