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Archive Awareness Campaign 2011 - Festival of Britain

Festival of Britain programme, 1951

The Festival of Britain was officially opended on 3 May 1951 and sixty years later the Archive Awareness Campaign is celebrating this event through the holdings of many different archives. The Festival was designed to lift the spirits of British people who were still suffering from austerity and rationing measures following the Second World War. Events were held all across the Country show casing developments in society such as the arts and sciences, but the main focus was on the South Bank area of London.

The Boy Scouts Association Weekly News Bulletin, 14 November 1950

As can be seen from the Bulletin above and the Circular below The Scout Association saw an oportunity to show the public the benefit of their work in Britain. The activities included having an International Patrol Camp at Gilwell Park, exhibition aboard RRS Discovery on the Thames, a pageant at the Royal Albert Hall, providing an information service and demonstrations in the Pavilion of Youth located on the South Bank and also assisting in running a small camp site also on the South Bank.

Circular sent to County Commissioners and County Secretaries by the Chief Executive Commissioner of The Boy Scouts Association, 20 November 1950

Festival of Britain Catalogue of Events and Activities, 1951

Festival of Britain Thanksgiving Service ticket, 30 September 1951

Festival of Britain Service of Thanksgiving programme, 30 September 1951

Thank you note to The Scout Association from the organisers of the Festival of Britain, 1952

Annual report cover showing RRS Discovery and the South Bank at night, 1951

The exhibition on RRS Discovery celebrated the heroic achievements of Antarctic expeditions such as those of Scott and Shackleton. The following images show the displays aboard the vessel and also that Sea Scouts performed a diligent service in supervising visitors.

RRS Discovery on the Thames during the Festival of Britain, 1951

Polar expeditions display for the Festival of Britain, 1951

Polar camp display for the Festival of Britain, 1951

Polar sledge display for the Festival of Britain, 1951

Polar Tableau display for the Festival of Britain, 1951

The London International Patrol Camp held at Gilwell Park between 22 August and the 1 September 1951 highlighted the diversity within Scouting with 650 Scouts attending from nearly 40 countries. The week prior to the Camp saw international guests staying in the homes of London Scouts and enjoying their hospitality which continues to this day during World Jamborees. The Camp allowed the many different nationalties to mix and learn about their cultures before travelling to the World Jamboree in Austria.

Lord Rowallan, the Chief Scout, today opened the London International Patrol Camp, at Gilwell Park, Essex. He arrived there by helicopter, and landed in a circle consisting of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Scouts of nearly 40 countries. 23 August 1951.

Scout from Asia arriving at Southampton and assisted by a British Sea Scout, August 1951

Lord Rowallan, Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire, is chaired by some of the 650 Scouts who, a few minutes earlier, had seen their Chief arrive at Gilwell Park, near here by helicopter to open the London International Patrol Camp. High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Consuls were among the large crowd. About 650 Scouts will attend the camp, many of them from the World Jamboree in Austria. 23 August 1951.

Group of Scouts from Jamaica at Gilwell Park, 23 August 1951

Delegates from France (left) and Belgium (right) peep from their tent at the International Scout Patrol Camp at Gilwell Park, 24 August 1951

Harcharan Singh a colourful visitor from Kenya, makes friends with young Ronny Purkiss of West Ham, who is seen enquiring about the Kenya badges, 23 August 1951

Karl Weman (left) and Ove Setterlind watch Hans Holstensson filling in the log at the International Scout Camp at Gilwell Park. They all come from Sweden. 24 August 1951

The Pakistan contingent photographed at Gilwell Park today. Asghar Hamid is seen with Pervez Hasan on his shoulders, 23 August 1951

Scouts recording and listening to messages, August 1951

Shinichiro Ueshima of the 2nd Osaka Troop, Japan, finds wisdom in the Eastern equilavalent of the adage "a stitch in time ...", 22 August 1951

The Festival of Britain was a great success in illustrating progress in Britain with emphasis on modernist design and advances in science. The South Bank was turned from a bomb site to leading cultural space with the Royal Festival Hall and later the Royal National Theatre and National Film Theatre. The Scout Association also benefitted from it's contribution by demonstrating to the visitors that Scouting incorporated diversity, opportunities for artistic expression and practical skills such as camping and organising exhibitions. The importance to the Association was reflected in the wonderful image of the South Bank at night with RRS Discover, Dome of Discovery and the Skylon lit up on the cover of the 1951 annual report illustrated above.

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