Glasgow Photo Library
- Kibble Palace

Kibble Palace

In the late 19th century, Glasgow was booming as a result of the Industrial Revolution and John Kibble was a wealthy merchant. He built a large, botanical glasshouse for his mansion beside Loch Long - but later donated it to the City of Glasgow. It was dismantled and moved to the Botanic Gardens at Kelvingrove in the west end of the city at Kibble's own expense in 1873. It has been an enduring attraction ever since.

Named after the benefactor, the Kibble Palace became a popular attraction for both locals and tourists, with over 400,000 visitors enjoying the 340 temperate plants growing there. The building also houses a collection of sculptures and nearby buildings in the park contain a fine collection of orchids.

In 2006 the iron and glass building was dismantled in a 7 million refurbishment which lasted for two years. The ornate iron ribs of the huge Victorian glasshouse were painstakingly taken apart, cleaned, repainted and replaced and new glass windows inserted. Inside, there was a transformation, though many of the original ferns and other plants have been returned. Some, such as the Australasian tree ferns have been growing there for 120 years and the collection is of international importance. New plants have been added, some donated by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, the Eden Centre in Cornwall and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Eight attractive marble sculptures have also been cleaned and brought back to grace the building. A new internal lighting system has been installed. To avoid unsightly cables, the lights shine from ground level and bounce off reflective circular mirrors in the roof.

The statue from the Kibble Palace, shown on the right, is "Sisters of Bethany", by John Warrington Wood (1839-1886). It illustrates the New Testament figures of Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, just before their brother is raised from the dead. Critics have praised the graceful expressiveness and sensitivity of the figures.

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