Bellahouston Park is a green space to the South of Glasgow, acquired by the city in 1896, with additional land given by Sir James Bell (1850-1929), twice Lord Provost, and a steamship owner who encouraged the introduction of electricity to Glasgow in 1893. To this was added the city’s municipal golf course, now with 18 holes, in 1898. The park was extended in 1901 by the addition of part of Dumbreck Lands purchased from Sir John Stirling-Maxwell. A further addition was made in 1903 including the area of Ibroxhill. The park was the site of the famous Empire Exhibition in 1938, on the 50th anniversary of the 1888 exhibition. Over 12.5 million visitors paid a shilling each to visit it. The exhibition represented three categories staged in 200 pavilions. The first represented the Empire and Colonies; the second, British affairs, with prominent Scottish representation; and the third the United Kingdom’s industrial and manufacturing triumphs. Tait’s Tower dominated the scene, but was demolished at the beginning of World War II for fear of being a landmark for German bombers. There was a Palace of Industry, a Rocket Railway, and an Octopus roundabout. The exhibition was opened by King George VI on 3 May and remained open until the end of October 1938. Today only the Palace of Art (now a centre for sports excellence) and a specially built stone Peace Cairn, remain from the exhibition. Bellahouston Park is a favourite venue for open-air concerts. 280,000 people gathered here to see Pope John Paul II on his visit in 1982 and part of the ceremonial platform survives. In September 2010 Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass here for 71,000 people during his state visit to Britain.
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