1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games; A Game of Firsts

Today our guest blog is written by students on the ARTUHR5 Exhibition Interpretation and Design course who are about to install an exhibition in the University Library, using the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive to explore their theme.

Over fifty years ago people all over Scotland were overjoyed when Edinburgh was selected to be the host for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, the first time Scotland had been successful in being chosen to host the Games. 

As far back as 1936, Edinburgh had been trying to gain the opportunity to host the games, so the final success in 1970 was very exciting for the Scottish people as it had been a long time coming. Over 2,000 athletes from 41 nations came to the city which created a buzz of excitement in Edinburgh with massive crowds of fans and tourists taking to the streets to catch a glimpse of the successful sports stars. People queued up for hours and hours for the chance to get a seat at different sporting events. One fellow in particular, Archer Wilson who was from West Calder had queued for nearly a full day to buy 16 tickets for different athletic events, showing that the Scottish people were extremely excited for the Commonwealth Games and really wanted to be a part of what would be a memorable moment in Scottish history. The opening ceremony was held on the 16th July and this was the first of the Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremonies to be broadcast on colour television. This idea of this Game being a game of firsts is apparent throughout the competition.

It was the first Games to be attended by Queen Elizabeth II, after she was appointed Head of Commonwealth and she later handed out several medals throughout the course of the Games. These games were also the first to use metric measurements for the tracks. Moira Walls was the first Scots woman to take a medal in the Commonwealth jumping competition. Thus, we can see that this Games really paved the way for the future of the Commonwealth Games through track technology and the first Scottish woman to gain a medal encouraging women to get into sports. 

In the end, Scotland performed well with 4 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. It really was a game for Scotland to be proud of and we hope this blog post has peaked your interest in the 1970 Games and you want to come down to the University of Stirling Library from 5th April to check our exhibition out!

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