SEC Centre

(Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre; SECC)

Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow

The main city venue for pop concerts, conferences and trade exhibitions, the SEC Centre or Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) is situated on the site of the former Queen's Dock, a mile (2 km) west of Glasgow city centre, on the north bank of the River Clyde. Comprising five interlinked halls, it has an area of 19,000 sq. m (204,500 sq. feet) and £36 million the construction costs were shared between the Scottish Development Agency, Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde Regional Council and private investors. It opened in 1985 with a gala concert by the Scottish National Orchestra and was officially opened later the same year by HM Queen Elizabeth II during the Scottish Motor Show. The SECC hosted 1.5 million visitors in its first year. It staged the Grand International Show as part of the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988, which featured lagoons with wading flamingos, a rain forest with macaws and fountains shooting water 15m / 50 feet into the air. 1990 saw what was Britain's largest indoor concert when Bryan Adams played to an audience of 12,000. The city's annual Christmas Carnival takes place here, while the boxing, gymnastics, judo, netball, weightlifting and wrestling events for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014 were also held here. In 2020, the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital opened within the SECC as an emergency care hospital and vaccination centre during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year the SEC Centre was the venue for the COP26 Climate Summit.

In 1994, following torrential rain, the nearby River Kelvin burst its banks and water flowed through abandoned railway tunnels flooding the entire site. Within just five days, the SECC was once again operational.

The SEC Centre forms the main part of the Scottish Event Campus, along with the adjacent SEC Armadillo (Clyde Auditorium) and the SSE Hydro, their principal shareholder now being Glasgow City Council. By 1999, the venue had cleared accumulated losses and was returning substantial annual profits to its shareholders. Across Bell's Bridge, over the River Clyde, are the Glasgow Science Centre, Imax Cinema and Glasgow Tower.

At over 13.3 ha (33 acres), the Queen's Dock was the largest in Scotland when it was built. Constructed between 1872 and 1880 at a cost of £901,000, it was divided into a North Basin and South Basin, both opening into an Outer Basin. The dock complex included extensive goods sheds and railway sidings that connected to the Stobcross Branch of the North British Railway. The Queen's Dock operated until 1969 and was infilled in 1977 using rubble from the demolition of the St. Enoch Railway Station and Hotel. The Glasgow City Heliport once occupied a site to the west at the end of Stobcross Quay.

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