How Joe 90 does that sound? The Skylon! I thought “himself” must have been talking about something from the pen of Gerry Anderson, but no, he was looking through a box of his father’s books after visiting an exhibition, at the Southbank Centre, celebrating the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Tony – my father-in-law – had visited the Festival as a young man and saved the official guide; a wonderful, real-vintage memento that will undoubtedly be treasured through the generations.
Something caught my eye while revelling in this snapshot of the era with its far from now acceptable adverts (on many levels!) and completeness of description – something I’d never known or heard of before – the Skylon. An astonishing structure created just because they could, at a time of austerity but also of hope and looking forwards, post-war.
How futuristic it must have seemed, and still does to me; it would fit very nicely beside the London Eye, don’t you think?
Sadly this iconic structure was taken down in 1952; it was not really the time to spend money the country didn’t have anyway (that’s how we used to do things, I suppose) though some consider the act was more about the incoming Conservative government being less than keen to spend money on moving such a significant and obvious symbol of the outgoing Labour government. A shame, really, but such is the way of things; I found the Hansard website quite enlightening.
Through the years people have wondered what exactly happened to it – was it scrapped, or dumped in the river Lea, or made into coasters by a vengeful Churchill? This was actually researched properly earlier this year and the far less romantic discovery was that the structure was indeed sold for scrap – sensible for the time, surely – and therefore recycled!
Over recent years, on and off, there is talk of recreating the Skylon. In researching for this post I came across a few articles announcing the imminent rebuilding, but its yet to come to anything more than a website, most recently, where we can vote on the location should this “re-build the Skylon campaign” succeed.
By far the most stunning image of the Skylon that I could find online was on the RIBA’s website – do take a look as it is quite something to behold and I for one would welcome its return.