June 25, 1951 | Filed under:

Nearly 19,000 visit Leeds exhibition

Manchester Festival figures beaten

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Nearly 19,000 people visited the Festival of Britain land travelling exhibition on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds, during the weekend. The total attendance on Saturday was 10,442, and yesterday’s figures were 8,307.

Mr. J. H. Ralph, the advance manager, told a “Yorkshire Post” reporter last night: “We are delighted with the response of the people of Leeds and district.”

The attendance for the first two days, he said, had been substantially higher than on the two opening days of the exhibition’s three weeks’ stay at Manchester last month.

Leeds Festival of Britain celebrations were inaugurated on Saturday by the Princess Royal, when she officially opened the exhibition on Woodhouse Moor.

The city’s programme was described by Mr. Gerald Barry, Director-General of the Festival at a luncheon held later in the Civic Hall, as a model of what a great industrial city could do to mark an occasion of this kind.

“Leeds seems to have caught exactly the right spirit,” he said. “I felt it in the air when I came here about two years ago to talk to the then Lord Mayor and some of his colleagues. This spirit has since developed and strengthened and today has taken shape in flags and bunting and a real Festival air throughout the city.”

Apart from a momentary display of annoyance when their view was obstructed by a traffic block, this spirit was especially marked in the big crowd that assembled to watch the arrival of the Princess Royal at Woodhouse Moor. In the exhibition foyer, where the ceremony took place, representatives of the West Riding County Council, and Lord Mayors and Mayors from 14 Yorkshire cities ad towns were assembled in acknowledgment of the wide appeal of the city’s contribution to the national celebrations.

With them were many other distinguished guests, including military, theological and University representatives, and Members of Parliament.

Nation’s living spirit

The Princess Royal recalled in her speech that the king had seen in this Festival of Britain a symbol of Britain’s abiding courage and vitality. This nation-wide event, she said, 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 an secure in the knowledge that the dark moments of their history had often been noble ones. Trials and tribulations, war, poverty and devastation were powerless to destroy the living spirit of a great nation.

“Everyone has a part to play, though of course this varies in size and importance from those who have created the many beautiful exhibitions and festivals of art, to the men and women working to produce the local celebrations in towns and villages all over the British Isles, and the individual giving hospitality to a visitor in his own home, or offering helpful advice to the stranger asking his way in the street,” added the Princess Royal.

“In a diversity of ways we are exhibiting the skill of our scientists, artists, engineers, designers and craftsmen, and all they have contributed to the well-being of mankind. This Festival proves, if proof were needed, that we have our part to perform among nations now as always, because the values and virtues of democracy are sorely needed in a universe given to violence and extremes.”

Welcoming the Princess Royal, the Lord Mayor of Leeds (Lieut-Colonel F. Eric Tetley) referred to the great scientific developments since the Great Exhibition of 1851 was opened by the Princess Royal’s great grand-mother Queen Victoria.

Lighthearted and gay

Mr. Barry, on behalf of his colleagues, thanked Leeds City Council for “the magnificent co-operation’ the Festival authorities had received from the city. He also congratulated Leeds Festival Committee on the varied programme of events that had been arranged. “As a result of your efforts, the contribution of the city of Leeds to the Festival of Britain as a whole promises to be one of the most striking and outstanding in the country,” he added.

Also in the platform party were : –

The Earl of Scarborough (Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding), Lady Paynter (Lady-in-Waiting to the Princess Royal), the Recorder of Leeds (Mr. G. Raymond Hinchcliffe K.C.), the Lady Mayoress of Leeds (Mrs Tetley), Alderman James Croysdale (Leader of the City Council), The Town Clerk of Leeds (Mr. O. A. Radley), the Bishop of Ripon (Dr G. A. Chase) and Lieut-General Sir Philip M. Balfour (General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command).

Later the Princess Royal toured the exhibition.

At the luncheon on the Civic Hall the Lord Mayor said that although Leeds had been chosen as the site for the travelling exhibition, the intention was that it should serve a much wider area and he hoped visitors would be attracted from many parts of Yorkshire.

Mr. Barry said the organisers of the exhibition had tried, and he thought successfully, to keep it light-hearted and gay. There was something to interest and amuse the children, quite a lot to beguile women visitors, as well as plenty for the more serious students of industrial design.

Alderman Beevers said there had been some dull days in the last three decades, and the time had come when there was a need for a little colour and festivity in our lives. That was the spirit of the Leeds celebrations.

30,000 at rally

Thirty thousand Roman Catholics of the West Riding attended a Festival of Britain rally at Headingley football ground yesterday, and heard the Bishop of Leeds (Mgr. J. G. Heenan) speak on the defiance of the British people in celebrating the Festival in face of gloomy world conditions.

The demonstration began with a long procession from the city centre, three miles from Headingley. It was led by a crossbearer and acolytes and, in Cookridge Street, marched past the Bishop, standing on a dais in front of St Anne’s Cathedral.

When the procession had entered the Headingley ground, the Rev. Dr. G. P. Dwyer told the story of Roman Catholicism in Yorkshire from St. Paulinus through the Reformation and the Restoration of the Hierarchy to the present day.

The arrival of the Bishop was the sign for the start of the tableaux, symbolising the dedication of each church in the city of Leeds, and led by a tableau from St. Anne’s Cathedral, with St. Anne in blue velvet followed by several little angels in white.

The Bishop walked cross the field to an altar built high up in the stand, and the choir sang, “Ecce Sacerdos Magnus” (“Hail great priest”). Pontifical High Mass was sung and the Bishop gave his address.

A civic service

The Lord Mayor of Leeds (Lt.-Col. F. Eric Tetley) read the lesson at a Festival civic service at Leeds Parish Church yesterday morning after leading a procession from the Civic Hall.

Those accompanying him were the Lady Mayoress (Mrs/ Tetley); members of the City Council in their robes; Corporation officials ; Mr. C. R. Morris, Vice-Chancellor, and members of the staff of Leeds University; Mr. G Raymond Hinchcliffe, K.C. (Recorder of Leeds); Mr. O. A. Radley (Town Clerk), and representatives of Leeds Chamber of Commerce.

Canon A. S. Reeve, the Vicar, conducted the service, assisted by the Rev. T. V. Thomas (Precentor), and the second lesson was read by Dr. H. F. Leatherland (Moderator of the Leeds Free Church Federal Council). Dr. Melville Cook, organist and choir-master, conducted the Yorkshire symphony Orchestra.

Canon Reeve said that the civic authorities, in asking for the special service, had shown that they were anxious that the Christian religion should be given its due place in the Festival.