Beacon For Change : The Festival of Britain 1951
Barry Turner's book marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, which transformed London's South Bank after the war. Centred on London's South Bank, which was cleared of its industry and Victorian architecture, the Festival of Britain sought not only to celebrate the best of Britishness but also to set new standards and paradigms for modern design, aesthetics and architecture.
With satellite festivals all over Britain, it attracted 8 million visitors in a year (the Millennium Dome managed only 5 million). The Royal Festival Hall was built, as well as the Dome of Discovery (then the largest unsupported roof in the world), and the long-lamented, Skylon (a futuristic aluminium pylon). The Scandinavian design we now take for granted with IKEA's furniture was a big influence in the Festival buildings' architecture.
As well as nostalgic appeal its story constitutes a kind of sequel to David Kynaston's Austerity Britain, as the Festival gave the British people permission to enjoy themselves and look forward at last to a future of modernity and prosperity.