Forged in Possilpark by Saracen Foundry, the initial Queen’s Park bandstand was made of iron. It was moved to Duchess Park in Motherwell in the 1920’s and later replaced with a new bandstand with amphitheatre style seating.
The space played host to concerts and performances, and perhaps most famously had a central role in Glasgow’s May Day rallies.
For those who gathered in Glasgow’s Queen’s Park on May 3, 1960, it was a day that would make a lasting impression. Hollywood film star, singer, athlete and activist Paul Robeson led thousands of workers with banners and flags aloft through the city from Glasgow Green to Queen’s Park, where he spoke and sang to an enraptured crowd.
His bass tones filled the park:
“But I keeps laughin’
Instead of cryin’
I must keep fightin’
Until I’m dyin’
And old man river
He’ll just keep rollin’ along”
The song was Ol’ Man River, an appropriate choice for the son of a slave at a city whose river brought riches reaped from slavery.
The bandstand burnt down in 1996, with only the terraces remaining.
In 2009, the four community councils around Queen’s Park – Crosshill/Govanhill, Langside, Battlefield and Camphill, Mount Florida and Shawlands & Strathbungo – formed a steering group supported by Scottish Government Empowering Communities funding as part of a pilot to see how communities might work together on a local project. There had been much talk of renovation of the Bandstand in the arena since its destruction.
Due to overwhelming community support, Queen’s Park Arena Ltd, the charity entrusted with the arena’s management, was established to raise funds. These funds came largely from the Landfill Communities Fund with support from Glasgow City Council, the Govanhill Community Development Trust, the Strathbungo Society and others. A design competition was won by ZM Architects for the performance canopy and facilities block.
In 2016 the charity began looking for an organisation to promote the space. After a tendering process, local organisation Inhouse were appointed. The arena re-opened again in 2017.
In 2018 Inhouse CIC worked with Langside Community Heritage to curate Langside 450, a family event commemorating 450 years since the battle of Langside.
In 2019 Inhouse CIC commissioned Tayo Aluko to perform his work Call Mr Robeson, on Paul Robeson’s life for May Day.