Graphical version

London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): FGL

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1942-1953

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 6.23 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Festival Gardens Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:

In October 1949 the London County Council approved an agreement by which 37 acres of Battersea Park were to be used as Festival Gardens and Fun Fair in connection with the Festival of Britain 1951. The Gardens were to be managed by a limited liability company and the Council was to be represented on the Board of Directors. The company had to rely for capital on loans from the Treasury (maximum 570,000) and from the Council (maximum 200,000). It was guaranteed that the maximum possible loss to the Council would be 40,000.

Attractions included a water-garden, fountains, Tree-Walk (wooden walkways suspended in branches), the Guiness Clock, the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway (a miniature railway), a dance pavilion, and fun fair rides including the Sky Wheel, Water Splash, Bubble-Bounce and a rollercoaster called 'The Big Dipper'. The intention of the Gardens was to recreate the eighteenth century pleasure garden such as those at Vauxhall.

The original Board of Directors for the Festival Gardens Company was appointed by the Festival of Britain Council. The Chairman was Sir Henry French who had been Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Food, and had later worked in the public entertainment world as Director General of the Film Producers' Association. The final Board had only four civil servants from the Festival of Britain Office. In addition there were three representatives of the London County Council, the Chairman of London Transport, one (later three), members of the amusement industry, an eminent horticulturist and a representative of the entertainments world.

Under the Festival Pleasure Gardens Act, 1952, the Council had the right to ask the Minister of Works to exercise his power to discontinue the Gardens after the 1953 season and this was done. In November 1953 the Council agreed that it would accept a transfer of the fixed assets of Festival Gardens, Ltd., together with a payment of 100,000 (subject to adjustment if necessary in respect of the disposal of Festival Gardens Pier) in discharge of the company's liability for the reinstatement of the park. The records of the company were handed over in 1954 and were kept intact until March 1962 when all vouchers, duplicates, and so on were destroyed.


Scope and content/abstract:

Copies of Bills, Acts of Parliament and statutory instruments relating to the Festival of Britain and the Festival Pleasure Gardens; memorandum and articles of association; alteration of the articles of association by chartered accountants; report by chartered accountants on financial administration; prospectus, brochure and guides to the Festival Pleasure Gardens; signed visitor's book; register of members of the company and books of share certificates; minutes of the Board of Directors; minutes of Committees; minutes of and papers presented at Annual General Meetings; Chairman's report on future of the Gardens; notes of meetings with London County Council representatives; papers on estimates and budgets; notes on investigations into the affairs of the company; leader of London County Council's papers as Director; Finance Officers files including accounting procedures, audit reports, budgets, statistics, fees and estimates; general correspondence files including applications for concessions, circulars, notices, opening day events, publicity and special events; papers regarding construction work and the delay in opening, including the Clerk of Works diaries; papers relating to the winding up of the company including liquidator's papers; contracts with entertainments, entertainers, concessions and catering; statistics, including turnstile takings, rides and shows takings and daily returns; financial accounts including balance sheets, journals, ledgers and summaries; plans of the layout of the gardens and the construction of attractions and charts of financial comparisons.

Chairman and Managing Director's files and correspondence on a variety of topics including the Beer Garden, catering, entertainments pier, maintenance and miniature railways; General Manager's files regarding the Guinness Clock; General Manager's correspondence with businesses including Aerated Bread Company, Floral Crown, Franco British Electrical Signs, National Car Parks, Royal Family Models, Thames Passenger Owners Association and Walls Ice Cream; Secretary's files on a variety of subjects including accident claims, appointment of Directors, attendance figures, Board of Trade, catering, contracts and agreements, correspondence, designers, insurance, London Electricity Board, London County Council, Metropolitan Water Board, North Thames Gas Board, Public Accounts Committee, staffing, and HM Treasury; general files relating to accidents, accounting, art exhibitions, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), catering, British-American Novelty Company, Brylcream, budgets, closing the Gardens, commission and sales, the crown jewels, conditions of employment, flying cars, solicitors, banking, car parks, miniature railway, statistics, wages and salaries, weekly summaries and works orders.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

FGL/1-13: Acts of Parliament; FGL/14-22: Reports; FGL/23-28: Guidebooks; FGL/29-31: Shareholders; FGL/32-47: Minutes; FGL/48-58: Chairman's Files; FGL/59-80: General Manager's Files; FGL/81: London County Council papers; FGL/82-124: Secretary's Files; FGL/125-215: General Files; FGL/216-263: Finance Officer's Files; FGL/264-285: General Correspondence; FGL/286-293: Construction; FGL/294-302: Winding-up of company; FGL/303-360: Contracts; FGL/361-367: Statistics; FGL/368-401: Financial Accounts; FGL/402-414: Plans and Charts.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received between 1954 and 1955 (AC/54/004; AC/54/009; AC/55/030).


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Publication note:

The autobiography of a nation: the 1951 Festival of Britain, by Becky Conekin, Manchester University Press, 2003 (study of the Festival of Britain, includes analysis of the Festival Gardens). See also for Treasury Historical Memorandum from 1957, analysing the financial mismanagement of the Gardens (last accessed Apr 2009).



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: April to June 2009

Administration | Organisation and management
Caterers | Service industries
Fairs (entertainment) | Cultural events | Leisure time activities | Leisure
Festival of Britain (1951) | Festivals | Cultural events | Leisure time activities | Leisure
Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Funfairs | Recreational facilities
Gardens | Land use
Parks | Open spaces

Personal names

Corporate names
Festival Gardens and Fun Fair | Festival of Britain
Festival Gardens Limited
Festival of Britain
LCC | London County Council x London County Council

Battersea Park | Battersea | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe