Save the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens
(Kim Traynor, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
November, 2021 Update
Sadly the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens are lying derelict. COP26 has just ended. So regrettable that Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council failed to seize the opportunity to create an innovative space, which would contribute to tackling climate change. .
Save The Winter Gardens at the People’s Palace
Pat’s Guide to Glasgow’s West End – Letter of Support regarding Friends of People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green’s application to have the Winter Gardens included in World Monument Watch 2022.
(Please lend your support)
The Importance of the Winter Gardens
For 24 years the World Monuments Watch has been highlighting the importance of cultural heritage for people around the world and listing iconic places of historical significance that should not be lost to future generations.
Glasgow’s Winter Gardens at the People’s Palace at Glasgow Green is of immense importance within the East End of Glasgow and the city as a whole. It would be a tragedy if this wonderful Victorian glasshouse, which opened alongside the People’s Palace in 1898, and is one of the city’s most iconic resources was lost to the people of Glasgow.
Saving and Restoring The Winter Gardens Should Be A Priority
Action to save and restore the Winter Gardens should be among the top priorities of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, the Scottish Government, Glasgow Heritage Trust and Scottish Enterprise (Buildings Scotland).
The Winter Gardens affords a sense of wellbeing to all who visit
The Winter Gardens is a beautiful, historic and iconic venue, which deserves to be preserved for future generations. For many years, like many Glaswegians, I have enjoyed visiting Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace. No visit would have been complete without a pleasant wander in the Winter Gardens. With its tropical climate, impressive array of plants and calm atmosphere, the Gardens invariably offers a sense of wellbeing and on many an occasion an escape from dreich Glasgow Weather.
It is the perfect place to enjoy some home baking and a cup of tea and reflect on the rich heritage of the city afforded by the adjoining People’s Palace. The cafe in the Winter Gardens could be further developed to attract more visitors, create employment and generate income.
The Winter Gardens – Generating Income
The venue is much more than a pleasant place to wander and escape to as it provides a unique venue for a wide variety of events including exhibitions, activities, concerts and private functions. I have attended many different events there including concerts and wedding receptions. With effective marketing the Winter Gardens could certainly earn its keep.
The Winter Gardens – Tackling Climate Change
On my website www.glasgowwestend.co.uk I have promoted a wide range of events taking place at the People’s Palace and Glasgow Green over the past 20 years. Not so much so the Winter Gardens and I believe its potential has yet to be fully realised. Not least of all in relation to the growing interest in the importance of horticulture and plant life in addressing climate change.
The permanent closure of the Winter Gardens would be a gigantic mistake by Glasgow City Council and Scottish Government – particularly given that Glasgow will play host to COP26 in November, 2021.
Rather than allow the Winter Gardens to be closed, an opportunity should be seized to build upon this fantastic resource, to expand and create opportunities for climate change research and education. Plans should be developed to add to the outdoor gardens, plant many more trees (the Winter Gardens provides the perfect environment for propagation) and embrace opportunities for Glasgow to provide leadership in tackling climate change. (See Footnote) Glasgow City Council should maximise the potential of the Winter Gardens and demonstrate true commitment to tackling climate change. There is tremendous potential for work to be undertaken in partnership with relevant horticultural initiatives such as Glasgow Botanic Gardens, The Kibble Palace, Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow Kelvin College Community Gardens. It could also provide educational opportunities related to horticulture, biodiversity and climate change for students undertaking research and related courses, including Department of Geography, University of Glasgow. The Winter Gardens could be a hub in the city creating an innovative space contributing to the development of socially progressive urban ecology.
Regeneration of Glasgow’s East End – The Winter Gardens
The importance of climate change and sustainability was a focus for the regeneration of the East End in connection to the Commonwealth Games regeneration strategy.
‘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 well with the Winter Gardens’ visual and sensory benefits to people’s wellbeing and the promotion of horticulture.
For many years the East End of Glasgow, one of the most deprived parts of the City, has been the focus of various regeneration programmes from Glasgow East Area Regeneration (GEAR) in the 70s, the Commonwealth Games in 2012 and the current Clyde Gateway project which will run until 2028 and, building on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games, aims to: ‘lead the way on achieving unparalleled social, economic and physical change across our communities’.
Surely these aims cannot fit with the closure of the Winter Gardens – one of the city’s most historic, important and iconic venues?
The East End has seen vast sums, public and private, spent in developing the infrastructure, increasing facilities, improving roads and rail, creating new homes and claiming to be ‘breathing new life into the area’.
It is very sad and worrying to see such an iconic venue as the Winter Gardens under threat. It is particularly nonsensical when you think how much effort has gone into urban regeneration in the East End over the last five decades.
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.
For the life of me I cannot imagine that if the Winter Gardens was attached to Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow’s West End or GOMA in the Merchant City that it would be under any threat whatsoever.
I sincerely hope that the Winter Gardens can be added to the World Monument Watch 2022. Also that those agencies responsible for safeguarding the historical, social and cultural monuments in Glasgow do all in their power to ensure the Winter Gardens are not consigned to the grave yard when they afford such immense opportunities in keeping with the aims of a modern and progressive city in the 21st century.
Pat Byrne – Pat’s Guide to Glasgow’s West End, March 2021
Letters of support to help save the Winter Gardens and add them to World Monuments Watch 2022 will be very much appreciated. Please email saying why you feel the Winter Gardens deserve to be saved.
Footnote – botanical gardens research opportunities regarding climate change.
(Botanical gardens have a unique set of resources that allows them to host important climate change research projects not easily undertaken elsewhere. These resources include controlled growing conditions, living collections with broad taxonomic representation, meticulous record‐keeping, networks spanning wide geographic areas, and knowledgeable staff. Indeed, botanical gardens have already contributed significantly to our understanding of biological responses to climate change, particularly the effects of temperature on the timing of flowering and leaf‐out. They have also made significant contributions to the understanding of the relationships among climate, physiology, and anatomy. Gardens are finding new uses for traditional research tools such as herbarium specimens and historical photographs, which are increasingly being used to obtain information on past plant behavior. Additional work on invasive species and comparative studies of responses to climatic variation are providing insights on important ecological, evolutionary, and management questions. With their large collections of plant species from throughout the world and excellent herbaria, botanical gardens are well positioned to expand their current activities to continue to provide leadership in climate change research and education.). The role of Botanic Gardens in Climate Change Research. (https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02800.x) New Phytologist Richard B. Primack Abraham J. Miller‐Rushing
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