|Royal Festival Hall in 2011|
Today in 1951, the Festival of Britain got under way with the opening of the Royal Festival Hall.
Organised as a celebration of the nation’s recovery after the 2nd World War, the Festival was organised to help promote the British contribution to science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts. It was held throughout the country with its centrepiece based on the South Bank of the River Thames in London.
The Festival was very much associated with the Clement Atlee headed Labour government elected in 1945, whilst being vehemently opposed to by the Conservative opposition. Indeed Winston Churchill referred to the forthcoming Festival of Britain as "three-dimensional Socialist propaganda" and upon the return of a Conservative administration in October 1951, his first act was to instruct the clearance of the South Bank site (all bar the Royal Festival Hall which is now Grade 1 listed and still stands proudly to this day).
The symbol of the Festival was a strange looking, cigar shaped, aluminium-clad steel structure, supported by cables called the Skylon. It towered up to 90 metres in height and gave the impression of floating above the ground. A popular quip at the time compared it to the British economy that supposedly “had no visible means of support!”
Irrespective of its popularity with the British public, the cost of dismantling and re-erecting the Skylon elsewhere was deemed too expensive by Churchill and so it was also demolished and sold for scrap (after being toppled into the river).
Birthdays for 3rd May include:
Scottish sprinter and 100 metres Gold medallist at the Moscow Olympics 1980, Allan Wells (62)
US singer/songwriter Angela Bofill, who suffered 2 highly debilitating strokes in 2006/07, losing her ability to sing (60).
Former England football manager Steve McClaren, whose Derby County side just failed to reach the English Championship play-offs yesterday (54).