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Kibble Palace

Kibble Palace

The larger and much nicer of the two glass greenhouses in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens is called the Kibble Palace. The 2,137m² wrought iron framed house of glass is packed with tropical plants and white marble statues. Oh, and the temperature and humidity is always quite tropical, so if you’re ever cold and close to the Botanics, head to the Kibble Palace.

The Palace was originally designed by John Kibble – a Scottish inventor, engineer and amateur photographer – as a conservatory for his Loch Long estate in the 1860s. In 1873 the palace was taken apart and brought by barge to its current location.

Initially the palace was used for public events and concerts. Some of the last uses of the Kibble Palace were in the 1870s, when Benjamin Disraeli (in 1873) and William Ewart Gladstone (in 1879) were both installed as rectors of the University of Glasgow in the palace. After the latter of those rectorial inaugurations, the venue became wholly used for the cultivation of temperate plants, including a collection of Australian tree ferns, some of which have lived there for over 120 years.

Between 2003 and 2006 the Kibble Palace went through a £7 million restoration programme to fix the corrosion of the ironwork. This involved the complete dismantling of the Palace, and the removal of the parts to South Yorkshire. It was also the first time in over 120 years when the plant collection was completely removed from the Palace, until it reopened to the public in November 2006.

Glasgow Trivia #5: Just behind the spot where this panorama was taken is the abandoned and disused underground Botanic Gardens Railway Station, which was in operation between 1896 and 1939. The line which ran through the Botanics on its way from the Exhibition Centre to Maryhill, the Glasgow Central Line, closed to passenger travel in 1964, and now lies derelict.. Ideas for salvaging the tunnels and station have been thrown around for years, unsuccessfully. for instance, there were plans of turning it into an underground club a few years back, but it fell through because the neighbours opposed it.

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© 2010

3 responses

  1. Raj

    I must confess that I’m very glad that the plans to turn the station into a club fell through. I can’t imagine a less appropriate use. It would be nice to see something there though.

    Incidentally, the Kibble palace is still used for public concerts and the like occasionally. Bard in the Botanics sometimes put on performances there and I’ve seen other shows there too, including a Gamelan performance.

    July 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    • Completely forgot about Bard in the Botanics. Been meaning to go there for the past few summers but I’m never in Glasgow when it’s on.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    • it would be nice to have something done to the railway tunnels and stations along the line, but before that happens, I want to go explore down there. A friend of mine says there’s a pretty easy way of getting into the platforms below ground at the Botanics.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:03 am

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