At the beginning of 1858, the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Trade decided to stage a repeat of the successful 1851 Exhibition. There were many good reasons for holding a new world exhibition. The Parisian “revenge for 1851” had successfully proved in 1855 that it was possible to repeat a show for the entire world. Numerous smaller industrial exhibitions, for example in Dublin, Manchester and Florence, demonstrated new technological developments in specific areas of industry. Since 1851, heavy industry for example, in particular steel production, had made enormous advances. The more economic and efficient use of steam engines for railways and ships led to major savings in energy. In the chemicals sector, the discovery of aniline had led to the revolutionising of the dyestuffs and drugs industry. In communications, telegraphy had begun its triumphant march, and photography, which in 1851 had still been very much in its infancy, had in the meantime gained universal respect as a graphic medium. Thus it was time once again to exhibit to a large audience the technological progress that had been achieved in all spheres.
Originally, the World Exhibition was to have taken place in 1861. Planning for it had been started in 1858; the plan was quickly taken up in the leading industrial circles and also met with great interest from the commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition. At the end of the same year, they were asked for their assistance by the Royal Society of Arts. However, the Italian War of Independence, which had broken out in 1859, almost brought the preparations to a complete halt. Nobody in London could imagine that, in the midst of this crisis, it would be possible to find sufficient foreign exhibitors. However, a further promotional campaign, started towards the end of the year, got things moving once again. The commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition were asked to make available part of the land – which was under their administration – of the Royal Horticultural Society in South Kensington. In March 1860, after a surety of £250,000 had been collected by subscription, a decree was enacted by the Queen granting adequate powers to the organisers. The Bank of England made available credit of £250,000 for the purpose of erecting the Industry Palace.
On 14 February 1861, by means of an act of incorporation, Queen Victoria appointed a commission for the second Industry Competition for all Nations in London. Her husband, Prince Albert, who, in 1851, had already made a crucial contribution to the staging of the Exhibition, was unable to commit himself as much as he would have liked to the new exhibition due to health problems. A new president of the commission was appointed, Earl Granville, who had also participated in the organisation of the 1851 Exhibition. The other members were Sir Wentworth Dilke, who had also participated in 1851, Thomas Baring, a member of parliament, William Fairbairn, the founder of the British Society for the Promotion of the Sciences, and the president of the London Railway Company, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.
The actual preparatory work finally began in March 1861. The plan to hold the World Exhibition was officially announced and invitations were sent to other countries. On 9 March 1861, surveying of the ground started, and, at the beginning of April 1861, the foundation stone was laid and construction began. Although the Royal Commission had very little time for planning and co-ordination, the Second Industrial Exhibition opened in London on schedule on Thursday 1 May, 1862.
|Year: 1862||City: London||Country: Great Britain|
|Duration: 1st May - 1st November 1862|