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The Great BVS Exhibition

This week has been our Spring Term Creative Week and we have been focusing on Art and Design and Technology. Each Year Group has been studying a continent and looking at a variety of countries. Year 3 have chosen Asia and concentrated on Japan, Year 4 Europe particularly Scandinavia, Year 5 Africa and Year 6 Oceania.

Mrs Barber and Mrs Maslen, who organised our Creative Week decided that we should attempt to recreate the Victorian Great Exhibition of 1851. So Friday 13th February saw our school hall transformed into the BVS Great Exhibition which was duly opened by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Charlotte Clarke, Brendon Eaglestone, Joe Hill and Bobbi Allison toured the Exhibition interviewing, visitors, pupils, staff as well as Queen Victoria herself. If you would like to hear their interview please click here. If you would like to see some photographs of the BVS Exhibition please click here and be transported to our picture Galleries.

What Was The 1851 Great Exhibition?

Following a series of increasingly popular public exhibitions, which attempted to educate the public's taste by showing the best of British manufactured goods, Henry Cole visited a similar exhibition in Paris. He decided to persuade Prince Albert to make the next British exhibition in 1851 an international one, in order to expose British design to foreign competition.

Great ExhibitionJoseph Paxton who had been building greenhouses for the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, proposed a gigantic pre-fabricated building of iron and glass. This building, with its skeleton of cast-iron columns supporting a network of girders was innovative technologically, but also used many other industrial skills and inventions of the time. In less than nine months from 30 August 1850, a building which was 562 metres long and 124 metres wide rose in Hyde Park. It was capable of holding over 100,000 objects from hairpins to steam hammers, representing nearly 14,000 exhibitors, half from Britain and the empire, half from other countries.


On 1 May 1851 the Exhibition was opened by Queen Victoria. As visitors travelled from all parts of the country to the Exhibition in London they would have been struck by the size, magnificence and structural perfection of the building that met their eyes. With the sun reflected in its massive glass surface they would have undoubtedly have agreed with the magazine Punch that it was 'a CrystalPalace'.


By the time the exhibition closed on 15 October 1851, more than 6 million people had passed through its doors. The vast majority of these were the ordinary people of Britain who came from every corner of the land, some of them seeing London, let alone the marvels of the Exhibition, for the first time. When they arrived they were as amazed and impressed by the productions of industry and the ingenious scientific gadgetry, much of it now preserved in the ScienceMuseum, as by the decorative and applied arts that today's visitor can see in the Victoria and AlbertMuseum.

For the mid-19th century citizen this would have been a unique experience. It was the first time that the nations of the world had ever come together in one place and it was remarkable showcase for the manufactures of Britain and the world.

After the Exhibition closed, the prime movers, Prince Albert and Henry Cole, were determined to open a museum to further the Exhibition's aims. The land on which the Victoria & Albert and all other museums in South Kensington stand was purchased with the profits of the Great Exhibition.