Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

ROUKEN GLEN PARKGDL00332

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
31/03/2006
Local Authority
East Renfrewshire
Parish
Eastwood
NGR
NS 54844 58213
Coordinates
254844, 658213

A very successful conversion of a private estate into a public park. The integrity of the 19th-century design is still well-preserved, particularly the dramatic qualities of the picturesque Glen providing a foil to the more benign parkland layout.

Type of Site

An early 20th-century public park developed within the grounds of a medium-size, 19th-century, country house estate. The design embodies both 19th- and 20th-century elements.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Early to late 19th century as a private estate and from 1906 as a public park.

Importance of Site

A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.

Work of Art

Value
Some

The picturesque Glen which forms the focal point of the site gives it some value as a work of art.

Historical

Value
Some

The known historical development of this site gives Rouken Glen some historical value.

Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural

Value
Some

The bedding displays in the walled garden combined with those on the rest of the site give Rouken Glen some horticultural interest. The specimen parkland trees are of value too.

Architectural

Value
Little

There are no listed buildings at Rouken Glen but the walled garden, the robust stone retaining walls along the Glen path and the stables provide a little architectural value.

Scenic

Value
Some

The presence of Rouken Glen Park in this largely suburban area gives the site some scenic value.

Nature Conservation

Value
Outstanding

The area around the burn has been given Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status for its important geological structure. The site therefore has outstanding nature conservation value.

Archaeological

Value
Some

The cup and ring marked rocks on this site give Rouken Glen some archaeological value.

Location and Setting

Rouken Glen Park is situated off the A726 to the south-west of Rutherglen. The setting is mostly urban, lying as it does on the south-western extremities of Glasgow. There is housing to the north and east and an industrial estate to the north-west. Deaconsbank golf course lies to the west. A railway line cuts through the southern tip of the old policies. The park is largely enclosed by the perimeter planting which precludes outward views except on the west where a woodland path provides views into Deaconsbank Golf Course.

Despite the great development that has taken place in the area, the estate policies have remained remarkably intact. Today's boundaries have changed very little from those of the 1st and 2nd edition OS 1:2500 (25”), 1856 and 1897.

Site History

Little is recorded of the early history of the site which belonged in the 16th century to the Montgomeries of Eglinton Castle. It remained undeveloped until the 19th century when ornamental policies were developed around two new houses, Birkinshaw Cottage and Birkinshaw House. These residences, about which little is known, occupied sites in the north and centre of the grounds which now comprise Rouken Glen Park.

In 1858, Alexander Crum acquired Birkinshaw Estate which then seems to have included both houses. Crum was one of the partners in Merchants' Bank, Glasgow. His family had been closely associated with the city of Glasgow for many years, and attained a high position in commerce at the end of the 19th century. The Crum family were heavily involved with the development of the local dye and calico industry at Thornliebank.

Alexander Crum proceeded to enlarge Birkinshaw House in 1858 and again in 1879, renaming the house and estate Thornliebank in 1879. At this later date, Birkinshaw Cottage was incorporated into a new stables complex for Thornliebank House. The layout of the surviving 19th-century parkland planting, the Glen walks, and new approach drives from Rouken Glen Road (A726) and from the south, date from this period, as is evident on the 2nd edition OS 1:2500 map of 1897. The walled garden is probably also associated with the 1879 developments, but this has not been confirmed.

Alexander Crum died in 1893. In 1904, the estate was sold to Mr Archibald Cameron Corbett who subsequently became Lord Rowallan. Two years later, in 1906, the land and buildings were gifted by him to the citizens of Glasgow.

Following the adoption of the grounds as a public park, Thornliebank House was used initially as a museum and tearoom but the house was demolished in 1963. Various amenities were introduced into the park in the years following its opening. These include the boating pond and boathouse in 1923, a bandstand long since demolished and replaced by the children's adventure playground, the sports pavilion and the present-day garden centre and car park. The garden centre and car park are in separate ownership.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Birkenshaw Cottage, once a separate building with its own landscape, was incorporated into the new Stable Court for Thornliebank House in the later 19th century. In the first instance the architect was Charles Wilson; the later extensions were designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The house was demolished in 1963 and all that survives is the gothicised Garden Terrace. The Walled Garden, built in the later 19th century, is of ashlar blocks lined with brick. There was originally a glass-house range on the north-wall but this is no longer extant. There is the remains of a Cornmill on the Auldhouse Burn. To the south of the landscape the path crosses over a man-made Waterfall and Weir. The Boating Pond was constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine and Company in 1923. The contemporary Boathouse is now a restaurant which opened in 1997. The Sports Pavilion is stylistically similar, but the date of the building is presently unknown. The park Entrance Lodges and Bandstand are no longer extant. The Garden Centre is a modern addition to the park and was opened in 1996.

Drives & Approaches

The 19th-century estate drives and paths continue to be used as the main circuit routes within the park. Several new walks have been created this century, namely those around the boating pond in the south of the park, and to the sports pavilion on the park's north-eastern edge.

Paths & Walks

Paths at higher and lower levels follow the course of the Auldhouse Burn which flows through the rocky gorge comprising Rouken Glen. From the park, steps set into grass banks or cut out of the rock lead pedestrians alongside or down between mixed deciduous tree-covered banks which have an understorey of Rhododendron, snowberry (Symphoricarpos rivularis) and large-leaved bamboo.

Wooden footbridges link the paths across the burn. In the 19th century, the walks were laid down with a coarse hoggin which partly remains. Some paths are bordered with boulders and rustic timber handrails for extra picturesque effect. These and the more robust stone walls with their heavy moulded copes - vestiges associated with Thornliebank House - are significant 19th-century design elements which contribute to the Glen's distinctive character.

A manmade waterfall or weir provides a dramatic interlude at the head of the Glen. This can be approached from the south end of the boating pond or from the paths flanking the Auldhouse Burn. A large pond above the weir is surrounded by willow, Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and Great hairy willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum).

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) the Glen is important because it shows good examples of rocks formed between 331 million and 328 million years ago which were laid down as layers of silt and sand in a much more tropical climate than that of Rouken Glen today.

Parkland

Rouken Glen Park incorporates the pocket designed landscape around Birkinshaw Cottage and the more expansive policies of Birkinshaw House. Both landscapes were reformed in the later 19th century to provide a parkland setting for Thornliebank House.

The site of the house is marked by a visitor shelter, and the grassy terrace on which Thornliebank House once stood still gives a sense of how the grounds would have been viewed and enjoyed from the house.

The land is flat at the north end of the park and then slopes sharply to the Rouken Glen. The open area of ground here is enclosed by belts of trees, which include species of lime, beech, Horse chestnut, and sycamore. The ground to the west of the Glen is now managed as a meadow. Ash and birch grow in the open grassland area. The character is varied and undulating and there are cup and ring marked rocks at the south end.

To the north of the boating pond a putting green has been introduced. The edge planting includes whitebeam, elm, and beech.

To the north and east of the house site the planting has a more traditional parkland feel. A group of conifers marks the area around the house and includes species such as Blue cedar and Wellingtonia. More recently a selection of False cypresses (Chamaecyparis sp.) have been planted in this area. Other trees have been planted as specimens rather than in groups. These specimens include lime and oak. Many trees have been planted in the recent past including mixed groups of natives and exotics, among which are cherry and rowan.

Water Features

When Rouken Glen was turned into a park, a curling pond on the southern extremity was enlarged and turned into a boating pond. The pond has boulder edges and is surrounded by a tarmac path. The north side of the path is planted with Escallonia and dwarf conifers amongst taller evergreens.

Walled Gardens

The walled garden lies in a secluded corner of the park south-west of the former stable block. It seems to have been both an ornamental and productive garden which could be approached directly from Thornliebank House by a path along the river escarpment before entering a shrubbery and reaching the grassy viewing terrace. This grassy bank permitted views down and through the ornamental railings which enclose the garden on its south side.

The walled garden is a mass of formal beds edged by box or rocks and planted with summer annuals such as marigold, Petunia, candytuft and Begonia. Pergolas provide structural height within the walled garden and have climbing roses trained up them. There are formal beds on the grass terrace outside the walled garden to the south.

References

Bibliography

Maps, Plans and Archives

1st edition OS 1:2500 (25”), 1856

2nd edition OS 1:2500 (25”), 1897

Sources

Printed Sources

Corporation of City of Glasgow – Municipal Glasgow, Its Evolution and Enterprises, 1914

Historic Scotland on behalf of the Secretary of State – The Lists of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Images

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Printed: 12/11/2018 18:52