The Festival of Britain

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Tuesday, 3 May, 2011

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Festival of Britain, with its main site on London’s South Bank. As a result, today’s programme focuses on British music – from baroque composers such as Purcell, Handel and Arne, to modern composers of the 20th century like Elgar, Coates, Vaughan Williamas and Holst. We’ll be including several popular light classical pieces of the mid‐20th Century including William Alwyn’s Festival March, written especially for the Festival of Britain.

The country in 1951 was still ravaged by the after‐effects of the Second World War, with many parts of its major cities reduced to rubble. The government was working hard to rebuild the country and bring in sweeping social advances like the National Health Service despite the fact that the country was virtually bankrupt as a result of the war and the atrocious record‐breaking winter of 1947.

The British population needed a tonic, and it took the form of a great exhibition of British ingenuity and invention, art and industry. The main site was on the South Bank, still one of the world’s great art centres – the Festival Hall was built for the purpose and is clearly visible in the illustration above, from a postcard of the time – and other sites around London and the country took up different themes of the Festival. (The other building clearly visible in the illustration is the Dome of Discovery.) A special Festival logo was created by leading designer Abram Games (see programme cover, left).

The Festival also coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the magnificent Crystal Palace erected in Hyde Park on the centre of London, and also showcasing British innovation and the fruits of empire.

Read more about the Festival of Britain here.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with our friends at the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme in‐world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in‐world.


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