Over eight million people visited the site and I was lucky enough to be one of them. My father was head of a school in the Birmingham area and his school organised the obligatory coach trip. For some curious reason (!) I was among those who travelled! The excitement for me was not just visiting the Festival itself but of going to London for the first time - a dream come true for me! It was a great day out, seeing for myself everything I had seen on TV (we were among the privileged few at the time who had TV!), cinema newsreels or in the papers. Even better was the visit to the other part of the Festival - Battersea Pleasure Gardens. I had seen film of this and desperately wanted to drive a little motor-boat around a lake, which I managed to do!! Roland Emmet's Fantasy Railway around the Gardens was another well-remembered highlight.
When the Festival closed in September a Conservative Government had replaced Labour. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, felt that the Festival site on the South Bank was 'too socialist' and ordered that the whole area be demolished except for the Festival Hall, which remains to this day. No trace remains, although if you visit Jubilee Gardens or go on the London Eye you are standing on the original Festival area itself.
Happy memories - anyone else out there manage to visit it?
Two short films from the National Archives which may be of interest: