Brother’s Path Garden Opening Event needs to be postponed

In 2016, GRAFT started working with Friends of Possilpark Greenspace (FOPG) on Brother’s Path Garden, a temporary public space located on a piece of derelict land in the Possilpark area of Glasgow. FOPG is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Association based in Possilpark, Glasgow. Their aim is to “enhance open spaces, conserve the natural environment and promote and enhance biodiversity in Possilpark and the surrounding area”.

The project was co-funded by Glasgow City Council’s Stalled Spaces programme and the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Community Project programme.

The aim of the garden was to celebrate Possilpark’s local heritage, connect the Brother’s Path site to the soon-to-be refurbished adjacent Millennium Square, enhance biodiversity and create a colourful and distinctive space to improve the pedestrian environment and encourage active modes of travel. 

Professionals and members of the community spent many hundreds of hours volunteering to build the garden, installing new paths and £2500 worth of new planting. The garden was due to be opened on July 28th 2018 with the installation of benches & artwork by surface designers Bespoke Atelier who collaborated with GRAFT on the design of the project. A mix of ferns, grasses and herbaceous perennials were selected for their value to wildlife and were planted in newly constructed planting beds to complement the existing wildflower meadow. The warm weather in 2018 had seen the vegetation thrive and the planting had been praised by a local entomologist noting the improvement to biodiversity.

Sometime around July 9th 2018, the entire site was strimmed down to the ground, stripping the garden of its vegetation, removing a feeding ground for insects, birds and small mammals and depriving the community of a valuable pocket garden & playground, a rare feature in the neighbourhood. 

BP Grass Comparison

Unfortunately, the opening of the garden has had to be cancelled and this project, which was intended to be a demonstration of the positive socio-ecological potential that vacant and derelict sites can have, has suffered an unwelcome setback.

In spite of recent events, the Brother’s Path team will continue its effort to engage with local stakeholders to ensure that this type of damaging “maintenance” is not carried out again in the future and is hoping to be able to open the garden in the Autumn or next Summer. 

 

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Brother’s Path story

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.

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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.

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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.

Project Narrative

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Brother’s Path Project Launch July 15

Come and join us to find out more about Brother’s Path new project!

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Brother’s Path project will be officially launched on July 15th 2017 with a community drop-in event where you are invited to come and tell us your thoughts about the new proposal and share your stories about Possilpark. Refreshments provided.

This event is part of the Architecture Fringe 2017.

When? 15 July 2017
2pm – 4pm
FREE

Where? Brother’s Path site
40 Balmore Rd – opposite Millennium Square
Glasgow G22 6RN

For further information, get in touch at brotherspath@gmail.com