June 23, 1951 | Filed under:

Six-deep crowds line route: colourful scene at exhibition ceremony




WOODHOUSE MOOR, LEEDS, became alive with the spirit of the Festival of Britain to-day when the Princess Royal opened the Travelling Exhibition. Thousands of people lined Woodhouse-lane, five and six deep, and saw the Princess Royal arrive, to be greeted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Lieut.-Colonel F. Eric Tetley, wearing his civic robes of scarlet and ermine.

The Princess Royal, with the Lord Mayor, walked down an avenue of Union Jacks, skirted by newly-made lawns. Bunting of rainbow colours formed a background and overcame the dullness of the skies.

In the mauve-lined entrance hall, they were met by leaders of Leeds civic life, by the Lord Mayor and Mayors of Yorkshire cities and towns, and by representatives of the service organisations.

The Princess Royal, wearing a light-fawn-dress, with a light coat of similar colour, and a fawn straw hat decorated with a net, recalled in her speech that the King had described the Festival as a symbol of Britain’s abiding courage and vitality.

“This nation-wide event must be seen as a magnificent gesture of fortitude and determination by a people who had put pessimism aside, a people aware of their tremendous past and secure in the knowledge that the dark moments in their history had often been noble ones, and that trials and tribulations, war, poverty, devastation, are powerless to destroy the living spirit of a great nation.” she said.

“Like the air you breathe, the Festival spirit is all around you, and you yourself are part of it,”

Sorely needed

“This Festival proves, if proof were

needed, that we have our part to perform among the nations, now as always, because the values and virtues of democracy are sorely needed in a universe given to violence and extremes,” she continued.

“The Festival is a great united effort, not confined to exhibitions, an effort in which every feature of our natural life is displayed to the fullest extent.”

The Princess Royal suggested that people should buy a well-chosen souvenir and keep it safely, so that people in the year 2051 could see what our workmanship and ideas were like in 1951.

“Let us hope and pray that in 2051 it will be said that the great exhibition of 1951 commenced an era of lasting peace and prosperity throughout the world.”

Queen Victoria

The Princess Royal also declared open the supporting exhibition by the Army and R.A.F., the Order of St. John and British Red Cross, the Safety First Council, the National Savings Committee, British European Airways Corporation, and Leeds Parks Committee. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, recalling that the Great Exhibition of 1851 was opened by the Princess Royal’s great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, said, “Across the road there is a statue erected in the memory of our great Queen Victoria, and it would seem right to say that, looking as she does across to this

exhibition, she would be amazed at the differences brought to our notice here compared with what she gazed upon 100 years ago at that great exhibition.”

This exhibition showed examples of science and of every feature of our life developed to an extra-ordinary extent. Although science lately had had dealt with particularly with destructive invention, from it was being learnt a great deal for the good of mankind in the future.

Sir Gerald Barry, director-general of the Festival of Britain , thanked the Princess Royal for opening the exhibition and said the contribution of Leeds to the Festival promised to be one of the most striking and outstanding in the country. It did great credit to the civic enterprise of Leeds.

The platform party at the exhibition opening ceremony included the Earl and Countess of Scarborough, Lady Paynter ( lady-in-waiting to the Princess Royal), the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Ald. James Croysdale (leader of Leeds City Council), Ald. David Beevers (leader of the Labour group on Leeds City Council), Mr. O. A. Radley (Town Clerk), The Bishop of Ripon (Dr. G. A. Chase), Lieut.-General Sir Philip M. Balfour, G.O.C.-in-C. Northern Command, and Sir Gerald Barry. At a luncheon in Leeds Civic Hall later, the Lord Mayor handed the Princess Royal a Victorian posy which he de-

scribed as being in the “1951 style.” Leeds, he said, was proud to be chosen as one of the sites of the Travelling Exhibition.

Mr Barry said that over the whole of Britain there were something like 2,000 places doing something towards the Festival this summer on their own account, although officially there were only 30 Festival centres.

This was a remarkable thing. The South Bank Exhibition was talked of as the centre piece of the Festival, but the events right over the country were the back-bone and were what mattered most.

It was hoped the festival would serve as a tonic to the British people and set them on their task refreshed.

“When half the world is forced to live behind a curtain of secrecy, Britain is opening the her doors wide to visitors from abroad.”

By three o’clock – after being open to the public for two hours – 2,284 people had visited the exhibition.

The travelling exhibition was reviewed in detail in the Y. E. News yesterday.

Hundreds of people to-day watched an impressive march by Territorial Army units from Regent-street to the Town Hall, where the Earl of Scarborough took the salute.

Other events

Below is a time-table of other events to-day : –

7 p.m. Donna Roma Ballet, Kirkstall Park; Concert parties, Roundhay Park; Leeds Amateur Operatic Society’s “Merrie England,” Temple Newsam.
7.30 p.m – Leeds College of Music in “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
7.0 – Parachute jumping, Roundhay Park.
7.30 – Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and Harriet Cohen, Town Hall; open-air dancing, Woodhouse moor.
10.30 – Fireworks display, Roundhay Park.