THE Festival of Britain Land Travelling Exhibition was held on Woodhouse Moor in Leeds from the 23rd June 1951 to the 14th July 1951. It was opened by the Princess Royal (the sister of George VI), accompanied by the Lord Mayor and other civic dignitaries. The Princess and her party approached the Exhibition on foot along an avenue lined by 22 flagpoles on which Union Jacks fluttered in the breeze. As the Princess walked, she passed flower beds filled with brown irises.
IN her opening speech, the Princess said, “This nation-wide event must be seen as a magnificent gesture of fortitude and determination by a people who have put pessimism aside, a people aware of their tremendous past and secure in the knowledge that the dark moments of their history have often been noble ones. Trials and tribulations, war, poverty and devastation are powerless to destroy the living spirit of a great nation.”
THE opening of the Exhibition marked the start of three weeks of Festival celebrations across the city. These included a fireworks display in Roundhay Park, parachute jumping from a balloon above Roundhay Park, open-air plays and ballet at Temple Newsam and Kirkstall Abbey, and a concert of British Music at Leeds Town Hall.
THE 100,000th visitor to the Exhibition was Mrs E M Reeves of 41 Raglan Road. Upon her arrival, Mrs Reeves was presented with a floral bouquet by the mannequins and, following a guided tour of the Exhibition, was taken by taxi to a city centre restaurant for a meal, courtesy of the British Government. It was on the advice of her doctor that Mrs Reeves had decided to visit the Exhibition.
ADJACENT to the main Exhibition were exhibitions by the Army, RAF, British Red Cross, Road Safety, National Savings and BEA. The army exhibition included demonstrations of tanks being loaded onto tank transpo-
THE Exhibition was held on Monument Moor in a canvas marquee fronted by an impressive façade of steel and plastic upon which were mounted 21 red, white and blue searchlights directed at the sky. The marquee covered 35,000 square feet and housed 5,000 exhibits worth £250,000. 10 lorries had to make 100 trips to bring the Exhibition from Manchester to Leeds. In the entrance foyer, there was a grouping, 12 feet high, of three plaster statues by Fiore de Henriquez entitled “The Skill of the British People” representing Industry, Communications and Effort. From the entrance foyer, you proceeded along the Corridor of Time to a domed Arena.
People walking along the Corridor heard a recording of actor Valentine Dyall telling of British achievement and history. Suspended from the Corridor’s ceiling were 16 motor-driven swinging pendulums, each containing an illuminated display of Britain’s progress through the ages. The walls of the Corridor were mirrored, making it seem endless. Once you reached the domed Arena, you could choose to enter sections devoted to: Discovery and Design, People at Home, People at Play, People at Work, and People Travel. The People at Play section included a fully automatic miniature theatre, and a fashion theatre in which plays were performed by mannequins using mime.
rters. The RAF exhibition included a Lancaster bomber and a Vampire jet. Across Rampart Road on Low Moor, there was a funfair on the site on which the Woodhouse Feast has been held for many years.
THE Exhibition received 144,844 visitors, which was more than any of the other three cities it visited. The Festival organisers were unsurprised as they considered the Leeds site to be the best of the four. The Festival’s Director-General, Gerald Barry, in a speech congratulating the Council on its choice of site, and the work that had been done to beautify it, said that the city would always have the site as a memorial to the time that Leeds had hosted the Land Travelling Exhibition.