WHERE IS IT: South West of the city centre, in the Govan District on the main thoroughfare of Govan Road
Govan’s long-lasting park was established in 1885 and named after its founder, Isabella Elder, who created it in honour of her shipbuilding husband John, who passed away in 1869.
After his death, Isabella used her husband’s wealth to support the community he had grew up in, and charitable causes. As well as buying the land on which she created Elder Park, Isabella established a School of Domestic Economy for young women, as well as the nearby Elder Park Library. She later bought North Park House and gifted it to Queen Margaret College, which ran medical training for women there, before it became home to the BBC.
Statues of the couple were commissioned for the park. The likeness of John Elder was designed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, who is best known for his work designed the head of Queen Victoria that was carried on coins of the era. This first statue was unveiled a few years after the park opened in 1888. Isabella’s statue showing her garbed in her graduate robes from the University of Glasgow was created by another sculptor, Archibald Macfarlane Shannan, and was placed in the park sometime later in 1906. Shannan worked on the nearby Govan Town Hall, and later designed the statue of Lord Kelvin found in Kelvingrove Park.
Like many areas of Govan, the park had fallen into disrepair. Clyde Waterfront launched a regeneration project in 2008 to spruce up the gates, railings and paths and bring it back to the former glory it saw under Isabella’s guidance. The ongoing project hopes to restore and conserve a boathouse and the derelict Fairfield farmhouse, in order to be used for community based projects, keeping in the spirit of the park’s original generous owners.
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