The Great Exhibition was a magnificent event held in the Crystal Palace in London in 1851. Richard Garrett had a major stand and was awarded the Great Medal – the highest prize – for his exhibits.
Photograph of Garrett exhibits from the Report of the Juries, 1851
From the London Examiner 7 June 1851
The Garrett Stand
The Illustrated London News 17 May 1851 reported
‘The stand of Messrs Garrett and Son, of
Leiston Works, near Saxmundham, occupies an important position here, closely packed with specimens of machines for which this eminent firm has become celebrated.’
Garrett products were exhibited in Class IX: Agricultural and Horticultural Machines and Implements. They won the highest prize – the Council Medal. To achieve the medal, exhibits had to show more than that ‘a standard of excellence had been reached for workmanship, beauty, utility and adaptability’; the 89mm Council Medal
was reserved as a reward for remarkable invention.
Garrett advertisements from this date proudly
mention the award of the ‘Great Medal’.
The Great Medal
Planning the Great Exhibition
Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert decided that a large international exhibition, displaying the best products of
manufacturing industries, would
be an innovative way to promote
Britain’s role as a world
industrial leader. Exhibits from
25 countries were included. The
Queen gave permission for the
exhibition to be held in one of the
royal parks – Hyde Park – but
not for more than six months.
Joseph Paxton had designed
large scale greenhouses for
Chatsworth House, and his design was chosen to build the world’s biggest greenhouse that became known as the Crystal Palace. The building was high enough to accommodate two large trees as the Queen did not want them to be felled.
Success of the Exhibition
The Exhibition was a huge attraction.
Tickets were priced to suit most incomes. 4.5 million of the cheapest one-shilling day tickets were sold.
Visitors averaged almost 43,000 per day - over 6 million visitors in total.
A third of Britain’s population visited during the 6 months
The Exhibition made a huge profit -
£186,000 (worth nearly 25 million
today). It paid for a legacy: the building of the Victoria and Albert, Science and Natural History
Museums, plus scholarships still available today for industrial education and research in science
Did you know...
Spending a Penny!
For the first time ever, public
flushing toilets were provided and
caused great excitement. During
the exhibition, 827,280 visitors
paid one penny to use them; for the
penny they got a clean seat, a towel, a
comb and a shoeshine. The phrase "to
spend a penny" entered the English
Wheelwright and Foreman
From The Illustrated London News 1851
When I was 24, I was a wheelwright at the Works and living in Sizewell Road.
I made wooden wheels for carts and threshing machines and metal wheels for portable steam engines. This was skilled work. Then I became the principal foreman at Garretts.
the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, Garretts had a stand to display their latest inventions.
Richard Garrett chartered two boats to take the workforce to London to visit the Exhibition. As foreman, I was in charge of the 300 men who made the journey by sea.
By 1861, my wife Maria and I were living in the High Street - next door to the ironmongery and two doors down from the Royal Standard pub.
John lived in the High Street for the rest of his life.