The Kibble Palace is the main glasshouse at the Botanic Gardens. It is a beautiful 19th Century wrought iron framed glasshouse.
When you step inside you are first greeted by a pond filled with ornamental fish - it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting inside a greenhouse. After that, there is a short linking corridor which takes you into the main rotunda.
It feels so much bigger inside. There are a couple of paths through the building and a corridor that hugs the round outside wall.
The path around the outside gives you tantalising views of the ferns in the middle, while there is a real sense of movement in the curve of the building as you walk round. There are information boards arranged along it that tell the history of the Kibble Palace and the gardens.
The path through the centre of the dome takes you into the middle of the grove of tree ferns. With the heat and humidity and giant ferns, it feels quite jungle-like, and you might have a hard time remembering that you’re in the middle of the West End.
The Kibble Palace was originally designed in the 1860s by John Kibble as a sizeable iron-framed conservatory for his home on Loch Long. However, it was moved and extended in 1873 to become one of the centrepiece buildings of the Gardens.
The Kibble Palace is a unique glasshouse of its type. It has a large dome and rotunda connected to a smaller dome by a linking corridor. The small dome forms the main entrance, and there are extended transepts attached to the north and south which are sometimes used for displays or as small event spaces.
Today the palace is recognised as one of the most prestigious iron and glass structures left from the Victorian era. It has Category A listed building status as an “architectural or historic building of national or international importance”.
When it first arrived on its current site, it was used as an exhibition and concert venue. The two great British politicians Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone were installed as rectors of the nearby University of Glasgow at a ceremony here in the 1870s, and in the ten years, it spent as a private venue it hosted some important meetings.
Since the 1880s, however, it has been used for the cultivation of temperate plants.
Collections and Displays
The Palace continues in its role as a glasshouse for the cultivation and display of temperate plants. It is home to the national tree fern collection, including some Australian and New Zealand giant tree ferns which have lived here for over 120 years.
As well as the ferns inside the building, there is a collection of beautiful marble statues. There are nine groups in all including “King Robert of Sicily” by the Scottish sculptor George Henry Paulin and “Eve” by renowned Italian sculptor Scipione Tadolini.
The Kibble Palace is available for hire outwith regular public opening hours as an events venue for wedding ceremonies, drinks and buffet receptions. Contact Glasgow City Council for information.
Tel: +44 141 276 1614
Summer: 10 am to 6 pm
Winter: 10 am to 4:15 pm
In the Botanic Gardens at the top of Byres Road. The two nearest subways are Hillhead and Kelvinbridge. Hillhead is closer, but it's an uphill walk. Kelvinbridge is slightly further, but a bit flatter.
The closest railway stations are Hyndland and Partick, but they're both a 20-minute walk away.
Buses stop just outside the gardens on Great Western Road and Queen Margaret Drive. The 6, 6A and 6B stop on Great Western Road and routes 8, 10A, 89 and 90 stop on Queen Margaret Drive.
Parking near here is difficult. There are public car parks on University Avenue and just off Great George Street, but these can be quite busy, especially during university term time. There is also metered on-street parking nearby.