Travelling to the Great Exhibition
A description of the crowds that came to see the Great Exhibiton, and description of a visit as a momentous occasion for any family.
'Enormous excursion trains daily poured their thousands into the city... Throughout the season... it was like.., a gigantic picnic... large numbers of work people received holidays for the purpose... 800 agricultural labourers in their peasants attire from Surrey and Sussex conducted by their clergy at a cost of two and twopence each person - numerous firms in the north sent their people who must have been gratified by the sight of their own handiwork - an agricultural implement worker in Suffolk sent his people in two hired vessels provided with sleeping berths, cooking apparatus and every comfort.'
From 'The Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts' by Charles Tomlinson, London, 1852
"It was decided that when Mr Blandydash went to the Great Exhibition, Mrs Blandydash should go with him. And then all the objections, and apprehensions she had of dangers, vanished like the vapour before the sun... The News of the World was borrowed every Saturday night, and the first thing hunted for, was the article on 'The Great Exhibition' and she read this to her beloved Barnabas...
But then, the next consideration was how should they go. Mr Blandydash and family were in very humble circumstances in life... They would, therefore, travel to London in their pony and cart... and as the distance was only seventy miles, it would be hard if they could not do it in a couple of days; then, if they allowed themselves a week for their trip, they would have two days to go, and two days to be in London, and two days to come back. Miss Leonora seemed to have an inclination to go by the rail; but her papa overruled it by saying that he had one wooden leg, and he did not wish to come back with another. Railways might do very well for people, who, like Turks, believed in fatalism; but for those who wished to take care of their bones and live as long as they could, they would never do.
The morning arrived on which they were to commence this long talked of excursion. [The journey took them three days]... They were now within a stone's throw of the great, grand, and beautiful Hyde Park... And as they now entered the confines of the park, they very soon saw [the Crystal Palace's] majestic head towering up among the trees, sparkling in the rays of the sun, like the sea by moonlight, the banners of all nations floating on top of it.
There it is, there it is', said Mr B, 'and I mean to say as it does great honour to the mighty Prince Albert who invented it... That's the sort of thing, my dear, to take the shine out of all the foreign kings and empires, popes and nabobs.'"'
From 'The trip to the Great Exhibition of the Blandydash family' by Mr Banks, London, 1851.
Houlston and Stoneman, Paternoster Row, 1851 (NAL EX.1851.216)