Empire Exhibition 1938

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"King and Queen arrive at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938"
The arrival of the King and Queen at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938, with the BBC Pavilion in the background

When the Empire Exhibition opened at Wembley in 1925, broadcasting in Britain was only two years old, but even then the BBC had a presence and a number of broadcasts were made from the event. With a further 13 years of experience the BBC was able to do much more for Glasgow's Empire Exhibition in 1938 and a whole host of programmes were broadcast before, during and after the event:

As far back as June 1937, a series of talks was given on the organizing and planning of the Exhibition. News bulletins steadily followed the progress on the site since building began, and later on there was a series of talks in the Scottish programme under the title Back Stage at Bellahouston. There were feature programmes about past exhibitions held in Glasgow, and on 28 April a documentary feature, consisting largely of material recorded on the site, described the current Exhibition in the making. The opening ceremony, with The King's speech, was broadcast on 3 May. Many more Exhibition programmes followed, including weekly visits to the various pavilions, news and gossip about visitors to the Exhibition, running commentaries on such notable occasions as the visit of the Lord Mayor of London, and concerts from the Concert Hall, of which one was given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult.[1]

The BBC Pavilion

"BBC Travelling Exhibition at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938"
The BBC Travelling Exhibition at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938

The BBC had its own small pavilion, housing a travelling exhibit which described the Corporation's work. Designed and carried out by the Reimann Studios in collaboration with the BBC, the exhibit was first unveiled at London's Charing Cross underground station on 24 February 1938, where it stayed open for a month and attracted considerable public interest. The BBC handbook described the exhibition:

The exhibition sets out 'to give a vivid pictorial impression of how wireless has developed, and of how the BBC of to-day works'. It consists of a compact arrangement of wooden screens, mounted on electro-plated stands, and covered with decorative arrangements of photographs and coloured diagrams, with explanatory captions. There are a number of simple mechanical devices, such as a revolving globe to demonstrate the speed at which broadcast sound travels. Various aspects of the BBC's work are explained in a series of photographs, and there are pictorial hints on the art of listening.[2]


  1. BBC Handbook 1939, 28.
  2. BBC Handbook 1939, 30.