Photograph kindly supplied by Mrs M McNair, Glasgow
Click here for enlargement

During the Empire Exhibition in 1938, a new type of tram car designed for the Coronation of King George VIth (and named Coronation Trams) was used on routes passing Bellahouston Park.

During the 1920's and 1930's work was in short supply, so people found hobbies that were interesting but did not cost much money. Co-operatives, Churches and other organisations formed bands, choirs, drama classes etc. Schools also encouraged these skills. Festivals for these artistic groups were held at St Andrew's Hall during the summer season and very high standards were set. During the Empire Exhibition, the building of the Palace of Arts became the venue for the Glasgow Festival. Groups from all over Scotland met in competition. Among the choirs was the Albion Motors, Male Voice Choir. This was a unique choir. All of the members worked on nightshift (as they were all on production, they had to produce the same quantities as their dayshift mates) The choir joined together to sing during their meal breaks between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 A.M.!!!

Some of the pageant type of shows were held at Ibrox Park. The Scouts and Rovers of Glasgow provided one of these shows. The finale being some 200 Rovers dancing the "Dashing White Sergeant" on the grass pitch (Pipe Band providing the music). The people in the stand were most impressed.

In the closing days of the exhibition, during the twilight, people marched around the perimeter of Bellahouston Park carrying torches attached to long poles - a spectacular sight in the gloaming.
Hector Black

I was a schoolboy of 12 years living in New Cumnock, South Ayrshire at the
time. A school trip was organised for a day's visit to the Bellahouston Park. I
remember well the exhibit of the Victoria Falls - most impressive. The
Engineering Palace similarly. This building was dismantled and moved to
Prestwick Airport where it became an aircraft factory (I think?). I don't
know if it still stands at Prestwick.

In the course of the visit I managed to burn the calf of my left leg in two
places - I still bear the scars to this day, so I will always remember that
particular school trip as well as the 1938 Empire Exhibition!
David Sturrock

The Palace of Engineering is still in use at BAE SYSTEMS Prestwick , having been acquired by then Scottish Aviation , and is still refered to, by all and sundry, as The Palace. It may also interest you to know that another pavilion found its way to Ayrshire, Africa House ended up in ICI's Ardeer works, and to the best of my knowledge still stands, although now dissused.
Sean Gribben

At age 6, I remember going with my Garnetbank School class, and teacher Miss Dallas, to sing "Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Wherever You Are" in one of the concert halls. It was great fun until I got to the rides and was horrified to find that you had to pay - and I had not a farthing!
Neil MacCormick

As a young resident of Govan in 1938 I watched with great interest for a long time, many of the preparations for the Empire Exhibition. Many times we, the boys on Crossloan Rd., walked up Helen St. or Craigton Rd. to see what was happening in the park where we used to roll our Easter eggs. The big new fancy Cunarder tram cars started running past our street and up to the top of Craigton Rd. and then onto the new track laid on Jura St. right to the very gates of Bellahousten Park, from where could be seen most of the bright new pavilions, including the two superb Scottish ones. The second city of the Empire was a hive of industry, had done a great job, and had much to be proud of. The forthcoming summer promised to be an exciting one, and if you had a 12/6 (twelve 'n a tanner) season pass, you were set for a whole summer's entertainment; if you didn't... well, there was always the railing.

There was much hustle 'n bustle and excitement in Glasgow associated with the forthcoming visit of King George V1and Queen Elizabeth to perform the opening of the Bellahousten Park, and for the kids around 43 Crossloan Rd., Govan, there was an added of their own, Leading Signaller Johnny Brennan, R.N., from their very own close, would signal by semaphore from atop the Exhibition Tower, and set in motion the parade that would take the royal couple to open the Exhibition.

On the day the Exhibition was due to open, various military detachments formed up on Helen St. near the White City Dog racing track.The streets were absolutely jammed with spectators. There were many bands, brass and pipe, and all kinds of military orders being barked hither and thither. Our vantage point was right beside the band of the R.A.F., a very smart looking lot attired in uniforms more like those of Hussars than airmen. Shortly before the parade got under way the air was rent asunder by the flypast of about twenty heavy bombers of the R.A.F. heading towards the city
centre...a sight not at all common in 1938 Glasgow.

We never did see Johnny's signal from atop the tower, but the parade did set off and we followed it up onto the Paisley Rd and along to the main entrance. The crowds were so thick that even we Govan urchins couldn't make our way up to the main entrance and got bogged down well out of sight of the royal couple opening the Exhibition, but very much in the grip of the unbelievable excitement.

King George and Queen Elizabeth did open the Exhibition and it was a marvelous success. I paid admission once with my father, went once with a school trip, and visited it many times on my own by going through the railings (not an easy task!). It was truly a fantastic summer's entertainment. Leading Signaller Johnny Brennan, R.N., was killed on H.M.S. Exmouth in the Cromarty Firth a bit more than a year after the Exhibition closed , and some of the Exhibition's infrastructure was used to accommodate French Alpine troops evacuated from Norway in 1940, then by German POW's in 1943...all a far cry from the heady Exhibition days of 1938.

John Milloy

I lived in Netherlee at that time and was aged 13. My father worked in Hillington in G&G Pontons (Calendars and Cards). I well remember the day after the opening when my father,mother,three sisters and two brothers went to Bellahouston Park. It was unbelievable to us youngsters and we enjoyed a great day out. The new trams were lovely and sleek and we rode on one. I am now 73 years old, live in Melbourne Australia, but my memories of the exhibition have never dimmed.
Ron Berry

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Julianne Ryan and I have a linen tablecloth, about five feet square, from the Empire Exhibition of 1938. It is somewhat the worse for wear, but I dearly treasure this memento.
This cloth was given to me by my mother, Eleanor C. Schwab some years ago, along with the explanation that the cloth belonged to my biological father, Thomas Petticrew, who had received it from his mother. Thomas Petticrew and my mother were together in Los Angeles, California in the very early 1940's. I was born in November of 1942. I never knew, or saw, Thomas Petticrew, or his family.
Other than his name, I know only that Thomas Petticrew worked for the railroad at that time in Los Angeles. I do not know if he was born in Scotland or in the United States, nor do I know if his mother lived in Scotland during the Empire Exhibition, was making a visit home to Scotland for the Exhibition, or if the cloth was a gift sent from family in Scotland to his mother here in the United States.
If Thomas Petticrew is alive today, he would have to be in his 80's. Given that I am 56 years old, I would love to learn all I can about Thomas Petticrew, his family and the ancestry of his family.
You cannot know how any little tidbit of information I discover thrills me so. A dear friend found your website for me, and it was truly delightful reading about the Exhibition. It made me feel closer to the man and the family I never had the opportunity to know.
Julianne Ryan
Nokomis, Florida USA

Howdy from Texas ! I am the proud owner of a Commemorative Plate from the 1938 Exhibition in Glasgow. It's made of aluminum, ( I think--could be pewter) measures about 10 inches wide, has scalloped edges, and is engraved Empire Exhibition 1938 Scotland. On the back it's marked Reg.No 780517 Made in England. Also in the bottom of the dish (bowl/plate?!?!) it has engraved thistles and three pictures of a very tall spired building like the picture on your web
site, the Engineering Building and the Dominions Building. Would anyone be interested in obtaining this artifact ? I have no idea what it would be worth.
Please feel free to contact me via Email.

Hi, my name is Jim McIntosh from Uddingston. I still have a photo taken in a booth and delivered in a wee metal frame. I was just into Uddingston Grammar and there I am in my school cap. Also remember the Giraffe Necked women from Burma. My Dad thought it might have been useful to watch the fitba from the terraces!.

I was very young when the Exhibition opened up, but as I recall it was King George V and Queen Mary who opened it or The uncrowned King Edward.
I am from Paisley and used to take the street car from Paisley cross to Bellahouston Park to visit the Exhibition with my family.
Don Anderson

The Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938 was actually opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother). Contributors seem to be confusing the 1938 Exhibition with the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley 1924/25 (George V & Queen Mary). Stanley K Hunter (The Scottish Exhibitions Study Group)

My grandfather was a strongman at the 1938 Exhibition at what I believe was some sort of pavilion of physical culture. His name was William Campbell and apparently he could support eight people.
William Campbell
Cromer, England

I have a little metal puzzle or souvenir of the Empire Exhibition 1938 which came to me from my Scottish grandmother (long deceased) and looked on the web to find out something about the exhibition. I was extremely pleased to find your page with all the memories, thank you so much, I am really delighted to read about it all. My grandmother lived in Glasgow and migrated to Australia as a young bride.
Carolyn Guy
Victoria, Australia

I remember bring able to see the tower at night, floodlit in many colours, from where we lived at the time, on the other side of the river in Knightswood.

Andy. (Now in Brentwood Bay, BC, Canada)

Wheras I was born in 1939, I don't recollect anything about the exhibition, but I do have two season tickets to it which were purchased by my mother and father. I note that they cost L1.5.0..and wonder what the 12/6 tickets were about...perhaps they were for children. After the war, my father returned from the merchant navy and was employed by the Clyde Navigation Trust or as it was then known " the Heilin' Mans Navy" and was the engineer on the Meadowside ferry for some years prior to emigrating to Canda in 1951.

Frank McNeill,
Pickering, Ontario

What fun! I remember going to the Empire Exhibition with my teacher, Mr. John Smith, and his girlfriend, Miss Weir. They took our whole class from Newlands Elementary School in Parkhead. It was a wonderful experience.At one point, they needed a break and left us all in a "creche" for children. We had a grand time there too.
I'm so pleased to find your site through a friend in Canada.
Irene Gardner, Venice, Florida.

My name is Mildred Campbell (ne: Pratt 4/10/28 ). My memories of the Empire Exhibition are extra special because my knitting and sewing ( teacosy and lapbag) were exhibited there and I was all of 10 years old. At that time I was a pupil at Garnetbank School and well I remember Ms Dallas, the teacher. My sewing teacher was actually Ms Rankin and it was Ms Rankin who entered my work into the exhibition. The excitement I felt going along to the exhibition that day was great. My mother, aunts and sisters came along and we were all very proud of the fact that I had this item of work in the exhibition. On the night of the closing ceremony we stood in the pouring rain for the closure. It was wonderful.

Does anyone remember my pretty yellow and green teacosy? !!!!!!
Mildred Campbell. Victoria. Australia.

I have a cigarette case from the Exhibition, it is 83mmX 75mm, silvered with a brushed pillar design (like lengths of rope). A crest is mounted in the centre of the hinged cover, it is of a stylized red lion facing left, rampant encircled by . EMPIRE. EXHIBITION. above and .SCOTLAND.1938. below in silver on a blue background (the lion is on a silver background).
Inside it has yellow elastic on both sides even though it can only hold eight cigarettes on one side if you do not want them crushed , the inside is a gold alloy colour.
I hope this reminds someone of happy times.

My grandfather took me to the "ex.." well remember seeing a short film
by (I think) Shell Petrol about their efforts to see the inside of a
cylinder firing. I very much wanted to go to the top of the Tower but my
grand-dad said..".I could never climb a' these stairs"", we did see the
Mounties, though and a huge machine making missed a
cutting stroke while some well-known comedian was watching it and his
photo was in the paper smoking a ten-inch cigarette...saw the King and
Queen too...what a Summer and we deserved it for what was to
come.....K.P. Jack, Jacksonville FL USA

I remember being taken by my parents and sisters, to the exhibition,on the brand new red, white and blue,Coronation tramcar, then going for rides at the carnival, and dallying behind from the family , facinated by the laughing policeman, who was perched in a two storey window, and as a result of my dallying , i got lost, and yelled at the top of my lungs, i was taken to the local police building where my mother was waiting for me. In 1960, my brother John , 4 years my junior settled in Cleveland, Ohio, Usa, July 12, 1968, was the day our eldest sister Sarah and Husband Eddie Marr left for Chicago, Illinois, Usa, 3 days later, july 15th(Fair Monday) i left Scotland forever for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where i had a job waiting for me as a bus driver, then after 5 years transferred to the city police as a civilian dispatcher, my Glasgow twang gave the boys in blue many a laugh at first, but they soon learned that i knew my job and had their wellbeing first and foremost on my mind, when i retired in 1988 i was given a send off, and a police artist caricature of me dispatching at a bus stop, with a little mouse looking up my kilt, my sister Margaret left Scotland forever in August 1968 for Toronto, Ontario, Canada, we have all had full lives in this hemisphere, and all except John have retired,I was a tram and bus driver for years in Glasgow, and have put together a web page...
for anyone interested in seeing what life on the "caurs" was like, anyone who may know me can contact me ,email is, hope you all enjoy this reminiscence of mine, i still remember very vividly the Empire Exhibition of 1938, and thank the Glasgow Web Site for giving me the chance to say hello after an absence of 33 years respectfully
Jim Crawley, Winnipeg,
September 5 ,2001 and I am 68 today

I was 10 when the Exhibition was on & my sister used to take me to Bellahouston Park every Sat.I loved all of it but what stood out in my memory were The Giraffe Necked Women.
We now live in Perth Western Australia.

Regards Betty

I was six when we travelled from Edinburgh to Glasgow in my father's Austin 7 van one evening. My first sight of Glasgow was of two policemen supporting a gentleman who appeared to have bendy rubber legs.

While my parents went round the exhibition, Billy Oliver (who worked in Dad's shop), took me to the Crazy House. There were hilarious distorting mirrors and a sofa and armchairs which tipped you off when you sat down. I was too light for them, but sat on Billy's knee for the fun. (Billy was the village blacksmith's son, and, being in the Territorial Army like the other two young men in the shop, was called up within three days of the outbreak of World War II. He was one of the few to survive the Arnhem landings.)

Dad took me on the wonderful Scenic Railway - we loved it so much that we went round again, delighting in the heart-stopping moment before plunging over the top. There were beautiful waterfalls with multi-coloured lights. On our second visit, we took several neighbour's children. The machinery on the Helter Skelter had to be stopped when mother's hat blew into it - luckily it was undamaged. We took home some candy floss in a huge box, for a child who was ill in bed. Sadly, when he opened it, there was only a tiny piece of pink toffee in the bottom.

Dad bought me a wooden cup and ball which I played with for many years. I still have the red and gold Empire Exhibition tin which held Wilkins Cremona Toffee which we bought for my grandparents.

Betty Verrill, North Yorkshire.

Thanks for your site. great to meet all those folks who went to see the exhibition. I was a wee Bothwell lass of nine. My embroidered lapbag(! new word for the young ones) won a first place (Red Ticket)It was worth 2 shillings and sixpence. A fortune and my dad said he'd take me to Bellahouston to see the Tower. Well! It was brilliant and clear in my memory today. I admired the , Maori from NZ, Canadian Mounties, the rosiest of apples from the far flung reaches of the empire. Didn't know then that I'd spend twenty plus years in beautiful NZ. and another twenty in Australia where I am now. Love it but the longing for hame never leaves. Dear Scotia Orra' best to you all.

Helen, Canberra

As a four-year-old living in Dennistoun, I was taken by my parents to the exhibition in Bellahouston Park and deposited in the "creche". (Today it would be called "the babysitters"). There, much to my delight, I was given a Dinky toy car to play with while my mother and father went exploring the exhibits. When they came back to get me, I had to give the toy back! I was very annoyed.

I also remember seeing the lit-up tower at night, right across the city, from the kitchen window of our top floor flat in Hillfoot Street

Hugh Reid

I have been delighted to read the memories of all those who attended the 1938 Exhibition in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. They have brought alive for me a book I often enjoyed browsing through as a child. It's called "A Souvenir of the Empire Exhibition 1938" and is full of pictures of exhibits, pavilions, exhibitors and guests, royal and otherwise, who enjoyed the wonders of the Exhibition. I was always intrigued by the picture of the Tree Top Restaurant and the explanation that the restaurant was built up high, among the trees without disturbing them. I don't know how the book came into my family's possession as we live in New Zealand. I have been browsing the book again (and marvelling at how careful I must have been as it's in quite good condition) and finding the exhibits etc referred to in the reminiscences on your site. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

Lynne Butler
New Zealand

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1920's Glasgow
1988 Glasgow Garden Festival
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