Historical & Social Context
Possilpark developed concurrently with the Saracen Foundry which was established in 1850 after Walter MacFarlane bought the land from Colonel Campbell of Possil. MacFarlane transformed what used to be a quiet suburban estate into a 100 acre grid-style working and living district with streets, parklands, houses and a large industrial complex: the Saracen Foundry. The population of Possil drastically increased, rising from 10 people in 1872 to 10,000 in 1891.
Axonometric view of MacFarlane’s Saracen Foundry, 1890 (Mitchell Library).
MacFarlane was the main employer in Possilpark for decades, collaborating with many renowned architects and producing fine examples of ornate ironwork components, some of which would then be standardised, cast and exported across the UK and beyond.
Extract of the MacFarlane’s Saracen Foundry Catalogues.
After WW2, the Foundry started to decline and eventually closed down in 1967 leaving behind thousands of unemployed people and a very high pollution rate. The site of the Foundry was dismantled and bought over by various industrial businesses. Large portions of Possil were demolished.
Brother’s Path, located a few hundred metres from the main entrance to the old Saracen Foundry, is one of the many empty plots of land in Possil: 100% of the population live within 500 metres of an area of vacant and derelict land.
Recent Development Context
In 2014, a Design Charrette and Development Framework report was commissioned by The Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership, Scottish Canals, Glasgow City Council and BIGG Regeneration. The report, delivered by LUC, identified a series of projects aiming to regenerate the Canal Corridor between Firhill and Applecross Basin and its adjacent neighbourhoods: Woodside, Firhill and Hamiltonhill/Possilpark.
A Masterplan for Hamiltonhill/Possilpark, commissioned by Queens Cross Housing Association, was also prepared by Collective Architecture. The masterplan looks at re-purposing vacant and derelict plots as residential units and open public spaces.
Brother’s Path is strategically located within the Development Framework boundary and at the threshold of the new Hamiltonhill/Possilpark Masterplan. The site is a 10-minute walk from the Canal and the Local Natural Reserve at the Claypits. Brother’s Path is also at the heart of a busy shopping area, and, as mentioned previously, it is facing Millennium Square, the main public square in Possilpark.
Aerial photographs showing Brother’s Path site (highlighted in red) in its context.
This project wishes to build on the Development Framework and Masterplan momentum by transforming this site into a key space for the community and creating a complementary space to the new Millennium Square.
Despite being internationally recognised for its contribution to British Victorian architecture, very little remains of the old Foundry in Possilpark. To tie in with 2017 Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, The Brother’s Path Garden aims to reveal elements of the Foundry’s complex and forgotten history through the story of one of its most iconic realisations: The Glasgow Botanical Gardens’ Kibble Palace.
In the 1860’s, John Kibble, an engineer, photographer and inventor, designed the Kibble Palace and the wrought iron components of this monumental structure were cast at the Saracen Foundry. It was originally installed in John Kibble’s garden in Coulport, on the edge of Loch Long.
John Kibble’s residence in Coulport with the original Kibble Palace on the left.
A decade later, Kibble donated the Palace to the City of Glasgow. It was dismantled and moved on a barge along the Clyde to be re-installed in the Glasgow Botanical Gardens in 1873 where it still resides to this day. The Kibble Palace was first a venue for concerts and exhibitions before it began to be used for plant cultivation in the 1880’s.
Hand-sketch interrogating the Kibble Palace’s journey – GRAFT.
It is now one of Glasgow’s most famous and most visited buildings. It is described as an important piece of architecture in British history and has been home to an exceptional collection of Australasian Tree Ferns for over 120 years. The Kibble Palace’s story is intrinsically connected to three places: the Glasgow Botanical Gardens, where it resides, the edge of Loch Long, where it was designed and first erected, and Possilpark, where its structure was cast.
Inside of the Kibble Palace – 2004 (DAW).
In 2014, artist Alex Frost made a sculpture that recreated John Kibble’s first version of the Palace in Cove Park, an international art residency centre overlooking Loch Long and located near Kibble’s former residence.
The Patrons, Alex Frost, Cove Park 2014.
In 2017, to tie in with the Glasgow Botanical Gardens 200th anniversary and Scotland’s celebration of its past with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we are proposing to create a temporary garden retracing the journey of this monumental travelling object, a few hundred metres from the site where it was first built, revealing its significance to Possilpark.