The Great Exhibition &

the Crystal Palace

Back to Timeline 1851


Crystal Palace









Watercolour of the Crystal Palace dated 1850
by Edward Walker. (Chatsworth House)

The Great Exhibition was staged in 1851, the idea of Prince Albert, as a way to show off everything that was "Great" about Britain and to demonstrate the links it had with the rest of the world as well as to illustrate his wife's position in the Empire.
It was designed to show off all of the country's manufacturing industries. More than six million tickets were sold to the exhibition.



The Crystal Palace, that was designed by Joseph Paxton and built in Kensington to house the exhibition, could cater for up to 100,000 people a day. Profits from the show were used to build the South Kensington museums.  Glass for the Palace was manufactured at Chance's Glass factory in Smethwick, West Midlands, and transported to the capital by canal. When the cargo was unpacked in London not a single pane was broken!

Pot lid on display at the
Gladstone Pottery Museum
in Stoke on Trent, showing
visitors to the Great Exhibition.
pot lid