TWO YEARS ago, when the gates of Bell's Bridge across the Clyde were

unlocked, the first of a few million visitors passed through the

turnstiles to visit the temporary pride of Glasgow, the National Garden

Festival. Today those gates, covered in barbed wire and metal fences,

are like the entrance to a prison camp.

The flower beds, the carousels, and the sideshows have been replaced

by bulldozers and dumper trucks as the bulk of the site between Kinning

Park and Govan is slowly transformed into a private housing estate.

Meanwhile, less than 200 miles away, it is the turn of Gateshead to

blossom as it launches the 1990 Garden Festival. Tyneside has the same

hopes and aspirations as Glasgow had in the summer of 1988 -- to make

money, attract tourists, and leave a legacy of prosperity. Glasgow

succeeded on the first two counts but what about the third? Did it leave

us with a bed of roses or has it turned out to be more a thorn in the

city's flesh?

Currently the only thing open on the site is the Dome of Discovery, an

educational science spectacular in the South Rotunda. But, east and west

of this busy tourist attraction, you are surrounded by building sites.

It stands to reason, of course. Houses, like Rome, were never built in a

day. But what about all the wonderful projects, the business park, the

leisure gardens and the permanent amenities, which were scheduled to

enhance the area?

The Dome of Discovery is an impressive venture but it is transient,

expected to last only for a year or so. It stands in the centre of an

11-acre site owned by the Scottish Development Agency, which is in the

throes of deciding what to do next. It is considering two projects, both

intended to provide ''a major leisure distinction'' for the South Side

of Glasgow.

Alistair Rew, the agency's senior development executive, explained:

''We want to provide some permanent reminder of the garden festival, a

central focus which will attract side facilities for eating, drinking

and shopping.

''The first proposal is a major aquarium. The second is a Glasgow

heritage feature, not so much like the Words of the Stone or Glasgow's

Glasgow but more like the Viking experience in York. It is early days

but we have had interest expressed from companies for both ventures.''

The plan will involve the South Rotunda building and the nearby

pumphouse, both of which are listed buildings.

The SDA is attempting to put a package together and encourage private

enterprise to participate. However, once that is achieved, it will have

to persuade both central and local government to provide funds. Glasgow

District Council is also on course to establish an 11-acre festival

garden, landscaped and scenic, within the site.

The main partner in the garden festival site is undoubtedly Laing

Homes which has by far the lion's share of the land. It is already

building the first phase of its housing development on the east side of

the site and the first occupants of the modern pyramid-style flats are

due to move in later this summer.

It has started detailed planning of the next phase -- 60 houses to the

west. Laing also says that the proposed business park, 200,000sq. ft of

office space for hi-tech companies, is set to go ahead. Already it

claims to have had a great deal of interest from prospective clients who

want to move to the Govan site.

A plan to build a marina at the Govan end of the dockside is being

''investigated further,'' according to a spokesman, but it is certain to

go ahead in some form. The entire site will be completed by 1995.

The Glasgow site's progress is in danger of being overshadowed by the

dynamic team -- ironically mostly Scots -- which is spearheading

Tyneside's attempt to revitalise its economy. It is determined that the

garden festival will leave behind a legacy of jobs and prosperity. Great

minds, as they say, think alike.

Already Newcastle has snatched 700 jobs which could easily have come

Glasgow's way. Earlier this month British Airways confirmed it would

locate a sales and management centre on Tyneside. At one stage Glasgow

was the firm favourite for the project.

And the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation has made it clear that

it will do all it can to persuade companies to settle in its area -- at

the expense of Glasgow, if need be.

For its part the Gateshead National Garden Festival Company has

already set up a series of precise agreements for the disposal of its

site when the event ends.

The land, reclaimed from old railway sidings and gasworks, is to be

split into three sections. The first has been sold for private and

public housing, the second has been sold to McAlpine Construction, which

intends to build a major leisure development, and the third will be

retained as ''public space.'' There are also various smaller projects

including a plan to build a local authority old folks' home.

An official at the Gateshead festival company said that it was part of

its remit to secure these agreements even before the festival began.