24th March 1817 - Foundation of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

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24th March 1817 - Foundation of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

This day in our history, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens were founded on 24th March 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished Glasgow botanist.

Hopkirk donated his own collection to form the basis of the gardens with the original site located at the Sandyford side of Sauchiehall Street. Owned and run by the Royal Botanical Institution of Glasgow, the Gardens have shared a close relationship with the University of Glasgow since their foundation, providing plant supplies for University classes. In 1839, due to rapid expansion the Gardens moved west for the first time and in 1842 moved again to their present site at the top of Byers Road where they have remained for 175 years.
The Gardens proved an extremely popular attraction and the public were eventually allowed entry at the weekends for the fee of a penny. One of the most notable features of the Gardens is the Kibble Palace. The Kibble Palace was originally built as a private conservatory and was located quite a distance from Glasgow in the home of John Kibble at Coulport House in Cove on Loch Long. Kibble, an inventor and engineer, began dismantling the glasshouse in 1872 and it was moved by barge to the Gardens in 1873.
Glasgow Corporation took over the Gardens in 1891 with the annexation of the Burgh of Hillhead, agreeing that they should continue as a Botanic Garden and maintain close links to the University. The Botanic Gardens were once serviced by a dedicated railway station which was opened by the Glasgow Corporation in 1896. The station was short lived and closed due to the outbreak of the Second World War. While the station building has subsequently been destroyed the tracks remain. This year, the Botanic Gardens celebrate a rich 200 years of history. Glasgow City Archives holds the original records of the organisation dating back to 1817.  We also hold a catalogue of the plants which were transferred from Hopkirk’s garden in Dalbeth when the gardens were initially established in 1817. 
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​Kibble Palace from the South, 1914 (Ref: A3/2/1914 A-G)

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​Interior view of the Kibble Palace from the entrance, 1914 (Ref: A3/2/1914 A-G)
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​Interior view of the Kibble Palace towards the entrance, 1914 (Ref: A3/2/1914 A-G)
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​Printed catalogue of the plants transferred to the Glasgow Botanic Garden from Thomas Hopkirk’s garden in Dalbeth, 1817 (Ref: D-TC11/1/15)
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​The Gardens had international reach evidenced by this record of donation in March of 1906. Donations came from Paris, Prague, Germany, Hungary and Essex on this occasion but there are further donation records from as far afield as Singapore, Jamaica and America. (Ref: D-TC6/10)
​​Originally, only members of the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow were granted access to the Gardens. Eventually, the public were permitted entry at the weekends for a penny entry fee. (Ref: T-BK157/25)


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