Two or three times my parents had said that we would go to the Festival of Britain – but the promises were never turned into fact. But now the whole thing was closing and I had been deprived of being part of it. However events had been held all over Britain, not just in London and, after all, we had haved one Festival in our village!
It was on Sunday 30th September 1951 that the Festival of Britain came to an end. It had been organised to mark the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and, after a special service attended by the King, Queen Elizabeth, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and other senior members of the royal family, King George declared the festival open in a broadcast from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The official closing ceremony was planned to also be pronounced by the King but, unfortunately, he was not well enough and the closing speech was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He described the Festival as being ‘a real family party’ and ‘the standard by which we shall face the future’. He said that there were many legacies of the Festival – trees planted, and statues and other artworks commissioned. He also said that the Festival had given a better awareness of Britain as a thriving economy with a skilled workforce.