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Great London Exposition

Great London Exposition Collection

History Archive - Great London Exposition Collection

The International Exhibition of 1862, or Great London Exposition, was a world's fair. It was held from 1 May to 1 November 1862, beside the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, South Kensington, London, England, on a site that now houses museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

The buildings, which occupied 21 acres, were designed by Captain Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, and built by Charles and Thomas Lucas and Sir John Kelk at a cost of £300,000 covered by profits from the Great Exhibition of 1851. They were intended to be permanent, and were constructed in an un-ornamented style with the intention of adding decoration in later years as funds allowed. Much of the construction was of cast-iron, 12,000 tons worth, though façades were brick.

Picture galleries occupied three sides of a rectangle on the south side of the site; the largest, with a frontage on the Cromwell Road was 1150 feet long, 50 feet high and 50 feet wide, with a grand triple-arched entrance. Fowke paid particular attention to lighting pictures in a way that would eliminate glare. Behind the picture galleries were the "Industrial Buildings". These were composed of "naves" and "transepts", lit by tall clerestories, with the spaces in the angles between them filled by glass-roofed courts. Above the brick entrances on the east and west fronts were two great glass domes, each 150 feet wide and 260 feet high - at that time the largest domes ever built. The timber-framed "Machinery Galleries", the only parts of the structure intended to be temporary, stretched further north along Prince Consort Road.

The opening took place on 1 May 1862. Queen Victoria, still in mourning for her consort Prince Albert did not attend, instead her cousin the Duke of Cambridge presided from a throne sited beneath the western dome. An opening address was delivered by the Earl Granville, chairman of Her Majesty's Commissioners, the group responsible for the organization of the event. An official closing ceremony took place on 1 November 1862, but the exhibition remained open to the public until 15 November 1862. Over six million people attended. Parliament declined the Government's wish to purchase the building and the materials were sold and used for the construction of Alexandra Palace.

Available Books


Image Name
Cain & Moigniez – Metal-work
Holland – Table
Ginori – Majolica-ware
Marchand – Chimney-piece
Marchand – Chimney-piece
Dresden China
Bouillet – Embroidery
Guillaume – Sculpture
Martini – Chasubles
Sevres Porcelain
Barve – Sculpture
Lemoine – Cabinet
Poole – Mosaic Pavement
Benham – Wrought-iron Work
Vickers – Lace
Longden – Chimney-piece
Cardinal Antonelli's Casket
Cristofle – Enamelled Ware
Berlin China
Klein – Money-box, &c.
Bedford – Book-cover
Jackson & Graham – Sideboard
Hauschild – Fire-proof Safe
Goorkin – Precious Metal-work
Cast-iron Panel from Mulheim
Wiese – Precious Metal-work
Knepper & Schmidt – Paper-hangings
Marechal – Painted Glass
Rusand – Ecclesiastical Work
Hoffman – Glass
Schaffgotsch – Glass
Earp – Reredos
Prieu-dieu from Vienna
Fraikin – Sculpture
Dobson & Pearce – Glass
Pellatt – Glass
Embroidered Carpet
Trioullier – Ecclesiastical Work
Illustrated Title Page
Cotton Carpets
Glass, Imperial Manufactory
Fernkorn – Sculpture
Spence – Sculpture
Porcelain, Imperial Manufactory
Jeffrey – Paper-hangings
Elkington – Table and Mirror
Dufresne – Damascened Work
Bertini – Painted Window
Mosaic-work, Imperial Manufactory
Triquetti – Incised Marble
Jones & Willis – Church Hangings
Cremer – Cabinet
Petiteau – Jewellery
Hyderabad Embroidery
Asprey – Dressing-case
Copeland – Porcelain
Hardman – Ecclesiastical Metal-work
Rouvenat – Jewellery
Berlin R. Foundry – Iron Candelabra
Tenerani – Sculpture
Habennicht – Leather-work
Embroidered Muslin
Rousseau – Majolica, &c.
Trollope – Chimney-piece
Barbedienne – Precious Metal-work
Widdowson & Veale – Swords
Precious Metal-work
Delhi Embroidered Shawl
Gremser – Ivory Carving
Rudolphi – Precious Metal-work
Salviati – Clacedony Ware
Vollgold – Precious Metal-work
Enamelled Glass
Pouyat – Porcelain
Muller – Sculpture
Berlin China
Desfosse – Paper-hangings
Paillard – Bronze-gilt Mirror
Phillips – Glass
Zuloaga – Damascened Work
Title Page
Topees, Fans, &c.
Emanuel – Goldsmith's Work
Hollenbach – Metal-work
Minton – Tiles
English Scissors and Keys
Jeakes – Fire-place (Grate)
Sevres Porcelain
Feetham – Grates
Fourdinois – Chimney-piece
Woolner – Sculpture


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