Pulhamite at Ross Hall, Glasgow
Alison Allighan writes:
In May 2009, we were pleased to support the formation of a ‘Friends of Rosshall Park’, the park being one of only five sites in Scotland known to contain artificial rockwork by James Pulham & Son. At their inaugural meeting Christopher Dingwall, the Society’s Honorary Research Adviser for Scotland, gave a short talk on the history of Pulhamite and the significance of Rosshall.
Ross Hall, built by James Cowan of Hawkhill in 1877 to replace an earlier house, stands to one side of an extensive landscape park, first laid out in the 18th century within a meander bend on the White Cart Water, south west of Glasgow.
In the 1890s James Pulham & Son were commissioned by Cowan to build a rock garden, comprising an artificial lochan with an island and subterranean boathouse flanked by two substantial areas of Pulhamite rockwork including a sunken pool, ravine, rustic arch, cave, grottoes, bridges and waterfalls (below right). The rock garden and lochan, planted with ferns, alpine and aquatic plants, and surrounded by trees and shrubs is accessed by a path network.
The house and garden remained in private hands until 1948 when they were acquired by Glasgow Corporation. While the grounds became a public park in the 1960s, the mansion house served as a college for a time, before becoming a private hospital. The Pulhamite rock garden, now Category B-listed in its own right, remains in fair condition but is beginning to suffer from frost damage, tree roots, weeds and vandalism, so is in need of restoration work to prevent further deterioration. Although regular maintenance of the park is undertaken by teams from the council’s Land Services division, it does not have its own dedicated staff.
The Friends of Rosshall Park will provide an opportunity for the local community to work the City Council to improve the quality of the park. Since the inaugural meeting a planning application has been lodged by the Council seeking permission to undertake specialist repair works to the rock garden.
We hope that with the proposed restoration of the site it may become more widely recognised as one of Glasgow’s garden heritage gems and that it may even merit consideration by Historic Scotland for inclusion in the Inventory.
See also the Pulham Legacy
For more photos