Title ID 10820Collection ID1265
TitleFestival of Britain (1951)
CollectionJohn William Bell
Genre/TypeAmateurFamily Home MovieNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeEarly Film In The South East Transport Leisure
KeywordsBoat Trains Commemorative Events Cultural Events Parks Visits Bridges Boats Ceremonies Entertainment Exhibitions Lakes Royalty Fairgrounds Water Transport Aircraft Family Festival of Britain (1951)
RegionalCity of London
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJohn William Bell
CameraJohn William Bell
Format9.5mm Mixed Colour and Black & White Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details.


An amateur film documenting the Festival of Britain in London, 1951. This film documents royal visits, London, the Dome of Discovery, boats on the Thames and the festival gardens in Battersea park.


The film opens with Princess Elizabeth arriving at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and later filmed in the library where presentations take place. This is followed by a shot of 'the specially designed Steuben glass vase centenary gift of America to the society'. On the 3rd of May 1951, their majesties appear at the opening ceremony at St. Paul's. Here we see the marching of the guards, the King, Queen, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive in a horse-drawn carriage at the Temple Bar. Later that evening we see a Bonfire at St. Paul's Cathedral and illuminated buildings on the South Bank. Following this, is the marching of the guards and King George VI, King Fredrick of Denmark, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Sigrid, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret arrive. On the 5th of June 1951, King Haakon of Norway pays a State visit where we see the Royal Yacht in the Port of London and guns firing salute. Following this they are taken from London Bridge in a carriage to The Mall. The exhibition of the Historic Plate of the City of London takes place and Queen Mary pays a visit. Historic artefacts from different eras and reigns are shown. Shots of a Saunders-Roe SR./A.1 sea plane (G-12-1) and boats are shown on the River Thames outside the Dome of Discovery on the South Bank. Following this, shots of a power and production factory are shown where wafer-making takes place. We then see inside the Dome, a polar exploration (a dog sled) and the Shot Tower. Multiple panning shots of the Thames and London's skyline are shown in a subsequent visit to London including fountains outside the Dome of Discovery. A visit to Battersea Park is documented at the Festival Gardens we see: deer, fountains, flower beds, boats on the lake, amusements, Far Tottering and oyster creek railway, the Lights of Battersea and Emmett Railway. The last part of the film is titled 'a last look around' and is in colour where we see: the Thames, St. Paul's, Waterloo bridge and station and the festival gardens with flowers, lakes and wildlife.