Excitement had been mounting in the city for months.

Like thousands of other Glaswegians we had ordered our annual passes and now the tickets had arrived inviting us to attend the Royal Opening on Friday 29th April 1988.


In the latter half of 1987 I paid frequent visits to the Festival Site on the south bank of the River Clyde. The old docks had been cleared and the ground was being prepared to accommodate thousands of shrubs, trees and plants which were being cultivated in nurseries throughout Scotland. A plentiful source of top soil for the flora was obtained from dredging operations on the river.

Royal Opening

A beautiful day dawned, bright and crisp, and we made our way to the Festival Site for the first of many enthralling visits.

Our tickets directed us to the "Water & Maritime" area. Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana would tour the site before the official opening ceremony.

Glaswegians love a good show and many had arrived dressed in period costumes adding to the splendour of this Royal Occasion.

Engineers had sunk piles into the river bed to support a new swing bridge which would provide a convenient link from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and its car parks on the north bank of the Clyde. "Bell's Bridge" was to be the major thoroughfare into and out of the site and yet had to be capable of allowing shipping to pass unhindered to and from the upper reaches of the river.

Firm foundations were also being prepared to support the 240 feet high "Clydesdale Bank Anniversary Tower" and the "Coca Cola Roller" thrill ride.

This once desolate landscape was being magically transformed.

Three happy hours passed watching entertainers charm the crowd, making new friends, reminiscing about previous Glasgow Festivals. Distant cheering alerted us to the fact the Royal Party was getting near. The glass gondola of the Tower ascended and we caught our first sight of Charles and Diana.

Soon we learned that they would pass through our area on board one of the little trains which circled the Festival Site. Attention turned to obtaining a good position by the narrow gauge railway line.

Cameras were readied, children were raised to shoulder height, grannies put their false teeth in!

The moment had arrived. To a chorus of cheering and camera clicking the train swept the Royal Couple by. It was over. They would be escorted to the "Map of Scotland" and the Festival would officially open. As for us, it was time to be swept along on the human tide of enthusiasm to view some of this magical site.


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