Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens

International Brigade Mural

International Brigade Mural


The People's Palace and Winter Gardens in Glasgow, Scotland is a museum and glasshouse situated in Glasgow Green, and was opened on 22 January 1898 by the Earl of Rosebery. At the time, the East End of Glasgow was one of the most unhealthy and overcrowded parts of the city, and the People's Palace was intended to provide a cultural centre for the people. It was designed by the City Engineer, Alexander B. McDonald. At the opening ceremony Lord Rosebery stated: "A palace of pleasure and imagination around which the people may place their affections and which may give them a home on which their memory may rest". He declared the building "Open to the people for ever and ever".


The present site of Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric times; it is for settlement, being the furthest downstream fording point of the River Clyde, at its confluence with the Molendinar Burn. After the Romans left Caledonia, the settlement was part of the extensive Kingdom of Strathclyde, with its capital at Dumbarton 15 miles (24 km) downstream, which merged in the 9th century with other regions to create the united Kingdom of Scotland. The origins of Glasgow as an established city derive ultimately from its medieval position as Scotland's second largest bishopric. Glasgow increased in importance during the 10th and 11th centuries as the site of this bishopric, reorganised by King David I of Scotland and John, Bishop of Glasgow. Daniel Defoe visited the city in the early 18th century and famously opined in his book A tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, that Glasgow was "the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted." At that time the city's population was about 12,000, and the city was yet to undergo the massive expansionary changes to its economy and urban fabric, brought about by the Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution.


After the Acts of Union in 1707, Scotland gained further access to the vast markets of the new British Empire, and Glasgow became prominent as a hub of international trade to and from the Americas, especially in sugar, tobacco, cotton, and manufactured goods. The city's Tobacco Lords created a deep water port at Port Glasgow on the Firth of Clyde, as the river within the city itself was then too shallow. By the late 18th century more than half of the British tobacco trade was concentrated on Glasgow's River Clyde, with over 47,000,000 lb (21,000 tons) of tobacco being imported each year at its peak. At the time, Glasgow held a commercial importance as the city participated in the trade of sugar, tobacco and later cotton.


The opening of the Monkland Canal and basin linking to the Forth and Clyde Canal at Port Dundas in 1795, facilitated access to the extensive iron-ore and coal mines in Lanarkshire. After extensive river engineering projects to dredge and deepen the River Clyde as far as Glasgow, shipbuilding became a major industry on the upper stretches of the river, pioneered by industrialists such as Robert Napier, John Elder, George Thomson, Sir William Pearce and Sir Alfred Yarrow. The River Clyde also became an important source of inspiration for artists, such as John Atkinson Grimshaw, John Knox, James Kay, Sir Muirhead Bone, Robert Eadie, Stanley Spencer and L.S. Lowry, willing to depict the new industrial era and the modern world. Glasgow's population had surpassed that of Edinburgh by 1821. The development of civic institutions included the City of Glasgow Police in 1800, one of the first municipal police forces in the world. Despite the crisis caused by the City of Glasgow Bank's collapse in 1878, growth continued and by the end of the 19th century it was one of the cities known as the "Second City of the Empire" and was producing more than half Britain's tonnage of shipping and a quarter of all locomotives in the world. In addition to its pre-eminence in shipbuilding, engineering, industrial machinery, bridge building, chemicals, explosives, coal and oil industries it developed as a major centre in textiles, garment-making, carpet manufacturing, leather processing, furniture-making, pottery, food, drink and cigarette making; printing and publishing. Shipping, banking, insurance and professional services expanded at the same time.


Glasgow became one of the first cities in Europe to reach a population of one million. The city's new trades and sciences attracted new residents from across the Lowlands and the Highlands of Scotland, from Ireland and other parts of Britain and from Continental Europe. During this period, the construction of many of the city's greatest architectural masterpieces and most ambitious civil engineering projects, such as the Milngavie water treatment works, Glasgow Subway, Glasgow Corporation Tramways, City Chambers, Mitchell Library and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum were being funded by its wealth. The city also held a series of International Exhibitions at Kelvingrove Park, in 1888, 1901 and 1911, with Britain's last major International Exhibition, the Empire Exhibition, being subsequently held in 1938 at Bellahouston Park, which drew 13 million visitors.


The 20th century witnessed both decline and renewal in the city. After World War I, the city suffered from the impact of the Post–World War I recession and from the later Great Depression, this also led to a rise of radical socialism and the "Red Clydeside" movement. The city had recovered by the outbreak of World War II and grew through the post-war boom that lasted through the 1950s. By the 1960s, growth of industry in countries like Japan and West Germany, weakened the once pre-eminent position of many of the city's industries. As a result of this, Glasgow entered a lengthy period of relative economic decline and rapid de-industrialisation, leading to high unemployment, urban decay, population decline, welfare dependency and poor health for the city's inhabitants. There were active attempts at regeneration of the city, when the Glasgow Corporation published its controversial Bruce Report, which set out a comprehensive series of initiatives aimed at turning round the decline of the city. The report led to a huge and radical programme of rebuilding and regeneration efforts that started in the mid-1950s and lasted into the late 1970s. This involved the mass demolition of the city's infamous slums and their replacement with large suburban housing estates and tower blocks.


The city invested heavily in roads infrastructure, with an extensive system of arterial roads and motorways that bisected the central area. There are also accusations that the Scottish Office had deliberately attempted to undermine Glasgow's economic and political influence in post-war Scotland by diverting inward investment in new industries to other regions during the Silicon Glen boom and creating the new towns of Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Irvine, Livingston and East Kilbride, dispersed across the Scottish Lowlands to halve the city's population base. By the late 1980s, there had been a significant resurgence in Glasgow's economic fortunes. The "Glasgow's miles better" campaign, launched in 1983, and opening of the Burrell Collection in 1983 and Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in 1985 facilitated Glasgow's new role as a European centre for business services and finance and promoted an increase in tourism and inward investment. The latter continues to be bolstered by the legacy of the city's Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, its status as European City of Culture in 1990, and concerted attempts to diversify the city's economy. Wider economic revival has persisted and the ongoing regeneration of inner-city areas, including the large-scale Clyde Waterfront Regeneration, has led to more affluent people moving back to live in the centre of Glasgow, fuelling allegations of gentrification. The city is now considered by Lonely Planet to be one of the world's top 10 tourist cities.


Despite Glasgow's economic renaissance, the East End of the city remains the focus of social deprivation. A Glasgow Economic Audit report published in 2007 stated that the gap between prosperous and deprived areas of the city is widening. In 2006, 47% of Glasgow's population lived in the most deprived 15% of areas in Scotland, while the Centre for Social Justice reported 29.4% of the city's working-age residents to be "economically inactive". It is common to derive the name Glasgow from the older Cumbric glas cau or a Middle Gaelic cognate, which would have meant green basin or green valley. The settlement probably had an earlier Cumbric name, Cathures; the modern name appears for the first time in the Gaelic period (1116), as Glasgu. It is also recorded that the King of Strathclyde, Rhydderch Hael, welcomed Saint Kentigern (also known as Saint Mungo), and procured his consecration as bishop about 540. For some thirteen years Kentigern laboured in the region, building his church at the Molendinar Burn, and making many converts. A large community developed around him and became known as Glasgu (often glossed as "the dear Green" or "dear green place"). In 1450, John Stewart, the first Lord Provost of Glasgow, left an endowment so that a "St Mungo's Bell" could be made and tolled throughout the city so that the citizens would pray for his soul. A new bell was purchased by the magistrates in 1641 and that bell is still on display in the People's Palace Museum.


The People’s Palace looks at the development of Glasgow and the story of its people from 1700’s to late 20th century. Covering everything from Tobacco Lords to Trade Unions and everything in between there are objects, images and personal stories revealing the history of this great city. A few of the highlights are : Billy Connolly’s Banana Boots - These famous boots were designed and made for Glasgow comedian Billy Connolly in 1975 by the Glasgow pop artist Edmund Smith. The boots made their first appearance on stage in August of that year, at the Music Hall in Aberdeen. The Single End. The Single End can be found in a special gallery that tells the story of housing in Glasgow, and how it has changed from the 18th to the 20th century. Their reconstruction shows a typical single-roomed house that a 1930s working class family would have lived in: Just one room where everyone cooked, ate, slept and washed in. Visitors can experience the cramped conditions, hear an account of what it was like to live in a single end, and even smell some scents associated with life there, including carbolic soap and gas. Dancing At The Barrowlands. ‘The dancing’ has long been a favourite pastime in Glasgow, and the Glasgow Barrowlands Ballroom – now a much-loved venue for rock concerts – was once the leading dance hall in Scotland. Their display pays homage to a place that generations of Glaswegians flocked to. Here you can try out your dance moves, or see some objects linked to the Barrowlands by opening a Take Your Pick box. You can see outfits that would have been worn by a young fashionable couple in the 1950s – a swell suit and a beautiful hot pink dress; styles and colours very much in vogue at the time. The Steamie​. Public Baths and Wash Houses opened across the city in the early 20th Century. They were set up with stalls, where women woul​d bring the weekly washing to clean by hand. It was also a place where women could catch up with friends and gossip, giving rise to the phrase “you’ll be the talk of the steamie!” Their display shows the small stall space, and gives you an idea of the equipment used to get clothes clean before electrical gadgets made it easier.


Fizzers 10 Years of Caricature. ​Movie stars and musicians, sporting heroes and TV personalities will all star in this special exhibition marking a decade of ‘Fizzers’ opening at Glasgow’s People’s Palace. Fizzers: 10 years of Caricature will feature over 120 international icons and Scottish celebrities as you have never seen them before - each captured in caricature by five artists from the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio. ‘Fizzer’ is Glaswegian slang for face, visitors of all ages are welcome to delight in the drawings of well-known fizzers from across the world. David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Bay City Rollers, Rihanna and Elizabeth Taylor are just a few of the global super stars whose fizzer has been created for this unique exhibition. While, closer to home, local heroes such as Phil and Ally, Benny Lynch and Jimmy Reid are celebrated with their own portraits. Caricatures of world-class sports people including Andy Murray, Liz McColgan and David Wilkie, will be on display alongside a squad of famous players and formidable managers fit to rival any fantasy football dream team. Meanwhile, Doctor Who fans can reminisce over fifty years of adventures in space and time with a special section featuring each of the 12 time lords from William Hartnell to Peter Capaldi.


Recent additions to the museum are three unique gallery spaces on the ground floor. The Welcome Room. Introducing the stories behind Glasgow’s social history: from housing and leisure activities to events and exhibitions in the city and the infamous ‘Steamie’. You can also enjoy the long-lost oil painting, Glasgow Fair (c.1819-22) by John Knox showing the Glasgow Fair on the Green. The Welcome Room also plays host to a wealth of workshops and learning activities for everyone to enjoy. Gaun the Messages: Shops and shopping in Glasgow. Whilst browsing in their museum shop enjoy the display which focuses on Glasgow’s shopping and retail history. Glasgow had – and still has – a wide range of shops and markets. Do you remember queuing for butter pats in the local grocers or eyeing up the colourful jars of sweets as the shopkeeper weighed them out for one lucky person? On the Green. Discover the history of Glasgow Green as the park evolved from Glasgow’s common land, the story of the Doulton Fountain and the renowned Templeton carpet factory. This new display also extends the time period covered by the museum by including objects from the Iron Age and medieval period.


A member of staff with some basic British Sign Language may be available, please enquire at reception. There six disabled parking spaces available at the museum. Floor plans, including a Braille version, and gallery guides are available from reception. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome at the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens. Water is available on request. There is wheelchair and pram access to all public areas of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens using the lifts and there also four wheelchairs available at reception for use by visitors. Guided tours are available by request. ​If you have a research related enquiry, please contact the Museum Manager. Toilets are located in the Winter Gardens and the accessible toilet and baby changing facilities are found in the People’s Palace. A private area for breastfeeding is available on request - please ask at reception. Hot water is available from the café for heating milk and food for babies and young children.


Location : People's Palace, Glasgow Green, Glasgow, G40 1AT

Transport: Argyle Street, Bellgrove or High Street (National Rail) then 15 minutes. Subway : St Enoch then 15 minutes. Bus Routes : 18, 64, 263, 2, 40, 60, 61, 240 and 255 stop closeby.

Opening Times : Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00;  Fridays and Sundays opens at 11:00

Tickets : Free

Tel. : 0141 276 0788