The Glasgow Botanic Gardens were founded in 1817 at Sandyford near the west end of Sauchiehall Street. The Gardens were originally run by the Royal Botanical Institution of Glasgow and provided teaching space and supplies for the botanical and medical faculties of the University of Glasgow. With help from Professor William J. Hooker, Reguis Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow (1820-41), the gardens became world-renowned and in 1842 the current west end site was purchased and the gardens relocated.
One of the main features of the Gardens is the Kibble Palace, named the Winter Gardens on this map sheet. This impressive glasshouse was initially the property of John Kibble and was located on his estate at Coulport on Loch Long. It wasn’t until 1873 that it was moved to its current site, and was initially used as a concert hall or meeting place.
The Gardens connection to the University of Glasgow continued throughout this time. Several rectors of the University, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone in 1873 and 1879 respectively among them, had their installation ceremonies held in the Kibble Palace. In fact Gladstone’s installation was the last use of the Palace for a public event before it was given over entirely to the housing of temperate plants.
Access to the Gardens was limited for many years to members of the Royal Botanical Institution and their friends, with only selected days of access for the general public for a fee. As running costs rose and financial problems accumulated the Gardens were eventually taken over by the Glasgow Corporation in 1891 on condition that the Gardens would maintain their function and links to the University.
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