Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The 31st October was appointed the last day when the Local Committees were required to transmit to the Executive Committee the demands for space which intending exhibitors had made through them.

It then appeared that the whole of the demands for horizontal (floor and counter) *2Seedlhe P08

* i # ... Bible allowance.

space in the building which the Local Committees of the United Kingdom returned, exceeded 417,000 superficial feet of exhibiting space, being in excess of the amount of available space for the United Kingdom by about 210,000 superficial feet. The amount of vertical or wall space demanded was only 200,000 superficial feet. The number of persons who proposed to exhibit was upwards of 8,200. Upon the receipt of these data the Commissioners proceeded to adjust the proportions of floor or counter space which it appeared desirable that the four sections of the Exhibition should occupy in the Building. Upon averages, furnished by the whole of the United Kingdom, and obtained by dividing the total amount of space apportioned to each section by the number of exhibitors in that section, the Commissioners, as a general rule, allotted to each Local Committee an amount of space in each section, in proportion to the number of exhibitors which had been returned by each Committee. The Commissioners left the allotment of space to each exhibitor absolutely to the discretion of each Local Committee. They desired that each Local Committee, in allotting space to the individual exhibitors, should, as far as possible, maintain the proportions of the four sections allotted to it, so that in the ultimate arrangement of the whole Exhibition, the space which each section might occupy, should agree as closely as was possible with the spaces fixed by the Commissioners. It was suggested that only those articles which did honour to our industrial skill as a nation should be admitted, and that the industry of the district should be represented with perfect fairness, so as to do the fullest credit to its industrial position.

The Commissioners then proceeded to cause copies of each individual appli- Reduction orders , -ii T i rr r n»ndi for ipmee.

cation for space to be transmitted to the respective Local Committees for revision and correction where necessary, which, when returned by the Committees, were considered as the vouchers for the admission of the articles, and as tantamount to their unqualified approbation of the articles. In no case could a Local Committee increase the amount of the total space allotted to it by the Commissioners. The Commissioners appointed the 10th December, as the last day on which vouchers were to be received, but it was not until the 10th January, and even much later in some cases, that the Executive Committee obtained the whole of them, by which their labours were considerably increased, and the arrangements delayed.

If any productions had been rejected by any Local Committee, and the pro- Appeals, prietor of them desired to appeal against the decision, it was competent for him to address the Commissioners through the Local Committee, who forwarded the appeal, with their own observations, and the Commissioners, upon consideration of the circumstances, confirmed or negatived the decision. The appeals, however, were few.

With the view of providing against the exhibition of duplicate articles of manufacture, the Commissioners, in cases where duplicates might have been admitted by different Local Committees, intimated that they would call upon the exhibitors of such duplicates to produce a certificate from the actual makers, stating which of the exhibitors had arranged with the maker to be proprietor of the absolute and exclusive right of sale and distribution of such article, and the preference of admission would be given to that exhibitor who was the sole proprietor. The Commissioners were not called upon to exercise this power in a single instance.

Metroroib. Although several Local Committees were formed in the Metropolis, the func

tions of rejection and selection of articles were performed by a united action of all the several Committees. Each Committee nominated Commissioners to represent a particular department of the Exhibition, who met together to consider the merits of the individual claims for space referred to them.

Such was the course of action by which the articles of British exhibitors were admitted to the Exhibition, and subjected to a preliminary judgment. Imperfect as it necessarily was, the general effect of it was satisfactory, and kept out of the Exhibition many unsuitable articles. Practically the system worked well, and there is no doubt that the Exhibition, as a whole, is a fair representation of the present state of British industry. An examination of the list of exhibitors shows that very few names indeed of artists or manufacturers of eminence are absent. It is probable, however, that there are fewer novelties in mechanical inventions than there would otherwise have been, had the Legislature provided against piracy of them at an earlier period than April, 1851.

The Building. It is now time to speak of the origin of the Building, and of its general features,

so far as they have influenced the system which has been adopted in classifying and arranging the articles in it. An account of its scientific construction will be found in another part of this volume.

As early as January, 1850, the Commission named a Committee "for all matters relating to the Building," consisting of—

[merged small][ocr errors]

Mr. Cubjtt was elected Chairman of this Committee, and from the earliest period to the opening of the Exhibition, has given daily and unremitting attention to the subject, at great personal sacrifice of his valuable time. On the 21st of February, 1850, the Building Committee reported favourably on the fitness of the present site in Hyde Park, which had been suggested in the early stages of the undertaking, and for the use of which it had been already announced that Her Majesty's permission had been obtained. The Committee ventured at once to recommend that upwards of 16 acres should be covered in; a bold step at that time (21st February), when no data whatever of the space likely to be filled had been received (Min. vii., p. 5). It was their opinion that it was desirable to obtain suggestions, by public competition, as to the general arrangements of the ground plan of the Building, and public invitations were accordingly issued. They also reported that when a plan for the general arrangement should have been obtained and approved, they would invite, by a second public notice, designs accompanied by tenders, from the builders and manufacturers of the United Kingdom, for the construction of the Building, in the form, and according to the general arrangement, which should be fixed upon. In answer to the invitation to send in plans, upwards of 245 designs and specifications were submitted. Of these 38 were contributed by foreigners: France sending 27; Belgium 2; Holland 3; Hanover 1 • Naples 1; Switzerland 2; Khein Prussia 1; Hamburg 1; 128 by residents in* London and its environs; 51 by residents in provincial towns of England; 6 by residents in Scotland; 3 by residents in Ireland; and 7 were anonymous. All these plans were publicly exhibited during a month, from the 10th of June, at the Institution of Civil Engineers, Great George Street, Westminster. The Building Committee reported on the merits of them, selecting two lists of the competitors. They considered the one "entitled to favourable and honourable mention," and the second "entitled to further higher honorary distinction." But they accompanied their report with the important announcement, that in their opinion there was no "single plan so accordant with the peculiar objects in view, either in the principle or detail of its arrangement, as to warrant them in recommending it for adoption" (Min. xvii., p. 6). The Committee, therefore, submitted a plan of Fimtpiui. their own, and assisted by Mr. Digby Wyatt, Mr. Charles Heard Wild, and Mr. OvVEN Jones, they prepared extensive working drawings, which were lithographed. They issued invitations for tenders to execute works in accordance with them, requesting from competitors, in addition, such suggestions and modifications, accompanied with estimates of cost, as might possibly become the means of effecting a considerable reduction upon the general expense. In the actual instructions they stipulated that tenders, in which changes were proposed, would be only entertained provided they were "accompanied by working drawings and specifications, and fully priced bills of quantities."

The Building Committee published in detail the reasons, both of economy and taste, which had induced them to prepare plans for a structure of brick, the principal feature of which was a dome two hundred feet in diameter. Public opinion did not coincide in the propriety of such a building on such a site, and the residents in the neighbourhood raised especial objections. The subject was brought before both Houses of Parliament; and in the House of Commons, on the 4 th July, 1850, two divisions took place on the question, whether the proposed site should be used at all for any building for the Exhibition. In the one division, the numbers in favour of the site were 166 to 47, and in the second 166 to 46. The Commissioners published, at considerable length, a statement of the reasons which had induced them to prefer the site, and there can be no doubt that the force of this document mainly influenced the large majority in both divisions.

Whilst the plan of the Building Committee was under discussion, Mr. Paxton J^;J^'on'* was led, by the hostility which it had incurred, to submit a plan for a structure chiefly of glass and iron, on principles similar to those which had been adopted and successfully tried by him at Chatsworth. Messrs. Fox, Henderson, and Co., tendered for the erection of the Building Committee's plan, and, strictly in accordance with the conditions of tender, they also submitted estimates for the construction of the building suggested by Mr. Paxton, and adapted in form to the official ground plan. An engraving of Mr. Paxton's original design was published in the Illustrated London News, 6th July, 1850, which, when compared with the building that has been actually erected, will show what changes were subsequently made. The Commissioners having fully investigated the subject, finally adopted, on the 26th July, Messrs. Fox, Henderson, & Co.'s tender to construct Mr. Paxton's building, as then proposed, for the sum of £79,800. Considerable modifications, additions, and improvements in the architectural details were subsequently made, which have raised the proposed original cost of the building. As soon as the decision was made, fresh working drawings had to be prepared, and every means taken for expediting the works. These were carried on under the superintendence of Mr. Cubitt, assisted by Mr. D. Wyatt, Mr. O. Jones, and Mr. C. Wild.

The formal deed of contract was not signed until the 31st October, although the first iron column was fixed as early as the 26th September, 1850, the contractors having thereby incurred, in their preparations, a liability of £50,000 without any positive contract; in fact, great reciprocal confidence was manifested by the contracting parties. Whatever objections were entertained originally against the use of the site, gradually disappeared during the progress of the present building, and have become changed into positive approval and admiration, of the building itself and assent to the particular location of it. It should, however, be stated that a deed of covenant, to remove the building and give up the site within seven months after the close of the Exhibition, namely before the 1st June, 1852, has been entered into between Her Majesty and the Commissioners. The deed was sealed on the 14th November, 1850.

At a very early period the Commissioners resolved that the whole space of any building should be equally divided, and that one-half should be offered to Foreign , countries, and the other reserved to Great Britain and her colonies. And almost simultaneously with this decision, before the plans of any building were settled, offers were made to foreign countries, assuring them more than 210,000 superficial feet of net exhibiting space. But after the ground plan had been settled, and a calculation had been made of the amount of space unavailable for exhibition that was absorbed by the transept, the avenues, the courts and offices, &c, it became evident that the remaining space, after deducting what had been assured to foreigners, was considerably less than the proportion due to Great Britain and her colonies, and much below the demands and wants of British exhibitors. It was at first suggested that an additional structure should be erected to accommodate the agricultural implements, outside the building, but it was found that reasons both of economy and of management greatly preponderated in favour of building an additional gallery, which was accordingly done. 2nS'<ement of1* ^n or&0T to settle the positive arrangement of articles in the building, it became BitidM. necessary to prepare a more precise system of classification than that furnished

by the classified list of admissable objects which the Commissioners had first issued. The various systems which had been tried in the French Expositions proved that any system based upon an abstract philosophical theory was unsuitable, and particularly so to the present Exhibition. It was also desirable that the system of classification should be made conducive to the readiest mode of consulting the vast collection, both by the general visitor and by the juries, who would have to consider the merits of the whole. Dr. Playfair, to whom the Commissioners had confided the superintendence of the juries, suggested that whilst preserving the original quadrupartitc divisions of the Exhibition into Raw Produce and Materials, Machinery, Manufactures, and Fine Arts, those subdivisions which had been determined by commercial experience, should be adopted as far as practicable as the basis of the Classification. Eminent men of science, and manufacturers in all branches, were invited to assist in determining each one the boundaries of his own special class of productions; and it was resolved for the purposes of thejury to adopt thirty broad divisions.and to induce as far as practicable the application of this classification to all articles—both British and Forei<m- always however, bearing in mind the fundamental rule, that the productions of an exhibitor would not be separated, except in very extreme cases. According with few exceptions, all articles have been divided into the following thirty classes' To save repetition, the numbers of the jurors which have been since assigned to each class are here given.

Section I. Raw Materials and Produce,—illustrative of the natural productions on which human industry is employed.

No. of
Jurors.

1. Mining and Quarrying, Metallurgy,

and Mineral Products 8

2. Chemical and Pharmaceutical processes

and products generally .... 8

No. of Jurors.

3. Substances used as food 6

4. Vegetable and Animal Substances used

in manufactures, implements, or for ornament 8

Section II. Machinery for Agricultural, Manufacturing, Engineering, and other purposes and Mechanical Inventions, — illustrative of the agents which human ingenuity brings to bear upon the products of nature.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Section III.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Manufactures,—illustrative of the result produced by the operation of human industry upon natural produce.

Designs for Manufactures are admitted in the same section with the class of articles for which they are proposed.

No. of
Jurors.

23. Works in Precious Metals, Jewellery,
and all articles of luxury not in
eluded in the other classes ... 8

24. Glass 8

25. Ceramic Manufacture, China, Porce-
lain, Earthenware, &c 8

M. Decoration Furniture and Upholstery,
Paper Hangings, Papier Machii, and
Japanned Goods 12

27. Manufactures in Mineral Substances,
used for building or decorations, as
in Marble, Slate, Porphyries, Ce-
ments, Artificial Stones, &C. ... 6

28. Manufactures from Animal and Vege-
table Substances, not being woven,
felted, or laid 6

29. Miscellaneous Manufactures and Small
Wares 10

11. Cotton

12. Woollen and Worsted

13. Silk and Velvet

14. Manufactures from Flax and Hemp .

15. Mixed Fabrics, including Shawls . .

16. Leather, including Saddlery and Har-
ness, Skins, Fur, and Hair . .

Paper, Printing, and Bookbinding . .
Woven, spun, felted, and laid Fabrics,

when shown for Printing and Dyeing Tapestry, including Carpets and Floor

Cloths, Lace and Embroidery, fancy

and industrial Works

Articles of Clothing for immediate,

personal, or domestic use .... Cutlery, Edge Tools and Hand Tools,

and Surgical Instruments.... M. General Hardware

No. of
Jurors.

10

12

10

lo
12

10

8

10

10

8

6

12

Section IV.

[ocr errors]

12

30. Fine Arts, Sculpture, Models, and the Plastic Arts generally, Mosaics, Enamels, &ctrative of the taste and skill displayed in such applications of human industry .

It had been originally contemplated by the Commissioners, that the arrangement of the whole Exhibition should be, not merely on the basis of the four sections, but that each similar article should be placed in juxtaposition without reference to its nationality, or local origin. To effect this, in so vast an Exhibition and within the short period of two months allowed for the arrangement, it was absolutely necessary to know, before the arrival of the articles, the approximate amount of space each would be likely to occupy—so that each on its arrival might be placed as nearly as possible in its appointed spot. But the event proved that this information, particularly in the case of Foreign countries, was unattainable.

A request was made that each Foreign country should inform the Commis

« ElőzőTovább »