#Festivalcast: Walking the Festival

An audio-tour of the South Bank site as it looked at the Festival of Britain of 1951. Led by Alan Powers and Elain Harwood, of the Twentieth Century Society, and accompanied by Nick Rampley, former Vice-Principal at Morley College, and Euchar Gravina, Artistic Director at Waterloo Festival.

Festivalcast, the Waterloo Festival's podcast series, is brought to you by Morley Radio.

You can follow the audio-tour on site (or from the comfort of your phone/device) by using the map and route below. For a larger version, follow this link. Press on the yellow numbers for information, as relayed over the audio-tour.

Scroll further down on this page for images and videos from 1951.


With thanks to the Twentieth Century Society for the provision of images.

The South Bank site, 1951. The audio-tour starts just underneath the Shell Centre, which is where "1 The Land of Britain" is shown on the map above.

Waterloo Station in the background.

Images of the site, including the open spaces, promenades and the concourse.

The Dome of Discovery.

Fountains, with views of Whitehall and Westminster.

The Skylon.

The Royal Festival Hall and the Shot Tower.

Images of the Pavillions, including The Land of Britain, The People of Britain,The Lion and the Unicorn, The New Schools and Mining.

York Road Screen.


All these videos are available online through third-sources.

Sound Archives

If you’re interested in listening to some of the people mentioned in the podcast, you can follow this link (https://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history/Architects-Lives) and search for the interviews with Hugh Casson, H. T. Cadbury-Brown, Michael Grice, Mary Banham (tape 10), Trevor Dannatt, Leonard Manasseh, Peter Shepheard (tape 16).


Alan Powers specialises in the study of art, architecture and design in Britain in the middle years of the twentieth century, teaching, writing and playing an active role in conservation. He teaches at the University of Kent and is History Leader at the London School of Architecture. A founding member of the Thirties Society in 1979, he became its first honorary casework officer and later led its name change to the Twentieth Century Society. He was Chairman 2007-12, and continues to play a role in events, casework and publications. Alan leads tour groups for ACE Tours and lectures widely. His most recent books are Bauhaus Goes West (2019) and Abbatt Toys (2020).

Elain Harwood is a senior architectural investigator with Historic England who completed a PhD on London’s South Bank at the University of Bristol in 2010. A book for the Twentieth Century Society, Mid-Century Britain, will be published in October 2021, following Art Deco Britain in 2019 and Space, Hope and Brutalism in 2015, which won the Art Book Prize.

Nick Rampley is a member of the Board of WeAreWaterloo and a trustee of several charities that support and promote music and the arts. He is currently pursuing a MA in Public Histories at Birkbeck College, University of London with a particular interest in the role of the arts in post second world war recovery.”


This podcast is brought to you in collaboration with the Twentieth Century Society and Morley Radio (at Morley College London).

The Twentieth Century Society has been campaigning for buildings after 1914 for over 40 years. In the course of this, it has had a lot of involvement with the South Bank buildings, Royal Festival Hall, and the QEH and Hayward complex. But this is only a small part of what C20 does as a voluntary organisation all over England and Wales. They hold an exciting events programme of talks and walks, currently online. They also have a wonderful journal about the Festival of Britain as one of its many publications, all currently at a bargain discount prize. C20 is supported by a membership. More information at: www.c20society.org.uk

Morley College London is the capital’s largest adult educator, with campuses on both sides of the Thames. Our Waterloo Centre is founded on over 130 years of history of transforming the lives of Londoners through education. We deliver a vast range of specialist short courses in the arts, social sciences and more, as well as courses that lead to qualifications including some at degree-level. We are proud too of our contribution to the cultural fabric of the area through our extensive range of lectures, concerts, workshops, and exhibitions. The Centre has recently benefited from major works improving accessibility to our foyer and student support services; the current phase of works will culminate in the summer with the reopening of the Morley Gallery after more than year of refurbishments. More information at: http://morleycollege.ac.uk/