IN October 1948, the Lord Mayor was notified by the Director General of the Festival of Britain 1951, that it was proposed to organize an Exhibition to visit certain leading Cities and Towns in the United Kingdom during the Festival Season and that Leeds had been chosen as one of the Cities which the organization would like the Exhibition to visit. Leeds was invited to accept the proposal and agree to act as Host to the Exhibition. The letter was considered by the Finance and Parliamentary Committee on 10th November, 1948, and ultimately on the 13th July 1949, the Committee agreed, in principle, to facilities in the City being provided in July 1951 for a “Travelling Exhibition” organized by the Government.
On 14th December 1949, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Parliamentary Committee, together with two representatives each from the Education, Town Planning and Improvements, Libraries and Arts, and Parks Committees, the Leeds Incorporated Chamber of Commerce, the Leeds and District Chamber of Trade, and Leeds Trades Council, were appointed to consider and report as to suggested local arrangements in connection with the Festival. The Leeds Incorporated Chamber of Commerce appointed as their representatives, their President, Alderman Sir George Martin, K.B.E., and their Secretary, Mr. S.J. Batchelder, M.B.E. Mr. Philip S. Hitchen and Mr. H.P. Peacock were appointed to represent the Leeds and District Chamber of Trade.
The Committee held eight meetings and received splendid support from the Chamber of Trades and a number of voluntary organizations in the City. An extensive programme was ultimately approved which included, in addition to the Land Exhibition on Woodhouse Moor, Military and R.A.F. Exhibitions, a Red Cross Exhibition, a Road Safety Exhibition, an Exhibition by the National Savings Committee, British European Airways Exhibition, and an Exhibition illustrating the Development of Fairgrounds through the Ages. All these Exhibitions were located on Woodhouse Moor and were opened by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal on 23rd June 1951.
Other Exhibitions in connection with the Festival which had already been opened included an Exhibition of Chippendale Furniture at Temple Newsam, which was opened by H.R.H. the Princess Royal on 8th June; an Exhibition to illustrate the Life of the Kirkstall Monks at Kirkstall Abbey, which was opened by the Abbot of Mt. St. Bernard Abbey on the 1st May; an Exhibition showing the Victorian Way of Life at the Kirkstall Abbey Museum; an Exhibition of Leeds Pottery at the City Art Gallery; a Festival Book Exhibition at the Central Library, opened by the Lord Mayor on 16th June; an Exhibition of Music Scores at the Town Hall, and an Exhibition showing Incidents in the history of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and Museum at the City Museum
Sunday, 24 June, was observed as “Festival Sunday” when a Civic Service was held in the Leeds Parish Church, the Choir being augmented by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. The Service was attended by the Lord Mayor and City Council together with representatives of the City Justices and the University of Leeds. A Roman Catholic Rally was also held at the Headingley Football Ground on this Sunday.
A Festival of British Music was held in the Town Hall, when seven concerts were given by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mr. Maurice Miles. Four of the orchestra concerts included the following soloists: Harriet Cohen, Jean Pougnet, Colin Horsley, Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick. Two concerts were devoted to British ballet music and British opera; the soloists for the latter being Jennifer Vivyan and James
A Festival of British Music was held in the town hall rortn hall yoen hall hall Town Hall, Johnston, with the West Riding Opera Chorus. At the remaining concert the Leeds Philharmonic Society gave a performance of Elgar’s “Dream of Gerontius” with Marjorie Thomas, Webster Booth and Stanley Clarkson as the soloists.
Three lunch-time concerts were given in the City Museum on successive Wednesday. At the first, the Leeds Guild of Singers under Dr. Melville Cook sang madrigals of the Tudor period. At the second, Stephen Manton, accompanied by Ernest Bradbury, gave a recital of songs by late nineteenth century and contemporary composers, and at the third, the David Adams Piano Quartet gave a concert of chamber music.
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