Glasgow Garden Festival

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An overhead view of the festival site, and its surrounding urban environment
The Clydesdale Bank 150th Anniversary Tower was an observation tower that dominated the Glasgow Garden Festival site.
Another view of the festival site from the Clydesdale Bank Tower
The Coca Cola Roller roller coaster ride.

The Glasgow Garden Festival was the third of the United Kingdom's five National Garden Festivals, and the only one to take place in Scotland.

It was held in Glasgow between 26 April and 26 September 1988. It was the first event of its type to be held in the city in 50 years, since the Empire Exhibition of 1938, and also marked the centenary of Glasgow's first International Exhibition, the International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry of 1888.

It attracted 4.3 million visitors over 152 days, by far the most successful of the five National Garden Festivals. Its significance in the rebirth of the city was underlined by the 1990 European City of Culture title bestowed on Glasgow in September 1986. The two events together did much to restore Glasgow to national and international prominence.

The festival site[edit]

The festival site covered 120 acres (0.49 km2), including 17 of water, on the south bank of the River Clyde at Plantation Quay in Govan, and also on land reclaimed from the partial filling-in of the Prince's Dock basin. Once the largest dock on the River Clyde when opened in 1900, it had been closed to navigation in the early 1970s with the advent of Containerization. Glasgow Garden Festival 1988 Ltd., a subsidiary of the Scottish Development Agency, managed the event.

Features included the 240 feet (73 m) high Clydesdale Bank 150th Anniversary Tower, the Coca-Cola Roller roller coaster, a miniature railway and five former Glasgow Corporation Tramways vintage trams running again in the city along the riverside. A new swing bridge, Bell's Bridge, sponsored by the Distillers Company, had been constructed across the river to link the Garden Festival to the SECC, which held the Grand International Show in its Hall 4 in conjunction with the festival. The official opening ceremony took place on 29 April and was conducted by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The event had significant media coverage, including daily BBC TV magazine shows, The Beechgrove Garden and radio features, the festival was also used as a backdrop for the Taggart episode "Root Of Evil".

After the Garden Festival[edit]

The Bell's Bridge, opened in 1988 as the world's longest pedestrian swing bridge and remains one of the enduring physical legacies of the Garden Festival.

After the end of the festival, the site was expected to be developed for housing, but the original developers, Laing Homes, had sold up before the event due to the housing slump in 1987, and most of the 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land was then owned by Grosvenor Estates or the City Council. Like the other Garden Festivals, which had all promised a speedy post-event development to capitalise on the popularity of the occasion, the majority of the site remained derelict for years. Parts were finally redeveloped for the Glasgow Science Centre and also Pacific Quay, which includes a media campus that provides new headquarters for BBC Scotland and Scottish Television, opened in 2007. The Clydesdale Bank tower was dismantled and re-erected in Rhyl in North Wales; however, its spiritual successor came in the form of the Glasgow Millennium Tower as part of Science Centre complex, which stands on approximately the same spot.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Andrew C. Theokas, Grounds for review: the garden festival in urban planning and design, Liverpool 2004, S. 168-174.