The Festival of Britain's 60th anniversary
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, which opened on 3 May 1951.
The purpose of the festival was to show the world the British contribution to civilisation - past, present and future - in the arts, in science and in industrial design. The festival signalled Britain's revival after the war and aimed to present to the world and its own people a modern Britain, building a better future.
Festival events took place across Great Britain, ranging from village fetes and local arts festivals to an exhibition of heavy industry in Glasgow and a live architecture exhibition in east London. London's South Bank was the focus of festival celebrations where 22 pavilions told the story of the British people and their achievements. Memorable features included the futuristic Dome of Discovery, the striking 'Skylon' structure and the newly constructed Royal Festival Hall.
A Festival of Britain Office was set up as a specially constituted department to oversee the central organisation of the festival, and The National Archives has the records of this office in series WORK 25. These documents record all stages of the planning of the festival, from minutes of meetings to colourful original artwork. A new podcast on the Festival of Britain uses these records to explore the festival events and its key themes.
A selection of these WORK 25 photographs and original artwork can be viewed via the Image library's Festival of Britain Showcase pages.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, The National Archives' on site museum will also house a display of some of these records from 5 April until 1 July.
The 1951 public information film 'Festival in London' provides a contemporary look at the South Bank exhibition and is available to view for free online.