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Canadian Pavilion, Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938

Another postcard of a building from the 1938 Empire Exhibition held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. Great central tower, nice curved frontage. The full length flag standards have nice detailing halfway up the building.

Glasgow School of Art

I was devastated to hear today of the fire at Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s masterpiece building, the Glasgow School of Art. (For pictures of the undamaged building see here.)

I have featured another of his buildings, Scotland Street School, here.

I have also visited the House for an Art Lover, built to Mackintosh designs in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (on part of the site of the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938,) and Hill House in Helensburgh as well as the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow but all without benefit a modern camera. All are visually stunning.

I must confess to being a teeny bit annoyed when Lorna Gordon, BBC London’s Scotland correspondent, called the Art School an Art Deco building. None of Mackintosh’s buildings are Deco. They are leaning towards it, certainly, but really have more in common with Art Nouveau. At a pinch you could say they act as a bridge between the two styles. While some Mackintosh designs have the blend of horizontal and vertical that is a signifier of Art Deco he also had a strong liking for curves which grew firmly from the Art Nouveau tradition of evoking nature and natural forms.

I assume the plans for the School of Art are still in existence somewhere – and that there is insurance in place. Even if it is costly it is to be hoped that some sort of effort at restoration can be made to the Art School. The result may not be original but so few of Mackintosh’s designs were erected in his lifetime it would be tantamount to a crime to allow to disappear the outstanding example that was.

In the meantime, not just Glasgow, not only Scotland, but the world, is a poorer place to live in tonight.

Modern Glasgow 1

Glasgow seems to have a liking for bulbous grey architecture.

This started with the building whose construction saw it immediately dubbed the Armadillo. Its “Sunday” name is the Clyde Auditorium. It sits on the north bank of the Clyde in Finnieston right by the Crowne Plaza Hotel (where Eastercon was held this year) and the SECC and has certain structural similarities to the Sydney Opera House.

On the other side of the River Clyde lie more examples. The nearest to the camera here is Glasgow’s IMAX cinema. The other silvery building is the Glasgow Science Centre of which the tall white tower on the left is also a part.

This is a closer view of the IMAX. It looks like a giant silver slug. The entrance is on the other side.

And here’s the Science Centre closer up.

And the Science Centre from the north bank of the river. The paddle steamer Waverley is at anchor.

Better view of the Waverley, the last remaining ocean-going paddle steamer in the world.

Glasgow’s newest concert venue is the latest addition to the bulbous grey architecture fixation. It’s the Hydro.

Satellite 4

So. That was Eastercon.

The Convention hotel (the Crowne Plaza, formerly the Moat House) was hard by the River Clyde. It’s the tall building. The footbridge is called the Bell’s Bridge.

The bridge is in its swung open position here.

I met quite a lot of old acquaintances and made some new ones. Plus I bought two books.

The two panels I was on went well and I didn’t make a fool of myself (I think.) The one on steampunk had an unexpected extra panellist.

Yes, a steam driven dalek!

Well, a dalek made to look steam driven by fellow panellist Peter Harrow, a fount of information on all things steampunk. It was actually radio-controlled. The chocolate rabbit was a nice touch.

United Kingdom Pavilion, 1938 Empire Exhibition

Another black and white postcard of the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938, held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. This time, the entrance to the UK Pavilion.

Lovely Deco features; rounded columns with banding at the flagpole supports, vertical dividers, sculptured figures – which, like the lions flanking the steps, were gold painted.

United Kingdom Pavilion Empire Exhibition 1938

The Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938

The zenith of Art Deco (or of Moderne if you must) in Scotland came in 1938 with the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, and which opened 75 years ago today on 3/5/1938.

Tait's Tower

Its signature building was the Tower of Empire (seen in the above photograph taken from the link) designed by Thomas Tait whose houses at Silver End I featured eighteen months ago. The tower was erected on the hill in Bellahouston Park and dominated the Exhibition.

Tait was in overall charge of the architecture for the Exhibition – some of whose buildings made extensive use of the new construction material, asbestos cement! – and designed many of the buildings himself.

My favourite is the Atlantic Restaurant, a ship-shaped building cresting the wave of the hill on which it was set, two postcards of which I reproduce below.

Atlantic Restaurant

Atlantic Restaurant in Colour

Sadly almost none of the buildings remain. (It was a condition of such events that their locations were restored to their original condition soon afterwards. Moreover shortly afterwards the country was involved in the Second World War and conserving architecture became a minor consideration. The Exhibition itself came to an end in the midst of the Munich Crisis.)

Only the Palace of Arts is still standing in Bellahouston Park itself. It was transformed into a sports pavilion. The Palace of Engineering was taken down and re-erected at Prestwick Airport and can still be found there. The South Africa building was in Dutch Barn style rather than deco or moderne and later became a staff canteen at ICI Ardeer. All the rest were demolished.

Think of what a tourist attraction Tait’s Tower, as it was known, could have been! Glasgow’s answer to Eiffel.

As it is, the main tourist draw in the Park today is the House for an Art Lover built to designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh whose buildings are a sort of bridge between the freer, flowing style of Art Nouveau and the more rigid Art Deco.

You may have noticed that I have added a new category to my list especially for this Exhibition. There is so much more I could, and will, post.

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

…… that the last Glasgow Tram ran along the rails.

The trams were much loved in Glasgow. Thousands turned out to watch their final passing.

There’s film of Glasgow’s trams at the Scottish Screen Archive and The Last Tram appears on You Tube.

Nardini’s, Byres Road, Glasgow

I hadn’t been to Glasgow for a while before last Sunday.

Imagine my surprise when I came upon this in Byres Road:-

Nardini's, Byres Road, Glasgow

This wasn’t a Nardini’s the previous time I was in Byres Road but I can’t remember what shop occupied this building up to then.

They have tried to make it look Deco, certainly. The lettering is Deco; and the top glazing. The interior lighting is like the ones in the re-opened Nardini’s in Largs.

Since it is new I can’t really include it in my Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage series. I wonder if anyone in the future will think it’s 1930s.

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 3: Mecca (later Vogue) Cinema, Balmore Road, Possil

Mecca Cinema,  Balmore Road, Possil

This was on a wet day last summer. I’ve only just got round to tidying it up for showing.

The cinema was once a Mecca then a Vogue but was more lately the location for Allied Vehicles. It looks shut now though.

Its history is on the Scottish cinemas website.

Just In Time

It looks like I may have photographed the Botanic Gardens Garage in Glasgow’s Vinicombe Street at the right time.

Someone got to this blog by searching for “scotlands art deco heritage” (sic) and following it back to the Google search page I found the link to the Herald article from February about the demolition plans for the garage.

I’d be sorry to see it go.

Okay they say they’re going to keep the facade but that doesn’t mean they necessarily will.

Though I suppose housing is never a bad use for a building the area has a multitude of restaurants already; it surely doesn’t need two more.

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