Ornamental Bridges - Victoria Park Boating Pond

Ornamental Bridges - Victoria Park Boating Pond

Historical Feature


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Victoria Park’s Bridges
The Bridges’ Origins
Victoria Park has two small islands, the larger of which is connected on both sides by two rustic lattice style bridges. At a special Parks Committee meeting held on 4 May 1887, it was agreed by the Convenor and Bailie Anderson that the islands and lakes should be connected by wooden footbridges. A picture of Victoria Park from 1904 shows wooden lattice bridges. These are smaller but very similar to those currently in situ. Eventually, probably in 1910, these were replaced by bridges commissioned from Glasgow company, P&R Fleming. A picture from 1925 shows more elaborate iron bridges, which are instantly identifiable as the current bridges.

The Bridges’ Makers
P&R Fleming was a famous Glasgow firm, iron merchants from the 1850’s whose company expanded to carry out construction projects across the globe. Their main offices were at 29 Argyle Street in Glasgow. They employed notable architects such as John Galt and H&D Barclay and the firm were apparently trading till the 1990s. They had foundries in Glasgow and Partick.

One of their specialties was elaborate iron suspension bridges- such as the Diamond Jubilee Bridge at Annan, (Suspension footbridge, Blacketlees, built 1897 by P & R Fleming, Glasgow. A small structure with steel tubular pylons, wire-rope suspension cables, steel-rod suspenders and a wooden deck). Another example is the footbridge over the River Ayr, Sorn at St Cuthbert’s Street Catrine . In many ways both these bridges are similar in design to the iron lattice bridges at Victoria Park.

P&R Fleming markers can still be found on many gate piers and railings in public parks all over Scotland. Even when the original cast iron railings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been removed, the elaborate Fleming bollards and gateposts often are retained in situ with modern steel interventions. The Scottish Ironwork Foundation records and provides examples of P&R Fleming’s work in Skye, Newton Stewart and Stranraer. The Overtoun Road gates and railings to the North of Dalmuir Park in Clydebank are another example of P&R Fleming’s original work. Another famous example of their work is at the Houston Square bandstand in Johnstone, where the free standing cast-iron bollards enclosing the bandstand to the North are badged as P & R Fleming, Glasgow.

One of their most notable partners was Colonel Robert Howie, JP, MA (1846-1927) the son of Hugh Howie, a successful iron merchant in the city. Educated at the High School of Glasgow (Scotland’s oldest school) and Glasgow University, Col. Howie spent all his commercial life at the iron merchants’ firm of P. & R. Fleming & Co. on Argyle Street, of which he became senior partner.

The Bridges’ Restoration
The bridges were restored in June 2011 by Land and Environmental Services – the principal contractor was Covanburn Contracts LTD and their owner Alex Stewart took a great deal of interest in the bridges and in particular the restoration of the two P&R Fleming nameplates which he painstakingly restored and hand painted himself. The bridges were officially re-opened in a ceremony organised by the friends on 15 August 2011.

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