Glasgow Botanic Gardens stretch over 20 hectares, as they have done since 1840, and border the River Kelvin. Earlier such gardens, elsewhere in Glasgow, date back to 1706 and in 1817 Thomas Hopkirk, the distinguished Glaswegian botanist, founded the gardens at Sandyford. They were laid out here in 1840 by Stewart Murray, Hopkirk’s personal gardener and the first curator, as “a powerful instrument” for the moral improvement of well-informed but poorer artisans, and opened for the first time in 1842. A magnificent feature is the Kibble Palace glasshouse, transported here in 1871 from the garden of John Kibble (1815-94), a rich inventor and astronomer, in the West of Scotland. W.E. Gladstone once made a speech here lasting 90 minutes. The glasshouse was restored in 2006, at which point a substantial underground chamber for musicians was discovered beneath the fishpond. There are formal gardens and woodland walks, and within the glass houses there are extensive collections of tropical plants. The Great Western Road, the most impressive way of driving into the city centre, crosses the South side of the gardens, with impressive terraces facing onto the road
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