1862 International Exhibition

The International Exhibition of 1862, or Great London Exposition, was a world's fair. It was held from May 1 to November 1, 1862, beside the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, South Kensington, London, England, on a site that now houses museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum (London).

The exposition was sponsored by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Trade, and featured over 28,000 exhibitors from 36 countries, representing a wide range of industry, technology, and the arts. All told, it attracted about 6.1 million visitors. Receipts (£459,632) were slightly above cost (£458,842), leaving a total profit of £790.

It was housed on 23 acres (9 hectares) of land, within a special building designed by Captain Francis Fowke (1823-1865) and built by Charles and Thomas Lucas and Sir John Kelk at a cost of £300,000 covered by profits from the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building consisted of a main structure with two adjoining wings set at right angles for machinery and agricultural equipment; the wings were demolished after the Exhibition. Its main facade along Cromwell Road was 1152 feet (351 m) in length, and ornamented by two crystal domes, each of which was 260 feet (79 m) high. Although they were then the two largest domes in the world, their effect was distinctly unimpressive, and they were derided as "colossal soup bowls" and "a national disgrace." The building as a whole was termed "a wretched shed" by The Art Journal.

Exhibitions included such large pieces of machinery as parts of Charles Babbage's analytical engine, cotton mills, and maritime engines by the firm of Henry Maudslay, as well as a range of smaller goods including fabrics, rugs, sculptures, furniture, plates, silver and glass wares, and wallpaper. The exposition also introduced the use of caoutchouc for rubber production and the Bessemer process for steel manufacture.

When all was said and done, however, the exhibition was generally judged a failure as compared to the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851.


* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47522 The Exhibition Building of 1862] , "Survey of London: volume 38: South Kensington Museums Area" (1975), pp. 137-147.
* Hollingshead, John, "A Concise History of the International Exhibition of 1862. Its Rise and Progress, its Building and Features and a Summary of all Former Exhibitions", London, 1862.
* Hunt, Robert , "Handbook of the Industrial Department of the Universal Exhibition 1862", 2 vols., London, 1862.
* Dishon, Dalit, "South Kensington's forgotten palace : the 1862 International Exhibition Building", PhD thesis, University of London, 2006. 3 vols.
* [http://www.expo2000.de/expo2000/geschichte/detail.php?wa_id=2&lang=1&s_typ=4 Expo2000 article]
* [http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?txtkeys1=International+Exhibition+1862 Science and Society Picture Library]

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