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


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