Skip to main content

Festival Of Britain

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 7 July 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Lord President of the Council whether he is aware of the public disquiet concerned with the proposal to take over a large part of Battersea Park for use in connection with the 1951 Festival of Britain; and for what period does he anticipate the free use of this open space will be denied to Londoners.

I have seen some critical comment in a limited section of the Press of the proposal to create Festive Gardens in 1951 occupying one-fifth of Battersea Park. While sympathising with the general standpoint behind it, I would point out that the gardens will not interfere with the trees and other features of natural beauty in the park—they will, in fact, take full advantage of them—and it is possible that the London County Council may wish to retain certain landscape features after 1951 which would agreeably add to the park's attractions without destroying its character. In answer to the last part of the Question, the proposal is that about one-fifth of the park will be enclosed for about 12 months altogether, including the six months during which the gardens will be open on payment of an admission fee.

Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether the 37 acres which are to be enclosed cover the whole of the waterfront between the two bridges at this point on the river?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how, when public money is being used for this purpose, the public can be expected to take seriously the warning which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave yesterday?

I am very sorry that the hon. Gentleman has joined the misery section of the public Press. The Festival of Britain will be a great occasion, and it is desirable that there should be some lighter part to it, as well as a more serious part. Moreover, there will be revenues from it, not only in direct receipts, but from visits by people from abroad.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will not be unduly influenced by the dreary reception given to this bright and cheerful scheme by a very limited section of the people? Is he not aware that any similar proposal extending to the borough of Brentford and Chiswick will meet with a very different reception locally?

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, and I fully agree with what he said in the first part of his supplementary question. I hope that, if his Chiswick venture comes off, it may similarly add to the happiness of the human race.

Did I correctly understand the right hon. Gentleman's original answer and his reply to the first supplementary question, to the effect that no felling or destruction of trees will be involved by the proposed scheme; and, secondly, that the simplicity of the uninterrupted beauty of the grass acres adjoining the river will not be interfered with?

I am sure that every care will be taken not to injure the amenities of the park, but, on the last point, there are two possible views about a park. It may be a place solely of quietness, or a place of peace and happiness also, and there is something to be said for both points of view.