THIS week the Glasgow Times has been celebrating the 10th birthday of the OVO Hydro, and today we look back at how the venue came to be.

Visions were had for some time for a second redevelopment of the Queen's Dock in the Finnieston area. Originally known as Stobcross Dock, the area was opened by Queen Victoria in 1877 and was once a thriving hub for Glasgow’s shipyard economy.

As river traffic declined in the mid-20th century, the dock eventually closed in 1969 and since then it has found new life as an arts and entertainment hub, with the neighbouring SEC Armadillo and a scattering of restaurants and hotels nearby.

Glasgow Times: Queens Dock in 1890Queens Dock in 1890 (Image: Newsquest)Glasgow Times:

Plans for a new entertainment arena in Glasgow were first pulled together in 2003, the design was unveiled in October 2005, and the SECC gained full planning permission for the arena by 2006.

Construction began in February 2011 and by November of that year, work started on the iconic roof, which was completed by April 2013. The arena's signature pneumatic translucent ‘cushions’ were installed in May, and this was done using a special film which allows natural light to illuminate the foyers during the day and for the arena to ‘glow’ at night.

The distinctive sloping shape of the Hydro was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres, offering viewers the perfect balance between the viewing angle and distance from the stage.

Glasgow Times:

The internal seating of the arena was the last step in construction, and everything looked to be running smoothly for the anticipated grand opening in September… until the afternoon of June 8, 2013.

Local reports emerged of flames pouring out of the 125-metre roof of the almost-complete building. Dozens of firefighters raced to the scene and extinguished the blaze, which was later found to be caused by welding work.

Despite fears of the Hydro’s opening being pushed back, bosses later confirmed that everything would go ahead as planned. The SSE Hydro opened on September 30, 2013, with a celebratory concert from Sir Rod Stewart, who would be the first of many acts to grace the stage over the next ten years.

Glasgow Times:

Holding 14,300 people and staging over 140 events every year, the Hydro consistently tops the ‘charts’ of the world’s most visited venues. In fact, in 2019 it was the second busiest concert venue after New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

As well as thousands of gigs from top names like Paolo Nutini, Taylor Swift, Queen, Elton John and more, the venue has hosted landmark events such as the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards and was a venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In October 2021, the venue changed its name to the OVO Hydro after its new sponsor, OVO Energy. With this came a plan to make the venue more sustainable, and one new policy to reduce single-use plastic ended up going viral.

Glasgow Times:

In March 2022, the venue introduced a cup return scheme where punters would buy a drink served in a reusable cup and return it to one of the kiosks and receive £1 back.

While the Hydro’s policy outlines a six-cup per person rule, some concertgoers started picking up cups strewn around the venue, stacking them high and taking them to kiosks for a healthy profit. Videos circulated of the craze on TikTok and one visitor said they made £40 from their recycling efforts.

With a packed schedule every year and more top acts booking the venue for jam-packed sold-out shows sometimes years in advance, it looks like the Hydro is going to enjoy another incredible ten years and beyond.