When Glasgow was showing the world it was leaving the past
IT looks an inviting place even now, despite the fact it was built nearly 80 years ago. At first glance it looks like a Hollywood movie studio but this is the Empire Exhibition in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow in 1938 with this aerial shot showing off its modern buildings, broad avenues and fountains.
Remember, Glasgow was a grimy, soot-coated place in the 1930s, with many of the street lights still gas lamps.
The exhibition, to show off the very best of the British Empire, had halls built for the various countries, with the halls of Canada and Australia prominent in this photograph. In addition, there were large Palaces of Engineering and Industry.
Although it was one of the wettest summers on record, the exhibition, opened by King George VI, attracted more than 12 million visitors in the six months it was open.
Almost all of the buildings were taken down afterwards, even the 500ft Tait Tower.
The South Africa building was moved to Ardeer to become ICI’s canteen, and the Palace of Engineering was rebuilt at Prestwick Airport to be workspace for Scottish Engineering.
The grand scale of the exhibition was said to be a subtle message to Hitler in Germany that the British Empire was large, modern, full of new technology and ready to face his aggression.
For the home market the exhibition, at a time of widespread unemployment, showed Scotland was ready to embrace modernity and that Glasgow had a bright future.
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