11/08/2022

1864, London UK – Working-class Industrial Exhibitions – North and South London

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1864 London

Name:Working-class Industrial Exhibitions. North London
Dates:Oct 1864
Days:18 days
Venue:North: Islington Agricultural Hall – 6,000 gross sq m (65,000 sq ft)
South: Lambeth
Theme:Democraticise exhibitions and reveal talents in the working class
Exhibitors:
Awards:No financial prizes
Visitors:200,000 (North), entry at 2s 6d or 1s
Legacy:The North London event showed a clear profit of £800

The Smithfield Club was founded in 1798 to hold annual exhibitions of livestock, agricultural produce and agricultural implements. For the first forty years it did this at Smithfield and later near the Barbican.

On 17 Nov 1833 a new cattle market was opened in Islington, then open countryside. A 6ha (15 acre) site was intended to vie with Smithfield’s virtual London monopoly. Despite having invested £100,000 in the venture to establish a capacity to hold 7,000 cattle, 500 calves, 40,000 sheep and lambs and 1,000 pigs, it never quite took off. The Smithfield Club moved in 1839 to Baker Street but soon outgrew this. They decided to erect a hall for their annual show and to host other events.

Royal Agricultural Hall used for a cattle show

In 1861 their plan resulted in the Royal Agricultural Hall at Islington, then one of the largest exhibition halls in the world, today a Grade II listed building. It was home to the Smithfield Show from 1862 to 1938. It hosted the Royal Tournament from its inauguration in 1880 until tits size moved it to Olympia in the early years of the 20th century. From 1949 to 2004 the show was at Earls Court, then it left London for Shepton Mallet, Stoneleigh and Peterborough.

In 1864 there were two shows, entitled Working-class Industrial Exhibitions, the smaller in Lambeth, South London, and the more significant was in North London. Its purpose was to democratise exhibitions, the 1862 London show was considered to have been more about capital than labour.

The event was opened by Earl Russell with perhaps half of its exhibits as paintings, drawings and sculptures and of self-taught handicrafts. Also on show was jewellery, stuffed animals and watches on loan from retailers and traders, making the show title seem something of a misnomer.

Today’s Business Design Centre

The Agricultural Hall became the Business Design Centre in 1986.

Forward to 1864, Lucknow IN – Oudh Industrial Exhibition
Back to 1864, Calcutta IN – First Bengal Agricultural Exhibition
Back to Getting Noticed – Back to VOLUME II Index – Back to bobdenton.com home

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