There is an annual Festival of London, with many events happening around different location of London, and in addition, there is the 60 years anniversary of The Festival Of Britain on the South Bank, (The Embankment on the River Thames).

Having walked past some sad looking beach huts on the South Bank and wondering why they were there, totally misplaced and need of some imaginative overhaul, the sort that creative children could bring, I came across a woman who knew little of the beach huts, however, instead, she tried enthusiastically to guide me to a temporary vegetable garden on the roof of The Festival Hall, (a concert venue, for those who are not familiar with it) which externally, is a brooding utilitarian concrete block construction that was built in the early 1950’s as part of the original Festival of Britain. I have been to concerts there, including one given many years ago, by Joan Baez. The hall was a comfortable place to go for a concert or show.

Noticing I was not fired up with curiosity about the rooftop vegetable garden, the woman tried again. I was told there was a video presentation I could go and see of the post-war times in London. If I walked along a bit farther, I could also see a beach. The beach was a limited area of sand, transposed from I know not where, in which a few young children played with buckets and spades, like it was an extension of a play group or nursery session.

The whole thing irritated me. It was scrappy and severely lacking in imagination – no doubt a sign of the times, now, not then – and, as for it being a Festival Of Britain, it was definitely not! It never could have been, not even in May 1951 when the idea was first dreamt up. Yes, there were localised exhibitions, in the main though, the big showy stuff was in London, the capital city. It was always going to be more socially London and urban-centric and this current event clearly demonstrates it.

I would love to have seen the exhibition, such as it was, with a ‘then and now’ practical theme, such as using a scaled down prefabricated house,(colloquially known as prefabs) with a garden in which vegetables would have been grown. If beach huts must be part of the display, how about having one with clear roof panels and using it as a greenhouse. We are currently being exhorted to “grow your own”. What about an allotment, they were in use in the 1950’s and there is a great demand for allotments now.



  1. I remember the Festival of London all those years ago even myself I dont see the point of putting sand down a lot of their ideas/creations seem quite ridiculous 🙄

  2. :)):)) Hopefully, you will be exploring more of London – that is if you haven’t done so already….;) Takes ‘All Sorts’ to ‘make London’…as you probably know….;)

  3. I was 9 in 1951, and I remember the school making a big thing of The Festival of Britain with its Skylon and strange primary colours on everything. It seemed very modern to me at the time. I even collected the commemorative stamps, stamp collecting being a big thing at the time. 🙂

    From Wikipedia:
    The Festival was an attempt to give Britons a feeling of recovery and progress and to promote better-quality design in the rebuilding of British towns and cities following the war. The Festival also celebrated the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was the brainchild of Gerald Barry and the Labour Deputy Leader Herbert Morrison who described it as “a tonic for the nation”.

  4. Yeah, I know what Wikipedia says.

    I also remember living in it. Austere times even existed then in London as elsewhere. People were more concerned about personal social issues, keeping affordable roofs over their heads and making a living. I don’t remember the moods of people lifting in any noticeable way. Like always, there was plenty of hype.

    I too collected stamps, I later gave some of my more ‘valuable’ ones to an elderly relative to exchange with her landlady, who didn’t raise her rent so much that time.

  5. Knowing London well, we always do many varied things and walk a lot. Had I been required to write a comment on a school report, I would have said, I felt we should be able to do better.

    We went to a concert at St Paul’s Cathedral and another smaller one at St Bride’s in the square mile, (The City). Both of these events were a small part of the larger annual Festival of London, not to be confused with the anniversary of the other Britain ‘festivity’.

  6. Salut,

    Nous etions en Londres seulement pour quelques jours, pas une grande vacance. Il etait un petit changement de location.

    Il faisait variable. Deux jours avec le soleil, pas tros chaud, mais agreeable. Pour la reste, en peut dire il faisait comme ci,comme ca.

    There has been more sun and ultra violet light chez nous.


  7. Good heavens, where are you, The North Pole?

    It sounds your weather similar to that of the South of England. We have had more stable weather this week than many places, but it is not very warm. Today is a bit cold.


  8. The exhibits are current, over the Summer. the Festival of London has a whole continuing programme of antipodean themed musical events around different locations of London, perhaps, till September. I did not keep the very well laid out and informative programme. It was an attractive book.

  9. Artistically, yes, the South Bank has been very productive for centuries. It is interesting to know and see how much the bankside itself has receded in relation to where buildings currently stand, including the New Globe. Talking of which, it’s just a small footfall away from Southwark Cathedral, another fascinating visit, inside and out.

  10. It would be lovely to have a bit of warmth. We have low temperatures today, about 14 degrees Celsius, the same as you.

    The farmers here in the North, might get two harvests of hay instead of one, this year. If so, they will have a lot of food for the animals for the Winter.

  11. I totally agree with your point. What were the organisers of The Festival Of Britain thinking? Narrow,unrepresentative and cheap, I guess. I didn’t go to view the video, therefore I cannot comment on that.

    By contrast, the Festival Of London – in many locations and districts – is well structured and engaging. We could have filled our short time with the programme, if we had been so inclined.

  12. It’s the opposite in France. Many Farmers have no hay and not enough corn for cattle.

    This rain makes push the grass and gives a very light respite…

    On the other hand, cucumbers are smaller (not enough water) and not cheap enough because French are silly and fearfull (E.Coli)… and don’t buy it. Even now…

    Thousands tons cucumbers were distroyed with beginning of crisis…

    The only good effect is that hypermarckets have sopped to sell spain products, and sell french products…

  13. 🙂

    The cucumbers I buy are good. Because some countries are nationalistic and protectionist about food, they call it being fearful, in so doing,they are making living costs higher for their own population. I remember, you wanted trade protectionism to return.

    The source of the e-coli has been found, some time ago. It goes back to seeds produced in Egypt. We are being told not to eat Alfalfa, and to cook beansprouts, (not just blanche them) if we use beansprouts in our meals. I have stopped using beansprout raw in salad and do not use them at all in Chinese stir-fry food. They have a watery texture when cooked too much. Apart from that, I take the usual precautions of washing vegetables, salad, even that which I grow, and fruit.

  14. I’m happy, for one time, that hypermarckets sell French vegetables !… (They are not more expansive because, people continue to be afraid… They are cowards, but it replaces the chauvinism protectionism… French have no courage to make change the liberalism, but their fear is going to make it…

    Only the fear can change the world ! I have understood !

  15. The time of the brave French people is finished. They were killed in the Napoleonic wars and during the WW1.

    French people is decadent.

    It is not the first time when I notice this fear and stupidity which gains them as a herd of sheeps…

    1974 : Sugar crisis : People fought to seize some sugar.
    1991 : Gulf war : The empty shelves in stores !

  16. D’accord, les concombres etaitent bien toujour, il est une domage que la nourriture etaitent detruite.

    How do you cook cucumbers? We get the long ones here, not the short fat cucumbers.

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