70th anniversary of the Festival of Britain

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04 August 2021
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A view of the Royal Festival Hall site under construction
Show-casing the best in British design, science, technology, architecture - on 5th August 2021 the Festival of Britain celebrates its 70th anniversary

To mark the anniversary occasion, two sites have been upgraded from Grade II to Grade II* by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England:

  • The Calvary Charismatic Baptist Church in Tower Hamlets, London
  • and Christ Church, Coventry.

Seven further sites, including the Royal Festival Hall and Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture, Contrapuntal Forms, have been relisted to reflect their important links with the Festival.

The Festival of Britain, which ran from May to September 1951, was a national exhibition and fair  promoting British design, science, technology, architecture, industry, and the arts. Still struggling from the devastation caused by World War II, the country was in desperate need of a moral and economic boost. The Festival’s fun, colourful exploration of British ingenuity and creativity was an inspirational and optimistic look towards the brave new world of the future and helped foster a national sense of recovery.

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The Festival’s centrepiece was held on London’s South Bank, with events also taking place in Poplar, Battersea, South Kensington and Glasgow. From Cardiff to York, celebrations happened at over 2000 locations across the country. Iconic highlights from the Festival included the Dome of Discovery - which housed displays focusing on Britain’s pre-eminence in exploration, scientific discovery, weather forecasting, biological research, astronomy and outer space – the futuristic sculpture Skylon, and the Royal Festival Hall, which is still popular today.

The Festival’s legacy is the continuing success of the South Bank as a centre of culture and the arts, as well as its enduring contribution to modernism in architecture and design that can be seen across the country.