Festival of Britain 1951

Festival of Britain 1951

'The Festival is the British showing themselves to themselves - and the world' (Herbert Morrison)

The Festival of Britain took place in the summer of 1951 and celebrated the nation's recovery after the Second World War. Although it was a national festival, London was at its heart. Indeed one of its main creators was Herbert Morrison, the Labour M.P. for South Hackney and a former leader of the London County Council.

The most important festival site was the South Bank of the Thames at Lambeth. Here, an area of old Victorian industrial buildings and railway sidings was transformed into the site of the South Bank exhibition. New structures were built to house exhibitions exploring Britain's landscape, the British character, British industry and science. The structures included a new concert hall - the Royal Festival Hall, the Dome of Discovery and the astonishingly slender Skylon. The only existing building incorporated into the site was a tall brick shot tower, built in the early 19th century to make lead shot by dropping molten lead from a height. For the festival, it was used to house a large radio telescope and transmitter

Although the Festival took pride in Britain's past, most of the exhibits looked to the future. Science and technology featured strongly. In one of the pavilions, many Londoners saw their first ever television pictures.

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