Empire Exhibition

The Empire Exhibition Collection

A collection of material relating to the Empire Exhibition held at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow between May and October 1938.

About The Empire Exhibition

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Empire Exhibition: general view

The Empire Exhibition was an international exposition held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, from May to December 1938. In 1938, Glasgow was Scotland's largest city, the second largest city in the UK and an important centre of culture and education. It was also a huge industrial centre, manufacturing ships, marine engines, locomotives, structural steel, engineering products, carpets, prints and foodstuff. There had been previous large exhibitions in Glasgow in 1888 and 1901 but after the First World War the city's industrial base had shrunk and this situation continued during the Depression years of the 1920s and 1930s. Concern about this industrial decline provided part of the impetus behind the Empire Exhibition - a showcase to the world of Glasgow's industries, old and new.

However, world events meant that by 1938 re-armament was well underway and traditional heavy industries had been re-energised in the wholesale production of armaments. The object of the exhibition was to: illustrate the progress of the British Empire at home and overseas; show the resources and potential of the United Kingdom and the Empire to a new generation; stimulate Scottish work and production; direct attention to Scotland's historical and scenic attractions; foster Empire trade and a closer friendship among the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations and emphasise to the world the peaceful aspirations of the people of the British Empire. The Exhibition attracted 12,800,000 visitors.

About the collection

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Empire Exhibition: British Railways Pavilion

The collection consists of more than 150 items relating to the Empire Exhibition held at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow between May and October 1938. It includes programmes, handbooks, souvenirs, list of exhibitors and copies of the Bellahouston News, an information broadsheet about the exhibition.

Finding aid

Empire Exhibition Collection listing (PDF, 103KB)

Further reading

View many more images from the Virtual Mitchell and the Glasgow Story websites.


National Library of Scotland, collection of films



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