Saughton Park

(Saughton Public Park)

A sizeable and popular recreation area in Edinburgh, Saughton Park is located to the west of Balgreen Road, 2 miles (3 km) west southwest of the city centre. The Water of Leith forms the southern boundary of the park, which extends to 17.4 ha (43 acres). Once forming the policies of Saughton Hall, a large and rambling mansion which grew around a core dating from c.1660, the estate was bought by Edinburgh Corporation in 1900. The Hall became a mental hospital, but fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1952. A Walled Garden remains, which now incorporates a Winter Garden, Rose Garden, in the form of a parterre, Italian Garden and Sensory Garden. There is a C-listed sundial in the rose garden. The Winter Garden is modern, replacing an original built for the Scottish National Exhibition of 1908, and has no architectural merit. To the north is the Saughton Sports Complex, with an athletics track, five grass football pitches and two synthetic pitches for football or rugby training, There is also the most extensive skate and BMX park in Edinburgh and a children's play area.

Opened by Prince Arthur of Connaught, the Scottish National Exhibition was held in Saughton Park, between the 1st May and 31st October, 1908, and this event marks the beginning of the public park. A plethora of white stucco buildings were constructed in that part of the park now occupied by sports pitches. Visited by 3½ million people, this was the biggest exhibition to be held in the city since the Edinburgh International Exhibition held in the Meadows in 1886. The exhibition was served by a specially-built station on the main railway line from Haymarket Station, and comprised a Palace of Industries, along with halls dedicated to machinery, music, fine art, Russian, Irish and Canadian pavilions, a model hospital, and a large Amusement Park, with a massive helter-skelter and water-chute. Saughton Hall included exhibitions on Japan and Mary, Queen of Scots. Visitors gorged themselves on free food samples, while a particularly popular attraction was a flying machine, a fantastic novelty at the time. Other peculiar exhibits included a display of baby incubators, complete with babies, intended to promote their use in hospitals, and a Senegalese Village with a resident population of 100 men, women and children, who were observed going about their daily routines and rituals. A child unfortunate enough to be born in the village during the exhibition was christened Scotia Reekie. Although the exhibition was blessed by many weeks of sunshine, which contributed to its financial success, a freak snow-storm concerned the Senegalese villagers, who thought rice was falling from the sky!

The park is protected by Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association) in celebration of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

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