The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

Catch up: The Festival of Britain 1951, a tonic to the Nation




This is a recording of our lecture that took place on Thursday 11th February Presented by Geoffrey Hollis

This is intended as an introduction to the Festival of Britain, in its 70th Anniversary year.  It will cover its genesis, key designers and architects, contents, and legacy. It succeeded wonderfully in terms of design and execution, and did indeed cheer up a populace who were depressed by post-war austerity.  The Festival created buildings and projects throughout the UK, with the main Festival site being on London’s South Bank. Yet, other than the Royal Festival Hall, nothing remains of its most brilliant South Bank structures.  This talk will help explain why.  The 1951 Festival of Britain vividly demonstrates what post-war talent could create, and how easily these structures and designs can be destroyed if no one cares for them.


Our journal Festival of Britain can be bought at a discounted rate in our shop

Geoffrey Hollis lives in a 1960s architect-designed house in Hatfield Hertfordshire, and in another life might have been an architect himself. He and his wife have used holidays to explore great architecture: Palladian Villas in the Veneto; Le Corbusier in France; Alvar Aalto in Finland; Frank Lloyd Wright in the USA;  and for several years spent January in Los Angeles and Palm Springs for Modernism Week. He has an active interest in conservation having been a Guide in an 18thC Palladian Mansion, and as Clocks Advisor to the Diocese of St Albans.


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