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


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