The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

Festival of Britain 70th Anniversary: Battersea Pleasure Gardens




Festival of Britain 70th Anniversary: Battersea Pleasure Gardens.   Presented Geoffrey Hollis and Elain Harwood

Thursday 6 May 2021 at 18.30

To mark the 70th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain, Geoffrey Hollis and Elain Harwood will talk about the 1951 Battersea Pleasure Gardens – ‘Art and Elegance in Abundance’ . 

A roller coaster ride, with thrills, spills, emotion, drama, nail-biting tension – and that was before the gardens had even opened!  Planned to be the light relief element of the 1951 Festival of Britain, Battersea Pleasure Gardens were totally different to the Southbank Exhibition both in ambience and content.  Visitors were promised ‘Art and Elegance in Abundance’ including exotic settings planned by leading artists and architects, masses of entertainment, commercial sponsorship, nightly fireworks, and lots of things to buy.  Despite a delay of nearly a month to the opening, there were over 8 million visitors that summer.  This talk will describe the ideas and people behind the event, the challenges they faced, and what visitors experienced.

Geoffrey Hollis is an enthusiast for Modernism, with an active interest in the conservation of historic buildings, and is Clocks Advisor to the Diocese of St Albans.

The C20 journal Festival of Britain with an essay by Becky Conekin on the gardens can be bought at a discounted rate of £10 in the  C20 shop.  We are awaiting new stock which is expected to be available after 1 April.

We’ll send you a Zoom link by email after you book, which will enable you to “join” the event, and we’ll be using the Q&A function to take questions at the end. If you’ve not used Zoom before, clicking on the Zoom link will take you through the set-up process, hopefully simply and smoothly! You should receive an automated link within an hour of booking so please check your spam/junk emails if you haven't received this. Any further problems please contact


Members: £3, non-members £5.

Not a member yet? Join here and benefit from event ticket discounts.

Above:   Battersea Pleasure Garden, detail from artist’s impression published in the Illustrated London News, May 12th 1951.

The Twentieth Century Society is an IHBC (Institute of Historic Building conservation) recognised CPD provider.

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244