Monuments to John and Mrs Elder in Elder Park

Isabella Elder Statue

Monuments to John and Isabella Elder in Elder park - both Restored June 2010

John Elder Statue
John Elder like Robert Napier was one of the fathers of modern shipbuilding. Mr Elder developed the compound steam engine that gave Randolph, Elder & Co. a technological edge that led to the Clyde being at the forefront of world shipbuilding. John Elder encouraged his workers to attend evening classes and even paid the fees for those who could not afford them. When he died most businesses in Govan closed as an expression of esteem and respect at the news of his death.

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The foundation stone for the statue of John Elder was laid on the 21st April 1888 a hermetically sealed glass jar was placed in a cavity within the foundation stone, containing portraits of John David and Isabella Elder, along with a medal, coins and a copy of the current Govan Press newspaper. The bronze statue was the work of the famous sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and cast by James Moore of Thames Ditton in Surrey and depicts John Elder standing with his hand on a compound steam engine first used in the vessel SS Brandon launched in 1854. The statue was unveiled on the 28th July 1888 by the Marquis of Lothian, Secretary of State for Scotland at that time. Sir J.E. Boehm also attended. The Statue is Category B Listed.

During Restoration - Isabella Elder Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowDuring Restoration - John Elder Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowDuring Restoration - John Elder Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowDuring Restoration - Isabella Elder Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Isabella Elder Statue

The Statue of Isabella Elder by Macfarlane Shannon was erected in 1906 and sits in its own memorial garden facing the Elder Shipyard. It was the first statue of a woman (other than Queen Victoria) in the city and remains to this day the only female Glaswegian commemorated in this way. When John Elder died suddenly in 1869 she briefly took over the running of the firm of John Elder & Co at Fairfield but soon left it to others to run the firm.

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Isabella had inherited a considerable fortune and from the 1880's between extended stays on the continent she became a major philanthropist. Her first interest was higher education and she endowed the Elder Chair of Naval Architecture at Glasgow University. She also bought North Park House, in Queen Margaret Drive as the base for the new Queen Margaret College to provide Higher education for women.

When a medical school was attached to the college in 1890 she took on most of the running costs, she eventually and with much difficulty, helped persuade the University to admit women students. In 1885 she provided funds for a school of domestic economy for the training of young girls She also provided £27,000 to meet the cost of building a library and the purchase of books. The Statue is Category A listed and the monument and memorial gardens were fully restored from January to June 2010.