IT was a huge, colourful spectacle which brought more than four million visitors to Glasgow and changed forever the city’s image around the world – and then it vanished without a trace.

Or did it? Does anything from the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival survive?


A team of researchers is planning to find out, through a combination of clever detective work, a plea to the public to share their memories and photos of the event, and a unique investigation of Festival Park on Govan Road – one of the few festival locations still undeveloped.

Digging the Festival is a joint effort between After the Garden Festival - a project set up by Lex Lamb, Dr Kenny Brophy and Gordon Barr - and the University of Glasgow, supported by funding from Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

Glasgow Times: Members of After The Garden Festival... project pictured in Festival Park. Pictured is Lex Lamb..Photograph by Colin Mearns.17 May 2022.

Project leader Lex explains: “The Garden Festival changed how Glasgow saw itself, and how it was seen around the world. It’s an important part of the city’s history – but what remains of it, and what do people who were there remember about it? We want to create a lasting resource.”

The team has created a website, which includes a searchable database of the 270-plus pavilions, artworks, gardens and vehicles that occupied the site.

Glasgow Times: The Clydesdale Bank Tower, 1988

“We want to find out how many of these have survived around the UK, and record as much detail of the features – both surviving and destroyed - as possible,” says Lex. “We are appealing to those who may have knowledge of the locations of items that originated from the Garden Festival, as well as those with photographs and other information, to submit them to us via the website.


“We would like to expand this resource to feature interactive maps, writing on the Garden Festival, interviews with those involved in it and those who acquired objects from it, and many other ways of recording the event – but public and corporate support will be required to take the project forward.”

The 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival turned a declining dockyard on the south bank of the River Clyde into a huge, green space, complete with theme park, adventure playround, pavilions, shops and more. Over five months, from April 26, it attracted 4.3m visitors to the 120-acre site, and led to Glasgow’s cultural reinvention.

Glasgow Times: Glasgow Garden Festival 1988

This week, a team of staff and students from the archaeology department at the University of Glasgow will use geophysical survey to identify what remains beneath the ground surface.

Glasgow Times: Gordon Barr (foreground, a shot of him in the same spot in 1988)Gordon Barr (foreground, a shot of him in the same spot in 1988)

Dr Brophy, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology explains: “Festival Park hosted features many visitors will remember, including a miniature railway line, the replica Roman Bathhouse, the pavilion of Bowmore Distillers, a Highland-themed restaurant, and artworks such as scarecrows and The Ancient Forester.

READ MORE: The Glasgow Garden Festival - 30 years on

“We want to see what remains, 34 years on, of that huge spectacle - what can be detected of the attractions and the people that visited them, and did visitors leave anything behind? It is also a great opportunity to show that archaeological techniques can help to shed light on our contemporary world, and not just the ancient past.”

The site will be open to the public on Saturday, May 28, from 10am until 3pm and you can follow the project at, where you can also submit your own information and photographs.