1951 festival of britain

King George opens Festival of Britain 3rd May 1951

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Table of Contents

The year is 1951, King George opens the Festival of Britain

 

The first End of Austerity in Britain

Prosperity and hope picked up Summer of 1951, London celebrated the Festival of Britain as Royalty officially opened the festival at the Southbank. Events also ran nationally.

Plaque in Battersea Park Festival of Britain 1951
Plaque in Battersea Park Festival of Britain 1951

To boost the morale of people during post-war austerity what Britain had achieved since the war, and to celebrate the centennial of the Great Exhibition in 1851.

In the hope to regain some faith in the Government, after yrs of toil and hardship Labour had lost popularity. England was being rebuilt after the war, promoting recovery and confidence.

 “A tonic to the nation” was a well-known quote by the Festival director Gerald Barry.

 

 Thought as the “Beacon for change”, other countries and the commonwealth strictly not part of this festival. This put a spotlight for the first time probably since the Victorian times for people to appreciate British design, Science and technology, sports, the arts and architecture.

Ireland, Scotland and Wales took part and many of the trade and arts councils.

Festival Gardens

 

Festival Pleasure Gardens Battersea Park fun fair area and fountains
Festival Pleasure Gardens Battersea Park fun fair area and fountains
Tea Pavilion area Festival Pleasure gardens Battersea
Tea Pavilion area Festival Pleasure gardens Battersea

They transformed Battersea Park into the Festival Pleasure Gardens. A plaque still stands there today along with some vintage yet contemporary looking structures.

Remains of the Festival Gardens  Battersea
Remains of the Festival Gardens Battersea

Southbank became the central hub to the festival to at least 8.5 Million visitors from far and wide

 

On the Southbank stood the Dome of Discovery structure a headliner, marked as the largest aluminium building in the world. Made with British Aluminium, a way to showcase its versatility, strength but light properties.

Skylon

The 300 foot, approx. 90 meters in height, Skylon a futuristic-looking structure which gave London this 50s nostalgic time stamp.

model of the Skylon found at the Museum of London
model of the Skylon found at the Museum of London

Designed by Hidalgo Moya, Philip Powell and Felix Samuely.  A Steel lattice framework and louvres lit from within at night and suspended what looked like in mid-air with cables and beams. The joke at the time saw the comparison between the fact the structure had no visible support and therefore just like the British economy.

Skylon’s name came from a woman, wife of a chief architect of Crawley the Conjuring up Nylon the new material being used more and more, sky and pylon.

When the structure was dismantled it was sold off for scrap, and they turned some material into souvenirs.

One of the biggest post-WW2 housing Estates in London

Festival of Britain inspired the Lansbury Estate in Popular as a regeneration project. It is one of the largest historic estates in London built on a WW2 bomb site. Found around Langdon Park DLR and All Saints DLR, Bromley–by Bow tube and Bow RD tube, Lime-house area.  

 

There were awards and plaques for contributions to civic or landscape design.

There is a plaque sky blue with white outside White City station that states Festival of Britain Award for Merit 1951. A. D McGill and Kenneth J. H Seymour designed a station for Thomas Bilbow for Transport for London.

19 awards some out of London.

Newbury Park Bus Station

Heath Park Estate Dagenham

Chaucer House, Coleridge House, Shelley & Pepys House Pimlico

There is a Poster for that

Poster for the Festival of Britan can be found at the V&A Museum
We can find a poster for the Festival of Britain at the V&A Museum

No campaign would be complete without an advertising campaign, in the shape of posters designed by Abram Games. Geometric upbeat colours a contemporary logo including Britannia themed heraldry but modernised.

Example of the modern logo designed for the Festival of Britain visit the V&A museum
Example of the modern logo designed for the Festival of Britain visit the V&A museum

 

Back to the V&A to see some Festival of Britain Treasures

The Victoria and Albert Museum as its legacy dictates holds some artefacts from the Festival of Britain. 

1951 souvenirs from the Festival of Britain found at the V&A Museum
1951 souvenirs from the Festival of Britain found at the V&A Museum

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