There are not very many Pulham sites in Scotland, but Ross Hall Park,on the outskirts of Glasgow, is a fine example. In 1890, James Cowan commissioned James 2 to ‘reconstruct the garden, regardless of expense’, and the little rivulet that once flowed through the estate was transformed into ‘. . . a layout of artificial lakes and rockwork, waterfalls and grottos, furnished with a great variety of plant life.’ The story is told in Chapter 17 of the book.
It was allowed to deteriorate over the years, but was brought back to life ib 2009 with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A group of ‘Friends of Ross Hall Park’ was formed soon afterwards, as reported in the following extract from the Glasgow Local News:
Friends of Ross Hall Park
May 12, 2009 by LocalNews
Friends of Ross Hall Park will hold their inaugural meeting at 6.30pm on 14 May at Ross Hall Academy on Crookston Road. The group aims to support the park and raise its profile at a local and national level. Members of the local community are invited to come along and get involved with the work of developing the park in partnership with Glasgow City Council and other organizations. Henry Dougary from the group said: ‘This is a great chance for local people to get involved and help the park. It’s a real hidden gem, very few people even know the park is here.’
Nestled behind Ross Hall Hospital, Ross Hall Park is a prime example of the landscape gardener’s art. The park was originally the estate of the Cowan family. In the early 1900’s, the family contracted noted landscapers Pulham and Son to create a garden featuring lakes, islands, grottos and rock gardens. Pulham and Son also created gardens in Buckingham Palace, Regents Park Zoo, and closer to home at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute. Although the rocks and grottos look authentic, they are in fact composed of slabs of concrete with a coating of render to make them look like sandstone.
One of the secluded grottos in the park was originally used as a bathing pool by the family. The pool originally went to a depth of nine feet, and there was even a diving platform set up for bathers to use. Ironwork in the walls shows where there used to be a ladder for divers to ascend to the platform. One of the lakes features a boathouse where the family stored their punts at night. The Ross Hall estate later passed into the ownership of the Lobnitz shipbuilding family, who further developed the gardens. The estate was acquired by the Glasgow Corporation in 1948.
Friends of Ross Hall Park
Lake with boathouse.
Grotto with filled in bathing pool. The caves at the back served as changing rooms.