Glasgow Green Park or as us locals call it – Glasgow Green – is a beautiful 136 acre park in the East End of Glasgow. It’s the oldest park in the city and hugs the north bank of the River Clyde with wide-open concrete paths lined with flourishing green trees. You could easily lose an afternoon meandering through the park. But when you’ve hit up every nook and cranny of the Green, you will start to look closer at all the hidden gems Glasgow Green Park has to offer.
Glasgow Green Park is often deemed ‘monument-filled’, and it is exactly that and more so. It’s no wonder I’ve listed it in my ‘Best parks to visit in Glasgow’. From the iconic McLennan Arch to the recent Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games sculpture, my favourite park has a little something for everyone. It’s even a stop on the Glasgow City Sightseeing Tours.
McLennan Arch sits proudly on the perimeter of Glasgow Green Park facing the famous High Court building. Some deem it out very own Arc De Triomphe and it certainly has a unique story to it. Originally the facade of Robert and James Adams’ Assembly Rooms on Ingram Street in the 18th century, it later moved to other sites in Monteith Row and Greendyke Street before finding a long-term home at the at the Saltmarket entrance of the park.
The People’s Palace
Not really a ‘gem’ as it is one of the main tourist attractions in Glasgow Green Park. The People’s Palace is a free museum housing various exhibitions, objects and pieces showcasing the life of Glaswegians from 1750 through to the present day. My favourite is Billy Connolly’s famous banana boots!
The fountain is one of the most iconic pieces in the park. It’s been in Glasgow Green for more than 100 years, since 1890. It was built by the Royal Doulton company to commemorate Queen Victoria’s reign and is the largest terracotta fountain in the world. It’s situated right outside the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens so you can’t miss it on your visit to the park.
The Templeton Carpet Factory
The old Templeton Factory building is now called ‘Templeton on the Green’ and houses a range of businesses, apartments and the well-known WEST Brewery. The very distinctive terracotta building is close to The People’s Palace and is pretty unmissable if you are in or around Glasgow Green Park. It’s beautifully exotic exterior is a nod to a nineteenth century trend that allowed industrial processes to be hidden behind a fascinating facade. You can find more about the building here.
St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge
From Engineer Neil Robson, this cast iron bridge was built in 1856. It currently connects Glasgow Green Park with the Gorbals, allowing residents and locals to walk freely between the two. However, it was originally built for factory workers to reach the other side of the river safely, having previously used boats at the same site. Other than the sheer beauty of the bridge, I love standing in the middle and watching the rowers row past!
This large obelisk was erected and dedicated to Lord Nelson to commemorate his Battle of Trafalgar victory in 1805. It sits 44m tall near the Saltmarket entrance of the park.
The Winter Gardens
The Winter Gardens in Glasgow Green is attached the the People’s Palace. As of 2019, it is unfortunately closed due to unsafe structures and as far as I know there is no funding to fix it up. Nevertheless, you can admire this huge green house from the outside. It’s pretty hard to miss!
The Old Swing Set
Now there is actually a couple of active and functioning play parks in Glasgow Green but the swing set I’m talking about is near the East side of the park in quite a quiet area. There isn’t much information on them but I’m sure they hold a lot of history and stories of their own from days gone by. Alongside them, is the new more modern outdoor gym equipment.
After more research I found that this statue is actually called ‘Springtime’. The figure shows a young boy with a pipe and two squirrels at his feet – somewhat of a ‘pied piper’ or Peter Pan figure maybe? The pedestal demonstrates various children playing different games.
Bonnie Wee Well – The Hugh MacDonald Fountain
The Bonnie Wee Well is a fountain in the park dedicated to Hugh MacDonald, a famous Glaswegian author, poet and naturalist. He’s a man after my heart with a book of his own called ‘Rambles Round Glasgow’ which documents walking routes around the city coupled with observations and commentary of his experiences.
The Drying Green
The drying green was an area of Glasgow Green Park where local people would go to dry their recently washed clothes. As the park is easily accessible to the East End, the drying green was very handy for factory and industrial workers. This was common practice in Glasgow right up until the late 1970s. To this day, the park continues to acknowledge the tradition by leaving the washing poles in their original place.
James Watt Statue in Glasgow Green Park
You can find the James Watt statue in the surrounding gardens of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens. The statue was erected to commemorate an apparent ‘light bulb’ moment Watt had regarding the twin-chambered steam engine while walking around Glasgow Green Park. The statue was renovated in 2005 after it remained headless for almost four decades.
The Round Seat
The significance of The Round Seat might come to you as a surprise, as it did me. On first glance, you might think it is a strategically placed round bench under a beautiful tree – perfect for a rest during a summer walk. But no. It actually signifies the apparent spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie reviewed his troops at Christmas in 1745.
There is little known about The Dassie Green and its name. However, it is thought that this area of the park was locally known as ‘Daisy Green’. Today, it is probably one of the quieter areas of the park, quite a bit away from the water and the main entrances close to the city center. Although it does look on to the modern football centre. Well worth a look at the arch, if not for it’s surrounding points of interest…
History Stone Circle
This unique stone circle was erected to showcase various significant events in the history of Glasgow.
Oak Totem Bench
I’ve visited Glasgow Green regularly over the last five years and this oak bench is always something that intrigues me. It’s a wooden hexagonal bench based on North American totems and was sculpted by the artist Robert Coia. It was designed as part of a 2014 Commonwealth Games project that saw 12 pieces commissioned for 11 parks, each of which was twinned with a Commonwealth region.
Commonwealth Games ‘Big G’ Sculpture
The ‘Big G’ was an iconic focal point for the city during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was originally installed in George Square in the city centre and a haven for selfies (both locals and visitors) but after the Games it was moved and erected in Glasgow Green Park. You can find it next to the McLennan Arch.
These little circles embedded into the ground might be a little confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking at. These markers denotes points in the Commonwealth Walkway – a 20 mile route throughout the city that commemorates significant points in the commonwealth history. You can find more in the likes of George Square, Pollok Park and Riverside Museum. If you’re in Glasgow Green Park, have a look out for the commemorative panel outside the People’s Palace.
On the outside you might think Glasgow Green is just a park – a place where families have picnics, children play on the swings or local football teams practice on a Tuesday night but it’s so much more. These sites, statues and commemorative pieces are all very unique to the park and offer a little nod to the Glasgow’s rich history and culture over the decades. If you ever find yourself strolling through the park, having a closer look around you and see how many of the sites you come across. You might even find some yourself!