Welcome to the Kelvin Hall Project – Phase 1 blog.

The Phase 1 part of the project is now complete and this blog is no longer updated.

Check out the Kelvin Hall website and blog for all the latest news and happenings.

Kelvin Hall is a partnership between Glasgow Museums, Glasgow Sport, The University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive

Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, these partners have worked together to re-develop a portion of the building into a new venue for sports, culture, learning and events, which opened in August 2016.


Boxing and controversy in Kelvin Hall

William Hepburn, Postdoctoral Intern from the University of Glasgow has been researching the history of Kelvin Hall. He shares with us the stories of boxing at the venue.   

Al's kit _25.jpg
Boxing gloves made by Glasgow Sportswear outfitters Russell, Moreland and Macara Ltd of 233 Argyle Street and date back to the 1940s. PP.1987.252.4 © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection

On 21 June 2013 a professional wrestling show, the Kelvin Brawl, took place in the Kelvin Hall. It was organised by Glasgow comedians Robert Florence and Greg Hemphill and, aware that this was the last live event at the Kelvin Hall before it closed for refurbishment, they sought to pay homage to its history. They invited Jim Watt to the show, a man who made boxing history and brought the attention of the world to Glasgow when he won the WBC Lightweight World Title in 1979 against Alfredo Pitalua.

On the night of 17 April 1979, 10,000 fans packed into the Kelvin Hall. After theatrical entrances, with Glaswegian Watt appearing to the sound of bagpipes and Pitalua emerging wearing a sombrero, Watt struggled with the speed of Pitalua in the early rounds. The raucous fans encouraged Watt, singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ and ‘we’ll support you evermore’ and he came back into the fight. After a Watt offensive the referee called the match for the Scot in the 12th round. The Kelvin Hall erupted and fans surged to the ring. A special late licence had been granted to Glasgow pubs and many fans took the opportunity to celebrate long into the night.

Watt’s victory put the eyes of the world on the Kelvin Hall. One of his title defences, against American Sean O’Grady, was reported in newspapers across America and took place at 2am in Glasgow so it could be broadcast at primetime in the USA.

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Music Memories – Live at Kelvin Hall

”And the sweet smell of the Kelvin Hall Circus and the sweet smell lingered of her perfume and kisses. He needed to take one step back; he was taking one step back”

Christmas and Glasgow, a song by Deacon Blue captures a scent that many Glaswegians remember, the Kelvin Hall Carnival & Circus. It is the light, excitement and smells which many people vividly remember when they think of Kelvin Hall. A similar atmosphere of lights and excitement was also a feature during the years Kelvin Hall played a part in Glasgow’s musical history. From 1956-1983, Kelvin Hall was the city’s largest gig venue and was the place to see artists and bands on their tours before the SECC and Hydro took over.

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How digital is used and the Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation

This week’s post is courtesy of Dr Maria Economou, Curator at The Hunterian Museum and Lecturer in Museum Studies at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow.

The Kelvin Hall project will bring together not only the collections of the three participating institutions, The University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum, Glasgow Museums and the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive, but also the digital records and resources related to those. Using digital technologies to bring together diverse and extensive collections,  support in-depth research and scholarship but also make them more accessible and easy to use for a wide range of users brings up its own challenges and questions.

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Glasgow’s Forgotten Exhibition: The Festival of Britain at Kelvin Hall, 1951

William Hepburn, Postdoctoral Intern from the University of Glasgow has been researching the history of Kelvin Hall. He shares with us some fascinating discoveries from the 1951 Festival of Britain exhibition. 

Poster for the Festival of Britain, Edward Reginald Mount, 1951. E.306-2011
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

I am currently researching the history of the Kelvin Hall as a postdoctoral intern with Glasgow Life and the University of Glasgow. Much of my research has focussed on exhibitions held in the hall and I was immediately drawn to the 1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power. I was intrigued by the way it presented features of everyday working life in fantastic and spectacular fashion, turning the gears of industry into a kind of indoor theme park to electrify the senses.

Glasgow has a rich legacy of international exhibitions. Events like the International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry in 1888, the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901 and the Empire Exhibition in 1938 showcased Glasgow to the world and the world to Glasgow and have lived long in the city’s memory. Their legacy survives in landmarks such as Kelvingrove Museum and the Kelvin Hall.

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Kelvin Hall Reflections

Shahana Khaliq,  Kelvin Hall Assistant Curator, tells us about working with the Showpeople Community and their connections to Kelvin Hall. 

Kelvin Hall_Feb 2016
Kelvin Hall, March 2016

Many young people of today might not look at the Kelvin Hall and think that it used to hold an annual circus and carnival every winter.  The Kelvin Hall Circus and Carnival was an incredibly popular event that ran for eight weeks during Christmas and New Year. It was one of the most visited buildings for many reasons and the carnival was one of them.

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Invitation to Time Travel!

Blog_Crowdsource Piece

As part of the Kelvin Hall project, Glasgow Museums have been experimenting with a small crowdsourcing activity. Crowdsourcing enables museums and other cultural institutions to do all sorts of activities which not only promote learning through objects but also improve collections records. In it’s simplest terms, crowdsourcing is asking the public to help with tasks that contribute to a shared significant goal such as helping to identify objects or photographs.

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