This cultural centre for the people was opened in 1898, at a time when overcrowding and poor public health were at their worst in the East End of Glasgow. With that in mind, it’s hard not to feel like the vast sums of money used to construct it could have better aided the people by being spent elsewhere.
But had The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens never been built, the Glasgow of today would have been denied a fine and popular free attraction. Since the 1940s, it has taught visitors about the social history of the city – from its 19th-century slums to its hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, at which time the ornate red sandstone museum and glasshouse sat proudly in the centre of the public hub on Glasgow Green.
Through a wealth of historic artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs, film and interactive computer displays, it’s possible to discern much about how Glaswegians lived, worked and played in days gone by. The museum gives a glimpse into lives spent in ‘single end’ one-room tenement homes and nights out at ‘The Dancing’ in the famous Barrowland Ballroom (not much has changed in that respect). The adjoining Winter Gardens are mostly given over to café space, and are a popular venue for private parties, functions and weddings. Outside on Glasgow Green (Glasgow’s oldest park) look out for monuments galore – from Glasgow’s own much older version of Nelson’s Column (erected in 1806) to St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge and the Royal Doulton Fountain. The green is also commonly used for major concerts and music festivals, including a show by The Stone Roses in 2013 and Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2014.