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Scottish History Timeline

A chronological record of the most important events in the history of Scotland.


20th Century History of Scotland timeline

1901: Glasgow International Exhibition held in Kelvingrove Park.

Glasgow International Exhibition




1903: Charles Rennie Mackintosh builds Miss Cranston's Tearooms in Glasgow.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh



1909: Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art opens.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art



1913: Edinburgh Zoo opens.


1915: Britain's worst train disaster takes place near Gretna Green, killing 227 people.


1916: Bank of Scotland takes on its first female employee.


1919: The Iolaire, returning men from war, strikes a reef on approaching Stornoway Harbour at 2am on January 1st. Although just 20 yards from shore, 205 out of 260 Lewis men and 24 crew died as the boat sank.




1919: 'Bloody Friday' Riot (also known as the Battle of George Square) - mass rally of strikers in Glasgow's George Square is repeatedly charged by the police. The dispute revolved around a campaign for shorter working hours, backed by widespread strike action. Clashes between the City of Glasgow Police and protesters broke out, and led to the British government sending soldiers and tanks to the city to prevent any further gatherings due to their fear of a social revolution.


1928: John Logie Baird transmits first colour television pictures.

John Logie Baird



1929: The Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland unite.


1933: First newspaper reporting of the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie).

Loch Ness Monster




1934: Scottish National Party founded by the amalgamation of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party.


1934: Ocean liner Queen Mary launched at John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank.

Ocean liner Queen Mary



1937: The largest ocean liner ever built, the Queen Elizabeth, is launched in Clydebank.

largest ocean liner ever built, the Queen Elizabeth



1938: The Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 is held at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow.


1941: The Clydebank Blitz (13-15 March) - around 1000 civilians are killed.


1941: The SS 'Politician' runs aground on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, with a cargo including 28,000 cases of malt whisky. Sir Compton MacKenzie's novel 'Whisky Galore' is based on this event and shows what lengths the authorities went to stop the locals salvaging the whisky from the wreck.

SS Politician



1943: Creation of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to bring electricity to all parts of the Highlands and Islands.


1945: First Scottish Nationalist MP is elected - winning in Motherwell and Wishaw by a majority of just 617 votes.


1947: Nationalisation of the railways - the Scottish Region of British Railways is created.
1947: The first Edinburgh International Festival is held.


1947: Glasgow Zoo opened a zoo at Calderpark. It closed again in 2003.


1947: First Edinburgh International Festival.


1947: Paddle steamer Waverley launched from A. & J. Inglis's shipyard on the Clyde.

Paddle steamer Waverley



1950: The Stone of Destiny is removed from Westminster Abbey by a group of Scottish nationalists.


1951: The Stone of Destiny returned to Westminster Abbey after being found at Arbroath Abbey.

Stone of Destiny



1956: Tramcars stop running in Edinburgh. (and commence again less than 50 years later)

Tramcars  Edinburgh



1957: Scottish Television starts broadcasting.


1957: Scotland's first nuclear power station, at Dounreay, begins production of electricity.




1961: USS Proteus arrives in the Holy Loch to set up the Polaris nuclear submarine base.

Holy Loch



1962: Scottish Opera founded.


1962: Last tramcar runs in Glasgow.


1963: The last hanging in Scotland. Henry Burnett was executed at Craiginches Prison, Aberdeen, for the murder of seaman Thomas Guyan.


1964: Forth Road Bridge opened by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II.

Forth Road Bridge



1965: Tay Road Bridge opened. For a while it was the longest bridge in the world, at just over one mile.


1965: Cruachan hydro-electric generator begins production.


1967: The Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) was launched in Clydebank. This was the last of the great Clyde-built passenger liners.

QE2 Queen Elizabeth II



1968: The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland permits the ordination of women as ministers.


1970: M8 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh opens.


1970: Kingston Bridge across the Clyde opens.

Kingston Bridge Glasgow



1970: The Commonwealth Games are held in Edinburgh.


1971: Erskine Bridge over the River Clyde opens.

Erskine Bridge



1971: Work-in began at John Brown's Clydebank shipyard led by activist Jimmy Reid - in an effort to retain jobs and keep the shipyard open.


1975: Local government reorganisation (replacing Counties and Burghs for administrative purposes with Regions and Districts).


1975: The first North Sea oil was piped ashore from the North Sea at Peterhead.


1978: Launch of BBC Radio Scotland.


1979: Referendum to create a Scottish Assembly fails to meet the required majority of 40%.


1983: The Burrell Collection in Glasgow's Pollok Country Park opens.


1986: The 13th Commonwealth Games are held in Edinburgh.


1988: Terrorists blow up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie killing 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of the town.


Memorial at Lockerbie Cemetery

Memorial at Lockerbie Cemetery



1994: Local government reorganisation (replacing the Regions and Districts with single-tier councils).


1995: Isle of Skye bridge opens.

Skye bridge



1996: The Stone of Destiny is permanently returned to Scotland, to be housed in Edinburgh Castle.


1996: A gunman kills 16 five-year-old children, their teacher and himself in Dunblane Primary School.


1997: Newly elected Labour UK Government under the leadership of Scots-born Prime Minister Tony Blair legislates for a referendum on a devolved Scottish Parliament which is passed by a large majority.


1999: A Scottish Parliament sits for the first time in 272 years. Donald Dewar of the Scottish Labour Party elected as First Minister and forms Scottish Executive in coalition with the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

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