THE ELDER PARK
ISABELLA ELDER STATUE IN THE ELDER PARK

Statue of Isabella Elder, Elder Park, Govan.

Isabella was born on 15th of March 1828 in (not the best place in the country to be born) Glasgow's Gorbals. She was the only surviving Daughter of the Solicitor Alexander Ure  (1788–1830) who's wife was a Mary Ross. Isabella had one older brother, John. Her education is not really known but in 1857 Isabella married John Elder (1824–1869). John Elder was a partner in the Marine Engineers Randolph, Elder & Co. In 1860 the thriving business acquired a its own Shipyard in Govan. In 1868 the yard became known as John Elder Shipbuilding Company. The yard was renamed to Fairfields Shipbuilding & Engineering Company. John Elder died in 1869 and it was regarded as one of the world's leading shipbuilders.

At this time Isabella was now the sole owner of the business and ran it successfully for nine months until it was transferred to a partnership led by her brother. She was a wealthy widow with no children and now had time on her hands.  Isabella Ure Elder (Born 1828  Died 1905) She was known as  a Glasgow philanthropist who took a particular interest in education, especially of women, and in the welfare of the people of Govan, site of her husband's shipbuilding yard.

ISABELLA ELDER STATUE IN THE ELDER PARK
TOMB OF JOHN AND ISABELLA ELDER IN GLASGOW NECROPOLIS
STATUE OF JOHN ELDER WITH HIS COMPOUND ENGINE

The statue of John Elder (1824-1869) in Elder Park, Govan. Standing next to the  engine he invented.

The statue of John Elder (1824-1869) in Elder Park, Govan, in 1906. Elder was co-founder of the shipbuilding and marine engineering firm Randolph, Elder and Co in 1852, the firm credited with the invention and development of the compound steam engine in 1854. The engine enhanced the fuel efficiency of steam ships, greatly increasing their range.

In 1858 they bought Napier's Old Yard in Govan and in 1864 opened a new shipyard nearby at Fairfield. The firm subsequently became John Elder & Co (in 1868), and (after Elder's death the following year) the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. The bronze statue was erected by public subscription and sculpted by Sir J E Boehm in 1887-1888. Elder leans on a model of a compound steam engine. In 1885 John's wife Isabella Elder (1828-1905) had gifted the 37 acre park to the people of Govan.

STATUE OF JOHN ELDER WITH HIS COMPOUND ENGINE
THE ELDER PARK POND 1910

Statue of John Elder (1824-1869)

The boating pond at Elder Park in Govan c 1910

In 1883 Isabella, the widow of John Elder of the Fairfield Shipyard, set aside 37 acres of land on the old Fairfield Farm off Renfrew Road as a public park. The Elder Park was laid out by John Honeyman and opened by Lord Rosebery on 27 June 1885. In accordance with Mrs Elder's wishes, the park was intended solely for “healthful recreation by music and amusements,” and no ball games were to be permitted there. The park's bye-laws stipulated that "No person shall wade, bathe or fish in the lake" but as you know we all paddled in the pond and got out our little bamboo cane with a small net to catch the tiddlers of fish in the Elderpark Pond. Not to mention the men sailing their boats and yaughts in the pond.

THE ELDER PARK LIBRARY

Govan's ambitious public buildings and statues reflect the wealth of the community and occasional benevolence of the employers. Elder Park was established in 1885 by Mrs Isabella Elder as  monument to her shipbuilder husband. She wanted to give the people of Govan ‘healthful recreation by music and amusement’. Statues of husband and wife can be seen in the park. John Elder, by Victorian sculptor, Sir J. E. Boehm(1888), stands beside one of the compound engines.

The Elder Park Library

Isabella Ure (1828-1905) was an important philanthropist whose used her wealth and status for the benefit of the wider community, especially championing women’s education. A well-to-do solicitor’s daughter, she married John Elder, partner in the  marine engineering company of Randolph, Elder & Co, in 1857. The firm prospered becoming John Elder & Company in 1868, and taking over the Fairfield shipbuilding yard in Govan. It soon became a world leading company. After John Elder’s death in 1869 Isabella Elder supported many charitable causes, notably in Govan and in support of the education of women. 

In Govan she bought the land and created Elder Park, established a School of Domestic Economy for local girls and young women and paid for and supported the Elder Park Library, insisting on Sunday opening which made it accessible to working people. At the University of Glasgow she endowed a chair of marine engineering in memory of her husband and was an active contributor to building projects and initiatives to advance technical training. However, her greatest achievement was her support for the development of medical training for women. She bought North Park House (subsequently the home of BBC) and presented it to Queen Margaret College, supporting women’s medical training there. When the College became part of Glasgow University in 1892 she used her influence to help persuade the University to allow women to graduate in medicine.

ELDER PARK ENTRANCE
THE ELDER PARK
THE ELDER PARK POND
THE ELDER PARK
THE ELDER PARK POND WITH YACHTS SAILING
THE ELDER PARK TENNIS COURT
THE ELDER PARK OPENING DAY
THE ELDER PARK BOWLING GREEN

For Govan, which was a separate burgh from Glasgow until 1912, Isabella Elder bought the 37 acres of land opposite Fairfield’s shipyard where her husband had made his fortune. She laid it out as a public park, named the Elder Park in memory of her husband and her father-in-law David. It opened with a great celebration in 1885 for the people of Govan to have healthy recreation and for many years she paid for an annual fireworks display there. She also opened a school of home economics for women to learn about nutrition and cooking run by Miss Martha Gordon who also would visit homes to give practical advice. The classes met twice a week and included lessons on the influence of food, clothing, cleanliness, ventilation, care of children and prevention of the spread of infectious diseases. In 1890 Mrs Elder employed a district nurse to give instruction in classes and visit homes.

District Nursing and the Elder Cottage Hospital

In 1901 the Duchess of Montrose founded the Cottage Nurses Training Home to bring the village system of nursing, which had proved so successful in England, to Govan. Mrs Elder provided this project with its first home. Women were trained in district nursing and also became Certified Midwives for all areas of Scotland.

In 1902 at the age of 74 Mrs Elder’s next project was the building and equipping of a Cottage Hospital for the people of Govan. It had been originally planned to be a Maternity Hospital and there is a stone carving above the door of a woman and child. However she finally decided that it would be of more value as a general Hospital and It consisted of 30 beds in two wards named Florence Nightingale and SophiaJex Blake after two contemporaries of Mrs Elder. She funded the running of this hospital until her death in 1905 and it finally closed in 1987.

In 1901 Isabella Elder was awarded an honorary degree of LLD, the first time any woman had been so honoured and in 1906, the year after her death, a statue of her dressed in her academic robes was unveiled in Elder Park.

THE ELDER COTTAGE HOSPITAL

The Elder Cottage Hospital, Govan Road

The  Elder Park Entrance Govan Road End

TWO TEDS ELDER PARK FISHING FOR THE TIDDLERS 1959
JUST HAVING A RELAX AT THE ELDER PARK
ELDER PARK SAND PITS AND POND WITH CHILDREN AND PARENTS HAVING A GOOD TIME
OLD POSTCARD OF THE ELDER PARK POND
ELDER PARK
ELDER PARK MEMORIAL ON THE LEFT OF PICTURE
ELDER PARK
OLD ELDER PARK FARMHOUSE
DERELICT TOILET IN THE ELDER PARK
PART OF THE ELDER PARK FARMHOUSE

Above this picture is a derelict toilet in the Elder Park and this one was the Elder Park Farmhouse

ONE VERY STRONG BREEZE DID THIS
DUSK AT THE ELDER PARK
ELDER FARM

Elder Farm Community Beginnings.

This extract was taken from the Elder Farm's website.

Govan was the centre of a heavy ship building industry on the back of which many fortunes were made.  Families of the men who built the ships were crammed into cramped one room spaces and they were ailing. In 1884, Isabella Elder spent over 37,000 on the purchase of "certain lands situated at Fairfield in the parish of Govan"

At further "considerable" additional cost,buildings were added, trees and shrubs planted, walkways and carriageways laid,"... to provide a suitable public park and recreation ground for the inhabitants of the Burgh of Govan in the immediated neighbourhood of which my husband carried on the business of an Engineer and Shipbuilder and in the welfare of which he ever manifested a deep interest."

The property referred to as "the Park", and Elderpark, was placed into the care of the Commissioners of the Burgh of Govan with certain conditions.  You can read more Click HERE.

You can also read more about the Farm on the Clyde Waterfront website. Here is an extract from their site:

The project creates a new entrance into the park via the hard landscaped farmyard designed to accommodate markets and events. the building is being developed to provide education, therapy, decorative and food production gardens, cafe, meeting rooms, Open Museum space, small workshops for community - artisan use, teaching kitchen and secluded roof garden for further garden education and therapy.  You can read more Click HERE

ELDER PARK POND AND BOATING HOUSE ON THE RIGHT

Old Fairfield Farmhouse the picture on the right shows the yacht and boat house. The read building on the right.

OLD FAIRFIELDS FARMHOUSE
THE ELDER PARK 1890

Govan ElderPark 1890

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