Festival of Britain Land Travelling exhibition, 1951Continuing our celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, new resources have been added to our Document Library and Flickr set from the archive of designer H A (Arnold) Rothholz, relating to the Festival’s Land Travelling Exhibition.  The new resources comprise a press release from the Festival of Britain office and a set of photographs of the People At Work section.

The Land Travelling Exhibition was a mobile component of the Festival, travelling to Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham, chosen because they were considered the four main inland centres of industry.  Comprising about 5,000 exhibits, transported in 100 lorries, the exhibition aimed to depict ‘the story of the British People and their environment, their way of living, and their achievements in technology and industrial design’.  The Guardian, in an evocative account of the opening day, described it as ‘a series of magnificent shop windows, the bringing to life of a day-dream from the very best glossy magazines. It is informative, imaginative, in parts strikingly beautiful, and always – excessively, some people may feel – elegant.’ Designer Arnold Rothholz, whose archive is held at the Design Archives was commissioned to design the ‘People at Work’ section, which presented the gas turbine jet aircraft to demonstrate ‘the immense vigour of British industry’.

At the time of the Festival, Rothholz had been working as a designer for about ten years, having left Nazi Germany as a teenager and studied commercial design at the renowned Reimann School in London, itself an émigré from Nazi Germany. After working primarily in two-dimensions through the 1940s, including poster commissions for the Post Office and the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, the Land Travelling Exhibition was an important opportunity for Rothholz to develop his work in three dimensions and reach new audiences.  Papers elsewhere in the archive indicate a committed level of technological research, including correspondence with Sir Frank Whittle, generally credited as the inventor of the turbojet engine.

Among the other collaborating designers, who were led by Richard Lewin, was Natasha Kroll, whose archive is also held at the Design Archives as are those of other Festival of Britain designers including FHK Henrion and James Gardner.

See also:

Hub feature on Rothholz https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/features/rothholz/

The Guardian review: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/may/04/festival-of-britain-travelling-exhibition-1951