DESIGN: Festival of Britain 1951
Author(s): Paul Rennie
Year published: 2008
Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club
Publisher Location: Suffolk
Total Pages: 128
Illustrations: 135 colour and 28 b&w
Inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Festival of Britain followed soon after the austerity of the war years. The major events were focused around the twenty-seven-acre bomb site around Waterloo Station, although events happened throughout the UK.
The Festival was almost immediately unfashionable amongst commentators. It was viewed with suspicion by political conservatives and quickly dismantled. An establishment orthodoxy quickly emerged that called into question the Festival’s objectives. This political ambivalence towards the Festival is confounded by the popularity of the Festival amongst collectors, social historians and anybody interested in post-war British culture and society.
This book is the first to present the story of the Festival of Britain, held in 1951, through its souvenirs. These objects were produced to commemorate The Tonic to the Nation. Retrospectively, they testify to the enormous popular appeal of the Festival. Festival of Britain 1951, the most recent addition to the popular Design series, places these souvenirs and objects into their historical context and explains the continuing appeal of these modest artefacts.
Paul Rennie is Head of Context in the School of Graphic Design at Central St Martin’s, London and is a member of the Festival of Britain Society and has a collection of Festival souvenirs, ephemera, posters and textiles.