Architecture Tours at The Southbank Centre (Age 8+)

This March, April and June 2016, you can take a 1 hour architecture tour around the Southbank Centre. The tour will focus on its 20th-century (Brutalist) architecture.
The centre itself was completed in 1968 on the site of the 1951 Festival of Britain. Its name The Southbank Centre was adopted during the Festival of Britain (over the local less attractive name of Lambeth Marsh).
Visitors to the South Bank Exhibition with the Dome of Discovery in the background
The Festival was created by The Royal Society of the Arts in 1943, to commemorate the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition. It’s centre piece was the Southbank Centre.
In 1945 a government appointed a committee to plan how fairs and exhibitions could promote the UK’s export industry. 
They initially planned to hold an international exhibition, but it was too costly an idea, so the Festival of Britain was created in its place.
1951 South Bank Exhibition. Taken from The Victoria Embankment and shows the Skylon and Dome of Discovery.
As London was in need of redevelopment due to the effects of WWII, the festival was designed to promote a feeling of progress and recovery, and display the better quality design that would be happening in rebuilding Britain’s towns and cities.
Gerald Barry, the Festival Director, described it as “a tonic to the nation” as it demonstrated the contribution made by British advances in science, technology and industrial design.

The Skylon (photo above) was scrapped in 1952 on the orders of Winston Churchill, who saw it a symbol of the preceding Labour Government. It was demolished and sold for scrap after being toppled into the Thames.

 Royal Festival Hall c1959 and the now-demolished Shot Tower

The tours explore the whole Southbank site and uncover the creative and functional design of their buildings. Each tour is unique and the route taken varies depending on the day’s activities and events.


Meet at the Ticket Office at Royal Festival Hall and are £8.50 (£7.50 concessions)book online or by phone via the link at the top of the feature.


Thursday 7 & 21, 6pm
Thursday 14, 5.00pm
Saturday 2, 12.30pm
Saturday 16, 23 & 30, 2pm


Thursday 5 & 12, 6pm
Saturday 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2pm


Thursday 2, 16 &30, 6pm
Saturday 4, 2.00pm
Saturday 11, 18 & 25, 2pm

For ages 8+


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