The Festival of Britain 1951
By the end of the 1940s,
Britain was well on the way to recovering prosperity and adjusting fully to
a peacetime economy. ‘Austerity’ was still the watchword and there was an
obvious need to rebuild national pride and international exports. Following
the ‘Britain can Make It’ exhibition in London in September of 1946 there
was now a need for a bigger effort. Effective planning started in 1948 with
the appointment of Hugh Casson as Director of Architecture. It was
timed to mark 100 years since the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park that
had been so successful that it raised money to build the Science Museum,
Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Albert Hall in
An extensive area of the
South Bank of the River Thames in the centre of London was cleared in order
to make a site for the exhibition that could be put to permanent good use.
The plans included permanent fixtures such as a riverside walk and the
impressive Festival Hall. Several temporary exhibition building were
erected and the old tower used for making lead shot was converted to send
signals to the moon. A main decorative feature was the ‘Skylon’, an
aluminium cigar shape suspended upright from installed masts.
The logo gave
rise to many souvenirs, some of which are quite collectible.