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Olympic torch, by Ralph Lavers, 1947

Olympic Torch, Ralph Lavers, 1947, aluminium torch holder, steel burner

Olympic Torch, Ralph Lavers, 1947, aluminium torch holder, steel burner

The lighting of the flame at the opening ceremony marks the start of the Olympic Games. The torches are carried by amateur athletes who each complete a leg bearing the flame on its journey from Olympia in Greece to the Olympic site. The bearers are usually allowed to keep them as a souvenir.

The V&A has recently acquired this torch from the 1948 London Olympics, which is thought to have been used on the Belgium leg of its trip across Europe.
 
The British Olympic Committee wanted the torch to be 'a good example of British craftsmanship' and chose architect Ralph Lavers to design it. Lavers was interested in classical architecture and archaeology and his design was successful enough to be used again for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

The government's Fuel Research Station oversaw practical considerations, such as the cost, materials and fuel. The torches had to be lightweight, as each runner carried them for about one kilometre. They weighed just less than a kilogram and were made from aluminium. The fuel was supplied in tablet form and inserted into a steel burner perforated with holes to protect the flame from strong winds. Each torch had to burn for at least fifteen minutes.

The 1948 London games were the first to follow the Second World War. Much of London was still in ruins, and rationing was still in place. Known as 'the austere games', the Olympics that year were a low key affair compared to the preparations which will precede 2012. Athletes brought their own sandwiches to eat and the British team were instructed to make their own uniforms.

The torch will be a central exhibit in the proposed V&A touring show of Olympic Games posters, which will also feature a special focus on the London 1948 Games.

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Mini LED Torch Keyring

Mini LED Torch Keyring

A mini LED torch, available in black, green or red. Each torch has seven LED bulbs, a great addition to any key ring.   Please note: This item is…

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The Museum of Savage Beauty

The Museum of Savage Beauty interactive web feature explores the hidden stories and craftsmanship behind some of the most remarkable objects made by Alexander McQueen and his creative collaborators. Here the designer's iconic pieces are placed alongside historical objects from the V&A’s collections, which represent some of the many design traditions that inspired him.

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Event - Electro-Woodcraft

Thu 10 September 2015–Sat 12 September 2015

3 DAY DIGITAL WORKSHOP: Design and make Torch Lights using simple tools and craft methods. Bringing together hand-carved wood, 3D printing and electrical lighting components, each participant will design and make their own personal Torch that represents an alternative to industrialised
manufacturing.

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