The Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, Scotland, is a mixed-use arts and sports venue that opened as an exhibition centre in 1927. It has been a music hall, indoor arena and barrage balloon factory, and is currently home to the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena and from 1987 to 2010, Glasgow's Museum of Transport. It is protected as a category B listed building.
The nearest station to Kelvin Hall is Kelvinhall subway station.
The Kelvin Hall stands on the bank of the River Kelvin opposite the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the West End of Glasgow. The present building dates from 1927. The previous building on the site was originally built as the Industrial Hall, a temporary wooden structure for the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition at Kelvingrove Park, which burnt down in 1925. The new Kelvin Hall was designed to house large scale exhibitions, but during the Second World War was used to produce barrage and convoy balloons.
Over the subsequent decades it hosted many exhibitions, including the Industrial exhibitions of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and has also hosted motor shows, modern homes exhibitions, Boys Brigade and Rangers Supporter Club rallies, world championship boxing, rock concerts, several seasons of RSNO Proms and the Kelvin Hall Circus. Lions, tigers and African elephants all thrilled Glaswegians for years and many to this day can remember that distinctive animal smell when walking round the carnival after their circus visit. One of the most famous events ever to take place there was Billy Graham's Crusade in 1955, when he preached virtually every day for 6 weeks to an estimated 180,000 people who came to hear him. Jim Watt's famous world lightweight title-fight took place in April 1979 when he took over Roberto Duran's title. He subsequently fought three more times as world champion at the Hall in 1979 and 1980.
The Kelvin Hall also introduced the public to many innovations through some of the many exhibitions. The most notable being a full public demonstration of colour television in the mid-1960s. This was before the start of BBC2 and the much later widespread sale of colour televisions.
The earliest rock concert was possibly Jerry Lee Lewis in 1964. He was supported by The Animals who were booed off. The late 1960s and the 1970s were the key years for concerts including The Kinks, who issued a live recording of their 2 April 1967 date entitled Live at Kelvin Hall. Between 1972 and 1977 Glaswegians saw Manitas De Platas's Farewell Tour on the 8th March 1972, Elton John, Captain Beefheart, the New Seekers, Runrig's debut concert (in 1973), the Incredible String Band, the James Last Orchestra. As part of their 1974 British Tour, Tangerine Dream played a live concert on November 20, 1974. Mike Oldfield with the (then) S.N.O. played Tubular Bells in 1977. The R.S.N.O. Proms took place there up to 1990 when the new Concert Hall in the centre of town finally opened.
The Kelvin Hall also hosted the 1985 Silver Broom (a major curling tournament).
However once the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre opened in Nov 1985, the building needed modernisation. The building was converted to its present use in 1987. Sport, especially indoor athletics, is now its primary use, although large dinners and Christmas parties have also taken place on the floor of the running track.
Museum of Transport
The Museum of Transport in the Kelvin Hall was one of the most popular museums of transport in the United Kingdom, attracting half a million visitors a year. Founded in 1964, it moved from the old Tramway in Pollokshields into the side portion of the renovated Kelvin Hall in 1987 and housed many exhibits of national and international importance. With the commissioning of the new Riverside Museum on the Clyde, at the mouth of the River Kelvin, which opened in June 2011, the Museum of Transport closed its doors for the last time in May 2010, and the exhibits were removed to the new building.
Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena
The Kelvin Hall also houses an indoor International Sports Arena, which has hosted many international athletic events, as well as boxing, badminton and volleyball competitions. The Kelvin Hall hosted the Scottish Rocks Professional Basketball team for four years starting with the 2008/09 BBL season and ending with the 2011/12 season when the Rocks moved to the Commonwealth Arena. Use of the Kelvin Hall for basketball required the installation of 1200 new seats in the Games Hall.
- "Kelvin Hall: Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 22 November 2011.