Category:National and international exhibitions

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Before World War Two, in a time before the internet (or even colour television), one of the major ways that companies would reach audiences in order to show off their latest and most exciting products was through a rash of national exhibitions that flourished in the UK between the start of the century and the end of the 1930s. These national exhibitions were a way of modelling the architecture, engineering and culture of a country in miniature, and were designed to boost a nation's profile and encourage exports, as well as providing a place where businesses' representatives could meet, and acting as tourist attraction in their own right. The main funding for the exhibitions was the public ticket sales.

These exhibitions were partly inspired by Victoria and Albert's The Great Exhibition of 1851, and were encouraged by the ongoing series of successful exhibitions abroad, such as the 1900 Paris Exhibition at which W.J. Bassett-Lowke first made contact with Bing.

Post-war, the British government had a major push to try to raise national morale with the Festival of Britain (1951).

In 2000, the government attempted to recapture some of this excitement with The Millennium Experience (2000), which was widely perceived as a flop.

As of 2015, a number of long-running and historically important yearly exhibitions such as the Model Engineer Exhibition and the Ideal Home Exhibition are still running.


This craze for using exhibitions as a major commercial communications medium was good news for Bassett-Lowke Ltd. and other model-making companies, whose network of modelmakers fluent in using a range of materials meant that they were ideally placed to capitalise on companies' desires to have something that they could put on show. While companies that produced cars or home furnishings could easily show off their actual products (contributing to the success of the Ideal Home Exhibition), railway companies couldn't easily show off their latest locomotives, shipping companies couldn't show off their new ships, and rebuilding projects couldn't show off their architecture and layouts for real – this is where Bassett-Lowke in particular could offer a one-stop service to produce almost any type of exhibition model, often through their specialist offshoot Twining Models..

Major national and international exhibitions, incomplete listing

  • The Great Exhibition (1851)
  • Franco-British Exhibition (1908)
  • Imperial Services Exhibition (1913) (introduced BL waterline ships properly)
  • British Empire Exhibition (1924)
  • British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow (1938)
  • British Exhibition
  • Model Engineer Exhibition
  • Ideal Home Exhibition
  • Festival of Britain (1951)
  • Millennium Experience


  • 1933-34 – Chicago World Fair: "A Century of Progress"
  • 1939-40 – New York World's Fair


This category has the following 11 subcategories, out of 11 total.

Media in category ‘National and international exhibitions’

The following 28 files are in this category, out of 28 total.