British Empire
Living in the British empire - The British view
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A British poster from 1930 called 'The Empire is Still in Building'
(CO 956/223, CO 956/227)
  • The Empire Marketing Board produced this poster in 1930. The Empire Marketing Board was a government department whose job was to promote trade between Britain and the empire.
  • The primary aim of the poster was to show that the empire was still growing and to give people a sense of pride in the empire by seeing its long history.
  • The poster shows a long line of empire builders from the earliest explorers (John Cabot, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh in the 1500s) to Cecil Rhodes in the late 1800s.
  • The British empire actually reached its greatest extent in the period between the First and Second World Wars. Britain took over some of the lands ruled by the defeated German and Turkish empires.
  • By the time this poster was produced the meaning of the term empire had changed in Britain. In the 1700s and 1800s the empire was made up of lands that Britain ruled. By the early 1900s much of the empire was ruling itself. The empire was much more a community of nations, rather like the British Commonwealth today.
  • However, large parts of the empire, especially India and Africa, were still ruled directly by the British and were not independent.
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