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Great London Exposition

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


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