The Scottish National Exhibition in Saughton Park ran for only six months, attracting nearly 3.5 million visitors. It was opened on 1st May by Prince Arthur of Connaught, and was closed on Saturday 31st October by Sir Robert Cranston, Chairman of the Executive Committee.
The suggestion to hold a Scottish National Exhibition in Edinburgh in 1908, originated amongst the promoters of the very successful Exhibition in the Meadows in 1886. The ideal site of the Meadows, however, was not available for the later venture, but encouragement was given by the Corporation's offer of 43 acres of beautifully-wooded ground at Saughton Hall estate. In return, Edinburgh was to secure from the Exhibition authorities a permanent winter-garden, a bandstand and a ferro-concrete bridge over the Water of Leith, all of which were to be valuable assets to the city after the Exhibition had closed. Sir Robert Cranston declared at the opening that it was assured of financial success because of the support of season ticket holders, over 60,000 of them paid 10s 6d. for their tickets.
A special station was erected at the junction of the Corstophine branch, of the North British Railway and every day crowded trains arrived here, swelling the throngs who had journeyed to the exhibition by tram and by foot. Once inside the exhibition the visitor might have entered the Palace of Industries, built at a cost of over £10,000. Its ornamental towers reminded the visitors of something from the Arabian Nights but inside, with its floor space of over 10,000 square feet were to be found exhibits from Holland, Japan, Canada, and other countries.
In the Amusement Park there were devices galore to loosen the purse strings. The Water Chute was a favourite with visitors of all ages and everyone saved their 2d. for this spectacular ride. At the top of a wooden tower, the passengers were seated in a boat with a sailor standing at the back. The operator signalled release and off it went gliding down a long wooden ramp to hit the water with a great spurt of spray.
A unique event took place in connection with the Senegalese Village, a baby born in Edinburgh, had bestowed upon it the name - Scotia Reekie!