The Great Expedition of 1851 was one of the greatest events in history. Mankind, on the cusp of the industrial revolution went from man and horse power to machinery and science. It was the greatest change in culture, technology and science in the history of mankind. Queen Victoria, the sovereign whose empire was so vast that the sun never sat upon it, commissioned the Expedition and a huge Crystal Palace was built to house the exhibits. It was in fact, the event of the entire century.
The main aim of The Great Exhibition was for Great Britain to show off, demonstrating its inventiveness and modern industrial designs and ideas to the rest of the world.
The Crystal Palace measured 564 metres by 138 metres and was constructed from thousands panes of glass. After the exhibition, it was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in south London, where it was extended. This area of London is now known as Crystal Palace.
Unfortunately, The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936.
Over 6 million people visited the Great Exhibition. It was a massive success and the money it raised was used to set up the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Over 100,000 objects were on display in The Crystal Palace – half of these were from Britain.
Some of the exhibits included: a massive hydraulic press (designed by Stevenson), a steam hammer, counting machines, carpets, ribbons, printing machines, musical instruments, carriages, early versions of bicycles, agricultural machines, guns and watches.
The famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was on display at the Great Exhibition.
In the centre of the glass building stood a fountain constructed from pink glass. This was 27 feet high.
The Crystal Palace featured the first public toilet cubicles. The inventor of these, George Jennings, charged a penny. This is where the expression ‘spend a penny’ comes from.