Six hundred years ago Coventry ranked fourth among England's cities in size and importance and at its heart still stands reminders of that golden age - one of the country's finest mediaeval guildhalls, almshouses and monastic foundations, timber framed shops and pubs and the two great central churches of Holy Trinity and St Michael's, the famous ruined cathedral. The medieval street pattern that framed these startling buildings was already beginning to disappear, even before Hitler's bombers turned the old city into dust. And now the post war city centre that replaced it, with its pioneering pedestrian precincts and contemporary cityscapes, is changing again.
Conceived by prince Albert, the Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park in London in the specially constructed Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was originally designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in only 10 days and was a huge iron goliath with over a million feet of glass. It was important that the building used to showcase these achievements be grandiose and innovative. Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by over 6,200,000 visitors to the exhibition. The millions of visitors that journeyed to the Great Exhibition of 1851 marveled at the industrial revolution that was propelling Britain into the greatest power of the time. Among the 13,000 exhibits from all around the world were the Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, tools, kitchen appliances, steel-making displays and a reaping machine from the United States. The objects on display came from all parts of the world, including India and the countries with recent white settlements, such as Australia and New Zealand, that constituted the new empire. Many of the visitors who flocked to London came from European cities. The profits from the event allowed for the foundation of public works such as the Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This "bigger and better" building was divided into a series of courts depicting the history of art and architecture from ancient Egypt through the Renaissance, as well as exhibits from industry and the natural world. Major concerts were held in the Palace's huge arched Centre Transept, which also contained the world's largest organ. The Centre Transept also housed a circus and was the scene of daring feats by world famous acts such as the tightrope walker Blondin. National exhibitions were also staged within its glass and iron walls, including the world's first aeronautical exhibition (held in 1868) and the first national motor show, plus cat shows, dog shows, pigeon shows, honey, flower and other shows.
After the Great Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in South London and reconstructed in what was, in effect, a 200 acre Victorian theme park. The new Crystal Palace park at Sydenham was opened by Queen Victoria on June 10th, 1854.
In 1911, the year of King George V's coronation, the Crystal Palace was home to the Festival of Empire. Three-quarter size models of the parliament buildings of Empire and Commonwealth countries were erected in the grounds to contain exhibits of each country's products.
The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, stands on the site where Edward the Confessor had the original palace built in the first half of the eleventh century. In 1547 the royal residence was moved to Whitehall Palace, but the Lords continued to meet at Westminster, while the commons met in St. Stephen’s Chapel. Ever since these early times, the Palace of Westminster has been home to the English Parliament.
In 1834 a fire broke out which destroyed much of the old palace, all that remained was the chapel crypt, The Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall. It was Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, who saved the great hall by arranging for the fire engines to be brought right into the hall and personally supervising the fire fighting operation.
The magnificent Gothic Revival masterpiece you see today was built between 1840 and 1888, this was the work of Charles Barry who designed the buildings to blend with nearby Westminster Abbey. The two imposing towers, well known landmarks in London, are the clock tower, named after it’s thirteen ton bell called Big Ben, and Victoria tower, on who’s flag pole the Union Jack flies when parliament is sitting. Much of the Victorian detail of the interior was the work of Barry’s assistant Augustus Pugin.
Tower Bridge is one of the world’s most famous bridges. 150,000 vehicles cross it every day. Over 900 times a year the roadway parts and lifts to let tall ships, cruise liners and other large craft pass through.
Tower Bridge was completed in 1894, after 8 years of construction.
In the late nineteenth century the prospering seaside town of Blackpool set about the building of a huge, grand and visionary complex across four and a half acres of its most valuable estate.
Blackpool's Wintergardens was officially opened to the public on July 11th 1878. However, an open-air skating rink was built first in 1876. This was later transformed into Newsome's Circus. For the two years before the fabulous Empress Ballroom was created and opened in 1897 this part of the complex housed Noah's Ark - an entertaining collection of performing animals, birds and reptiles!
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