ON THIS DAY    28 May      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1951: Glasgow powers up for the Festival

Her Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth, has formally opened the Exhibition of Industrial Power in Glasgow, the latest show in the Festival of Britain.

The exhibition tells the story of industrial power and showcases energy, technology and science.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Princess Elizabeth described herself as "a lover of Scotland," and said she was delighted that Glasgow had been chosen to host the exhibition.

"It is a well-deserved compliment to the land of so many famous engineers and inventors," she said.

However, she added, the exhibition - like all of the Festival of Britain - belongs to the whole country.

Power and technology

The exhibition, in the Kelvin Hall - itself named after pioneering physicist Lord Kelvin - has a series of halls, each showing a different aspect of power and technology.

In the Hall of Power, visitors can get into a pit cage and go down into a replica of the working face of a coal mine.

Even the operator of the pit cage is authentic - Albert Hamble was temporarily laid off from the colliery where he works after it flooded.

In the steel section, there is a blacksmith's forge from an earlier day when horses were the main form of transport.

And a model shows how a modern power station works in the hydro-electricity stage of the exhibition.

Second industrial revolution

The Princess referred to the age of electricity as "the second industrial revolution" in her speech, and a large part of the show is dedicated to showing how the technology has transformed lives.

Since the National Grid was completed six years ago, even crofters' houses in remote parts of Scotland can access electricity, and one of the most vivid displays is of two replica cottages - one with, and the other without electrical power.

The Festival of Britain, a country-wide celebration of Britain's history, achievements and culture, has been a great success since it was opened by King George VI on 3 May.

More than 100,000 people attended Festival events in the first two days alone, despite the bad weather. The exhibition organisers in Glasgow are expecting similar numbers, and the show continues until August.

In Context
After the devastation and resulting austerity of the war years, the Festival of Britain aimed to raise the nation's spirits whilst promoting the very best in British art, design and industry.

Some criticised the event as a waste of public money but the London exhibitions alone attracted 8.5 million visitors in five months.

By contrast, the Millennium Dome built some 50 years later pulled in 6.5 million in the 12 months of its controversial existence.

Princess Elizabeth spent much of May 1951 standing in for her father, King George VI, who after the ceremony to open the Festival of Britain was ordered by his doctors to take a month off for health reasons.

He missed most of the Festival which was to become a highlight of his reign, and a little over eight months later, he died.

Princess Elizabeth succeeded him as Queen Elizabeth II.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |