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Scene of past glories - the former home of the Wild West, 2000
Following extensive demolition work, including almost all visible remnants of the East End Industrial Exhibition Buildings as well as the former Whitehill Senior Secondary School, the former home of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West remained a ‘vacant lot’ for many decades.
In 2003, I became aware that the site was being cleared for a prestige residential development, Dennistoun Village. To their enormous credit, the developers, Regency Homes, agreed to put up a statue and plaque commemorating Buffalo Bill’s 1891-92 sojourn. These were duly unveiled at a special reception on Friday, 17th November 2006.
I cannot express unqualified approval of the statue’s design. Riding a bucking broncho is about the only characteristic Western occupation which Buffalo Bill is not known to have engaged in. Moreover, the actual location of both statue and plaque was never part of the show grounds; rather, it used to be the Whitehill Senior Secondary School girls’ playground.
However, the tribute appears to be unique, as I am unaware of any similar commemoration, in connection with Buffalo Bill’s other European venues.
The wording of the plaque likewise leaves a certain amount to be desired. The Wild West was not a ‘part of the great East End Industrial Exhibition set up to raise funds for the People’s Palace’; that event had taken place, admittedly in the same complex of buildings, the previous winter. Perhaps this particular piece of misinformation was supplied by a politician with an urban regeneration agenda.
It might also be suggested that it would have been more accurate to remember John Shangrau and George C. Crager as interpreters rather than performers.