The Land of Britain

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Architect: H.T. Cadbury Brown ◦ Theme Convener: Kenneth Chapman
Display Designer: V. Rotter

The land is the beginning of the story, and it is the land that gives the story its continuity.

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Britain was a ready-made island when our forebears stepped ashore. They were practical men with their feet on the ground, but they were also pioneers, men with feet sensitive to the nature of the ground – feet that soon grew so familiar with it that they came to act as roots, exploring it downward and bringing up from it the nourishment and profit that lies beneath. They were pioneers; but they were also craftsmen, and a craftsman’s mind follows his hands and feet. So the stones thrown up by the pioneers from their deep workings have been cracked open and studied like pages torn from a buried book, until now we know the birth pains and the growth of this motherland of ours, and how much wealth lies latent in her still.

Millions of years in the making

This growth has been a gradual and continuous process, in which our present is only an instant. There is continuity in the formation and destruction of land, no less than in the evolution of the life that lives upon it. This is the kind of reality that can best be translated into images by a painter; Graham Sutherland’s mural, then, sets the mood for this Pavilion.

All climates beneath our feet

Britain is not a country of extreme climates, yet buried in the island are evidences of all extremes. Twenty thousand years ago, it was an arctic land, glaciers ground their way down the valleys of the Lake District. Fifty million years ago, the region of the Scottish Islands was burned by volcanoes, which poured lava and scattered ash over the surrounding land and sea. Before that, the region where Birmingham now stands was an inferno of blown desert sand. Earlier still, tropical jungle made Britain look like a South Sea island.

The land in labour

Here in this island is a greater variety and wealth of rocks than can be found in any other area so small. This, too, is the result of a slow, imperceptible continuity of change, of deep troughs formed in past ocean beds being filled to colossal depths by wastage from the land which have then been spewed up as new mountain ranges, piled high above the surface of the earth. These, in their turn, have been eroded away, leaving only their tortured stumps.

Had some magic cine-camera, using time-lapse photography, recorded events during, say, the last five hundred million years, it would seem to repeat itself several times. One such cycle, therefore, can illustrate the labour pains in the building of the British Isles; and a special film has, in fact, been made to illustrate them.

The rocks that were used thus by the vast forces in the earth are now the very wealth of the land.

The rocks are our riches

Our story starts a thousand million years ago when the rocks of north-west Scotland and the Outer Isles were formed. Four hundred and fifty million years ago, west Britain was a seabed blanketed with river mud. From those ancient muds our fine Welsh slates are split.

Later, warm seas stretched out across the northern latitudes, swarming with living things. These, through the ages, crusted the sea floor with their limestone skeletons and now the cliffs of the Avon Gorge, for example, reveal this useful stone.

Two hundred and twenty million years ago, Britain was coated with jungle-swamps, whose giant plants for generations drank in the light, died, decomposed and were covered by mud and sands. They were raised again above the sea – dead forests entombed by rocks. From their rich black coals we unlock to-day the power of the primeval sun.

Later still, there were stagnant seas over north-east England, the salt of which was thickened by hot suns. To-day, these salts are mined from deep down under Middlesbrough and used for table, factory and to fertilise the fields. One hundred and thirty million years ago, the iron ore of Northamptonshire was laid down in a shallow sea.

During the last seventy million years the geography of Britain has changed continually. The land has been dipped like a cloth in the ocean, soaked, rinsed and folded up to dry. For most of the time it was part of Europe. Then, about five hundred thousand years ago, glaciers and ice shrouded the land. To this freezing world came early man. When the ice caps had melted Britain emerged an island.

This is the story of the origins of the land, seen through the eyes of British geologists who introduced a new science to the world. For the British people this land still offers materials ready to hand to challenge their skill; still offers a coastline for seamen, a climate for farmers and a landscape of extraordinary variety.

The Natural Scene

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Architect: Brian O’Rorke ◦ Theme Convener: Kenneth Chapman
Display Designer: F. H. K. Henrion

What is the reason for this extraordinary variety in the British landscape? Why is it impossible to find a photograph or a view that makes you say, “That sums up the whole of the British countryside!” while there are many that could have obviously been taken nowhere else? Part of the answer has been given in “The Land of Britain” Pavilion; for the rest we must look into the private lives of the animals and plants which together clothe the surface of this land.

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Most of our wild animals and plants have colonised the island much as man did – from across the Channel and the North Sea. They have moved at different rates, have chosen different places in which to live and multiply, and different sets of neighbours. Always there has been at peculiar sympathy between us and this untamed living world around us, which nowadays shows itself as a desire to know its secrets. In this Pavilion some of them are displayed.

Life in fresh water

The Lake District, the New Forest and the estuary of the River Stour are three areas that have come in for particular study recently. In all these districts, water as well as land provides the environment; so aquaria are being used for watching the behaviour of the plants and animals more closely.

Through having recreated the real conditions in this way, we now know, for instance, how the fish of the Luke District are dependent for their food on the microscopic plant life of the water, and how this life, in turn, exists at different depths, depending on the penetrating power of the different elements in the sun’s light rays.

The wild lands of Britain

Nothing, however, can so well illustrate the great variety of our natural scene as a rapid journey between some of the most distinctive areas. Nine more scenes, all widely different, are shown in this Pavilion.

We begin in the extreme west, on the island of St. Kilda, which is cut from volcanic rock, way out in the Atlantic, far remote from the Scottish coast. For centuries man has struggled for a foothold here and failed. The island remains the breeding place of seals and myriads of birds.

The Scottish Cairngorm mountains, high and cold, are another remote area, but one that is on the mainland. Here is a fastness of rare animals, and the small plants are those that can tolerate acid, peaty soils.

But height and cold are only two of the factors that may limit the abundance of plant and animal life. In parts of the Pennine Hills the country rock is limestone. This is a rock whose structure encourages the water to tunnel underground rather than flow in normal fashion on the surface. On these dry heights plants do not grow large and thick. They are short tufted and give little cover to protect insect life from the upland winds. This means less food for birds, which by consequence are rarer here than on moors, where heather and the like provide shelter for this smaller life.

The downlands

In the North Downs is the scenery so often spoken of as “typically” British. The word implies that here, at least, is permanence; in fact, the animals and plants are on the move, actively re-colonising the land. Much of the downland was once cultivated or grazed by sheep: but for over a century now the slopes have been abandoned by the farmers for the richer soils of the lower-lying land. Now these chalk downs are in the process of acquiring a new natural vegetation cover.

A new natural scene

Except in the most wild regions, then, man is the most important single factor in determining the natural scene, and giving the signal for its change. His presence alone may not be intolerable to wild animals and plants; but his works will upset their earlier agreed associations and bring about communities that are new. The natural history of contemporary London shows this clearly.

Birds, trees and grasses

There is, however, in these islands another wealth of great variety – the large numbers of different species of animals and plants that are not peculiar to one area, but are spread throughout the country. Such a plant is grass, yet to many of us it is nothing more. But examples of nearly forty different forms of grass are not difficult to find, and this by no means exhausts the British list. Think, too, of the number of different shapes of leaves that make up the verdure of the country scene, of the repertoire of bird-songs that provide accompaniment, and of the butterflies that, for a season, lend moving colour to its décor.

The twelve examples shown in this Pavilion of widely different landscapes derive from the natural scene on which our forebears got to work when they started to herd stock and till the land.

How they have farmed this primeval land with conscious intention is related in the next chapter of this story of the British isles.

The Country

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Architect: Brian O’Rorke ◦ Theme Conveners: A. S. Thomas, Peter B. Collins
Display Designer: F. H. K. Henrion

Our theme is the Land and the People; and such a theme is bound to bring to light some awkward facts. Here, in this Pavilion, we come upon the first of these – the fact that in making what they have from the land, the people have become divided. By and large, they are now either countrymen or townsmen.

It is easy enough to see how the growth and demands of industry in the last hundred years have brought this about, and how the two groups have got out of step with each other. By now the difference in their occupations has compelled them into different ways of life. So, if these two groups are again to march in step, it is essential that each should understand the conditions in which the other lives and works. Signs of their once more coming together are, however, clear: in the last few years the farmer and the engineer, between them, have made our land the most highly mechanised of any in the world. Yearly, the farmer’s confidence in the scientist is growing, while the scientist is learning to accept those vagaries in nature that have always been reality to the farmer.

The problem has been to prevent one section of our people from losing sight of the other. Farming is our heritage no less than coal and steel. In these days we boast the most highly mechanised and, perhaps, the most efficiently farmed countryside in the world. This development, from the primitive strip cultivation of the first patches wrested from the forest, through the age of private enclosures, to the period of stock-improvement and increasing mechanisation, has taken us over 2,000 years.

Our farming as varied as the landscape

The same permanent accidents of soil and climate which we saw give rise to the Natural Scene have produced a variable terrain, which skill and experience have developed through the centuries for the purposes to which each variation is best suited. So, grazing and stockbreeding have become typical in the high lands of the west, where heavy rainfall and exposure to Atlantic conditions have reared livestock as hardy as the men who farm them. In the drier conditions of the east and midlands, with often deeper, richer soil, another type of arable farming has developed. Here stock, in general, is secondary to cereals and root crops.

This diversity is perhaps the feature that distinguishes farming in Britain from that of any other country in the world. On one side of the panorama we have the hill-farmers of Wales and the Scottish Highlands, the grazier in the English midlands, and the lowland dairy farmer of the Dee Valley; on the other, the farms of the east and south producing cereals, arable crops, fruit and hops. Half-way between them comes the small mixed farm worked by the family in Northern Ireland.

While variety has always been one feature of our agriculture, quality of its products has been its complement. Whether these are livestock, or the produce of industrial farming-cereals, for example-or vegetables, fruits, or flowers, they have always been recognised as setting standards which, in good times and bad, we have maintained for centuries.

Science and the land

But modem agriculture, wherever it is carried on and whatever the final products it yields, needs modern methods, and in recent years the aid of science has been increasingly sought. Here, Britain’s contribution has also been outstanding and sustained. A lead was given to the world over a hundred years ago, by the classical work carried out on fertilisers by Lawes at Rothamsted. Nowadays research on methods of improving fruits themselves and on the better utilisation of the things that can be made from them, proceeds alongside the research that aims at solving the fundamental problems of the soil So, while one group of workers is tackling the difficulties of producing better pasture from poor and unrewarding soils, another is showing how to kill weeds that consume the soil and its nutrients.

But in addition to housing our largest single industry, the country provides the endowment for a special way of life – and a rich one. Everything, it is true, turns on the yearly cycle of husbandry; but woven into it are the village cricket match, the contests of the Young Farmers’ Club, the weekly meeting of the Women’s Institutes. And all the while, creating the fabric for this varied life, the country craftsman is at work. Much of the modern setting is of his devising; his are those many properties of the country scene that we take so easily for granted – the hedges and the hurdles, the thatch of cottage and barn, the walls, the harness of horses and the baskets that go to market.

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Livestock and breeding

Mechanisation has not killed these country crafts, nor can it. But it has revolutionised the country industries: and none more than that of poultry farming. The ideal hen of to-day is, throughout her entire life, just a single item in a great machine; little is asked from her except that she shall feed herself and lay some eggs. Ducks, less amenable to such treatment, and goats, now increasingly popular, are other junior members of agricultures livestock group, whose great variety is another feature of farming in Britain.
Sheep, pigs, horses for every purpose, have long absorbed the attention of the world’s finest natural animal breeders – the British stock farmers – but the beasts on which they have concentrated particularly are beef and dairy cattle. The modern breeder works from the exact data of long pedigrees and the beasts performance, which are more important nowadays than handsome appearance and possession of precise show points. The result is a range of superb beef and dairy cattle with one of the surest markets in the world. Look, though, upon their variety in size, in hardiness and utility; you cannot fail to see reflected here the astonishing range of types of farmland, and of farmer, in the British Isles.


One of the most valuable of all our raw materials is milk. As the basis for a vast industry – whether the thing finally produced is milk itself, butter or cheese – it has been the subject of intense research and mechanisation, so that now the consumer gets a safer and more valuable product than ever he did before.


But, great as the advances in agriculture have been through the application of science to crop production and stock-breeding, the most spectacular advances of all are seen in mechanisation itself. Since the Second World War, each type of tractor has had its set of specially designed implements, capable of handling every job that crops up in the ordinary run of farming. For major operations, and for small awkward jobs which take time and demand great accuracy, still other machines have been evolved.

Every phase of farming, from ploughing to harvest, is now mechanised. This mechanisation has passed even into such crafts as that of the blacksmith. True, he is still able to handle the jobs his forebears did such as shoeing horses; but now he is a skilled mechanical engineer besides, using the tools and facilities of modem engineering as his stock in trade. The village forge has become the village engineer’s workshop, but it is no less a part of the community, for that. A modern blacksmith can be seen at work in this Pavilion.

Planning the use of the land

All this achievement and this reputation cannot, however, enlarge our country. Britain will always be small. Land that is so scarce must, if it is to be used to its full advantage, have its uses planned. Not always has this been recognised, particularly in the planting of trees have we lagged behind.

In recent years forestry in Britain has made enormous strides, impelled by the Forestry Commission – who are at last providing the state forests that hitherto we lacked – and also by the owners of private forest estates. From the long deforestation of the nineteenth century, and the almost complete loss of all useful timber during two world wars, we are now climbing once more, at an increasing rate, to the peak of a tree-planting programme. Varieties from abroad are being used more and more, for here we can take advantage of our climate and soil to obtain even greater yields than they can give in their overseas homes.

All this new forest is planned as part of a scheme which considers every aspect of land use: trees cover the steep, uncultivable slopes, and the bare, poor moorland soils; above them, sheep and cattle graze; below, in the valleys, rich farmlands are worked more efficiently than ever before. Timber and farm produce flow to the towns and industrial areas, whose products, in their turn, flow back to bring the countryman and his family the benefits which they themselves have made possible.

The farmer of to-day

Throughout this whole story of the evolution of Britain’s countryside, one feature remains constant: the kind of man who has brought it about. It is true that his appearance has changed. No longer is the countryman the old-style yokel, a rough, uncultured being in corduroys, uncouth in accent and in manner. Now, he has become a technician putting to everyday use the results of five hundred years of development and of science. He can drive a tractor, and mend and maintain any of his mechanical aids; but still, his feet are firmly on the ground – the ground from which his livelihood and our prosperity have always come, and whose good health it is his pride to maintain.

It is, then, finally, to the farmer and his family that we owe the prosperity and permanence of our countryside.

Minerals of the Island

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Architects: Architects’ Co-operative Partnership ◦ Theme Convener: Sonia Withers
Display Designer: Beverley Pick

We have saluted the men who cultivate the surface of our land, those who ensure the permanence of our agricultural heritage. As well as them we have another hidden bank account – the riches that lie within our earth, the men who dig those riches out, and the men who use this long-quiescent wealth as new material for our industry.

Just as some of our forebears in the past took the variety of the natural scene as they found it, and exploited the variations, so others perceived and followed downwards the surface clues to the wealth that had been locked up far below when the British isles were being built. Of this wealth, coal was the prize gem; indeed, it is the key with which the storerooms of all other mineral wealth my be unlocked.


In our coal is stored the energy of the sun itself, captured by forest plants and trees two hundred and twenty million years ago. It was this energy, suddenly released, the brought about the greatest change in the face of Britain. Now our civilisation depends on coal – industry, transport, power and all things made of iron and steel would not exist without it.

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Before the start of history, men were pulling these black stones from the surface of the earth and burning them. But it is no more than five hundred years ago that the first real pit was dug. It was bell-shaped, and only fifty feet deep. Three hundred years ago they were working down at four hundred feet. By now the country was crying out for coal, because the hungry furnaces of the iron founders had eaten away most of the forests that so far had fed them. The need was met; and, by the last century, the iron founder’s debt to the coalminer was repaid. Iron shafts made mines safe three thousand feet down, and the steam power of an engine made of steel hauled the coal up to the surface in an endless flow. But the miner still worked the coal face with his hands. To-day, even these operations are being done by machines of steel; and rapidly the mines – still an essential artery of industry and wealth – are becoming clean and safe.

Even with modem machinery, however, this getting of coal is not easy money for easy work. No machine can alter the ancient facts that seams are often only waist high, and the roof may not allow an average man to stand upright. No words can convey exactly the feeling of the inside of a mine. In this Pavilion we have built one on the spot, so that you can share, for a few minutes, the experience of the working miner, and see some of his newer tools.

Once got, coal is put to work to serve us in a myriad ways. Coal for ships, for locomotives, for power stations, for gas , for by-products pouring out in plenty – chemicals, nylon, aspirin, saccharin, plastics… coke for the blast furnaces and for the marriage with iron, whose issue is steel.


A hundred years ago steel was a costly thing, and the challenge to succeeding generations was to make it cheaply and in great abundance. It was Darby, a Shropshireman, who first successfully smelted iron with coke; Bessemer who purified molten iron with blasts of air; Siemens who invented the open-hearth furnace used, the world over, for modern steel making. It was Robert Hadfield, of Sheffield, who first made steel hard.

You can catch the lightning movement of a steelworks in still photographs, preserve instants of white-hot shape and motion, which together are the steelman’s day. Fireworks and fumes create pattens, unmatched for size and complexity; molten metal is manoeuvred like melted butter with what looks like little effort from these men of skill.


Once won, the metals of our earth have been worked upon and then combined in strange proportions, until now steel, for example, is not one single thing but many. Steel is tailormade to fit a thousand different jobs – spring steel, stainless steel, structural steel and many more. The other metals are not used so much as steel, but each of them has special properties that make it the right material for a special place. Silver alloy or cupro-nickel is in the money in our pockets; jet engines need a hard, tough, heat-resisting alloy. Aeroplanes need special lightness as well as shapes… all these are made of different combinations of metals, man-produced to fit the job exactly.

Other minerals

It is, then, coal and metals that provide the basic food for factories. They must be there before anything else is made. But the Land of Britain gives us more than these. Salt from the seas of ancient times is used in making soap and caustic soda. Limestone mixed with clay gives us cement, clay gives chinaware and tiles and bricks, sand gives us glass. From the air we have learned to isolate the nitrogen and transform it into fertilisers for the land; its oxygen is used as part of many man-made chemicals.

Although our heritage is one of mineral wealth it cannot be fully used until much thought, much skill, much labour, has been spent upon it. These things, then, are the raw materials of industry. How we have used what we have won forms the next chapter in this story of the land of Britain.

Power and Production

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Architects: G. Grenfell Baines and H. J. Reifenberg ◦ Theme Convener: C. J. Whitcombe
Display Designer: Warnett Kennedy and Associates

Our native skills and the minerals of our island made us the first workshop of the world. Industry is now our lifeline.

It was in Britain that the machine age was born. It came from the well-timed union of outstanding discoveries of new sources of power with the mechanical genius that could harness them. Such men as Watt, Faraday and Kelvin had their counterparts in Newcomen, Whitworth, Parsons and many others – practical men who could think through their fingers. Together they gave the world power, illumination and machine manufacture, and they brought the metals fully into the service of man.


The development of power from coal, and from the force of water, is the subject of the Exhibition of Industrial Power in Glasgow. In this Pavilion we are concerned only with the part of the story that shows the conversion of the latent power in coal into energy for factories, cities, farms and homes throughout the land.

A modem power station enshrines the contributions of the masters of the past. On the grates of the boilers the coal is burnt, and steam – the force whose mastery Watt begun – is raised to turn the turbine rotor blades. The turbine is the monument of Parsons, and drives the alternator which, by the undying genius of Faraday, generates electric power.

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But electricity produces light as well as power. Whenever you switch it on, you tap the mind of Faraday.

This country has itself made the pace in developing several sources of light in turn – oil, gas, and then the incandescent lamp which Swan showed first in Newcastle in 1878. Now it is discharge tube lighting that holds the field – a source preferable for many purposes to the incandescent lamp because it produces virtually no shadows and is relatively cold. Such lighting, which was first commonly seen as neon signs in shopping streets, derived from the academic studies of Ramsay and Rayleigh at the turn of the century. Now it is being developed fast to give the nearest substitute we know for daylight.

At first, with improved light it was sufficient of a wonder that such brightness and convenience should be possible. Now it is the practice to study the placing and intensity of the light directly in relation to the men and women working by it. Already we know that improvements in this field have marked effects upon industrial production and in reducing fatigue in the operatives themselves. The basic knowledge now is ours; its application rests with the proper placing of the sources of light and with the right design for fittings.

Metals and man

The British have grown up always with metal in their hands. The very structure of our civilisation is metallic.

How iron is extracted from its ores, and how the metals are alloyed in all variety, was told in the previous Pavilion. How scientists are prying into the inner secrets of the metals structure and using their knowledge more exactly to control their properties, is shown in the Science Exhibition in South Kensington. Here, we are concerned with metal as food for our factories – how large bulks of it are manipulated into smaller shapes so that the engineers can work their will upon it.

The highlights of the story are caught in full-sized coloured photographs. The huge ingot, like a glowing monster sugarloaf, is taken to the cogging mill; and then the process of turning it into useful shapes and sizes begins between giant rollers. Later, the metal is passed on to other shops where, heated again, it may be rolled out into rails or heavy bars, or forged in great machines which do titanic blacksmiths work. It may be extruded through holes and pulled out into rods or wire, or melted and poured off again into moulds of special shape. The results are all materials ready for the engineer to use.

The whereabouts of industry

Our main industries derive directly from our land, so they have grown up where the raw materials lie – iron by the ore-beds of Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, steel near the coal, textiles where the climate is exactly right, and shipbuilding where the coastline favours it. Labour has come and bred beside these works until there are human hives around our industries.

But industry is not just raw materials and work; it is cogged in firmly with the economic system of the world. So, in the past, when there has been material and labour ready there has not always been the call for work. In spite, then, of the peoples need and willingness to labour, in spite of the generosity of the land, these erstwhile hives of industry at times have lapsed into idle, hungry towns-areas of acute distress.

The solution has been in the replanting of the distribution of industry so that new and profitable work is brought to where the people live. The heavy industries must stay tied to the locality of one, at least, of their raw materials. The lighter industries, however, can be located near the great centres of our population, and this is the principle of the planned development in operation here to-day. These lighter industries, being very varied, can be balanced so that useful work is there for all sections of the population.

So, just as parts of our population have sometimes got out of step with each other, sometimes the harmony between the people and the land has developed an ugly period. We are resolving one of these now.

The make-up of industry

The core of industry is, of course, the operative controlling his machine and the craftsman at his bench. The way in which he carries out his job, however, is the result of knowledge and experience directed upon him from a number of special sources.

These sources, in the corporate structure of modern industry, are: research, design, inspection and management.

Research for industry

Many of the outstanding advances in our industry have been due to pure scientific research done for its own sake. This is part of the story in the Dome of Discovery. But, in these days, scientists also play a full-time role in modem industry to solve current problems and to provide fundamental knowledge on which new developments can be built.

A number of industrial concerns have scientific staffs of their own. But so many problems are common to whole industries that so-called Industrial Research Associations have been formed to carry out research for them. There are now 40 of them in the British Isles.

Examples of these Research Associations contribution to industry are taken from the widely different subjects of dyestuffs, footwear, metals and flour.


Everything that is manufactured must first be designed. It is in the drawing office that the idea in the mind of the designer takes visual shape, and all the products of contemporary industry are born. They may be complex, as in a motor car, or relatively simple, like a gas cooker.

But even the design of a simple appliance must be based on research, the designer must know precisely what he has to cater for. In the case of the gas cooker he must know, for example, the height of the average housewife, the sizes of the ordinary range of cooking vessels and the heating value of the gas itself, which must control the design of the burner. As well as all this, the cooker must be easy to clean, have enough space to store baking tins, and it must look as well as possible.

For industrial design to be good it must include – efficiency in use, good appearance, the best use of materials and workmanship, economy in production and ease of maintenance.

Testing ensures quality

Britain still leads the world in quality. This is largely maintained through products being tested at several stages in their manufacture.

20160315 60As a raw material, cotton yarn, for example, is tested for strength, oil for viscosity, and timber for moisture. The various components of a composite finished product must also be tested – cloth for wear, for instance, or radio valves and loudspeakers for full efficiency before they are assembled into the wireless set. Many machines and instruments have been designed in this country to cut out the element of human error in testing.


Although only a few of the components of industry have so far been mentioned, it must be clear that, in so complex an organisation, there must be a nerve centre that co-ordinates the activities of all the parts. This is management. It ensures production efficiency by arranging a smooth flow of materials, fuel, products and man-power. It is responsible for the layout within the factory-the dispositions of plant, lighting, colour and safety. Policy, accounting office routine, marketing, welfare and labour relations are also the responsibilities of management.

The man, the process and the machine

No amount of effort given to research, testing and management, however, can replace the operatives and the craftsmen at the hub of the whole industrial machine. To their work the main hall of this Pavilion is devoted. In layout, it gives the impression of a symbolic factory.

Machines that make machinery

In the metal-working shops are born the machines that serve all the other industries – machines that take a vast number of different forms. Here, three machine tools can be seen at work.

Probably the most familiar machine in any shop is a lathe. A 16-in. general-purpose high-speed lathe is shown here. As a more specialised tool of industry, a boring machine designed and produced in 1950 is displayed. The third example is a gear hobbing machine capable of cutting the teeth of gear wheels from six to sixty inches in diameter. In addition to these three exhibits a number of products of the metalworking industries are shown.

Here, then, are the machines that help to make production machinery, examples of which are shown further down the same hall – plastic-moulding machines, textile machines, machines for packaging, polishing, printing and brush-making.

Six British industries

So far the Power and Production story has passed through various parts of industry. From here the visitor is invited to see how many processes performed in sequence go to make the whole.

For this display six groups of British industries have been selected: woodworking, rubber and plastics, glass, textiles, pottery and the story of paper-making and printing.

Machines at work

In the centre of this Pavilion are a dozen machines, each the most modem of its kind. They are all working, and each comes from a different industry. Together, they show something of the diverse problems which are overcome by British engineers.

Where the craftsmen cannot be replaced

Machines, such as those displayed in the main hall of this Pavilion, make mass-production possible, and mass-production is the target of most industries to-day. But there are some trades where the craftsman cannot be replaced and in many of these the British craftsmen are pre-eminent.

The products speak for themselves in quality, and the world will pay their special price. But there is rare quality also in the motions of the craftsman; to watch him is to see a work of art performed. His tools seem a living prolongation of his hands; his touch responds to the variation in the material he is working. We are proud of these men, they are basic to our way of life, of which machines will never quite take charge. So, for the world to see, in this Pavilion are British craftsmen making silverware, fine instruments, boots and shoes; blowing and cutting glass to capture the colours of the spectrum, hand painting pottery with ceramic colours, making paper for other artists to express themselves upon.


For all its vastness, and the number of lives that keep it in production, industry is not an end in itself. Goods are made for mankind, they must reach the consumer. It is commerce that maintains this flow. Wholesale merchanting, warehousing, transportation, banking and insurance – all these are parts of the world-wide organisation that keeps the shops full of wares. In the creation of all this British contributions have been large – although, in an exhibition of tangible things, they cannot occupy space commensurate with their real importance.

The Pavilion story ends with a showroom of British products. From so great a field of industry it is impossible to show more than a sample – but even the greatest shop cannot display all its wares at once.

Sea and Ships

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Architects: Basil Spence and Partners ◦ Theme Conveners: C. Hamilton Ellis and Nigel Clayton
Display Designers: James Holland and Basil Spence, O.B.E.

Our ancestors came by sea and found here natural havens for their craft. We still live on the sea and by it, using this same coastline as the childbed of our inheritance – the building of ships for the world and for ourselves.

The years before steam

Several nations have had their spell of preeminence at sea. The British tradition has been continuous.

We are proud enough of our great days of sail, but we are prouder still that most of the changes that a growing world demanded were made by our shipwrights and designers. To-day, we still make the pace in the design, construction and operation of ships for every purpose that the modern world requires.

The days of change

About the time that fast sailing ships were reaching their perfection, iron hulls were replacing wood. Sail’s rival in propulsion – the steam engine – was also gaining ground. In 1843, for example, the Great Britain, though built basically as a six-masted sailer, was fitted with a powerful steam engine and a single propeller. The Great Eastern, launched in 1858, and for many years the world’s greatest ship, was equipped with not only engines to drive her propeller but a paddle engine too.

By the late ’70’s steel was replacing iron in the hulls, and new types of machinery made steam propulsion more efficient and reliable. British industry was ready for the change and took the lead at once in building ships of steel.

Modern propulsion

Modern ship propulsion dates from 1897, when Sir Charles Parsons gate-crashed the Diamond Jubilee Naval Review with his experimental ship Turbinia and showed a clean pair of heels to the fastest of the Queen’s ships. This startling demonstration was the first time the performance of the steam turbine had been seen by a large and influential public. From that moment its development was rapid.

A more recent, though not universal, development is the introduction of electric propulsion, whereby the power of high-speed turbines is transmitted electrically to the propellers, which must turn comparatively slowly.

But the development of turbo-electric propulsion could not have happened without simultaneous development in three other fields. One was the change from coal to oil burning. Another was in metallurgical research, which produced materials that can retain their strength at the very high temperatures needed in the turbine. The third improvement has been in gearing. This was made possible by the development of machine tools to the pitch where they could cut metals with an accuracy of a thousandth of an inch.

Continuation of metallurgical and engineering progress such as this is going to establish the marine engine of the future – the combustion, or gas, turbine. Metallurgists have already found the necessary new materials that can retain their strength at the required temperatures, which are far higher than occur within a steam turbine.

The displays of marine propelling machinery in this section also show the rival of the steam turbine – the modern heavy oil engine. This engine is the product of an original invention of Herbert Akroyd Stuart. After a period of development on the Continent, the lead in its design and manufacture came back to Britain, which is still ahead in making the propelling machinery for motor ships.


To look at propellers seem large, simple things, but their design and finish is far from being a simple job. All propellers for big ships are tailor-made for the one hull they must thrust through the water. Every dimension is precisely calculated, and the finish of the propeller, after it has been cast, is precision work.

In the designing of propellers, the pitch of the blade has to be varied along its length since the water does not flow past it uniformly. As no hull is precisely the same as another, these slight variations have to be worked out during trials with scale models in experimental tanks, such as the one demonstrated further on in this Pavilion.

There is still a number of propeller problems to which we do not know the answers. Two of these which are being investigated now are cavitation and “singing”. Cavitation is pitting caused by the attack of sea water. It ruins the precision work done in the finishing shops and cuts down efficiency. “Singing” propellers result from vibration in the blades. This is picked from the water by the hull and gives the ship an irritating sound-effect.

Building a ship

The great business and industry of building ships is shown in the central area of this Pavilion. So complex a story cannot be described in full; but the displays give a series of impressions of the more important events in the birth and growth of a new vessel.

The owners’ needs in cargo or passenger space, speed and economic outlook give the designers the first indication of the dimensions of the ship; but her design, as a robust, well-balanced structure capable of operating on the routes desired, turns out to be a compromise between many more considerations than these.

When working drawings have been produced for every possible part of the ship, the shipyard personnel take over, staying on a high black floor called the “loft”, where the shape of the vessel, full size, is laid down in white lines.

The growth of the ship from this beginning, and the many crafts and skills that bring it about, are summarised here. After some displays of fitting out, the sequence culminates in a summary of modern trends in design.

The ship testing tank

It is accepted practice nowadays for new ships to be constructed first in model form and for their underwater characteristics to be studied (and, if necessary, modified) during trials in an experimental tank.

An 80-foot section of such a tank is included in this Pavilion, and tests will be carried out here with model hulls. The demonstrations of the techniques used have been arranged with the cooperation of the National Physical Laboratory, which has played a leading part in developing this application of science to shipbuilding.

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Harvesting the sea

So far, the displays have been mainly conceded with passenger and cargo ships. Now the story turns to an equally important facet of our maritime life – the sea fisheries.

The methods of this great British industry depend primarily on the habits of the fish themselves. Some, like the herring and mackerel, live and feed near the surface and are caught by drift nets; others, like cod and plaice, live on or near the sea bottom and are caught in trawls. A third group, the halibut, for example, are best fished by means of long lines.

The British fishing grounds have always been expanding and now stretch from the near waters around the coast, through the middle waters of the Faroes to the farthest grounds of Iceland and the Arctic Circle. As the area of fishing has grown, so has the expanse of unprofitable water. Now, to aid the experience and intuition of the skippers, organised scientific research is finding out more and more about the growth, the feeding and the movements of the fish so that their whereabouts and numbers can be predicted with some certainty. Connected with this work are studies of over-fishing the productive grounds so that the stock of fish in North European waters shall be rationally exploited.

Preserving and distributing the catch

Fish is one of the most perishable of foods, and with the lengthening of the sea voyage to the fishing grounds the problem of their preservation begins on board. Science and industry are very alive to the necessity of this, and there has been considerable advance in the methods used in recent years.

An even larger problem is the handling, packing, storage, transport and distribution of the fish ashore, and here, again, are notable improvements worthy of display.

The catches are largely seasonal and their weight may vary daily. It is only by methods of storage that do not detract from quality that this uneven supply can meet a constant demand.

Fishing gear and vessels

This section illustrates how British industry is providing the fisherman with the essentials for his job. As well as improved ships and more efficient gear, the fisherman can now rely also on a wide range of modern equipment for navigation and for the location of fish. Examples of the way he is now served are displayed here.

Special ships for special purposes

Britain is not only pre-eminent in the quality of the ships she builds, but she constructs more ships for specialised purposes than any other nation. This is the theme of the culminating section of this Pavilion.

A bold display of the stems of three very different types of vessel illustrates the variety in result. They are a whale factory ship, a passenger liner and a large tanker for British oil.

The central exhibit is a model of a floating dock, containing a modern liner. Around this are examples of twenty-four different vessels, all specialised for a particular kind of duty.

The great business of operating these and other types of ship is the subject of the Sea section in the neighbouring “Transport” building.


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Architects and Designers: Arcon ◦ Theme Direction: George Williams

It might have been enough if this small island had bred only the pioneers of modern transport by sea; but, in fact, it produced also the pioneers of railways, of aeronautics and, to a large extent, of road vehicles and bridging as well. It is these four methods of travel and transport – rail, road, sea and air – that provide the substance of the four main sections of this Pavilion.

Running like a spinal column through all four floors of the building is the story of communications. Communications are the lifeline of modern transport. For this reason the exhibits showing British contributions to telegraphy, telephony, and all forms of radio are show close to the displays of the transport which they serve.

Rail transport

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Theme Convener: Harold Wyatt

Railways began in Britain. They were our engineers’ answer to one of the challenges of the industrial revolution – the need to transport heavy loads by land.

But, almost at the same time, Britain gave railways to the world. Before the famous “Rocket”, for example, had completed her trials, the “Stourbridge Lion” locomotive was exported to America and put in steam in 1829. British engineers, contractors and navvies built the first railway systems of a number of countries abroad.

As well as creating and holding the lead in building railways and locomotives for export, British engineers founded the locomotive industries of a number of nations. “Buddicom” and “Crampton”, for instance, are names still famous in the French locomotive industry. In Belgium the firm of John Cockerill, one of the greatest engineering undertakings in Europe, can claim British origin. Similarly, the names of Hall, Haswell and Urquhart are well-known in Europe and Russia.

Much of the success of British locomotives abroad has depended on our particular mastery of steam. But our industry is by no means bound by this. One of the firms founded by Robert Stephenson, for example, has just completed a 660 h.p. diesel-electric locomotive for the Tasmanian Government; and this is exhibited in the Pavilion for the summer before it is shipped overseas.

Little seen by the general public, but of great industrial importance, are the small traction units built here for specialised purposes – for instance, flame-proof diesel locomotives for use underground in mines, small works locomotives of many sizes and gauges, and powered inspection trolleys for technical use on the permanent way.

At home, we have abundant evidence that railways are no longer bound to steam. As examples of electrification, the London Underground system and the Southern Region’s extensive suburban services are demonstrated here. An essential part of the achievement of the first of these was British skill in tunnelling, demonstrated in one of the display arches in Hungerford Bridge, behind the “Transport” Pavilion.

Much that was learned in the building of London’s Underground has been put into practice in the unique automatic railway used by the Post Office in London. One of the trains is operating in this section.

Hand in hand with progress in the building of locomotives has gone progress in rolling stock and the permanent way. There is plenty of evidence of this in the Pavilion, notably a new all aluminium-alloy coach, which weighs no more than 23 tons. This has been the result of a great deal of original research and shows a new aspect of uses for such alloys.

The inventor of the railway ticket was an Englishman named Edmondson. His methods for printing and dating it were the beginnings of the system which has culminated in the coin operated, ticket-printing, issuing and change-giving machine of the present day.

But there would be little value in the engineer ing skill in locomotives, rolling stock or the permanent way, without equally advanced signalling systems and train control. Displays of these can be seen on the mezzanine floor.

Road transport

Theme Convener: George Williams

In our country, where a very comprehensive railway system developed before the general application of the internal combustion engine, road transport is, even now, largely complementary to rail. How it dovetails into the railway system is illustrated by the first display in this section – a haulage vehicle at the loading bay of a railway platform. Quick turn-round of rolling stock is an essential to efficient operation, and this largely depends on the success of mechanical handling as between truck and road vehicles. The new pallet system is demonstrated here.

A characteristic of modern British production in commercial vehicles is design for a very great variety of needs. This is illustrated by full-sized and model vehicles displayed on the terraces of this Pavilion. Here, too, are road vehicles propelled by electricity and by the so-called diesel compression-ignition engine, which has grown out of the work of the British engineer Herbert Akroyd Stuart.

Britain claims the largest production of bicycles and motorcycles in the world. These grew from the early cycle, powered versions of which preceded the motor car. Samples of the best of modern production are exhibited near a display of the early history of mechanically propelled vehicles in Britain

In addition to what has been shown of contemporary production of haulage and public transport vehicles, the main contribution of the modern British motor industry has been in the small and economic private car, with ample accommodation, and a small but highly efficient engine. The industry is equally famous for a few luxury private vehicles, but these compete in a different field.

Among these small, economic cars there is a very wide variety of types. For this reason the exhibits in this Pavilion will change frequently to give fair display to all of them. At any one time, however, the visitor will be able to see a light-medium saloon, a medium-large saloon, a convertible, and a typical British sports car.

British roads developed their trends and personalities long before the arrival of the motor car. It is no wonder, then, that this newcomer soon began to cry out for far-reaching changes in them. As an example of what is being done on a wide scale lo meet these modern needs, the new scheme for linking the industrial centres of South Wales with the Midlands is presented in model form. Part of the scheme is a new bridge over the River Severn. The designing of this has been the subject of intensive research at the National Physical Laboratory, a summary of which is here displayed. Around the model of the bridge is acknowledgment of the importance of the work of modern bridge designers and engineers.

Science is playing an increasing part also in road design, construction and traffic control. This will be shown both on the terrace and within the Pavilion. Here, too, are displays of road safety measures.

A car well designed and well produced has a very satisfactory and effortless appearance. But within it is a vast amount of research and engineering skill which has to be seen to be believed. This is made plain on the upper floor of the Road section in this Pavilion, which the visitor can reach by following up the ramp where the modern cars are displayed. The most topical of these is the first private vehicle to be propelled by gas-turbine power.

Here, too, for the enthusiast (and there are many) is a special display of British achievement in motor racing and record breaking.

Air transport

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Theme Convener: Peter Waring

The part played by our engineers and designers in the realisation of transport by air has, at all stages, been a vital one. So far as the immediate present is concerned, our best example is the invention and development of the gas-turbine engine – an immensely important turning point in the history of powered flight. The narrative of the Air Transport section, therefore, begins with the progressive improvements that have been made in prime movers for aircraft. This series of displays culminates in an exhibit which future generations will regard as a great historical treasure – the final version of the first Whittle gas turbine.

Part of the gas-turbine story, which includes the latest turbo-jet and turbo-prop engines, is the essential contribution made by British metallurgists. It was they who evolved the new alloys capable of retaining their strength at the very high temperatures produced in these new engines. More than this, they have played an essential part in the construction of whole aircraft, for it is they who have devised the new light alloys with just those properties that meet the designers ever more exacting requirements.

Most of us, though, come closest to aircraft when we are passengers, and whether we are satisfied with them or not depends largely on the efficiency of the ground organisation which operates them as a transport service. All good organisation appears effortless, but there are a myriad complexities contained and controlled within a large modern airport. Our example is the new London Airport, still under construction 15 miles west of London. The Terminal Buildings here will be grouped on a 50-acre area in the centre of nine main runways. They house the staff and facilities that enable the airport to handle 4,000 passengers and large quantities of freight every hour of the day or night.

An essential part of the ground organisation, and of all aircraft operating, is radio and radar – the research and development of which are largely British. How essential they are to modern air transport will bc appreciated from the displays and demonstrations near the London Airport model.

It has long ceased to be a source of wonder that man can fly in machines heavier than air. The remarkable thing about modern aircraft is their combination of reliability with high performance. This is ensured by extensive research and testing of all vital parts before and during production. For many components, real working conditions are reproduced in wind and smoke tunnels so that their performance can be studied practically as well as theoretically. Our principal aeronautical laboratory is the Royal Aircraft Establishment, which has provided a demonstration to show how an aircraft wing, for example, is tested to destruction.

The greater part of the world knows that in 1940-1 we were fighting alone for our very existence. What it probably does not know is that, even in those never-to-be-forgotten days, our Government calmly set up a committee to advise what types of aircraft this country would need after the war. The result of this is the new range of British aircraft fast coming into commission now. Their character varies with the peculiar requirements of the routes over which they are designed to fly. The aim of all of them is to ensure that reliability, economy and passenger comfort shall be of the highest standard. A large number of models illustrate how this has been achieved.

Aircraft are the most modern vehicles of travel, and their development has been very fast. But, young though they are, they have a history. The principles on which all aircraft fly to-day were first elucidated in Yorkshire, by Cayley, in 1809. The first model aeroplane ever to make a powered flight did so in a lace factory in Somerset, and was built by John Stringfellow in 1848. It was two young Englishmen in 1919 who cut the apron strings that tied aircraft close to land by the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. These are only examples: the story is one of collective and individual achievement, culminating in the great invention with which this narrative began – Whittle’s gas-turbine engine and its progeny.