IN October 1948, the Lord Mayor was notified by the Director General of the Festival of Britain 1951, that it was proposed to organize an Exhibition to visit certain leading Cities and Towns in the United Kingdom during the Festival Season and that Leeds had been chosen as one of the Cities which the organization would like the Exhibition to visit. Leeds was invited to accept the proposal and agree to act as Host to the Exhibition. The letter was considered by the Finance and Parliamentary Committee on 10th November, 1948, and ultimately on the 13th July 1949, the Committee agreed, in principle, to facilities in the City being provided in July 1951 for a “Travelling Exhibition” organized by the Government.
On 14th December 1949, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Parliamentary Committee, together with two representatives each from the Education, Town Planning and Improvements, Libraries and Arts, and Parks Committees, the Leeds Incorporated Chamber of Commerce, the Leeds and District Chamber of Trade, and Leeds Trades Council, were appointed to consider and report as to suggested local arrangements in connection with the Festival. The Leeds Incorporated Chamber of Commerce appointed as their representatives, their President, Alderman Sir George Martin, K.B.E., and their Secretary, Mr. S.J. Batchelder, M.B.E. Mr. Philip S. Hitchen and Mr. H.P. Peacock were appointed to represent the Leeds and District Chamber of Trade.
The Committee held eight meetings and received splendid support from the Chamber of Trades and a number of voluntary organizations in the City. An extensive programme was ultimately approved which included, in addition to the Land Exhibition on Woodhouse Moor, Military and R.A.F. Exhibitions, a Red Cross Exhibition, a Road Safety Exhibition, an Exhibition by the National Savings Committee, British European Airways Exhibition, and an Exhibition illustrating the Development of Fairgrounds through the Ages. All these Exhibitions were located on Woodhouse Moor and were opened by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal on 23rd June 1951.
Other Exhibitions in connection with the Festival which had already been opened included an Exhibition of Chippendale Furniture at Temple Newsam, which was opened by H.R.H. the Princess Royal on 8th June; an Exhibition to illustrate the Life of the Kirkstall Monks at Kirkstall Abbey, which was opened by the Abbot of Mt. St. Bernard Abbey on the 1st May; an Exhibition showing the Victorian Way of Life at the Kirkstall Abbey Museum; an Exhibition of Leeds Pottery at the City Art Gallery; a Festival Book Exhibition at the Central Library, opened by the Lord Mayor on 16th June; an Exhibition of Music Scores at the Town Hall, and an Exhibition showing Incidents in the history of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and Museum at the City Museum
Sunday, 24 June, was observed as “Festival Sunday” when a Civic Service was held in the Leeds Parish Church, the Choir being augmented by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. The Service was attended by the Lord Mayor and City Council together with representatives of the City Justices and the University of Leeds. A Roman Catholic Rally was also held at the Headingley Football Ground on this Sunday.
A Festival of British Music was held in the Town Hall, when seven concerts were given by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mr. Maurice Miles. Four of the orchestra concerts included the following soloists: Harriet Cohen, Jean Pougnet, Colin Horsley, Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick. Two concerts were devoted to British ballet music and British opera; the soloists for the latter being Jennifer Vivyan and James
A Festival of British Music was held in the town hall rortn hall yoen hall hall Town Hall, Johnston, with the West Riding Opera Chorus. At the remaining concert the Leeds Philharmonic Society gave a performance of Elgar’s “Dream of Gerontius” with Marjorie Thomas, Webster Booth and Stanley Clarkson as the soloists.
Three lunch-time concerts were given in the City Museum on successive Wednesday. At the first, the Leeds Guild of Singers under Dr. Melville Cook sang madrigals of the Tudor period. At the second, Stephen Manton, accompanied by Ernest Bradbury, gave a recital of songs by late nineteenth century and contemporary composers, and at the third, the David Adams Piano Quartet gave a concert of chamber music.
A Recital of English Church Music was given by the combined choirs of York Minster and Leeds Parish Church at the Leeds Parish Church, and three recitals of English Sacred Music were given by the Leeds Guild of Singers at St. Matthew’s Church, St. Chad’s Church and Mill Hill Chapel.
A course of eight lectures based on the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra Festival Concerts was given by Mr. Ernest Bradbury, the Music critic of the Yorkshire Post, during the Festival period.
Theatrical productions included “A Midsummer Night’s Dream “ presented by the Leeds College of Music in the College Grounds; “Merrie England” presented by the Leeds Amateur Operatic Society with the Leeds Symphony Orchestra at Temple Newsam from the 23rd to 30th June; “Tom Jones” presented by the Leeds Civic Arts Guild comprising the British Legion Players and the Hunslet Choral Operatic Society, with the Leeds Symphony Orchestra, at Temple Newsam from 7th to 14th July; George Bernard Shaw’s Play “In Good King Charles’s Golden Days” presented by the Civic Arts Theatre; “A Sleep of Prisoners” by Christopher Fry, presented at St. George’s Crypt, and “King Lear” presented by the University Staff Dramatic Society. A Drama Festival Week was conducted by the Leeds Civic Arts Guild and different groups presented different plays each evening.
In connection with sport, a Cricket Match was played at Headingley on 20th and 21st June between Yorkshire Past v Yorkshire Present, and on July 1st, a match was played at Roundhay Park between Appleyard’s XI v. West Indians. Football Matches were played at Elland Road between Leeds United v. Rapide (Austria) on 9th May, and Leeds United v. Holland on 14th May.
As regards golf, the Yorkshire Evening News held their Golf Tournament on the Moortown Golf Links from 6th to 8th June, and the Yorkshire Amateur Golf Championships were held on the same Links from July 9th to 14th.
Flat and Cycle races were held at Roundhay Park on 23rd June.
There was a Leeds School Children’s Swimming Gala Finals at Roundhay Park on July 14th and a Swimming Gala at Armley Baths on July 22nd.
The Seacroft Show Society held their Annual Show and Gymkhana on 30th June, when a Cup was provided by the Corporation for Annual Competition.
The University was open to visitors on 27th, 28th and 30th June, and 7th and 14th July.
A Youth Week was celebrated from 7th to 14th July, commencing with Children’s Day at Roundhay Park on 7th July, followed by a Religious Service at the Town Hall on the 8th, and ending with a Children’s Procession on the 14th.
All the Youth Cubs in the City held Open Nights during the week.
The Shopping Festival organized by the Leeds and District Chamber of Trades was most successful. The Spotting Competition proved particularly attractive; all the 30,000 official handbooks issued by the Chamber were speedily sold out.
A Festival of British Music was held in the town hall rortn hall yoen hall hall Town Hall, The final figure for the Travelling Exhibition’s three-week stay in Leeds was 144,844 which is believed to be higher than the total at any of the other three cities visited by the Exhibition.