The Great Exhibition Of 1851 Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

This essay will discuss how The Great Exhibition of 1851 symbolised a moment of profound change in Victorian Britain. It will look at how British industry helped toward the success of the Exhibition, in form of the Railway and how in turn the Exhibition would also helped improve British industrialization. It will also examine the effect it would have on uniting the British public after the unsettled period of the 1840's and the emergence of the Police force who were expected to be tested by the mass amount of visitors and possible uprising.The Great Exhibition was an international exhibit that took place in Hyde Park, London, from May to October 1851. The exhibit was held in a purpose built structure that was dubbed The Crystal Palace. By the time its doors closed to the general public it is estimated that six million people had passed through its gates. This total would include one quarter of the UK population, as well as visitors from over Europe and even America. Organized by Henry Cole with the backing of Prince Albert, built by Joseph Paxton and regularly visited by Queen Victoria, the Crystal Palace is considered to have been a symbol of Utilitarianism, Industrialization, Modernity and Social change.In order to understand why the Great Exhibition was seen as this symbol of change in Britian, it is important to consider what was showcased in the exhibition. As Jeremy Black suggests, Britiain was in search of a new identity. At the time there was debate amongst the public whether or not Industrialization was a positive thing, if Britain should build its future on this or stick to its agricultural roots .Emsley suggests that the Palace may have been born in response to a time when the country seemed to need a new sense of purpose and social cohesion, particularly after the chartist uprisings of the "hungry 40's." An argument that seems to be backed by Jeffery Auerbach who tells us that the objective of the exhibition was to "to furnish a stimulus to talent and enterprise; to provide manufacturers, artisans and mechanics to British industry and trade...and to promote social and international harmony." Inside the Palace there would be many exhibits of industry from all over the world, gathered to inspire the British public and shape a society that was receptive to industrialization. Industry was suggestively the main showcase in the Palace and the building itself was a great representation of this. It covered 18 acres of land and was considered a wonder of modern architecture from the design to the manufacturing process.Although there had been early ideas of the Exhibition being a place of recreation it would in fact advertise what could be called the dawn of consumerism. Gurney highlights the thoughts of Bellows who believed that the Exhibition created a scheme of wants by displaying the ingenious methods of supplying them, that the world would become great consumers, therefore the world must be ready to become great producers. Arts were...

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