This Saturday 27th June marks the anniversary of the park first opening in 1885. For families whose ancestry stretches back into Govan’s history, your great, great, great, great grandparents will have almost certainly been there that day, celebrating with thousands of others, all excited about their welcome green space at a time where households were cramped, and work was backbreaking.
For 135 years Elder Park has been the backdrop for the games, leisure and lives for generations of Govanites. In recent times during lockdown we have seen it bustle with families and friends reconnecting with each other*, and with nature, or using it to take care of themselves through exercise. Isabella Elder would be very pleased that her gift is still serving the people of Govan.
How do you imagine the park felt and looked the day it opened? With the parade of thousands, all of the music, banners and fanfare, and the park landscape freshly laid out by John Honeyman, a leading figure in Scottish Architecture and Landscape Design.
One thing that would have certainly looked very different then was the entranceway to the park on Govan road, with gates that were once so ornate and beautiful that they suited the embellished gold casket their key was placed in. It is very fair to say that the gates would need a lot of love to return them to their former glory. Excitingly, they will be receiving this care and attention in the coming year, through works that will also see restoration to the K13 Memorial.
The restoration of the gates and lighting at the park entranceway are being undertaken as part of Govan Cross Townscape Heritage Initiative and Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, using funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Glasgow City Council. The restoration project will be co-ordinated by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust working alongside Heritage Engagement Officer Chani Bond, Glasgow City Council and the THI Team.
There will be lots of opportunity for community members to get involved in celebrating this transformation, and the heritage of the park, through ‘Mrs Elder’s Glorious Gift’, a series of upcoming activities and events which are funded to run alongside the improvement works. You’ll find out more about all of this here on the FOEP blogsite and the getintogovan website, through our social media channels, and through the project’s dedicated facebook page.
We look forward to seeing the entranceway returned to its former glory and to celebrating Elder Park! We hope that it continues to serve the people of Govan for another 135 years, and many more!
*with appropriate social distancing, of course!
This post was written by guest blogger, Heritage Engagement Officer, Chani Bond, as part of ‘Mrs Elder’s Glorious Gift’. The Friends of Elder Park Committee are delighted to support this project, and the much-needed improvements to the park's gates.