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Attractions in Glasgow, The Clyde Valley and Lanarkshire

Thomas Coats Observatory Paisley

Currently undergoing redevelopment and due to re-open in 2022. In 1880 the Paisley Philosophical Institution approved the purchase of a 5” equatorial telescope by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York. One of their members Mr. Thomas Coats generously paid for the telescope and also provided a new Observatory consisting of a three-storey tower, topped by a copper –plated domed roof to house the telescope, together with an endowment fund. The Observatory was built behind the existing museum with a Time Capsule included in one of the foundation stones, named in honour of Thomas Coats and officially opened in October 1883. The first curator was Mr. Donald McLean. In 1884 the weather recording activities previously carried out at Ferguslie House moved to the Observatory where it continues to this day and in the early part of the century two seismic recorders were installed. The level of the endowment fund deteriorated after the Second World War and the final financial crises arose with the retirement of the last curator Mr. John Woodrow in 1957. By 1963 the observatory had been placed in the hands of Paisley Town council who proceeded to give the telescope a much needed overhaul. From 1975 until 1995 renovation began on the building including a new dome. A Planetarium was installed in 1994.

Paisley Town Hall

Currently undergoing redevelopment and due to re-open at the end of 2022. The George A. Clark Town Hall, next to the Abbey in the New Town, east of the Cart, where his family’s thread mills were sited, was opened amidst great celebrations including a firework display, in January 1882 as a result of £20,000 being donated in his will for this purpose. This impressive architectural building housed a clock and chime of bells in the taller of the two towers which played a different tune for every day of the month. By the 1980’s the interior of the building was very run down, the chimes no longer worked and renovation work began. By 1988 the chiming mechanism was restored and following restoration work from 1990 onwards the Town Hall once again took its rightful place in the life of Paisley.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Open from 7am to dusk every day and with free entry, this is a must for all plant lovers. The gardens were founded in 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk with the backing of local dignitaries and the University of Glasgow and were situated at Sandyford at the western end of Sauchiehall Street. Such was the success of the gardens that in 1839 they moved to a much larger site and reopened in 1842, where they remain to this day. The Kibble Palace originally a private conservatory located on Loch Long, moved to its present site in 1873 and now houses a forest of tree ferns. The gardens were taken over by Glasgow Corporation in 1891, agreeing to maintain links with the University and continue to operate them as Botanic gardens. Thirty points of interest take you down Kelvin Walkway and the gardens Arboretum as part of a Heritage trail. The tearooms are situated in the former curator’s house close to Kibble Palace and can be enjoyed all year, but to their best advantage in the summer months in the outdoor refreshment area.

The Barras Market

Renowned throughout the world and now affectionately known as ‘The Barras’, the market in the east end of Glasgow was the creation of “The Barras Queen”, Margaret Russell or Maggie who looked after a fruit barrow for her mother’s friend, at 12 years old in the East End of Glasgow. A great entrepreneur she saved enough to open a fruit shop and on her many visits to the fruit market met and later married James McIver. Business continued to grow from a yard renting out horses and carts to a plot of land in Monocur Street renting out static barrows to trade on Saturday mornings, now the site of the Glasgow barrowlands – a far cry from her early beginnings as the daughter of an Ayrshire policeman. Here you can spend a fascinating few hours browsing amongst the varied market stalls.

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