Spiral staircase at Botanic Gardens restored to former glory

Decades of heat and humidity had corroded the Palm House staircase almost entirely.

Spiral staircase at Botanic Gardens restored to former glory LDRS
Botanic Gardens: The staircase within the Palm House has been restored.

A historic spiral staircase at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens has been restored to its original glory after decades of heat and humidity had corroded it almost entirely.

Soaring temperatures have seen visitors flocking to enjoy the gardens – and they have been able to see the newly restored “treasure” of the cast iron spiral staircase in the Palm House.

The 8.5m high feature, which provides access to a walkway used for tending tall plants, had become badly dilapidated.

High levels of humidity and lack of regular redecoration meant the condition of the staircase had deteriorated, with the central spindle and sectional posts causing “great concern” as a result of “large-scale corrosion”.

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Parks workers at the council drew up plans for its restoration, and work was completed just a few months ago.  

Before: The staircase had become corroded.LDRS
Before: The staircase had become corroded.

Photos show how the staircase, believed to be over 135-years-old, was sympathetically transformed.

A council spokesman said: “The staircase is a fantastic original feature of the glasshouses at the Botanic Gardens but unfortunately time and the tropical environment within the Palm House eventually did take its toll.

“Due to the poor condition of the staircase, we had to approach the restoration with great care and the structure was completely dismantled before being taken away to our contractor’s workshop for repairs.”

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The staircase provides access to the walkway, from which tall plants can be tended, roof ventilators can be opened and the sprinkler-type watering system is suspended.

“A sympathetic restoration was essential, as despite its poor condition, the 135-year-old spiral staircase remains an integral part of the Palm House,” a council newsletter revealed. 

After: The staircase has been restored to its original glory.LDRS
After: The staircase has been restored to its original glory.

The parks development team drew up a specification for the restoration and the project got under way in 2020. A new core, replacement treads and repainting were all part of the revamp.

The council spokesman added: “We had hoped to have the renovated staircase back on show before this year but the repair work was disrupted by the Covid pandemic.

“The Botanic Gardens are much loved in Glasgow and we hope the restoration of this piece of city heritage will add to the enjoyment of any visit to the glasshouses.”

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands