Glasgow Zoo Park
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Roger Edwards

Published February 1998 by

The Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland

Glasgow Zoo, Calderpark, Uddingston, Glasgow G71 7RZ

Printed copies of this report can be ordered from Glasgow ZooPark. Please send remittance of £10 + £2 p&p = £12 sterling, payable to "Glasgow ZooPark".


I would like to place on record my thanks to all who have assisted me in this research, particularly Dr Stephen Bostock, David Hughes, Paola Lavorino, Richard O'Grady, Dr Paula Sells, Rosalind Woods, and the helpful staff of the Mitchell Library Glasgow Room and the Strathclyde Archive.


One dull lunchtime in November 1997 my perusal of the newspaper was interrupted by the telephone. A woman's voice said she was contacting Glasgow Zoo to check our animal records.

' What species? ' I said, nibbling at a sandwich.

' Alpacas ,' she said. I suppose there was a slightly patronising edge to my voice when I said we have had no alpacas, to my certain knowledge, in the last twenty years. What period was she interested in?

' 1840 ,' she said.

' There's a funny thing ,' I said. ' Glasgow Zoo opened in 1947, so we couldn't have had alpacas a century before, could we? The earliest zoo in Glasgow was E. H. Bostock's Scottish Zoo, open for a few years at the turn of the century at Cowcaddens. Wilson's Zoo in Oswald Street opened in December 1936, one week after our own Zoological Society was founded .'

' Ah ,' she murmured, with just a glimmer of triumph in her voice. She went on to say she was ' phoning from Liverpool University, where there is a painting of the alpacas at Glasgow dated 1840. '

' How strange, ' I replied, ' Could they have got the label wrong? '

' Probably not, ' she said. I was unsettled by the confident tone. ' The alpacas at Glasgow Zoological Gardens were also the subject of a paper given at the tenth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held in Glasgow in 1840 .'

I was now completely out of my depth. I act as archivist for Glasgow Zoo and the Zoological Society and I'm pretty sure I have more information on the subject than anyone. But there is not a peep about a mid-nineteenth century zoo. Certainly, by no stretch of the imagination did it have any direct connection or linear descent with our establishment at Calderpark.

My caller explained her interest was in instances of early breeding of alpacas. She knew alpacas had been imported into Liverpool in 1835 and she was trying to trace their subsequent movements. I promised to get back to her.

What follow are the fruits of a couple of months of research sparked off by this baffling telephone call. The research has probably generated more questions than it has answered. For the sake of simplicity I propose to outline my sources and the information they contain, then follow this with a discussion.


The investigation of the Glasgow Zoological Gardens begins with the picture of alpacas in Liverpool University. [1] The work is by Jacques-Laurent Agasse (1767-1849), a Swiss painter long resident in England who specialised in animal paintings. [2] . His masterpiece is probably the Nubian Giraffe (c.1827) commissioned by George IV. [3]

It must be said that the painting of alpacas is not in the same league. It shows four grubby alpacas in the foreground of a mountainous landscape with others in the distance. The large, painted label at the top of the gilt frame proclaims, 'as first Exhibited at the Tenth Meeting of the BRITISH ASSOCIATION Held at GLASGOW, 1840'. I would hazard a guess that the label was almost as old as the painting.

My caller supplied me with a reference from the transactions of the 1840 British Association meeting. It is the summary of a paper On the Alpaca given by a Mr W. Danson and begins:

Since the meeting at Birmingham, about thirty of these interesting animals had at different times been imported into Liverpool, and upon the present occasion four of the animals were exhibited in the courtyard of the college at Glasgow, and others at the neighbouring Zoological Gardens. [4] .

None of the standard reference works on Glasgow mention zoological gardens in the city at this period, nor, indeed, do books on the history of zoos. And yet here, in a publication which is both contemporary and authoritative, we have an unambiguous reference to zoological gardens in Glasgow in 1840. Other records from 1840 may provide us with further information.

Glasgow University library possesses a battered volume in which a unique collection of several dozen miscellaneous, contemporary documents relating to the 1840 Glasgow British Association meeting have been bound together. [5] One of these documents is the Journal of Sectional Proceedings in which, under the heading List of papers to be read on Monday , we find: ' Mr Danson on the Alpaca. Living specimens will be exhibited. '

The Glasgow University volume also includes the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Models and Manufactures , which lists the specimens brought together for a large exhibition organised for the British Association meeting. The alpaca exhibit is listed as the only item displayed on the first floor landing of the exhibition rooms. The plan attached indicates that space here was quite restricted. Most irritatingly, the catalogue does not specify what alpacas we are talking about; my guess would be that it refers to the Agasse painting. The catalogue entry ends with the comment that:

Proprietors of Sheep in Scotland can inspect the live Alpacas now in Glasgow, by applying to Mr Thomas Atkins, of the Zoological Gardens, Cranstonhill, who will supply the Alpaca on the lowest terms possible.
Elsewhere in the exhibition there are specimens of alpaca wool and cloth provided by William Danson, Esq., of Liverpool, along with the information that:
This Alpaca wool can at present be sold at 20d. per lb. During the panic of 1837, when Highland Wool sold at 31/2d. per lb., upwards of 1,000,000 lbs. of Alpaca realized 2s. and 2s. 6d. per lb. ... The Alpaca is especially adapted for Scotland, as recommended at the Ninth Meeting of the British Association.
There is a third significant document in the Glasgow University volume. Bound into the models exhibition catalogue at the entry on the alpaca exhibit is what appears to be a separate hand-bill, headed Alpaca . In this ' Mr Atkins, Zoological Gardens, L'pool ' addresses captains and others engaged in the trade to the West Coast of South America. To encourage the importation of alpacas Mr Atkins promises to pay a premium of two pounds each for the first fifty alpacas brought into Liverpool. The hand-bill goes on to say that alpaca wool ' is suited to the finest manufacture, and especially to the fine Shawl Trade of Paisley, Glasgow, &c. '. A capitalised ' & GLASGOW ' has been added to the engraved plate at a later stage after 'Zoological Gardens, L'pool'.


The Glasgow Herald newspaper of 1840 is a four-page broadsheet published twice weekly, densely packed with news and advertisement notices including nearly half a page of advertisements for shipping. The Glasgow Herald reports in detail both the British Association meeting and its preparations.

The newspaper dated Friday Morning, September 18, 1840, has a long description of the exhibition of models, reproducing word for word most of the alpaca entry in the catalogue, although it omits the sentence about Mr Atkins and the zoological gardens. The issue a week later describes the British Association business on Monday September 21, including the Zoology and Botany Section (held in the Divinity Class Room of Glasgow College [6] with Dr Fleming in the Chair) at which:

Mr Danson read a paper on the alpaca, living specimens of which were exhibited in the courtyard of the College. [7]
On the zoological gardens themselves, the information I have uncovered comes in two forms - advertisements and articles. This is probably the most frustrating chapter of this research because surprisingly little relevant information (by which I mean information about the animal collection) is actually present. The earliest advertisement I can find is dated Friday, April 17, 1840. [8] I reproduce it in full because it illustrates the problem quite well.
THE Nobility, Gentry and Inhabitants of this city are most respectfully informed that Mr ATKINS of the Liverpool Zoological Gardens, having arranged with the proprietors of the above delightful site, is now in active preparation in bringing forward amusements for the forthcoming Summer, on the same splendid scale as exhibited in the Zoological Gardens of London and Liverpool. The celebrated artist, Mr Danson, and assistants, are now engaged in erecting the splendid model of Mount Vesuvius, on the same gigantic scale as that originally designed and erected by him in the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens of London, acknowledged to be the most astonishing and attractive exhibition ever produced in the Metropolis. To give the utmost possible effect, Mr ATKINS has secured the services of the celebrated artist, Mr D'Ernst, Pyrotechnist to her Majesty, to display the Grand Eruption of the Mountain.

Further notice will be given of the various Animals, Birds, &c., intended to be located in the Gardens.

I don't think the list of animals promised here was ever published; I have searched quite thoroughly for it but found nothing. We do, however, meet our friends Mr Atkins and Mr Danson once again and learn that the zoological gardens were at Cranstonhill, a small hill just north of the Clyde in the area of Glasgow known as Anderston, a separate burgh until 1846.

In the Glasgow Herald of July 10 an eye-witness describes the representation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at the zoological gardens. [9] This entry is quite puzzling because in the next published paper there is a long advertisement saying that the first grand eruption will take place on ' Monday, (this day) July 13 '.

The advertisement also tells us that:

the different Stages of this eventful occurrence are ingeniously displayed, finishing with a terrific rush of molten lava down the mountain, burying the ill-fated city in one common ruin; the whole of the dreadful conflagration is beautifully reflected on the lake and distant mountains.
Had the reporter witnessed a dress rehearsal, we ask ourselves, and what did the poor animals make of it? We are further informed that the zoological gardens open at 7 o'clock and the eruption takes place at dusk, accompanied by a military band. Admittance costs one shilling.

Mr Danson is given the Christian name, George. Whoever George Danson may be, he is not the man who gives the paper on alpacas at the British Association meeting. His name, you will remember, was William Danson.

At the foot of the advertisement in what looks like a P.S. we read:

In calling the attention of the Public to these delightful Gardens, encomium is useless, it being so generally understood that Cranston Hill, the property of Henry Houldsworth, Esq., for natural beauties, far surpasses any spot within many miles of this city.
We will meet Mr Houldsworth again later.

By the end of the week the newspaper reports that the:

Vesuvius has become quite a lion, and at the opening of the Gardens on Monday evening, there were more than four thousand persons present.
The same paper carries an advertisement, largely about the fourth grand eruption but with the very first mention of animals, in the form of an acknowledgement for donations of a golden eagle, pig-tailed ape and Indian goat.

At the end of July, 1840, there is another article on Vesuvius:

Perhaps there is no "lion" in the West which has of late excited so much interest as the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Zoological Gardens at Cranstonhill. ... The crash of the eruption strikes every one with awe and dread at the moment, and the brilliancy of the fire-works throws a flood of light over the western part of the city, and is witnessed by delighted eyes at the distance of several miles.
As well as the thousands who have paid their shilling, an estimated 40,000 onlookers crowd the approach roads to watch the spectacle for nothing.
Even by daylight the perspective of Vesuvius and the adjacent mountains affords a good treat, and we are glad to observe that the grounds are being peopled with rare birds and beasts, which must gratify not only the curious, but be the source of interest and instruction to the lovers of natural history.
I assume from the repeated play on words in these reports that there were, in fact, no lions in the Cranstonhill zoological gardens.

Regular notices advertising the grand eruption appear throughout the summer, but only one suggests the zoological gardens are also open simply to view the animals. This advertisement appeared towards the end of September and informs us that the gardens are ' open every lawful day from 12 till 3 o'clock '. Promenades are advertised and, with the evenings drawing in, the firework displays start earlier. Variegated lamps and antique statues placed in the evergreen shrubs make their appearance along with unspecified additional animals and birds.

As the season comes to an end the advertisements describe more and more complicated shows. As well as old Vesuvius we now have a Montgolfier balloon and the representation of a steam boat crossing the lake with guns blazing. On September 21, the day of Mr Danson's British Association paper, we learn that:

Four Beautiful Alpacas have just arrived from the Liverpool Zoological Gardens, for the express purpose of the British Association to lecture on the naturalization of this Animal in Scotland, and for the manufacture of their valuable wool. They will be exhibited in the Gardens, together with other Specimens of Natural History.
It is a strange use of words, but we get the point.

An advertisement the following week again mentions the ' Alpacas, which attracted so much notice at the recent meeting of the British Association '. The pyrotechnics listed this time include the deeply disturbing ' fiery pigeon crossing the grounds '. The advertisement also says that information ' will be found in the hand-bills of the day '. This is the only mention of hand-bills, which probably contained much useful information. I wonder if any of them have survived?

The alpacas disappear from the advertisements by the end of September. The ' Last Night of the Sublime Eruption of the Great Burning Mountain ' is advertised for Saturday, October 10. I have been unable to find anything else about the Cranstonhill zoological gardens after that. I do not know whether the ' Last Night ' refers to the end of the Vesuvius display, the end of the season or the end of the zoo. It is probably all three.


I have been able to track down only one reference to the Cranstonhill zoological gardens in a twentieth-century publication. The work is The Maps of Glasgow by John N. Moore. [10] Referring to a map of Glasgow in Black's Economical Guide Through Glasgow , 1839, Moore mentions ' the marking of the Zoological Gardens on the former Cranstonhill Water Works ground '.

The Mitchell Library holds a copy of the third edition (1843) of this early guidebook to Glasgow. [11] The map, although small, is very detailed. Sure enough, at Cranstonhill on the western boundary of the then built-up area of Glasgow, a zoological garden is clearly marked. Its exact boundaries are less clear, but three rectangular structures, which probably relate to the water works, are marked. The gardens lie at the junction of the road to Partick and Dumbarton (labelled Main Street) and a street which is not named, but which is Finnieston Street.

Moore tells us that by the eleventh edition of the map in 1854 the zoological gardens have been removed. This certainly does not mean that the zoological gardens were in operation for more than a decade nor, indeed, that they continued for as much as three years. It is more a question of when surveys were carried out and the length of time printing plates were used. The absence of the zoological gardens from other maps of the period strongly suggests that the zoological gardens were not open for long.

I have been extremely fortunate to discover a second map, not listed in Moore but also showing the zoological gardens. This is a large-scale plan of the Burgh of Barony of Anderston dated 1839 and 1840 and lodged in the city archive. [12] The lands of Cranstonhill are labelled as 'the property of Henry Houldsworth and sons, Esquires'. Basically, we have a mansion house with its gardens, hot houses, orchard, offices, lodge and drives. It looks as though these have been fitted round the remains of the water works; one reservoir is labelled, another two appear to have been filled in.

A triangular area at the north of the estate is labelled zoological gardens. It covers about four and a half acres, perhaps one fifth of the entire estate. In it are two ponds, one large and oval, the other smaller and serpentine. Some of the area is wooded. There are three circular structures in a row linked by paths; they could be cages, flower beds or statuary. Near the large pond is a squashed hexagon shape. The entrance is at the bottom of a long, straight drive marked ' Private Road ' which pretty well separates the zoological gardens from the rest of the estate.

This fascinating plan shows that the top north-west corner of the zoological gardens is at junction of Finnieston Street and the turnpike to Dumbarton. The zoological gardens were, therefore, diagonally opposite the old Royal Botanic Gardens. [13] The new botanic gardens site in Great Western Road had been purchased in 1839 and the move there was to take three years.

The plan gives no indication of the location of the Vesuvius construction. This presumably means either that it was not particularly big, or that construction had yet to commence. Beside the oval lake seems the most likely place.

A feuing plan of 1854 shows that the Cranstonhill estate did not remain intact for long. [14] Two churches and lots of small properties have been constructed or portioned off. Roads have been cut through. This part of Anderston changed again fundamentally in the 1960s and it is now very difficult to visualise the old zoological gardens. However, if you walk to the top of Houldsworth Street you will be close to the oval pond.


I was sure that the minute books of the Anderston Burgh would be invaluable in my quest. My regret was, therefore, inexpressible when I discovered that one minute book was missing from the city archive. This was the minute book running from March, 1838, to May, 1841.


At first glance the information I have gathered about the Glasgow Zoological Gardens at Cranstonhill suggests a fairly basic, commercial operation. An entrepreneur from Liverpool decides to cash in on the brief popularity of Glasgow as the venue for the British Association meeting and comes north to open a tourist attraction in which animals have a subsidiary, almost incidental role.

I don't think it is as simple as this. Glasgow at this time was at a crossroads. Henry Houldsworth (1774-1853) ran mills in Anderston, but, by the late 1830s, the textile industry was in serious decline. There was industrial unrest. In 1837 one of Houldsworth's cotton-spinners was shot and fatally wounded. At the same time, the Houldsworth family was diversifying out of textiles and out of Anderston, and into iron works in Lanarkshire. [15] Perhaps, by 1840 the mansion house at Cranstonhill had been vacated. Perhaps, by 1840 the Houldsworths wanted to make a dramatic statement as benefactors or for some other purpose.

Now John Houldsworth (1807-59) comes into the frame. John Houldsworth has a specific responsibility in the preparations for the British Association meeting. In December 1839 John, a popular and genial man, [16] is appointed convener of the models and manufactures sub-committee. [17] This committee established a network of corresponding members in forty-one towns [18] across the United Kingdom. The aim was:

to present to the Association incontestable evidence of Glasgow's manufacturing power and to epitomise Britain's union of science with progress to a wider audience. [19]
The models committee arranges for free transit of models for the British Association meeting from a number of ports - including Liverpool through the Liverpool Steam Packet Company. [20] The close connection between Liverpool and Glasgow is now lost on us, but, before trains conquered Shap, the best way to get to Glasgow from the south was via Liverpool. Delegates to the British Association meeting were advised to take the train to Liverpool (ten hours) and then the steamer up to Glasgow (twenty hours).

So, John Houldsworth, with the family's textile empire in decline, is forging links with Liverpool. Alpacas had featured in the 1839 British Association meeting. Perhaps acclimatisation of alpacas into Scotland would revive the textile industry here. Was there someone in Liverpool with an interest in alpacas?


The earliest story about Thomas Atkins I have found is in the book by Dr J. L. Middlemiss, A Zoo on Wheels: Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie . [21] Here we learn of George Wombwell, that:

Hearing that Atkins, a rival, was advertising the only elephant in captivity, he was incensed, and not to be outdone, he set off with his big show from Newcastle for Smithfield - with his elephant. ... On arrival in London, the elephant was found to have died. Atkins counteracted this, by advertising "The only living elephant at the fair". Wombwell went further and advertising "the only dead elephant at the fair" did much better out of it.
Clearly, Wombwell and Atkins were at each other's throats professionally, so it is no great surprise that Atkins should follow the example of the newly-opened and very popular zoological gardens in Regent's Park and settle his animal collection down. Why Liverpool? I would reckon that easy access to international trading ports was a great benefit to the early zoos; most of the early zoos were near one.

C. H. Keeling in Where the Lion Trod [22] has researched the early zoological gardens: Surrey (opened 1831), Liverpool (1832), Knowsley Park (1834), Manchester (1836 and 1838), Rosherville, Kent (1837), Cheltenham (1838), Edinburgh (1839) and Hull (1840). None of these has survived to the present day, although three early ones have: Dublin (1830), Bristol (1834), and the progenitor, Regent's Park (1828). Keeling confirms that the Liverpool Zoological Gardens were founded by Thomas Atkins and shows, by reference to guidebooks from 1838 and 1841, that the animal collection was extensive.


The Dansons continue to be a bit of a mystery. George Danson builds a model of Mount Vesuvius in Glasgow, having built a similar one at the Surrey Zoological Gardens. He sounds like a showman. William Danson, Esq., of Liverpool speaks to the British Association meeting and sounds more like a gentleman scientist cum entrepreneur. Presumably, they are related.

The Glasgow University volume [23] provides us with a little information. Included in it are three separate, dated lists of delegate registration. By comparing these lists we can ascertain that William Danson and an Edward Danson registered for the British Association meeting at some time between 16th and 18th September. On 18th they are both listed as staying at Mrs Bell's in George Square.

This volume also has a list of British Association members, albeit dated 1838, which includes one Joseph Isaacson, described as ' Curator, Liverpool Zoological Gardens '. As far as I can make out, neither Isaacson nor Atkins nor George Danson were registered as British Association delegates for the Glasgow meeting.


It may be possible to forge a connection between George Danson and Jacques-Laurent Agasse, the painter of the picture of alpacas now in the University of Liverpool. Danson had worked at the Surrey Zoological Gardens, which were owned by Edward Cross. Agasse knew Cross and, indeed, had included a portrait of Cross in the Nubian Giraffe painting. I think it is not unreasonable to suggest that George Danson might have met Agasse through Cross at the Surrey Zoological Gardens.

I suspect that Agasse actually painted the alpacas at the Surrey Zoological Gardens, but it is conceivable that he painted them in Liverpool to a commission from Atkins. I think it is extremely unlikely that Agasse painted the picture in Glasgow.

Judy Egerton [24] tells us that Agasse recorded his works in a manuscript now in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva. Colleagues have visited the museum on my behalf but have been unable to gain access to the manuscript. The Geneva manuscript may provide information such as when and where the picture was painted and who commissioned it.


Keeling has amply demonstrated how difficult it can be to find exact dates for the starts and finishes of even quite recent zoological gardens. It is possible that the zoological gardens at Cranstonhill are a little earlier than 1840. The maps indicate this, although when do you date a zoo? Is it from the concept date, the construction date or the opening to the public? I like the idea of Glasgow's botanic gardens being located adjacent to the zoological gardens. However, I confess that there is not the smallest scrap of evidence to indicate that the two gardens were, at the time, considered to be complementary.

It seems to me more likely that the idea for the zoological gardens came from the discussions which went on in Glasgow in the late 1830s about what facilities were fitting for the city hosting a British Association meeting. The Professor of Botany was deeply involved in the preparations for the meeting. Sooner or later the contribution that animals might make would be raised.

It is, of course, possible that the Houldsworths maintained a small, private menagerie which became the basis for the zoological gardens. However, it must surely be the case that when the Houldsworths met Thomas Atkins there was a great meeting of minds. Atkins had his own, established zoological gardens with an extensive collection of animals. He was well experienced in importing animals and transporting them. Atkins had probably already imported alpacas and was keen to have more. The Houldsworths owned an iron foundry, which would come in handy for cages and fences.

Did Glasgow want the great crowd-puller that had so impressed at the Surrey Zoological Gardens? If the answer was yes, Mr Atkins could certainly arrange this as well. It appears that just at this period there was a craze for firework displays in zoological gardens. The Hull Zoological Gardens, which also opened in 1840, had a fireworks lake marked in front of the elephant house. [25]

It is difficult for us to put ourselves in this pre-railways, pre-electricity environment. I think we must censure with care. The grand eruption of Mount Vesuvius, tacky though it now sounds, contains within it an attempt at educating people about far-distant events. In Glasgow that same summer you could visit Mr Marshall's Panorama of Rome , a similar enterprise. [26] Nowadays, we use computer simulations. In the final analysis, however, it is probably better that such spectacles take place in botanic gardens rather than in zoological gardens.

I am tempted to assert that promoting a British alpaca industry was the main aim of the Glasgow Zoological Gardens. This is not too far-fetched when you consider that the scientific role of the then newish Zoological Society of London included:

The introduction of new varieties, breeds, and races of animals for the purpose of domestication or for stocking our farm-yards, woods, pleasure-grounds and wastes. [27]
Britain did not become swamped with alpacas, so, if the scientific purpose of the zoological gardens, attached - as a perfectly legitimate commercial agency - to the Glasgow meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was to promote alpacas, we can reasonably conclude that the gardens were not a great success.

In the event I think the alpacas spent no more than a fortnight in Glasgow. I assume they travelled up by steamer from Atkins' zoological gardens in Liverpool under the supervision of William and Edward Danson, and arrived on about September 17. I wonder whether the influence of John Houldsworth ensured the four beasts were transported free of charge, labelled as models for the British Association meeting. I hope so. I am pretty sure that the Agasse painting came up at the same time and returned to Liverpool soon afterwards.

Once off the steamer, the Dansons deposited the painting at the models exhibition in Buchanan Street and headed for the delights of Mrs Bell's in George Square, having, of course, first of all escorted the alpacas to the ancient quadrangle of Glasgow University in the High Street. I feel the hand of John Houldsworth at work once again; it must have taken someone with considerable charm and influence to persuade the university authorities to sanction such an unusual arrangement.

After William Danson had given his paper on September 21, the alpacas were moved about two miles west to the zoological gardens in Anderston. We can reasonably assume that, if they were not sold locally, the alpacas were returned to Liverpool at the end of the month.

I do not think the animal collection ever amounted to very much. During July, 1840, George Wombwell's Menagerie arrived in Glasgow, and Glasgow Green was awash with elephants, a rhino, tigers, hyenas, lions, pelicans, ostrich and much more besides, all carefully reported in the Glasgow Herald. [28] The Glasgow Herald also reports the opening, on July 8, 1840, of the first Edinburgh Zoological Gardens. [29] This strongly suggests that the animal attractions at Cranstonhill did not warrant a mention other than by gentle lampoon.

Everything points to the Glasgow Zoological Gardens being open to the public for perhaps as little as thirteen weeks, from July, 1840, to the beginning of October. In some respects it seems like an early prototype for a garden festival; a lot of effort and expense pumped into a short-lived spectacle. One hundred and forty eight years later, the short-lived Glasgow Garden Festival (with, ironically, its own, notorious fireworks display), took place barely five minutes walk from Cranstonhill.

We can now say with certainty that Glasgow had, in 1840 at Cranstonhill, its own zoological gardens. Regrettably, however, apart from the four alpacas, the golden eagle, the pig-tailed ape and the Indian goat, we cannot say what animals were displayed, the ' rare birds and beasts, which must gratify not only the curious, but be the source of interest and instruction to the lovers of natural history '. As the excitement of the British Association meeting abated, the purpose for the gardens evaporated. The Glasgow Zoological Gardens closed and, to an extent which would probably have surprised its sponsors, the gardens disappeared completely from the city's memory.


Is there any possible connection between the zoological gardens of 1840 at Cranstonhill and those opened in 1947 at Calderpark? With your permission and a little stretching of the imagination I will try to forge a link.

James Bostock (1814-78) joined Wombwell's Menagerie as a waggoner in 1838. We can, therefore, reasonably expect him to have accompanied the Menagerie when it came to Glasgow in July, 1840. It seems inconceivable that representatives of Wombwell's Menagerie while in Glasgow did not pay a visit to the new zoological gardens run by Wombwell's old rival.

James subsequently married George Wombwell's niece, and their son, Edward H. Bostock (1858-1940), opened the Scottish Zoo in 1897. For the next forty years E. H. Bostock promoted the idea of a Glasgow city zoo. He nearly succeeded just before the Great War. In old age, still passionate about the need for a zoo for Glasgow, he became a founder member of the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland, the charity which bought Calderpark in 1939.


1 University of Liverpool Fine Art Catalogue, No. 464.
2 Turner, J. (Ed.) The Dictionary of Art, (1966) London: Grove/Macmillan.
3 Nubian Giraffe by J.-L. Agasse, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.
4 The Report of the Tenth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science: 'Transactions of the Zoology and Botany Section'.
5 British Association Papers - Glasgow 1840 (in Glasgow University Library).
6 Glasgow Herald, August 17,1840.
7 Alpacas are mentioned in the Glasgow Herald on September 18 and 25, 1840.
8 I have identified 24 notices in the Glasgow Herald of 1840 advertising the zoological gardens. After two in April (17, 24), there are four in July (13, 17, 24, 31), eight in August (3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 27, 31), seven in September (4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 28) and a final three at the beginning of October (2, 5, 9).
9 I have found only four articles in the Glasgow Herald which refer to the zoological gardens, three in July (10, 17, 27) and one on August 10, 1840.
10 Moore, J. N. (1996) The Maps of Glasgow, Glasgow: Glasgow University Library.
11 Black's Economical Guide Through Glasgow (1843) Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black.
12 Plan of the Burgh of Barony of Anderston, including the Lands annexed by the Police Act, all laid down from an Actual Survey executed in the years 1839 & 1840, under the order of the Honorable the Provost, Magistrates and Council of Anderston, with whose permission this Plan is now Published and to whom it is respectfully dedicated by their most obedient servant, Andrew Macfarlane. (in Strathclyde Archive)
13 According to Henry C. Cornish in his paper, 'Glasgow's Western Extensions - Anderston to Scotstoun' (1922) Old Glasgow Club, Vol. 4(5), pp. 23-34, the botanic gardens 'stood on the site of Fitzroy Place, and extended from Claremont Street to Kelvingrove Street, and Sauchiehall Street to Dumbarton Road' (p. 27).
14 Feuing plan of the Lands of Cranstonhill, the property of John Houldsworth, Esq., Glasgow (1854). (in Strathclyde Archive)
15 Dow, D. & Moss, M. (1986) Glasgow's Gain, the Anderston Story, Carnforth: Parthenon for Britoil.
16 Memoirs and Portraits of One Hundred Glasgow Men, Vol. 1 (1886), Glasgow: Maclehose.
17 Glasgow Herald, December 9, 1839.
18 Glasgow Herald, March 16, 1840.
19 Morrell, J. & Thackray, A. (1981) Gentlemen of Science: Early years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford: Clarendon.
20 Glasgow Herald, March 16, 1840.
21 Middlemiss, Dr J. L. (1987) A Zoo on Wheels: Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie, Burton-on-Trent: Dalebrook.
22 Keeling, C. H. (1984) Where the Lion Trod, Guildford: Clam.
23 British Association Papers - Glasgow 1840 (in Glasgow University Library).
24 Egerton, J. (1978) British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867, London: Tate Gallery for the Yale Center for British Art (The Paul Mellon Collection).
25 Keeling, C. H. (1984) Where the Lion Trod, Guildford: Clam.
26 Glasgow Herald, July 17, 1840.
27 Matthews, L. H. (1976) 'The Zoo: 150 years of research', Nature 261, 5558: 281-4 as quoted in Bostock, S. StC. (1993) Zoos and animal rights, London: Routledge.
28 Glasgow Herald, July 17, 1840.
29 Glasgow Herald, March 30 and July 10, 1840.


Printed copies of this report can be ordered from Glasgow ZooPark. Please send remittance of £10 + £2 p&p = £12 sterling, payable to "Glasgow ZooPark". .