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On this day... (3rd May)

On the 3rd of May 1951 the Festival of Britain was opened by King George VI at the footsteps of St Paul's Cathedral. This was one of the last major public events attended by the Royal couple.

The Royal Festival Hall, the Dome of Discovery as well as the iconic Skylon were also opened then, changing the face of South Bank and Waterloo to this very day.

Our home, St John's Waterloo, was rededicated just a week before by the Bishop of Southwark in the presence of Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II. Along with the Royal Festival Hall, it's one of the few remaining South Bank buildings from the Festival.

Peter Jefferson Smith writes: "Until the end of September, from Tuesday to Saturday, visiting church choirs from all over the country sang Evensong at St John’s. There were also lunch-time addresses (not well attended), Thursday evening music recitals, and on Saturday evenings community hymn singing, for which the church was filled to capacity. It had been planned to perform Christopher Fry’s A Sleep of Prisoners, but the venue proved unsuitable, and instead there were performances of Everyman and excepts from Dorothy Sayers’ A Man Born to be King. In those five months, 75-80,000 people visited St John’s (...) St John’s could be restored in 1951 because of the needs of the Festival. Scarcity of materials meant that many other churches had to wait. For another eight years, the congregations of St Andrew’s and St Thomas’ worshipped in a schoolroom and a hall."

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