It must first be noted that in Brussels the British exhibitors benefited for the first time from a fully official and governmental organisation. The importance and international interest of the British Section was mainly due to this fact, which greatly changed English exhibition methods. The outstanding reputation of the exhibiting houses was also an important factor. One could say that the highlight of the Section was the communities organised by the Chambers of Commerce. There were some quite remarkable communities, groups and sub-groups. For example, the General Mechanical Equipment and Processes Group (classes 19-22); the Home Furnishings and Decoration Subgroups (66), the Furniture Subgroup (69), the Modern Carpets and Tapestries Subgroup (70); the Boots and Shoes Subgroup (86); the large Bradford, Huddersfield and South of Scotland Communities (82, etc.); the Chemical Industry Group (87), and the Ceramics Subgroup (72). There was also a very large community organised by the owners of the coal mines in the north-east of England, which export coal.
Other British industries had often been represented and were still represented in Brussels, but on this occasion the organisation made a point of obtaining as full a representation as possible of national industries.
The Collective Exhibitions, in which a series of pictures were shown illustrating the main phases of the manufacture of woollen yarns and fabrics - from the raw material to the finished garments - were particularly attractive to the crowds of visitors. They were of inestimable educational value.
As for the sub-group of boots and shoes, the supremacy of English manufacture over American competition in this industry was evident.
The Ministry of the Interior had also provided some interesting models and illustrations. These related to the methods and appliances used for the health, safety and rescue of workers in factories and mines.
A Photographic Exhibition arranged under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture drew special attention to the various breeds of horses, cattle, sheep and pigs bred in England.
In the machinery hall there were complete facilities for the manufacture of cotton and linen yarns and fabrics. The machines and machine tools shown in motion had been carefully selected, so that they gave a fair idea of the high standard reached by these industries in Britain.
Needless to say, the compartment reserved for models of warships and merchant ships was unique in the whole Exhibition.
After the fire, England acquired new titles to our admiration, to the admiration of all visitors. The English section in the Festival Hall was also crowded.
Over there, on the other side of the Channel, the misfortune once known in all its radicalness; the merchants informed that nothing remained of their rich installations but ashes; the British Government warned that twisted scrap metal alone represented, in the midst of the charred area, the commercial power of England; as soon as all this was learned, the same feeling rose in the chests: enthusiasm!
Yes, enthusiasm! It seemed that active and lively England, on hearing this news, did not take a second's time to reckon with the tremendous losses; the English people did in this circumstance as a keen, well-balanced, well-muscled man who responds to a blow, instinctively, before he has felt the harm. This was the impression of those who attended the London meetings. The opinion was unanimous: Forward to a new Exhibition! And, in order that we might immediately set to work, to realise this beautiful dream, to see all the productions of Great Britain brought together again, as quickly as possible, the Government took on all the expenses. The gesture is beautiful, useful and instructive, and we think that there are few similar gestures that are so suitable for making known the wealth of a nation, as well as the solidarity of a government with the people who make it powerful.
Within a month England had rebuilt its section. It was a tour de force. It was an enchanter's wand! Great Britain showed itself clear, neat, clean, all in order, adorned with sparkling showcases, rich and numerous, adorned with new and unseen jewels, with its whole world of exhibitors, alert, fresh and correct, as if they had not all just been engaged in incessant labour, and as if they had had plenty of time to rest from the fatigues of victory.
Bravo for England and English energy!
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Bruxelles 1910