Back in 1988, my mother took my brother and I to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh was hosting the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition at the City Art Centre in the spring of that year, while Glasgow staged the Glasgow Garden Festival during the summer.
I’d love to be able to tell you all about my day out in Scotland’s capital city, but the passing of time means I can’t remember much about it. I do remember seeing the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition, which was fairly boring for a six year old. I also remember walking up to the castle, from where the photo above was taken.
Glasgow Garden Festival
In the 1980s and early 1990s, five National Garden Festivals were held all over Great Britain. They were an idea conceived by the then-Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine as a way of regenerating derelict former industrial land. The first was held in Liverpool in 1984, then in Stoke-on-Trent in 1986, the site of which I visited in October last year, and the third was held in Glasgow in 1988. Subsequent festivals were held in Gateshead in 1990 and Ebbw Vale in 1992.
The Glasgow Garden Festival site was a former dock on the River Clyde, which was partially filled in. As part of the wider regeneration of the area, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (now known as the SEC) was built and opened in 1985, and served as one of the entrances to the festival site.
The festival was opened in April 1988 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (Charles and Diana) and ran throughout the summer until September. I don’t recall exactly when we went. The site featured many attractions, including a mock High Street with brightly-coloured scaffolding representing the buildings, the Coca-Cola rollercoaster and the Clydesdale Bank 150th Anniversary Tower, a 240ft high tower which took people up on a lift. Trams also made a brief return to Glasgow, over 25 years since the last corporation trams ran in the city.
Being a garden festival, there was no shortage of floral displays and pieces of artwork to admire. Scotland’s favourite wee boy Oor Wullie’s shed was also on display (Oor Wullie is a long-running cartoon strip in the Sunday Post, following the misadventures of a young dungaree-clad boy).
Again, I would love to regale you with tales of that day, but I can’t really remember much of it. I do know that I had a great day out in Glasgow. We had a souvenir book of the festival, but I don’t know where it is now.
After the Glasgow Garden Festival, part of the site was retained as a park, Cessnock Festival Park. The North end of the site is now Pacific Quay, and is home to BBC Scotland, The IMAX cinema, Glasgow Science Centre and its tower, which stands on the site of the old Clydesdale Bank Tower.