Sport

Commonwealth Games archive exhibition celebrates sporting history

by Craig Wright

The University of Stirling celebrated National Sporting Heritage Day on Friday, as the university archives were opened to the public for a condensed version of the popular “Hosts and Champions” Commonwealth Games exhibition.

Comprised of sporting memorabilia from both the Commonwealth Games Scotland archive – based at the university since 2012 – and contributions from members of the public, the travelling exhibition has proved a major success since Glasgow 2014, reaching thousands of visitors on its tour of over ten Scottish locations over the past two years.

Visitors were afforded the opportunity to view priceless pieces of sporting history including the scrapbook of Scottish diver and former chair of the Commonwealth Games Federation Sir Peter Heatly, documenting the journey to the 1950 British Empire Games – an early incarnation of the event we know today as the Commonwealth Games – in Auckland via boat, as well as promotional material from Commonwealth Games held both in Scotland and further afield.

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The exhibition showcases memorabilia from past Games. Photo credit – Karl Magee

There was also the chance to view materials donated to the archive by members of the general public. Rarely-seen home videos from the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, donated during the tour of the exhibition, were on show to document the progression of sport through the ages.

Speaking about the exhibition, university archivist Karl Magee said: “One of the great things about the Commonwealth Games is the level of involvement from people. Part of the success of the tour was how we built upon the enthusiasm people still held for Glasgow 2014.

“When we turned up at local venues, people would show up wearing their uniforms or bring their own memorabilia. It was a great way to relive and build upon the memories of Glasgow.”

With a wide variety of artefacts on show, from professionally produced items to items collected by individuals over the years, the archive provides a unique insight into the development of the Commonwealth Games.

When asked if he had a particular favourite amongst the items on show, Magee replied: “The personal things people have donated and contributed are fascinating for me. The (unofficial) mascot from the 1970 Games in Edinburgh is one of my favourites for the story behind it, and it’s become one of the key aspects of the exhibition. When we started the tour we didn’t even have it in the collection, and now it’s the first thing in the display case!

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“Wee Mannie” – the unofficial mascot the 1970 Commonwealth Games. Photo credit – Karl Magee.

“The whole visual style of the 1970 Games I really like – all the promotional stuff is a favourite of mine, and the images we use for the exhibition largely come from that part of the collection.”

Now halfway through the Commonwealth Games cycle, attentions will now begin to turn towards Australia, as the Gold Coast prepares to host the 2018 edition of the event. Magee has an ambitious view for the future of the collection.

He explained: “I would like to see the exhibition go out to the Gold Coast in 2018! There’s potential for touring there, but we’ll wait and see what happens.

“The archive itself will continue to grow thanks to our links with Commonwealth Games Scotland and the new links we’re continually forging with the public, and it will continue to provide an insight into the history of Scotland’s participation in the Commonwealth Games.”

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