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Fireworks at Glasgow Green

Fireworks at Glasgow Green

The heart of Glasgow’s East End is the 55 hectare (136 acre) Glasgow Green, the city’s oldest park. Its history can be traced back to 1450 when the lands were gifted by King James II to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of Glasgow, just one year before the same people founded the University of Glasgow. Initially the Green was used for grazing cattle, washing and bleaching clothes, drying fishing nets and for swimming.

In the 1820s the common land was laid out as a public park with statues, drinking fountains, children’s playgrounds and other features added. Over the years the public park has been a popular location for army and militia parades and exercises, political and religious meetings and demonstrations, the Glasgow Fair until 1871, pop concerts, funfairs, and an annual fireworks display held on November 5th. The above photo is from the 2009 fireworks display. Public executions took place on the Green up until 1865, when the last person to be executed was hanged (see post on Sauchiehall Street).

Although practically devoid of trees, the Green has several landmark structures, such as the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, a museum and glasshouse which opened in 1898. Since the 1940s, it has been the museum of social history for the city of Glasgow, and tells the story of the people and the city from 1750 to present. Outside the People’s Palace sits the Doulton Fountain, donated to the city in 1890 when it was moved from Kelvingrove Park after the 1888 Internation Exhibition. At 46 feet high and 70 feet across at its base, it is the largest terracotta fountain in the world and features a slightly larger than life figure of Queen Victoria and groups of waterbearers from Canada, Australia, India and South Africa representing Britain’s Empire.

Glasgow Trivia #25: The centrepiece of Glasgow Green is the 43.5m (144ft) Nelson’s Monument, a stone obelisk commemorating the naval victories of Admiral Horatio Nelson. It was erected in 1806, a year after the Admiral’s death in the Battle of Trafalgar, and was the first monument in the world dedicated to the decorated war hero. In 1810, four years after it was built, the monument was hit by lightning and 6 meters (20ft) of masonry was knocked off from the top. Instead of replacing the fallen section, a lightning conductor was placed in its place. There’s a painting in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum by John Knox (1778-1845) portraying Nelson’s Monument being struck by lightning.

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