Helen Rose Outdoors: Victoria Park August 2020
Victoria Park is located in the West End of Glasgow and is within walking distance of my house. The Glasgow Parks have been a life saver for me during the Covid 19 virus pandemic lockdown. On Sunday afternoons I have walked around them discovering the historical connections and enjoying the outdoor beauty. The Scottish Government has removed the five mile travel restriction so in future blogs I can write about travels further afield.
However, back to Victoria Park which, according to the Heritage Trail Booklet www.glasgowlife.org.uk, was opened in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee..It is considered to be the prettiest park in Glasgow which may be challenged by some of the other parks’ supporters who may prefer the Botanic Gardens! There is a lot see in Victoria Park but I will limit it to the features I find most appealing.
We entered by the Jubilee Gates which form the main entrance to the park. They comprise four pillars creating two side pedestrian entrances flanking a vehicle entrance. The pillars have medallions recognising the Queen’s Jubilee. I noticed that there was a plaque to the Ladies of the Burgh of Partick, who defrayed the cost of the gates. They must have had a lot of coffee mornings to raise the funds! The Gates were made at the Walter McFarlane Saracen Foundry Works in the north of Glasgow. It was a purpose built foundry on Sir Archibald Alison’s former Possil Estate in 1872, creating the suburb of Possilpark to house the firm’s vast workforce. On top of the main pillars of the gates are two magnificent glass lamps. It is lovely entering here to a beautiful avenue of lime trees.
The Fossil Grove is probably the most well-known land mark in the park. In the 19th century a channel was cut through an old quarry and outstanding fossil tree trunks were discovered. These trunks were found to be part of a forest in a lowland swamp covering most of central Scotland 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. The term carboniferous derives from great deposits of coal. During this walk, the building covering the fossilised tree trunks was closed due to the lockdown but I have visited it in the past. It is a favourite destination for schools visits – designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. You can read the details on the fossil Grove at https://fossilgroveglasgow.org/
On leaving the Fossil Grove, you can see a sculpture of a fossilised tree which at first sight could be taken for a dead tree. It is a representation of a Lycopod tree and would have been the kind of tree grown during the Carboniferous period. It is made of recycled timber and has a bronze resin copper colour plaque to the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014.
The part of the park where the Fossil Grove is located is also the site of an old quarry known as the Quarry Knowe. The quarry is of whinstone rock and was used mainly for the metal in repairing roads. It is a fun place for children to play and climb on the rock. There is a narrow defile to walk through reminding me of my days in the mountains. In the rock garden there is also a small pond which has been lined to retain the water. Nearby is a small ornate wooden bridge.
We sat for some time in front of the large boating pond and a swan came and sat near us putting its head under its wing to have an afternoon snooze. When we stood up to walk round the pond, the swan woke up and wandered off into the water. It must have found us pleasant company! The pond was formerly used for racing model boats but no longer. However, we did see Coots which are very distinctive with their black and white colouring. The duck pond behind where we sat appeared to be mainly inhabited by adolescent swans.
Oswalds Clock Tower
Mr Gordon Oswald donated the clock to the park in 1888. He was a descendant of the Oswald family who originally owned the Scotstoun Estate. It is a very strange looking clock near the Pond and seems very top heavy as if it should have a tower holding the clock. It stands on its own in a grassy area surrounded by trees including Scots pine. One of the plaques at the base says ‘Now is the Day of Salvation’ as Mr Oswald was a keen Evangelist. A better description is a lamppost clock as it has the lamps extending arms out near the top of the post.
Curling Pavilion and Rink
The little curling pavilion is my favourite building in the park. It is in the Arts and Crafts style popular in Glasgow around the turn of the century. It is red brick with a lovely veranda at the front. It was the clubhouse of the Partick Curling Club. Ponds were gifted to the club according to a plaque on the side of the building. It is many years since there was last outdoor curling in Glasgow as we rarely have the severe winters now to freeze over ponds.
Victoria Park has retained the formal gardens from the Victorian era with grassy areas and flowerbeds of different shapes. There is seating throughout the park to sit and enjoy the colourful flower displays. Even in autumn and winter, there is a lot of colour with the wide variety of trees.
There is a lot more to see in the park but I have selected the areas that really stood out in my wanders around the park. There is a lot of history in this park which can be further explored. Friends of Victoria Park have worked closely with Glasgow City Council and achieved recognition of the Park through the efforts of the local community.
Coming attractions. Dunblane, University of Glasgow and some Glasgow Museums including Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Thanks to Sam for photos of Curling Pavilion, Swans and Avenue of Trees
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