Supriya Ghosh

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938

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Similar  Bellahouston Park, Tait Tower, House for an Art Lover, 2003 World Horticultural Exposition, Beresford Hotel

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 (unofficially known as the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow) was an international exposition held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, from May to December 1938.


Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Scottish Avenue Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938 A recent Flickr

The Exhibition marked fifty years since Glasgow's first great exhibition, the International Exhibition (1888) held at Kelvingrove Park. It also offered a chance to boost the economy of Scotland, recovering from the depression of the 1930s.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Sir Basil Spence Archive Project

It was the second British Empire Exhibition, the first having been held at Wembley Park in 1924-25.

The event

Despite 1938 being one of the wettest summers on record, the Exhibition attracted 12 million visitors.

An international football competition, the Empire Exhibition Trophy, was held in conjunction with the Exhibition.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938 A Son of the Rock Jack Deighton

Exhibition pavilions were erected on the site, the two largest being the Palace of Engineering and Palace of Industry, and countries in the British Empire contributed their own national pavilions. The Exhibition was masterplanned by Thomas S. Tait, who headed of a team of nine architects, which included Basil Spence and Jack Coia.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938 A Son of the Rock Jack Deighton

The most prominent structure was the Tait Tower (officially the Tower of Empire) 470 feet (140 m) high. Although it was intended to remain as a permanent monument after the exhibition, the tower was demolished in July 1939.


The only major surviving original structure on the site is the Palace of Art.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 A Century Exhibited 1924 and 1938

The former South Africa pavilion with its distinctive curvilinear Dutch Baroque gables also survives. Built as a temporary structure, the building was later moved to Ardeer to become a staff canteen within ICI Ardeer.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938 Wikipedia

The Palace of Engineering was dismantled in 1940, transported to Scottish Aviation at Prestwick and re-erected, dramatically increasing the company's factory floor space. The building is still used by aviation industry today and is a distinctive feature at Prestwick Airport.

In December 2007, Digital Design Studio at Glasgow School of Art created a 3D graphic reconstruction of the 1938 exhibition, sourced from contemporary photographs, film footage, sketches and drawings from the archive of the Mitchell Library, amongst other sources. In 2010, the Digital Design Studio was awarded a further research grant to enhance the 3D model for public engagement. The Glasgow School of Art's YouTube channel contains several videos of the 3D model.


Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 Wikipedia

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