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empire facts

The Empire Exhibition of 1938 – a Few Facts

  • The Exhibition was held in Glasgow between the months of May and October in 1938. It would prove to be the last public showcase of the British Empire.

  • The Second World War began just nine months after the Exhibition closed and changed the world for ever.

  • The Exhibition showcased British industry generally although the industries of Glasgow and the West of Scotland were in the forefront.

  • The Exhibition was opened by King George VI with Queen Mary on 3 May 1938. The opening ceremony was at Ibrox Stadium and then moved to Bellahouston.

  • The Exhibition employed 876 persons from the general manager to the car park attendants.

  • The area of Bellahouston Park was 174 acres including the nursery which did not form part of the Exhibition.

  • Work began on 23 October 1936 although the first visual sign of activity above ground was on 9 July 1937 when the King and Queen unveiled the commemorative stone that stands on the point of the hill (to this day).

  • The Exhibition took ten months to construct.

  • The Exhibition’s Architect was T S Tait FRIBA.

  • Other architects working to Tait’s brief included Lancelot H Ross, J Taylor Thompson, Basil Spence, TW Marwick, JA Coia, Alistair MacDonald, Esme Gordon, Dr Colin Sinclair, Margaret Brodie and R Mervyn Noad.
  • Civil Engineers: Crouch & Hogg
  • Electrical Engineer: J Campbell Murray
  • Police: A total of 44 police officers policed the Exhibition of whom 36 were constables.
  • Fire Brigade: I Officer and 28 Firemen. There were no serious fires.
  • Fatal Accidents: During construction of the Tower, a steel girder slipped from a rope sling and fell to the ground killing a man. The second fatality occurred in the Amusement Park when a man fell from one of the chairs on the Big Wheel.
  • Paid visitors to Tower; 1,312,392 persons paid to travel to the top of the tower on the two lifts provided.
  • 600 people could enjoy views over the City at one time from the top of the Tower
  • Number of Exhibitors: There were 716 in total
  • Catering: There was a total of 5240 seats in restaurants and snack bars
  • Atlantic Restaurant: Catering for this was run by the Anchor Shipping Lne.
  • Amusement Park: the 12 acre park (largest in Britain) had the following major events:
    Mountain Railway, Lakins Rocket Ride, Octopus, Ghost Train, Water Dodgems, Mont Blanc, Whirl, Whirlwind Racer, Waltzer, High Flyer, Dodgems, Air Sport, Big Wheel, Juvenile Speedway, Petrol Speedway, Noah’s Ark, Over the Falls, Crazy House, Stratoship, Caterpillar, Electric Speedway, Rocket Speedway, Wall of Death, Miniature Railway, Juvenile Noah’s Ark, Juvenile Ride, Flying Scooter.
  • Chairs: 13000 chairs (folding and deck chairs) were distributed throughout the Exhibition
  • Car Parks: Provision was made for 9000 cars in carparks in or around the Exhibition.
  • Concerts included Sir Thomas Beecham & The London Philarmonic Orchestra, Sir Henry Wood and the London Symphony Orchestra and Paul Robeson.
  • Dogs were not allowed in the Exhibition. Kennels were located at the Mosspark Boulevard Entrance where they could be kept for a fee.
  • Weather: only three Saturdays were without rain. 50% more rain fell throughout the duration of the Exhibition than over the 35 previous years.
  • Total Attendance: 12,593,232
  • Best attendance day: 29 October, 364,092
  • Lowest attendance day; 23,603
  • The 1 millionth visitor arrived on 14 May.
  • The Exhibition closed at midnight on 29 October 1938