Bellahouston Park


Bellahouston Park

Bellahouston Park is a park in south west Glasgow, Scotland (gbmapping|NS550636), between the areas of Mosspark, Craigton, Ibrox, and Dumbreck covering an area of 71 hectares (175 acres). It is based around Ibrox hill in the centre, with commanding views over most of the city, exceptions being obscured by trees to the east and by hills in Mosspark to the south. Notable views include that of Ballageich (Balagich) hill, rising to 1084 feet (330m) on the southern horizon in East Renfrewshire.

History

Until the late 19th century, Bellahouston Park consisted of farmland as part of the Maxwell Estate, which also included much of the surrounding areas including Maxwell Park, Pollok Country Park, Pollok House and Haggs Castle, and also housed a riding school. It became a park in 1895 and as Glasgow expanded it was surrounded to the west, south and east by housing and to the north by the "White City" stadium, built in 1928, which hosted greyhound and speedway racing (located close to Rangers' stadium at Ibrox). This site is now the M8 motorway and Glasgow G-Division Police Headquarters.

The park is often used as a location for public events, including the Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 and the 1982 visit to Scotland by Pope John Paul II. The Tait Tower was built on a hill in the park as part of the 1938 exhibition but was demolished on the outbreak of World War II. In addition to many Scottish Pipe Band competitions, a visit by Billy Graham the evangelist later in the 1980s, and more recently a Coldplay concert in summer 2005. A monument in the form of a large inscribed granite stone commemorating the 1938 Empire Exhibition currently overlooks Bellahouston Sports Centre and was unveiled by King George VI on 9 July 1937 but was subsequently relocated to where it stands today. Long distance races, such as the Glasgow Marathon and Half Marathon pass through the park, although events to the south were restricted in the 1990s when subsidence into old mine workings resulted in some depressions in the park surface.

Facilities

The park is home to several sporting facilities and buildings of cultural interest. These include Bellahouston Sports Centre and the Palace of Art Sports for Excellence Centre, the latter consisting of a building retained from the 1938 exhibition. The Glasgow Ski Centre houses an artificial ski slope, which was adapted from the seating area around a former bandstand in the early 1970s. This centre is now getting an extension. The bandstand has been retained as the clubhouse and equipment store. There is also a "pitch and putt" miniature golf course, a bowling club, all weather hockey pitches, cycling facilities, an adventure playground and an orienteering course. In March 2006, construction began on a cycling track adjacent to Bellahouston Drive. In the past there were many football pitches and three large changing rooms, which have since been removed.

The park also houses a walled flower garden and the "House for an Art Lover", which was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and opened in 1996. A section of the of the park is used as a plant nursery by Glasgow City Council.

1982 Papal Visit

The Papal visit of John Paul II in June 1982, despite being massively attended, was the cause of some disquiet. The Roman Catholic Church had paid for drainage for some parkland close to Mosspark Boulevard which was prone to flooding, in order to increase the number of worshippers able to attend. Six trees were also removed to improve the view of a partially walled hole that housed the dais where the Pope was to celebrate Mass. However, protesters chained themselves to the trees to prevent this. There was also another protest in the form of Pastor Jack Glass, who stood in a local election for the "Pastor Jack Glass against the Papal visit" political party. There was further disquiet after the event when the church failed to honour its pledge to return the park to its original condition, and a white brick painted wall that accommodated the rear of the stage has been maintained. On the death of John Paul II in April 2005, flowers were laid against the wall.

Transport

The park is easily accessible via public transport, with Paisley Road West to the north and Mosspark Boulevard to the south. Although the Bellahouston train station was only open for the 1938 exhibition, Dumbreck station on the Paisley Canal Line station is only 250m from the park. Ibrox is the closest underground station. Motorway access is good with the M8 passing the park, and the M77 first exit being near the former tram lines on Mosspark Boulevard which are used as car parks during exhibitions, and also house two small permanent car parks.


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