City Grammar 1951 School Trip - 17 May 1951
The Festival Of Britain

"All the Fun of the Festival"

The school party split up into groups, each under a member of Staff, when we cam out of the Tube station into the grounds of the Festival itself.  Our group went first to the Dome of Discovery, the interior of which was crammed with exhibits, portraying British discoveries and explorations.  Many used intricate chemical apparatus which I could not understand, but two exhibits in particular impressed me very much.  One was a series of human heads, modelled in plaster, portraying Darwin's theory of evolution.  The heads were most cleverly constructed, as was a scale model of our solar system.  To view this, one had to pass under a darkened canopy, and the effect produced by the brightly-lighted orbs representing the planets was extraordinarily realistic.

The Dome of Discovery

In the Sea and Ships Pavilion we viewed parts of old ships, marine engines, and a contrivance named, in the programme, a "ship-testing tank", whatever that might be.  From the verandah of this pavilion, a magnificent view of part of London was obtained.  A hundred yards down the Thames were Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, while on our extreme right across the river the Dome of St. Paul's and Nelson on his column were just visible over the roof tops.  We ate our lunch on this verandah and afterwards waited to hear Big Ben chime a quarter to one.  Whilst waiting for some of the others, I strolled round to one side of the pavilion to watch a curious contraption which, though it served no useful purpose, was definitely fascinating.  It comprised a series of metal dishes attached to a metal pole, after the manner of leaves on a stalk.  Water from a pool was sucked up to the top of the pole and ran down the sides into the dishes, which now and then tipped up with the weight of water inside them.  The "big moment" came when enough water had accumulated in the lowest pan to uptip it.  The water cascaded into the pool with a roar, flinging high a cloud of spray, and the empty pan returned to is former position with a resounding clang.

The "curious" Fountain                       The Tower

Next, we visited the Transport Pavilion.  I cannot sum this up better than Mr. Hodge has done in his admirable little programme:  "The inventions of a nation living by traffic and commerce.  British transport by air, road and sea".  Aircraft were suspended from the roof and the place abounded intricate machinery.  A £7,000 Rolls Royce, with a transparent cover exposing the  works, was the centre of attraction for the boys.  I recognized one of the aircraft as the S4 - an early Spitfire with floats, the machine that won the Schneider Trophy for Britain in the 1930's.  After inspecting some radar equipment on the upper floor, many people took photographs of the Dome and Skylon together.

The Skylon                                          The Programme - 2/6d.

Passing under the railway bridge to the other half of the exhibition, we paused to examine modern art painting on the wall.  Of course, no one could extract any meaning from it.

After seeing the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion, whose theme was British character, tradition and craftsmanship, some of us looked round the Home and Gardens Pavilion, which showed the latest designs in fitments and furniture.  We then went to the stall where souvenir crown pieces and sets of coins were being sold.

Our party visited the Health Pavilion in which was portrayed the history of British medicine.  Whilst looking at some photographs of skin-grafting cases, we were dragged, unwilling, away to see the Shot Tower.  This originally used for making lead shot, is now used for the receiving of radar signals from the moon.

We still had a few minutes left, and so some of us sat down in deckchairs overlooking the grey water.  I took out my polished silver crown and read the inscription round its edges, !1851 - By the industry of the people, the State flourishes - 1951."  The words sum up the theme of the Festival very well, I think, a Festival which we had been able to appreciate only through the kindness of the Head Master, the Staff who worked so hard escorting us round the exhibition, Mr Hodge, who drew up a very helpful guide, and British Railways who gave us a comfortable journey there and back, and two enjoyable meals.

J. Lowe 6L

Exhibition Plan

Pupils At The Exhibition
01 Christine Nell - 02 Valerie Cooke  - 03 Ann Cribley

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