A grand Victorian hospital stood here on Rottenrow Street. This modest, crucifix-crowned monument is one of its fleeting remnants. But, after the life-giving maternity hospital became obsolete in 2001, the ruins took on a fresh spirit on the street. Rottenrow—or Rat-an-righ, in Gaelic—means “road of the kings”. And that’s exactly what Princess Royal Maternity Hospital was in 1860 when it relocated to these majestic grounds. Now that its passed on, the quaint yet chirpy Rottenrow Gardens sit among what is left. A large safety pin monument—designed by George Wyllie—stands tall here as a “monument to maternity”.
Princess Royal’s site was entrusted to the University of Strathclyde after the hospital became defunct. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the college, the slick Rottenrow Gardens opened in 2004. While the modern gardens occupy the majority of the older spot, the Victorian past is by no means relinquished. Nods to the hospital remain in the wake, leaving romantic touches of history to wander through alongside the underbrushes.
These gardens are the perfect spot for a wintery stroll — with the naked trees in keeping with the old slabs of Victorian stone ruin. But, like the best natural spots, they move with the seasons. A hotbed of shrubbery is preserved in Rottenrow, from red hot pokers and gunnera irises to youthful birch trees.
For the fleeting days of a scorching sun in the Scottish summer, this is a must for whiling away the hours soaking up the rays. Layers of thick grass-laden steps are essential to lean back and press pause on your busy life. For many, this spot symbolised the beginning of life in Glasgow. Now it’s taken on a new form — though it remains full of the zest a wee bairn gathers up within its first moments on this earth.
Rottenrow Gardens, G1 1RG