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British Industrial History

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1862 London Exhibition

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From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
From the 1862 London Exhibition Catalogue
1862. Courtesy of

The 1862 London Exhibition or the International of 1862 was the successor to the 1851 Great Exhibition .

The Event

The Exhibition was held from May 1 to November 1, 1862, beside the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, South Kensington on a site that now houses museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum (London).

The exposition was sponsored by the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Trade, and featured over 28,000 exhibitors from 36 countries, representing a wide range of industry, technology, and the arts. All told, it attracted about 6.1 million visitors. Receipts (£459,632) were slightly above cost (£458,842), leaving a total profit of £790.

It was housed on 23 acres (9 hectares) of land, within a special building designed by Captain Francis Fowke (1823-1865) and built by Charles and Thomas Lucas and Sir John Kelk at a cost of £300,000 covered by profits from the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building consisted of a main structure with two adjoining wings set at right angles for machinery and agricultural equipment; the wings were demolished after the Exhibition. Its main facade along Cromwell Road was 1152 feet (351 m) in length, and ornamented by two crystal domes, each of which was 260 feet (79 m) high. Although they were then the two largest domes in the world, their effect was distinctly unimpressive, and they were derided as "colossal soup bowls" and "a national disgrace." The building as a whole was termed "a wretched shed" by The Art Journal.

The organizers succeeded in assembling and displaying more exhibits by more exhibitors from more participating countries than had ever been attempted before. Some 29,000 exhibitors representing 37 countries participated, a truly staggering number which would have been substantially higher if the USA had not been preoccupied with the Civil War. This eclipsed the scale of the 1855 Paris event by a comfortable margin. Over 9,000 of the participating exhibitors came from Britain alone, together with a further 2,600 from the British Colonies.

In the side annexes of the exhibition building, visitors were offered machinery pure and unadulterated. The halls were simple wood and glass constructions, and the machines had no need of ornate décor or cooling fountains. Machines weighing as much as 35 tons were on display, in contrast to 1851, when none of the machines on display had weighed more than 9 tons. The steel industry, in particular, had undergone enormous innovative progress. Since the invention of the Bessemer process, which meant that steel could be produced faster and in larger quantities, the production quality of boilers, bridge girders and cannon had been taken to new heights. Henry Bessemer’s patented process was made much of at the World Exhibition. Friedrich Krupp from Essen, however, did not have to rely on this form of propaganda - he had already set up his first Bessemer furnace a few weeks earlier.

By the close of the Exhibition, some 6.1 million visitors had passed through the Exhibition doors, just topping the mark set in 1851 and also beating the attendance of the Paris event of 1855 quite comfortably.


See 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue

After the 1862 Exhibition.

Each year from 1871 to 1874 an Annual International Exhibition was held in London, England. These followed on from the 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations and the 1862 International Exhibition in London, and the many international exhibitions which had been held in various countries since 1851.[1]

Books in the SMC Library

  • Official Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition 1862 (Volumes 1 & 2)

See Also


Sources of Information