Wednesday 1 May 2013

Festival of Britain 1951 - part 1

The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition held throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. This also happened to be the same year they celebrated the centenary, almost to the day, of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

In keeping with the principles of the Festival, a young architect aged only 38, Hugh Casson, was appointed Director of Architecture for the Festival and to appoint other young architects to design its buildings. The main site featured the largest dome in the world at the time, standing 93 feet tall with a diameter of 365 feet. This held exhibitions on the theme of discovery such as the New World, the Polar regions, the Sea, the Sky and Outer Space.

Adjacent to the Dome was the Skylon, an unusual, vertical cigar-shaped tower supported by cables that gave the impression hat it was floating above the ground.

Logo designed by Abram Games
In 1948, two years after being de-mobbed, ‘Official War Poster Artist’, Abram Games (1914-1996), won the competition to design the symbol for the Festival of Britain. His ‘Britannia’ emblem was ubiquitous, versatile and memorable. This was to be a significant event in his six-decade career, establishing him as one of twentieth century Britain’s most respected graphic designers.

Poster designed by Abram Games

Guide priced at two shillings and sixpence ( 12 ½ p )

Guide to Festval ship Campania 
price two shillings ( 10p )

A leaflet

Guide to the Pleasure Gardens in Battersea Park

Guide to the Exhibition of Science in South Kensington

The same design used on regional  guides - 'Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham'

2 1/2 penny Commemorative stamp featuring Britannia and King George VI

4 penny Commemorative stamp featuring Abram Games' logo and King George VI

Festival of Britain first day cover

Festival of Britain first day cover

Transport Information poster

Pre-Festival publicity

Souvenir programme for the opening of the Royal Festival Hall

Poster for the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea Park

Programme for Festival in the London Borough of Camberwell

Programme for the Festival in Southampton

Poster for the Festival in Liverpool

Festival of Britain typeface designed by Phillip Boydell 1951

Guide, Programme and Calendar, showing the Festival Star Motif by Abram Games
Illustrations by Eric Fraser

Festival Exhibtion at the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh

Patons and Baldwins Festival Knitting Book front cover

Patons and Baldwins Festival Knitting Book back cover

Festival of Britain Print by Herbert Williams 

Souvenir glass ashtray and enamel badge from my own collection

Designer Paul Smith limited edition Festival of Britain watch design 
© Paul Smith

Part 2 of this post takes a look at the Festival textiles.

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