This film is part of Free

Festival of Britain London Exhibitions

Lights and laughter at the Southbank as Londoners marvel at the 'Festival of Britain'.

Amateur film 1951 20 mins Silent


The kaleidoscopic spectacle that was the Festival of Britain lights up this vivid and colourful footage, shot by an enthusiastic amateur. In the summer of 1951, as a morale-boosting celebration of postwar Britain's cultural achievements, London's Southbank was transformed from unloved slum land into a whimsical wonderland of carnival attractions and dramatic new buildings.

Beginning with black and white shots of a Scout bonfire (2,000 bonfires were lit on the evening of May 3rd to open the Festival), the action quickly moves to the Southbank Exhibitions, where an array of quirky contraptions is captured in full colour. Highlights include the 'Dome of Discovery' and the Skylon Tower (both dismantled a few months later), plus the amazing ornamental pleasure gardens and funfair at Battersea, with the iconic power station puffing smoke in the background.