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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back : The Empire Exhibition in Glasgow


                                                                                                                                    Friday July 26 2013


Our dip into the archives takes us back 75 years to the August issue of Life and Work - and an abstract of a review of the eagerly anticipated Empire Exhibition, which took place in Glasgow in 1938, written by the Rev W Erskine Blackburn MA.



An Impression of the Empire Exhibition

What a wonderful Exhibition!

Glasgow may well be proud of it.

All I had read and learned of its marvellous displays had raised great expectations, and every one of these was realised. Impressive architecture housed wonderful exhibits from many parts of our far-flung Empire. The great Hall of Engineering, even to one who might fail to distinguish between a turbine and an internal combustion engine, was full of attractive demonstrations of power. the United Kingdom Pavilion was interestingly instructive. One was tempted to stand for hours gazing at that glorious Orb, with its starry background and its vault of infinite blue over which silver clouds passed as gracefully as birds on outstretched pinions. I could write pages about the bewitching attractions of thes many exhibits.

But I am anxious to say something of th eexhibit that impressed me most of all. It was not the mighty ironclads nor the giant locomotives; not the submarines, nor the aeroplanes, nor the tanks, nor the Air Raid Precautions; nor hte swift-moving elevator that takes you up the tower of Empire, nor the scenic railway cars that almost take your breath away on the journey. No, it was none of these splendid creations. And this is the considered opinion not of a casual visitor but of one interest in all htere is to see. To me the most attractive of all the exhibits in the whole Empire Exhibition is the Church of Scotland. For the first time in my life I felt that glorious brains and radiant imagination had set forth with arresting attractiveness, to outsiders and those within, what the Church of Scotland is doing for our own land, the Empire and the World.

The Church itself is beautiful without and within. One enters it through a vestibule of revelations - revelations of the many sided activites of our Church. No thoughtful person can pass unchallenged through that astounding demonstration of the mighty work an awakened Church is attempting for God. This no collection of deadly dull relics, but an up-to-date presentation of those unseen spiritual essentials for lack of which the soul of a nation persishes or plunges other peoples into baths of burning tears. From the alcoves of "Child Life" and "Youth", through "Home Highways and Byways" and the "Ministry of Women" to "Social Service" and the "Temple of Healing", we are led on through eye gate to appreciate the larger field of the Church's work in far parts of the Empire and finally to her yet greater work of witness to all peoples.

There's a thrill in every alcove, but the most interesting thrill of all - a thrill that remains with me - surged in my heart as I stood awed and silent before the double alcove wherein Primitive Africa is vividly contrasted with Christian Africa.

Is any one surprised to learn that our gracious Queen, contemplating these alcoves of the challenging message, remarked: "I must bring the children to see this." It will be time and money well spent by parents who take their children to see the greatest exhibit of the greatest Exhibition yet.

"Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war."

I would like to pass the abiding thrill of it through all the Churches.