50 years of moving stories

NEXT week, Glasgow will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of ­ the city's first museum of transport.

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  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
    Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location
  • Glasgow's Museum of Transport in Albert Drive, Kelvin Hall and its new Riverside location

In 1888, the city's first transport items were exhibited at the International Exhibition, the profits of which paid for the building of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

And for decades the West End museum was to house what went on to become one of the most popular collections in the city.

But it was the decision to scrap the city's trams which led to the first dedicated transport museum opening half a century ago.

On September 4, 1962 around 250,000 people turned out to see the last 'caurs' make their final journey across the city.

Six trams were offered to Glasgow Museums, but nowhere in the city could accommodate such large items and the race began to find them a new home.

The Coplawhill tramcar works on Albert Drive, in Pollokshields, was selected and the process of converting the Victorian building began.

The new museum was officially opened by the Queen Mother on April 14, 1964.

It featured the trams together with many other transport related objects which had been on display at Kelvingrove including Scottish cars, horse-drawn vehicles and bicycles.

Key events during the museum's time in Albert Drive included the opening of the railway section in 1967, which featured six steam locomotives from Scottish-based railway companies. Four of these are now on display in Riverside.

In August 1971, more than 56,000 people visited the museum to see the command module of the Apollo 10 moon mission.

A model railway exhibit opened in December 1971, followed by a horse- drawn gallery in 1973 and a steam and commercial road vehicles gallery in 1976.

In February 1978, Prince Charles officially opened the Clyde Room, the fitting new home for the many ship models previously housed in Kelvingrove.

In January 1987, the museum closed and the building was converted into The Tramway, one of Europe's leading visual arts centres.

Glasgow's second Museum of Transport opened at Kelvin Hall in April 1988. Around 500,000 people visited every year, but despite its popularity, it was never meant to be a permanent home for the city's transport treasures.

The space had previously been Glasgow's exhibition and conference centre prior to the opening of the SECC.

But fluctuating temperatures, humidity and damp caused problems to some of the 1500 objects on display and the hundreds of thousands of objects kept in stores.

The city council decided to create the first purpose-built museum of transport and travel in Scotland.

More than 1200 people worked on the new Riverside Museum, which sits on land which was previously occupied by industrial sheds and commercial units. Main contractor BAM described building the complex wave shaped roof, which has no internal supporting columns, as the most challenging engineering feat in the UK.

The £84 million Riverside opened on June 21, 2011 and houses more than 3000 exhibits.

It has remained a firm favourite with local people and visitors to the city and in 2013 was named European Museum of the Year.

Among its highlights are massive steam locomotives, a wall of vintage cars, a bicycle velodrome and a ship launch show. Riverside also displays many items that do not regularly feature in museums, including prams, disability transport, show people's transport and skateboards.

There is also a painting of shipbuilding by LS Lowry, Audrey Hepburn's 1960s miniskirt, by Paco Rabanne, and more affordable everyday clothing and work wear.

Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life, said: "We are pleased to celebrate this momentous occasion.

"Glasgow opened its first museum of transport in Albert Drive 50 years ago and since then, millions of people have taken great delight in wandering around the city's renowned transport collection.

"Riverside Museum is a breathtaking home for our collection and this month we welcomed our three millionth visitor.

"Many of those people have very fond memories of going to Kelvin Hall or even Albert Drive and are keen to bring the new members of their family to enjoy the stunning displays in Riverside.

"They not only show off the trains, cars, trams and bikes but also tell the stories of the people who made them, bought them, used them and loved them."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

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