The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations - London 1851

Industry of all Nations

May 1, 1851 - October 11, 1851


After several national and industrial exhibitions, a commission headed by Henry Cole proposed to Prince Albert that this time an international exhibition should be organised, on the pretext that it could bring much to the country.

At first, the Prince was sceptical, but when the Ministry of Commerce expressed its wish to see such an exhibition, the Prince did not hesitate for a second.

Together with Henry Cole, they decided that the exhibition would be held in one large building, the location of which (recommended by Queen Victoria) was Hyde Park.

But to build such a building, committees were set up to deal with the financing and organisation. The funding was provided by the Royal Society, which raised the necessary funds through a public subscription.

For the construction of the building, a committee met to consider 254 proposals and all were rejected.
Joseph Paxton (a landscape architect) proposed a design in early May 1850 that differed from the others in its lightness of structure, reasonable cost, modularity and ease of movement.
This iron and glass building (inspired by the great greenhouses) made it possible to preserve the great hundred-year-old trees of Hyde Park so dear to Queen Victoria's heart, which finally convinced the committee and was christened "Crystal Palace".

It took only 6 months (August 1850 - January 1851) for the London contractor Fox & Henderson to construct such a building.
The exhibition was inaugurated on 1 May 1851 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who gave a speech in the nave of the Crystal Palace, where 25,000 spectators were present.

This first World's Fair allowed England to consolidate its industrial supremacy, and was so successful that it even generated some profits.