ROTTENROW MEMORIAL GARDENS

WHERE IS IT? Two blocks north-east of George Square, adjacent to Strathclyde University's John Anderson campus

The former site of the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, where many of Glasgow’s older residents would have been born, was bought by neighbouring Strathclyde University in 2001 after the building was deemed inadequate again modern health and safety regulations.



Almost all of the building was demolished, save for the front and side porticos, and the site was converted into a garden while preserving the foundation of the building itself. The gardens were open in 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Strathclyde University, with a plaque unveiled to commemorate the many lives that started in that spot.


The gardens have been designed to accommodate different varieties of plant life, including a herbaceous terrace garden with red hot pokers and lilies, a wetland area for gunnera irises and reeds, as well as a number of tree species, although the majority are young birch.



Almost all of the building was demolished, save for the front and side porticos, and the site was converted into a garden while preserving the foundation of the building itself. The gardens were open in 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Strathclyde University, with a plaque unveiled to commemorate the many lives that started in that spot.


The gardens have been designed to accommodate different varieties of plant life, including a herbaceous terrace garden with red hot pokers and lilies, a wetland area for gunnera irises and reeds, as well as a number of tree species, although the majority are young birch.


The main attraction within the park is the seven-metre tall giant nappy pin sculpture known locally as the “Monument to Maternity,” although its official title is “Mhtothta,” the Greek word for maternity. Constructed from stainless steel by famous Glasgow artist George Wyllie, it was originally entitled “Just in Case” and was created in 1996 for the Mayfest festival. Wyllie took it to Portsmouth, suggesting it could be used to symbolise an attachment to the European Community. He later transported it to Edinburgh when leaders of the Commonwealth were visiting Scotland’s capital, implying an attachment to that body as well. It was permanently installed in the Rottenrow Gardens when they opened in 2004 and features a small bird perched at the very top.


This was not Wyllie’s only flirtation with the safety pin. He chose the Ancient Greek for the statue because they had invented an early prototype clasp that saved the same purpose. He also wrote a poem, “Ode to a Safety Pin,” about the life of Walter Hunt, who invented the modern safety-pin yet made little money from it as he sold the patent. He also co-wrote and acted in the play “Voyage Round a Safety-Pin” with David Michael Clark.





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