1938 – Ireland Pavilion, British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow

Architect: Jones & Kelly



A temporary city, constructed in Bellahouston Park, of striking modernist architecture, wide boulevards, and water features. Opened on the 3rd of May by King George VI. Although not a financial success by any means, it ran a deficit of approximately £128000 during the six-month duration, 13 million people were counted through the turnstiles to see the exhibition. A railway station was specially constructed for the exhibition. Most of the buildings were of a temporary nature, but the Palace of Art was built as a permanent structure to remain once the Exhibition was removed. Today, little remains at Bellahouston to suggest that a vision of the future once existed there in 1938.

The Exhibition was master planned by Thomas S. Tait of Sir John Burnet, Tait and Partners, who headed a team of architects including Basil Spence. The most prominent structure was the 300ft tall Tower of Empire. Tait determined that the building style would be modern and clean – Art Deco, designing many of the 100 buildings himself. A condition of his appointment was that he would also engage and be assisted by members of the younger generation of Scottish architects. The Dominion governments which included Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland, could appoint their own architects, under the guidance of Tait and his team.

The Ireland Pavilion by Jones & Kelly was a modern space reflecting the new spirit of independence covering aspects of Irish culture & industry, from horse racing to linen manufacture.