A forgotten relic of '51

This is the first of a series on whats left from the Festival of Britain 1951.

Certainly a lot has been written about the 1951 Festival on London’s South Bank, yet there are things still in existence that are generally not recognised as being part of the Festival itself.

I start this with a mysterious tablet (or is it plaque?) that is one of the most incomprehensible in modern London. It can be found on the riverside railings just a few feet away from the London Eye.

IMG 9121 - A forgotten relic of '51

The tablet’s significance is missed by many because it relates to the Festival of Britain 1951. The particular type of granite used means the lettering is very very hard to read.

Certainly when this granite tablet was first placed here it’s bright blue gilded lettering stood out well against the stone’s surface, but over time has faded.

aug1951 - A forgotten relic of '51
View of the area commenced upon in January 1949 as denoted by the tablet. Pic from Wikipedia

The tablet actually commemorates the first phase of the works to secure and establish the 27 acre site for the Festival of Britain 1951.

In January 1949 filling in of the derelict wharves and docks here to provide a new river frontage began. Eventually the Dome of Discovery and the Skylon would stand on this reclaimed land.

Back in 1947 Herbert Morrison MP was given charge of the 1951 project and his name is first headed on the tablet in recognition of his work for the forthcoming Festival of Britain.

IMG 9110 - A forgotten relic of '51

I took many photos of the tablet from different angles and different lighting situations in order to transcribe the text as shown in full below:

The construction of the new portion

Of the river wall was begun by

The Right Hon Herbert Morrison M.P.

Lord President of the Council on the 17th January 1949

Chairman of the London County Council Walter R. Owen J.P.

Leader of the Council and

Chairman of the South Bank sub-committee I.J. Hayward J.P

Chairman of the General Purposes Committee Edwin Bayliss

Clerk of the Council J.R. Howard Roberts C.B.E

Chief Engineer J. Rawlinson M. Eng M.I.C.E

Contractors Richard Costain Limited

Granite Suppliers Cooper Wettern & Co Limited

IMG 9117 - A forgotten relic of '51

For some great views of what the landscape looked like before the Festival of Britain 1951, I recommend the views shown in A London Inheritance’s blog which were taken during 1947, a couple of years before the work in levelling the site and providing a new river frontage began.

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