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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 05:36 GMT 06:36 UK
Palace plans a disappearing act
Kibble Palace
Kibble Palace has been emptied of its plants
Glasgow's historic Kibble Palace is set to perform a disappearing act as part of a 7m restoration project.

The Victorian glasshouse in the city's Botanic Gardens will be dismantled for the second time in its history and transported to South Yorkshire.

Experts from Shepley Engineers will then restore and repair the structure - before shipping it back to Glasgow.

The pieces of the jigsaw will then be put back together, with the aim of reopening its doors in spring 2006.

The Kibble's primary role will continue to be the care and cultivation of plant collections.

Handed over

However, it will also operate as a centre for a range of cultural events and performances, including theatre, poetry and civic ceremonies.

The keys were handed over to the main contractor at a ceremony on Monday.

The Kibble has already been emptied of its vast collection of plants.

The building was originally a conservatory at John Kibble's home at Coulport, on Loch Long, between 1860 and 1870.

Kibble Palace
The building will be transported to South Yorkshire
He began dismantling the structure in 1872 and transported it by barge and cart to its current home, where it was reassembled and enlarged.

Shepley Engineers has already handled five other major glasshouse restorations, including buildings in Dublin and Liverpool.

Engineering director Paul Scott said that Kibble's lay-out made it unique.

The entire building will be surveyed before the scaffolding is erected.

Each individual component will then be carefully dismantled and moved to the company's workshops for blasting and painting.

At that stage any repairs will be carried out, using sympathetic materials to replace any part of the building which is beyond repair.

I am very excited that work is finally beginning to restore the palace to its former glory
Councillor Aileen Colleran
Landscaping and building work will be carried out once the building has disappeared from the site it currently inhabits.

Mr Scott said it was a "real challenge" to rebuild the structure exactly as it was when the process began.

"You do get to a worrying point where all the building has disappeared," he said.

"But now we don't have that worry, we know that the building will go back.

"Now that we have done five others we have got the competence and the belief in our own ability."

There are plans for a webcam which will allow people to view the process of the project.

Kibble Palace sign
Kibble Palace was brought to Glasgow in the 19th century
The restoration is being funded by Glasgow City Council in partnership with Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Parks committee convener Councillor Aileen Colleran said that the building had "a rich history, elegant architecture and a high quality plant collection".

She continued: "It is the jewel in the crown of the Botanics and integral to its future development.

"I am very excited that work is finally beginning to restore the palace to its former glory."

Ranald MacInnes, principal inspector of historic buildings with Historic Scotland, added: "Kibble Palace is one of Glasgow's most iconic and best-loved buildings.

"The transfer and enlargement of this huge conservatory from a private house to a Glasgow city park marked an important step forward for public access to the world of exotic plants, which had formerly been the preserve of the rich."


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