British Empire Exhibition

The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley Park, Wembley, England from 23 April 1924 to 31 October 1925.[1]

BritishEmpireExhibition
Exhibition poster

Background

Palace of Industry British Empire Exhibition 1924 1
The Palace of Industry building being used as warehousing before it was partially demolished in 2006.[2] The remainder of the building is used for warehousing and small industrial units.

In 1920 the British Government decided to site the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park, on the site of the pleasure gardens created by Sir Edward Watkin in the 1890s. A British Empire Exhibition had first been proposed in 1902,[3] by the British Empire League, and again in 1913.[4] The Russo-Japanese War had prevented the first plan from being developed and World War I put an end to the second, though there had been a Festival of Empire in 1911, held in part at Crystal Palace.[5][6]

One of the reasons for the suggestion was a sense that other powers were challenging Britain on the world stage. Despite victory in World War I, this was in some ways even truer in 1919. The country had economic problems and its naval supremacy was being challenged by two of its former allies, the USA and Japan. In 1917 Britain had committed itself eventually to leave India, which effectively signalled the end of the British Empire to anyone who thought about the consequences, while the Dominions had shown little interest in following British foreign policy since the war. It was hoped that the Exhibition would strengthen the bonds within the Empire, stimulate trade and demonstrate British greatness both abroad and at home, where the public was believed to be increasingly uninterested in Empire, preferring other distractions, such as the cinema.[5][7][8]

Wembley Urban District Council were opposed to the idea, as was The Times, which considered Wembley too far from Central London.[9][10][11] This sounds ridiculous, especially as the Metropolitan had been electrified by this time, but it has to be remembered that the last exhibition in England, the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, had been held at White City, a far more central location.

A world tour headed by Major Ernest Belcher in 1922 that lasted 10 months was mounted to promote participation in the Exhibition, with Agatha Christie and her husband among the participants.[12]

The British Empire Exhibition would run from 1924 to 1925 and made Wembley a household name. In 1919 the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) had become the President of the organising committee for the proposed Exhibition at Wembley Park, north-west London, although the closing ceremony was presided over by his brother, the future George VI. The Prince, at the time, also wished for the Exhibition to boast "a great national sports ground", and so exercised some influence on the creation of Wembley Stadium at Wembley Park in 1923.

Empire Stadium

A purpose built “great national sports ground”, called the Empire Stadium, was built for the Exhibition.[13] This became Wembley Stadium.

The first turf for this stadium was cut, on the site of the old tower, on 10 January 1922. 250,000 tons of earth were then removed, and the new structure constructed within 10 months, opening well before the rest of the Exhibition was ready. Designed by John William Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton, and built by Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd, it could hold 125,000 people, 30,000 of them seated. The building was an unusual mix of Roman imperial and Mughal architecture.

Although it incorporated a football pitch, it was not solely intended as a football stadium. Its quarter mile running track, incorporating a 220 yard straight track (the longest in the country) were seen as being at least equally important.[10][14][15][16][17]

The only standard gauge locomotive involved in the construction of the Stadium has survived, and still runs on Sir William McAlpine’s private Fawley Hill railway near Henley.[18]

Exhibition Station

Wembley Park station was rebuilt for the British Empire Exhibition and a new station, Exhibition Station (Wembley),[19] was built on a spur to connect the station to Marylebone.[20] Exhibition Station opened on 28 April 1923, the day of Wembley Stadium's first FA cup final. It was later renamed Wembley Exhibition, and then, in February 1928, Wembley Stadium. It was only really used to transport spectators to Wembley events. It stopped carrying passengers in May 1968 and officially closed on 1 September 1969.

Design and construction

The Exhibition presented a creative challenge, in that its concept required a large number of buildings in a variety of styles. This offered the architects a unique opportunity to experiment. To simplify construction, the main building material used for the Exhibition buildings was reinforced concrete, (then called “ferro-concrete”), selected for its speed of construction. Wembley Park thus earned the title of the first “concrete city” the world had ever seen.[21] Like the Stadium, the other Exhibition buildings were designed by John William Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton, assisted by engineer Owen Williams. All three had considerable previous experience of using concrete.

Nearly 2,000 men were employed in constructing the Exhibition buildings during 1923-4.[22]

The Indian pavilion had towers and domes, the West African pavilion looked like an Arab fort, the Burmese pavilion was a temple and the South African building reflected the Dutch style.[23]

Aside from the Stadium and major pavilions to house the works of each dominion, colony or group of colonies, there were four other major structures. These were the palaces of Engineering, Industry and Arts, and the HM Government Building. All of these palaces can be seen to have had a Roman Imperial character as befitted their political symbolism. At the time, the palaces of Industry and Engineering were world’s largest reinforced concrete structures.[24]

The Exhibition’s roads were named by Rudyard Kipling.[25]

The site was also served by Britain’s, and possibly the world’s, first bus station, which could handle 100,000 passengers a day.[11]

Opening ceremony

The British Empire Exhibition was officially opened by King George V on 23 April 1924 - Saint George's Day. The opening ceremony was broadcast by BBC Radio, the first such broadcast by a British monarch. The King also sent a telegram that travelled around the world in one minute 20 seconds before being given back to him by a messenger boy.[26]

Exhibits

Much of the Empire went on display at Wembley Park, but it had to be, of necessity, reduced to a “taster-sized” version. Of the 58 territories which composed the Empire at the time, 56 participated with displays and pavilions, the exceptions being Gambia and Gibraltar. The Irish Free State did not participate either.[27][28]

The Exhibition's official aim was "to stimulate trade, strengthen bonds that bind mother Country to her Sister States and Daughters, to bring into closer contact the one with each other, to enable all who owe allegiance to the British flag to meet on common ground and learn to know each other". It cost £12 million and was the largest exhibition ever staged anywhere in the world. It attracted 27 million visitors.[29]

Admission cost 1s 6d (7½p) for adults and 9d (3¾p) for children.[30]

The Palace of Engineering (in 1925 the Palace of Housing & Transport) was the largest exhibition building. It contained a crane capable of moving 25 tons (a practical necessity, not an exhibit) and contained displays on engineering, shipbuilding, electric power, motor vehicles, railways (including locomotives, see below), metallurgy and telegraphs and wireless. In 1925 there seems to have been less emphasis on things that could also be classified as Industry, with instead more on housing and aircraft. The Palace of Industry was slightly smaller. It contained displays on the chemical industry, coal, metals, medicinal drugs, sewage disposal, food, drinks, tobacco, clothing, gramophones, gas and Nobel explosives.

Each colony was assigned its own distinctive pavilion to reflect local culture and architecture. The Canada Pavilion contained displays on minerals, farming, forestry, the paper industry, water power and Canada as a holiday destination, as well as, in the dairy industry section, a full sized figure of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, sculpted in butter and preserved in a refrigerated case. This pavilion was also flanked by smaller pavilions dedicated to the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways. Newfoundland, which did not become part of Canada until 1949, had its own small pavilion next to the HM Government building. The Australian Pavilion boasted a 16-foot diameter ball of Australian wool.

Rather smaller was the pavilion shared by the West Indies and British Guiana, south of the HM Government Pavilion. Each of the West Indian islands had a court in the pavilion, as did the Falkland Islands.

The Palace of Arts, which was fire-proofed, contained historical room sets, as well as painting and sculpture since the eighteenth century. It also displayed the Queen’s Dolls House, now at Windsor Castle, which even contained miniature bottles of Bass beer.

Kiosks, located both inside and outside the pavilions, represented individual companies within the Empire, encouraging commercial opportunities. One such was the Pear's Palace of Beauty (see below). Since the Exhibition was the first major event after the war, many firms produced a glut of commemorative items for sale.[31][32]

The management of the exhibition asked the Imperial Studies Committee of the Royal Colonial Institute to assist them with the educational aspect of the exhibition, which resulted in a 12-volume book, The British Empire: A survey, with Hugh Gunn as the general editor, and which was published in London in 1924.

Railway exhibits

Several railway companies had display stands at the Exhibition; in some cases they exhibited their latest locomotives or coaches. Among the exhibits in the Palace of Engineering was the now famous railway locomotive, LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman; this was joined in 1925 by GWR 4079 Pendennis Castle. Several other railway locomotives were exhibited: in 1925, the Southern Railway exhibited no. 866 of their N class, which was brand new, not entering service until 28 November 1925.[33] The 1924 exhibition included a Prince of Wales class 4-6-0 locomotive of London and North Western Railway (LNWR) design, which had been built for the exhibition by the Scottish locomotive manufacturer William Beardmore & Co. Beardmore's had previously built similar locomotives for the LNWR, which in 1923 had become a constituent of the newly formed London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS); when the exhibition closed in November 1924, the LMS bought the locomotive from Beardmore.[34][35] A Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway designed Baltic Tank 4-6-4T, number 11114, built by the LMS at Horwich Works new was also on display and featured in postcards.[36] In 1924, the Metropolitan Railway displayed one of its latest Inner Circle cars, a first class driving trailer which had been built in 1923.[37] In 1925, in the Palace of Housing and Transport, the Metropolitan displayed electric locomotive no. 15, with some of the panelling, doors and framework removed from one side, to allow the interior to be viewed; it had been built in 1922. A few years later, it was named Wembley 1924 in honour of the exhibition.[38][39]

Pears' Palace of Beauty

The exhibition grounds contained commercial kiosks, run by newspapers, cigarette companies and other businesses. All these structures were designed by the architect Joseph Emberton and his team.

One of the largest kiosks was the Pears’ Palace of Beauty, selling souvenir soaps. It was located in the amusement park. The Palace of Beauty was white with two curved staircases leading up to a domed gazebo supported by columns.[40] It was also an exhibition space containing 10 soundproofed, glass-fronted rooms, each containing an actress/model dressed as a beautiful woman from history, with accompanying reproduction furniture. The ten beauties were Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Scheherazade, Dante’s Beatrice, Elizabeth Woodville, Mary Queen of Scots, Nell Gwyn, Madame de Pompadour, the actress Mrs. Siddons and Miss 1924. There were also two soap-related characters, Bubbles and The Spirit of Purity.

The Palace, which charged admission, was open 13 hours a day, so each beauty was depicted by two actresses/models working shifts. 14 of the performers were depicted on souvenir postcards.[41] Nearly 750,000 people visited the Palace.[42][43]

Other attractions

In addition to the pavilions and kiosks there was a lake, a funfair, a garden and a working replica coal mine. There were also numerous restaurants, the most expensive of which was the Lucullus restaurant (in 1925 the Wembley Garden Club restaurant) near the exhibition gardens. In 1924 J. Lyons held a monopoly of catering, but the restaurant in the Indian Pavilion used Indian cooks and was advised by Edward Palmer "of Messrs. Veeraswami [sic] & Co." to serve as "Indian Adviser at the restaurant." In 1925 Veeraswamy & Co. ran the Indian restaurant, despite the fact that, for reasons both economic and political, the Indian Government did not take part in the 1925 season. Veeraswamy & Co. later founded the first Indian restaurant aimed at a non-Anglo-Indian white clientele in England.[44][45][46][47]

After admission, most of the attractions in the grounds were free. They could also be explored after dark.[8] The various buildings of the site were linked by two 'light railways' of unusual construction, the screw-propelled ‘Never-Stop Railway’.[48] and the 'Roadrails' line on which trains were hauled by steam or petrol tractors guided by the rails but with driving wheels running on the ground outside the track. Visitors could also travel in electric ‘Railodok’ buses (little more than basic railway station luggage trolleys fitted with open-sided bodywork, but exciting nonetheless).[32]

Events

The Stadium itself was used extensively for performances by massed bands and choirs, military and historical displays, an Edinburgh-like tattoo, fireworks, the largest ever Boy Scout jamboree, the first Rugby Union match to be played at Wembley, a simulation of an air attack on London (London Defended, see below) and a genuine rodeo which caused some alarm to animal lovers. A highlight was the elaborate "Pageant of Empire" organised by pageant master Frank Lascelles. This involved thousands of actors and was held in the Empire Stadium from 21 July 1924. The newly appointed Master of the King's Musick, Sir Edward Elgar, composed an "Empire March" for it and the music for a series of songs with words by Alfred Noyes.[49]

London Defended

LONDON DEFENDED Torchlight and Searchlight spectacle
"London Defended" 1925 Official Programme

From 9 May to 1 June 1925, No. 32 Squadron RAF flew an air display six nights a week entitled "London Defended". Similar to the display they had done the previous year, when the aircraft were painted black, it consisted of a night time air display over the Wembley Exhibition flying RAF Sopwith Snipes which were painted red for the display and fitted with white lights on the wings, tail and fuselage. The display involved firing blank ammunition into the stadium crowds and dropping pyrotechnics from the aeroplanes to simulate shrapnel from guns on the ground, Explosions on the ground also produced the effect of bombs being dropped into the stadium by the Aeroplanes. One of the Pilots in the display was Flying officer C. W. A. Scott who later became famous for breaking three England-Australia solo flight records and winning the MacRobertson Air Race with co-pilot Tom Campbell Black in 1934.[50][51]

Philately and numismatics

The Exhibition is of philatelic interest, as it was the first occasion for which the British Post Office issued commemorative postage stamps. Two stamps were issued on 23 April 1924: a 1d in scarlet, and a ​1 12d in brown, both being inscribed "British Empire Exhibition 1924"; they were designed by H. Nelson.[52] A second printing, identical to the first apart from the year being changed to 1925, was issued on 9 May 1925.[52] A List of Great Britain commemorative stamps gives further details of British commemorative postage stamps. Envelopes, letter cards, postcards[53] and many other souvenirs commemorating the event were produced as well.

A significant number of medals were struck for the Exhibition, both by the organisers and by commercial organisations.[54]

Commercial outcome

Despite providing a wealth of entertainment, the Exhibition was not a financial success. Despite 18 million visitors in 1924, the project ended that season without breaking even. In an attempt to raise enough money, the late decision was taken to reopen, with some variations, in 1925, but the Exhibition did not do as well in its second season. It closed for good on 31 October 1925, having received 27 million visitors in two years. The final cost reached in excess of £6 million.[55] Variety claimed that it was the world's biggest outdoor failure, costing the UK Government $90 million[56] (over £20 million based on the exchange rates at the time).

Two of the most popular attractions were US dodgem cars and a copy of the tomb of Tutankhamen. Both of these were in the funfair, with the tomb there because Egypt was no longer a British Protectorate, having been independent since 1922. P.G. Wodehouse's fictional Bertie Wooster may have reflected genuine reactions to the Exhibition in preferring the Green Swizzles at the Planters Bar to anything more didactic.[57][58][59]

Survival of stadium

Most of the exhibition halls were intended to be temporary and demolished afterwards, but, partly because of the high cost of demolishing such huge concrete structures, the Palace of Engineering and the British Government Pavilion survived into the 1970s, and the Palace of Industry and the sacred art section of the Palace of Arts until the 2010s.[60] At the suggestion of the chair of the exhibition committee, Scotsman Sir James Stevenson, and thanks to the intervention of Arthur Elvin, who had been contracted to clear the exhibition site, the Empire Stadium was retained. It became Wembley Stadium, the home of Football in England until 2003, when it was demolished to be replaced by a new stadium.

Influence on development of Wembley

The British Empire Exhibition inevitably led to increased suburban development. An outfall sewer was built to serve the Exhibition and a number of roads in the area were straightened and widened, and new road signs installed. In addition, new bus services were introduced to serve the Exhibition. Visitors to the Exhibition were introduced to Wembley and some were later encouraged to move to the area when houses had been built to accommodate them. Conversely, though the Exhibition encouraged the development of Wembley as a typical inter-war suburb, the survival of the Stadium ensured that the Empire Exhibition grounds in Wembley Park would remain a major London visitor destination.[61][62]

In popular culture

The Exhibition is a key location in the P.G. Wodehouse short story, 'The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy', in which Sir Roderick Glossop describes it as "the most supremely absorbing and educational collection of objects, both animate and inanimate, gathered from the four corners of the Empire, that has ever been assembled in England’s history." Bertie Wooster is somewhat less impressed, remarking that "millions of people, no doubt, are so constituted that they scream with joy and excitement at the spectacle of a stuffed porcupine-fish or a glass jar of seeds from Western Australia – but not Bertram" and sneaks off to the Planters’ Bar in the West Indian section for a Green Swizzle.

The British Empire Exhibition features in David Lean’s 1944 film This Happy Breed, starring Celia Johnson.

In Sir John Betjeman's celebrated Metro-Land (1973) the poet recalls his childhood experience of the exhibition in the 'Wembley' segment.

In Charlie Higson’s Young Bond novel SilverFin (Puffin, 2005), the young James Bond is impressed by the height of the rollercoaster at the British Empire Exhibition in 1925.

The Exhibition features in the opening scene of the 2010 film The King's Speech. The film is based on the future George VI's relationship with speech therapist Lionel Logue following his speech at the Exhibition on 31 October 1925, which proved to be highly embarrassing due to his pronounced stammer.

See also

References

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    British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel two
    British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel three
    British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel four
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    British Pathe (agency) Never-Stop Railway film (probably 1925)
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  • Walthew, K., 'The British Empire Exhibition of 1924' in History Today, Vol. 31 Issue 8 (August 1981) pp. 34–39
  • Wembley History Society, The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, 1924 : fiftieth anniversary, Wembley History Society, 1974
  • Wembley History Society Journal: Special Edition 1974 - British Empire Exhibition 1924
  • Woodham, J, 'Images of Africa and Design at the British Empire Exhibitions between the Wars' in Journal of Design History, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1989), pp. 15–33
  • Woolf, Virginia, 'Thunder at Wembley' in The Captain’s Death Bed and Other Essays (various editions)

External links

Coordinates: 51°33′31″N 0°16′47″W / 51.55861°N 0.27972°W

An Australian by Marriage

An Australian by Marriage is a 1923 Australian dramatized documentary directed by Raymond Longford. It was commissioned by the Australian government for the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley Park, London, in 1924, to serve as propaganda for attracting migrants to Australia.

Australia Calls (1923 film)

Australia Calls is a 1923 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford commissioned by the Australian government to be shown at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley Park, London, in 1924.It was a semi-documentary about the adventures of Ernest Idiens, a labourer from Longnor Staffordshire who moved to New South Wales with his brother in 1912 with only ₤30 between them and by 1923 had assets worth ₤14,000. In 1923 Idiens toured England talking about his success.The movie is not to be confused with Longford's 1913 picture Australia Calls and is considered a lost film.

British Empire Exhibition postage stamps

Two postage stamps were issued to commemorate the British Empire Exhibition, a colonial exhibition held in Wembley Park, Wembley, in 1924–25. Two denominations, a penny red and a three halfpenny brown, were produced. They were issued again the following year with "1925" replacing "1924".The stamps were printed in sheets of 120 which consisted of two panes of 60 (10 rows of 6). These panes were separated prior to issue to the post office making a post office sheet.

For both issues two different perforators were used, both of which were gauge 14. The first type was a comb head which gave a uniform perforation around the impressions (see illustrations above), whilst the later was a line type which perforated in one direction first then the other after rotation of the sheet. This later line type is most notable on the corners of the stamps where the perforation holes do not line up.

Canada Pavilion, British Empire Exhibition

The Canada Pavilion was the Dominion of Canada's display area at the 1924-25 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park, north-west London. Like most of the Exhibition's structures it was built of ferro-concrete and designed by John William Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton, assisted by Owen Williams. According to the Metropolitan Railway's British Empire Exhibition number of its Metro-Land guidebook, the Pavilion was "an imposing building in neo-Grec style."The Pavilion was large, with a ground area of some six acres. It was painted white to make it stand out. Inside were displays on mineral mining, including of precious metals; sections on farming, the dairy industry and forestry; exhibits on Canadian industry; a section on hydro-electric power and displays advertising Canada as a holiday destination, including a working model of Niagara Falls.On 9 May 1924 Evelyn Wrench wrote in The Spectator of the Canadian Pavilion's "wonderful panoramic views." However, probably the best remembered display in the Pavilion was the dairy produce section's butter sculpture of the Prince of Wales standing beside his horse outside his ranch at Pekisko, Alberta, preserved in a refrigerated case. In 1925 this was replaced by the Prince seated in the dress of a First Nations chief.

The figures of First Nations women in the 1925 butter sculpture case were the only reference to Canada's First Nations in the Canada Pavilion. There was also a lack of representation of French Canada.The Canada Pavilion was flanked by two smaller pavilions for the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railway companies. The CNR Pavilion was designed by Mr. Eustace G. Bird of Toronto, while there were bronze statues of a moose and a buffalo by the entrance of the CPR Pavilion. The two railway pavilions told the story of Canadian railways (and the CPR's liners and hotels) and further advertised holidays in Canada. Both railway pavilions contained a cinema. The CPR Pavilion contained an entire section devoted to Japan, one of the destinations served by its Pacific liners.

Colonial exhibition

A colonial exhibition was a type of international exhibition intended to boost trade and bolster popular support for the various colonial empires during the New Imperialism period, which started in the 1880s with the scramble for Africa.

The British Empire Exhibition of 1924–5, held at Wembley Park in north-west London, ranked among these expositions, but perhaps the most notable was the rather successful 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition, which lasted six months and sold 33 million tickets. Paris's Colonial Exhibition debuted on 6 May 1931, and encompassed 110 hectares of the Bois de Vincennes. The exhibition included dozens of temporary museums and façades representing the various colonies of the European nations, as well as several permanent buildings. Among these were the Palais de la Porte Dorée, designed by architect Albert Laprode, which then housed the Musée permanent des Colonies, and serves today as the Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration.An anti-colonial counter-exhibition was held near the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, titled Truth on the Colonies and was organized by the French Communist Party. The first section was dedicated to the crimes made during the colonial conquests, and quoted Albert Londres and André Gide's criticisms of forced labour while the second one made an apology of the Soviets' "nationalities' policy" compared to "imperialist colonialism".

Germany and Portugal also staged colonial exhibitions, as well as Belgium, which had a Foire coloniale as late as 1948. Human zoos were featured in some of these exhibitions, such as in the Parisian 1931 exhibition.Empire of Japan hosted colonial showcases in exhibitions within the Home Islands, but also held several full-scale expositions inside its colonies of Korea and Taiwan. These exhibitions did however have objectives comparable to that of their European counterparts, in that they highlighted economic achievements and social progress under Japanese colonial rule to Japanese and colonial subjects alike.

Commemorative stamp

A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp, often issued on a significant date such as an anniversary, to honor or commemorate a place, event, person, or object. The subject of the commemorative stamp is usually spelled out in print, unlike definitive stamps which normally depict the subject along with the denomination and country name only. Many postal services issue several commemorative stamps each year, sometimes holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps can be used alongside ordinary stamps. Unlike definitive stamps that are often reprinted and sold over a prolonged period of time for general usage, commemorative stamps are usually printed in limited quantities and sold for a much shorter period of time, usually until supplies run out.

E. Rosa Sawtell

Elizabeth Rosa Sawtell (née Budden, 6 September 1865 – 20 September 1940) was a New Zealand artist.

Empire Exhibition, Scotland

Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 was an international exposition held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, from May to December 1938.

The Exhibition offered a chance to showcase and boost the economy of Scotland, and celebrate Empire trade and developments, recovering from the depression of the 1930s. It also marked fifty years since Glasgow's first great exhibition, the International Exhibition (1888) held at Kelvingrove Park. It was the second British Empire Exhibition, the first having been held at Wembley Park, London in 1924 and 1925.

Its function was similar to the first National Exhibition, in Paris in 1798, and to the first International Exhibition, the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 attended by 6 million visitors.It was declared open by King George VI and Queen Mary on 3 May 1938 at the Opening Ceremony in Ibrox Stadium, attended by 146,000 people.In addition to the Royal Patrons and the Honorary Presidents representing governments and institutions here and in the Dominions, the Exhibition President was the Earl of Elgin who was also President of the Scottish Development Council, initiators of the exposition.

GWR 4073 Class 4073 Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle is a member of the GWR 4073 Class built in 1923.

The lead locomotive of its class, after a brief period of running-in service, between April and October 1924 the locomotive was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition, which was held at Wembley Park, Wembley, north-west London. Its first shed allocation was Old Oak Common. Its August 1950 shed allocation was Bath Road, Bristol. Its last shed allocation was Cardiff Canton in March 1959.

Withdrawn in May 1960, it was made part of the National Collection. Refurbished for display purposes at Swindon Works, on 2 June 1961 she was formally handed over by Dr Richard Beeching at Paddington Station to the director of the Science Museum. Pickfords hauled the engine to the museum in Kensington, using Scammell Constructor units on Sunday 4 June. She was then placed on display in the new extension, in the transport section.

After the Science Museum decided to refurbish its displays, and focus on moving and interactive exhibits, it was decided to move the locomotive to Swindon Steam Railway Museum. After a period on display at National Railway Museum, York, she moved to Swindon on the museum's opening.

North East Coast Exhibition

The North East Coast Exhibition was a world's fair held in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear and ran from May to October 1929. Held five years after the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley Park, London, and at the start of the Great Depression the event was held to encourage local heavy industry

Pageant of Empire (Elgar)

Pageant of Empire is the title given to a set of songs, to words by Alfred Noyes, written by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar and given important positions in the Pageant of Empire at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park.

Sea Songs

"Sea Songs" may also refer to sea shantiesSea Songs is an arrangement of three British sea-songs by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is based on the songs "Princess Royal", "Admiral Benbow" and "Portsmouth". The work is a march of roughly four minutes duration. It follows a ternary structure, with opening material based on "Princess Royal" and "Admiral Benbow", with "Portsmouth" forming the central section before a return to the opening material featuring the first two songs.

The march was arranged for military band in 1923 as the second movement of English Folk Song Suite, and the world premiere of the suite was given at Kneller Hall on July 4, 1923. As a single work, its first performance was given at Wembley during the British Empire Exhibition in April 1924. This work, as well as the English Folk Song Suite, stemmed from Vaughan Williams' admiration for the band of the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall. The work was re-arranged for full orchestra in 1942 by the composer.The term "Sea Songs" may also be used to refer to any songs about or concerned with ships and seafarers. Such songs (including Sea Shanties and other work songs) are most commonly classed as Folk Music and are a major feature of maritime festivals held at seaports (and some river-ports) around the UK.

South African Dutton road-rail tractors

The South African Railways Dutton road-rail tractors of 1923 were road-rail steam tractors.

In 1917, the South African Railways conducted trials with a prototype petrol-paraffin powered Dutton road-rail tractor. In 1924, it placed two production model steam rail tractors in service on the new narrow gauge line between Naboomspruit and Singlewood in Transvaal. One was constructed as a 4-2-0 road-rail tractor while the other was constructed as a bi-directional 4-2-4 rail-only tractor.

The Blue Mountains (Elgar)

"The Blue Mountains" is a poem written by Alfred Noyes, and set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar. It was one of the songs (collectively known as the "Pageant of Empire") written to be performed in the Pageant of Empire at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley Park, London, on 21 July 1924.The song is subtitled "A Song of Australia". It refers to the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, and the pioneers who went westward to new lands beyond them.

The Immortal Legions

"The Immortal Legions" is a poem written by Alfred Noyes, and set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar. It was one of the songs (also known as the "Pageant of Empire") written to be performed in the Pageant of Empire at the British Empire Exhibition on 21 July 1924.The poem is of quiet grief and thanksgiving in remembrance of those who died in the achievement of victory.

In the event, the song introduced "A Pageant of Heroes".

The song starts after a short introduction, pensively, in a minor key, with the solo voice which is joined by a simple ostinato-like bass line. The gentle middle section seems to show the sentiment of hope. The song ends triumphally in the relative major key, with words of thanksgiving.

This song was also arranged by the composer as a part-song.

Wembley

Wembley () is an area of north west London, England, and part of the London Borough of Brent. It is home to the Wembley Arena and Wembley Stadium. Wembley formed a separate civil parish from 1894 and was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1937. In 1965, the area merged with the Municipal Borough of Willesden to create the London Borough of Brent, and has since formed part of Greater London.

It includes Alperton, Preston, North Wembley, Tokyngton, Wembley Park, Sudbury and partly Northwick Park.

Wembley Exhibition railway station

Exhibition Station (Wembley) was a railway station in Wembley Park in what is now the London Borough of Brent. It was built on a spur to connect the 1924-5 British Empire Exhibition to London Marylebone.

Exhibition Station opened on 28 April 1923, the day of Wembley Stadium's first FA cup final. It was later renamed Wembley Exhibition, and then, in February 1928, Wembley Stadium (now the name of the former Wembley Hill station).

It was only really used to transport spectators to Wembley events. It stopped carrying passengers in May 1968 and officially closed on 1 September 1969.

Wembley Park

Wembley Park is a district of the London Borough of Brent, England. It is roughly centred on Bridge Road, a mile northeast of Wembley town centre and 7.6 miles (12 km) northwest from Charing Cross.

The name Wembley Park refers to the area that, at its broadest, falls within the limits of a late 18th-century landscaped estate in northern Wembley in the historic Middlesex county. Part of this estate became the location of development in the 1890s after being sold to Edward Watkin and the Metropolitan Railway cutting through the area. Wembley Park was developed into a pleasure and events destination for urban Londoners, with a large fairground made there. It was later also a key area of the Metro-land suburban development in the 1920s - the same decade Empire Stadium was built and the British Empire Exhibition was held. Wembley Park continues to be a recreational centre today, being home to Wembley Stadium, England's primary football stadium and a major sports and entertainment venue; as well as Wembley Arena, a concert venue; among others.

Today the area continues new retail and housing development schemes near the stadium complex that have started since the early 2000s. The Chalkhill housing estate is also located in the area. The east is home to large industrial land, called Stadium Industrial Estate, adjacent to Brent Park; whereas to its north lies Fryent Country Park and to its north-east the Welsh Harp.

Wembley Stadium (1923)

The original Wembley Stadium (; formerly known as the Empire Stadium) was a football stadium in Wembley Park, London, which stood on the same site now occupied by its successor, the new Wembley Stadium. The demolition in 2003 of its famous Twin Towers upset many people worldwide. Debris from the stadium was used to make the Northala Fields in Northolt, London.

Wembley hosted the FA Cup final annually, the first in 1923, the League Cup final annually, five European Cup finals, the 1966 World Cup Final, and the final of Euro 96. Brazilian footballer Pelé once said of the stadium: "Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football," in recognition of its status as the world's best-known football stadium. The stadium hosted the 1948 Summer Olympics, rugby league’s Challenge Cup final, and the 1992 and 1995 Rugby League World Cup Finals. It also hosted numerous music events, including the 1985 Live Aid charity concert, and in professional wrestling hosted the WWF’s SummerSlam in 1992.

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