Festival of Empire

The Festival of Empire or Festival of the Empire was held at The Crystal Palace in London in 1911, to celebrate the coronation of King George V. It opened on 12 May.


Exhibitions of products from the countries of the Empire were displayed in three-quarter size models of their Parliamentary buildings erected in the grounds:[1]

The buildings were constructed of timber and plaster as they were meant to be temporary.[2] They were linked by an electric tramway called the 'All-Red Route' on which open-sided cars took the visitor on a circular tour of the Colonies with typical scenery of each country around the buildings listed above. Bridges over small lakes represented sea voyages between the countries. The route is shown in red on the map and some of the cars may be seen in the picture above.

There were also many other exhibits within the Palace itself.

Pageant of London

A pageant, organised by 'Master of the Pageants' Frank Lascelles, dramatising the history of London, England and the Empire was held.[3][4] The first performance of the pageant was on 8 June 1911; in four parts, performed on separate days, it celebrated the ‘magnificence, glory and honour of the Empire and the Mother Country’. Music was provided for The Pageant of London by 20 composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Frank Bridge,[5] Cecil Forsyth, Henry Balfour Gardiner, Edward German and Haydn Wood. This was performed by a military band of 50 players and a chorus of 500 voices,[6] directed by W.H. Bell.[7] The Pageant was so successful that performances were extended from July, when they were due to end, to 2 September.[8]

Inter-Empire Championships

As part of the festival, an Inter-Empire sports championship was held in which teams from Australasia (a combined team from Australia and New Zealand), Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom competed in five athletics events (100 yards, 220 yards, 880 yards, 1 mile and 120 yards hurdles), two swimming events (100 yards and 1 mile), heavyweight boxing and middleweight wrestling.[9] This is regarded as a forerunner of the British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games), held from 1930.

Famous competitors included Stanley Vivian Bacon (from Great Britain), Harold Hardwick (from Australia), Malcolm Champion (from New Zealand), George Hodgson and John Lindsay Tait (both from Canada).

The limited event schedule and four-nation format came in for criticism by the correspondent in the Auckland Star, who described it as not worthy of the title of Empire.[10]

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Heavyweight boxing[11][10]  Harold Hardwick (AUS)Undefeated  William Hazell (GBR)(lost to Hardwick in 2 and a half minutes)[12]  Julius Thompson (CAN)(lost to Hardwick in first round after 2 minutes, 35 seconds)
100-yard swim[11][13]  Harold Hardwick (AUS)60.6  John Derbyshire (GBR)  Johnson (CAN)
One-mile swim[11][13][14]  George Hodgson (CAN)25:27.6  Sydney Battersby (GBR)(30 yards behind)  Malcolm Champion (NZL)(retired due to fatigue)
Middleweight Wrestling[11]  Stanley Vivian Bacon (GBR)Undefeated  George Walker (CAN)(defeated Smythe, lost to Bacon)  William Smythe (AUS)(retired after first round defeat to Bacon)


Results source.[15][16]

The team championship in athletics was decided on a points basis, with the countries' finishing position in each race totalling up a combined score. Canada won with the lowest score with eight points, having topped the podium in three of the five events, and was awarded the Inter-Empire trophy by Lord Lonsdale. The United Kingdom ended with nine points and Australasia were third with 13 points. The Australasia team combined New Zealand and Victoria athletes. Three scratch competitions were held alongside the championships proper: a 3/4-mile race, a 300-yard race and a two-mile team race.[17]

Ron Opie ran in both sprints as his teammate, William A. Woodger, took ill before the event and could not compete.[18]

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100-yard dash  Frank Halbhaus (CAN)10.4 [19]  Duncan Macmillan (GBR)(one foot behind winner)  Ron Opie (NZL)(one yard behind runner-up)
220-yard dash  Frank Halbhaus (CAN)23.0[19]  Ron Opie (NZL)(inches behind winner)  Ernest Haley (GBR)
880-yard dash  Jim Hill (GBR)1:58.6 [19]  Dad Wheatley (VIC)(two yards behind winner)  Mel Brock (CAN)(two yards behind winner)
Mile run  John Tait (CAN)4:46.2 [19]  Eddie Owen (GBR)(one yard behind winner)  Guy Haskins (NZL)(six yards behind winner)
120-yard hurdles  Kenneth Powell (GBR)16.0 [19]  Frank Lukeman (CAN)(half a yard behind winner)  Frank Brown (VIC)(six yards behind runner-up)
1320 yards (scratch) Richard Yorke
London Athletic Club
3:21.2 minutes Arnold Knox
(eight yards behind winner) Albert Hare
Herne Hill Harriers
300 yards (scratch) Algernon Wells
Herne Hill Harriers
23.4 W. T. Wettenhall
Cambridge Athletic Club
(two yards behind winner) F. J. Hoskin
Herne Hill Harriers
(one yard behind runner-up)
Two-mile team race (scratch) Herne Hill Harriers7 pts South London Harriers19 pts Essex Beagles20 pts

See also


  1. "Victorian Station". Victorianstation.com. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  2. "1911 Crystal". Studygroup.org.uk. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  3. "Crystal Palace Park". Cocgb.dircon.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  4. D.S. Ryan 'Staging the imperial city: the Pageant of London, 1911' in Imperial Cities: Landscape, Display and Identity, eds. F. Driver & D. Gilbert, Manchester University Press, 1999, pp. 117-135
  5. Hindmarsh, Paul (1982). Frank Bridge: A Thematic Catalogue, 1900–1941. London: Faber Music. pp. 69–70.
  6. Mitchell, Jon C. (2001). A Comprehensive Biography of Composer Gustav Holst with Correspondence and Diary Excerpts, Including His American Years. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-7734-7522-2.3
  7. Richards, Jeffrey (2001). Imperialism and music: Britain 1976-1953. Manchester University Press: p. 190
  8. Richards, p. 193
  9. Commonwealth Games Medallists. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2014-05-31.
  10. EMPIRE SPORTS. Auckland Star, Volume XLII, Issue 198, 21 August 1911. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  11. New Zealanders in — The Empire Games — Specially written for the “N.Z. Railways Magazine”. The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 12 (March 1, 1938.). Retrieved on 2014-05-31.
  12. Commemorative Medals. Baldwin Auctions. Retrieved on 2018-03-24.
  13. FESTIVAL OF EMPIRE. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954). Mon 3 July 1911. Page 5. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  14. EMPIRE SPORTS. Feilding Star, Volume VI, Issue 1533, 3 July 1911. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  15. Inter-Empire Championships at the Festival of Empire, Crystal Palace, London, On June 24. Otago Witness (16 August 1911), pg. 45. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  16. THE EMPIRE SPORTS. Dominion, Volume 4, Issue 1199, 7 August 1911. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  17. Inter-Empire Championships. The Nicola Valley News (1911-07-14), pg. 4. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  18. ATHLETICS–TRACK AND FIELD OLYMPIADS AND EMPIRE GAMES. Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  19. Commonwealth Games Medallists - Athletics (men). GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2014-05-31.
  • Festival of Empire: the Pageant of London (1911, Bemrose & Sons, London) (souvenir book, 163 pages, edited by Sophie C. Lomas; master of the pageants Frank Lascelles),
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