In the spring of 1951 a nation celebrated. After years of war and austerity, the Festival of Britain opened to showcase achievements in science, technology, industry, architecture and the arts at venues in London and across the country. Much of what was built for the Festival was dismantled at its conclusion but some remarkable examples have survived. Here we celebrate surviving works from the Festival illustrated with photographs from the Historic England Archive.
At the end of the Festival 'London Pride' remained in storage until 1986 when, at the behest of Dobson’s widow, the Arts Council arranged for them to be re-cast in bronze for a permanent public siting.
The sculptures were unveiled again on the South Bank in September 1987 on a new slate platform on Queen's Walk, adjacent to the National Theatre.
At the end of the Festival, 'Youth' was supposed to have been taken by the Ministry of Education. However it was rejected on grounds that it was damaged.
Leonard Manasseh and Hardy-Henrion eventually acquired it and in 1959 it was installed in the garden of the architect's own home in Camden, London.
The artist Peter Laszlo Peri was commissioned to create the sculpture 'The Sunbathers' for the Festival of Britain's South Bank Exhibition site. It was located on the wall at the Station Gate, welcoming visitors to the Festival as they arrived from Waterloo station.
Thought lost, the sculpture was rediscovered at a London hotel. The hotel's owners had bought it at an auction in the 1950s and its significance as a rare survival from the Festival of Britain was forgotten.
Historic England has launched a campaign to restore 'The Sunbathers' and get it back on public display.