-1988 Glasgow Garden Festival

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


The 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival was held in the Prince`s Dock in Govan. It was one of a series of large-scale national garden events which was designed to turn derelict areas around Britain into more useful places.

There were no large and ostentatious pavilions featuring industry or engineering as in the previous exhibitions (a sign of the times!) but the riverside location was put to good use by using the canting basin and encouraging interesting ships to berth at the quayside; there were even water taxis to take people to and from the city centre. The festival included horticultural exhibits and six themed areas which covered science and technology, health and wellbeing, plants and food, landscape and scenery, water and maritime, and recreation and sport. There were also small pavilions from a number of countries and, to take people around the extensive site, a tramway and a narrow-gauge railway.

The most notable structure was the 64m (240 feet) tall Clydesdale Tower which had a passenger lift that went to the top then slowly turned round, allowing marvellous views of the whole Glasgow area. The main `amusement` was a loop-the-loop Thrill Ride which kept thousands of screaming visitors happy while they hurtled along, upside down, at great speed.

This article is based on the guidebook "The Glasgow Guide".

This view was taken from the Clydesdale Tower, whose shadow can be seen in the centre of the picture.

Bells Bridge crosses the River Clyde. To its right were the colourful buildings of the Festival`s "High Street". The main gardens are to the right of this. The Canting Basin in Prince`s Dock is on the bottom right.

Central Glasgow is on the upper left.

Some existing structures, such as the South Rotunda and the Hydraulic Power Station were refurbished and used for eating and entertainment, but the only new public amenities that have lasted are Bells Bridge and a small park on the southern side of the site. The festival ran from April to September and was hailed a great success, with an attendance of 4 million visitors.
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