Letters to the Editor.

From Peter Denly

British Empire Exhibition Wembley

Five years ago I started collecting the postal slogans, on cover, that formed the co-ordinated advertising campaign for Great Britain and the Commonwealth, in respect of the B.E.E. at Wembley.

As the collection started to grow I felt that I would like some background information and purchased first ‘The Lion Roars at Wembley’ then later the two booklets on Wembley stamps and postmarks, published by Stitt-Dibden in 1958.

These publications were informative to a point, but did not answer some of the fundamental questions concerning the origins of the slogan post marks. As a result I took myself off to the records office of the Post Office at Mount Pleasant, and spent the better part of a week looking at the minutes of meetings and any data that seemed relevant to Wembley. (I believe I am not alone in following this path).

The net result was disappointing. Apart from papers relating to the Post Office Exhibit and the setting up of the Wembley site postal services, no records survive to show how the postal slogans came into existence.

I am wondering whether anybody in our study group has better and further information, that might start to answer some of the following questions.

A. We know that the Lion motif was designed by Herrick, but who, or which committee, or Government Department decided that it should be used as the Wembley Symbol?

B. Having arrived at an acceptable Lion, by what means was this translated into the core design for the stamps. i.e. did the stamp designers have any broad guidelines to incorporate the Lion in the stamp, or were they free to do whatever they chose?

C. Similarly, during 1924 slogans brought out by the Post Office in Great Britain contained the Lion as the dominant feature of the cancellation. This applies to the dies fitted to the Krag, Hey Dolphin and Universal machines. What I should like to know is how the design was achieved, and who sanctioned it?

D. In 1925 apart from the special cancellations applied to mail posted at the exhibition site, the Lion disappeared from the British postal slogans. Who took this decision and for what reasons?

E. In the Commonwealth we find a number of different slogans cancellations, including the Circular hand stamp and the Continuous Krag, the Duplex ovals, and the standard British type. Now these all included the Lion in varying interpretations, but other countries simply prepared a rectangular box containing the advertising material and did not use the Lion motif at all. I would like to find out how the slogan campaign was co- ordinated. Did the British Post Office issue a broad directive giving latitude in the type of slogan to be used or perhaps through the exhibition organising committee was it suggested to countries taking a pavilion, that they should institute a postal slogan campaign ‘back home’?

F. If the Herrick Lion was so central, and it was plastered all over many of the exhibition buildings, why was there not more insistence on its use in postal slogans?

G. In the 1920’s, were the Commonwealth postal authorities virtually independent of London, to the extent that they could choose to do whatever they wished?

H. One of the most strongly represented countries at the Exhibition was Canada. However, of all the provinces, only Newfoundland put out a slogan. It would be of great interest to know why Canada as a whole, or any other province for that matter, choose not to join the postal campaign?

I. The 1925 event was sprung on to the public at rather a late stage, and this may well be he reason why only five Commonwealth slogans appeared. Similarly it may answer the question of why British cancellers dropped the Lion, there may not have been enough time to do the engraving.

Whithout the answers to these and similar questions, when it comes to writing up a display of Wembley slogans, especially for competitions, the amount of philatelic knowledge that can be included to support the individual postmarks becomes very slim, and will inevitably loose an individual considerable marks.

Some of the answers may lie within specialist study groups looking at single countries, but of those that I have already contacted, the responses have not filled in any gaps so far. So if there are any answers to some of the questions within our group, it would be a blessing to have them shared around amongst ‘us collectors’.

Peter also writes, I am wondering whether the Study Group has ever considered replacing the current circulating packet system with a postal auction. Many of the specialised societies have done this as it is difficult, and time consuming (not to say costly) to post valuable material around the UK. We have an added problem in that not all our members have the same collecting interests, putting the onus on the Packet Secretary to chose who goes on the list to see selected material.

A postal auction held say twice a year, allows all study group members to see a full list of the material being offered for sale, which may of course affect their collecting interest, or even broaden their interest in other exhibitions.

There are an infinite number of models around for this kind of activity, and provided the rules are thought out carefully I do not think there would be much more effort involved. I imagine the main objection would be the storage and distribution of items during and after the event.

He finishes by suggesting it is put to committee members and possibly coming up for discussion at our A.G.M.

In answer to Peter I think the idea has possibilities but I can see a problem in describing the material. In stamps a SG No. and whether the item is mint or used tells the prospective customer all he wants to know, with perhaps a comment on condition or the postmark. It is however very difficult to give an accurate description of a post card without running into four or five lines of description, especially where the same title may be used for a series of different views, or where there are several different backs. On the credit side it would open the door to selling paper ephemera, guides and catalogues etc.


From Mike Worthington-Williams

Who sent me a photo-copy of the notice appearing in a newspaper about the bankruptcy of the Oriental carpet company occupying the old Palace of Industries at Wembley. All the carpets are being sold by the Receiver and it looks as if the Palace is in for a change of use.

Mike also sent me a newspaper article by Alexander Garrett in the Daily Telegraph, 20th May 2000, about Falconers, a Tudor style house built in oak, using the same techniques and in the same way that half timbered houses were built in the 15th Century. He claims this was built for the 1925 British Empire Exhibition by the Federated Home Grown Timber Merchants Association. I think Alexander has got his date and facts wrong and it was built for the 1924 exhibition and was still there for 1925.

The Exhibition Catalogue for 1924 lists under the exhibit of the Timber and other Forest Products Committee of whom the Federated Home Grown Timber Merchants Association were part ‘a 15th Century half timbered House in Oak’. I imagine the exhibit was a joint effort with the cost and work spread amongst the 30 members of the committee. When the exhibition closed the house was demolished and in 1926 sold to Lady Moore who had it moved by train to Kingsbridge, and from there transported six miles by road to Salcombe, Devon where it was rebuilt. The original cost of the house including moving and re-erection was 4,400. The present owner of Falconers has just put it on the market for 1, 250,000. This must make it the most valuable Wembley souvenir of all time. Just in case any member is interested it is being sold through Knight Frank, Exeter.


From Dilwyn Chambers

Who is continually sending me snippets of information from the most varied sources usually from books with just the odd line about an exhibition.

A. Jesse Boot of Boot’s the Chemists organised a special train for a day trip for 943 women staff to go to the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908. She was deeply involved in what today we would call the ‘moral welfare’ of her employees, and every Christmas sent all the female staff a silk banner printed with a verse or two from a hymn or a few lines of poetry. The banners were meant to be hung on the wall. When girls left to get married Jesse sent them a present of a Bible.

B. An advert from the Boys Own Paper advising Scouts to "take pocket rations when you Wemble" as "It may be hard to get a cheap, sustaining, digestible meal at Wembley quickly, and time is precious. Every Scout can and should carry a meal with him in his haversack" fortunately for the potentially hungry Scouts The Eustace Miles Co., will send two delicious complete meals post free for 1/-.

C. Another advert in a Boys Own Paper by The Locomotive Publishing Company Ltd., offers a set of scale model sheets of thin cardboard made to be cut out and made into models of the two locomotives on display at the Wembley Exhibition. The 1825 S & D Railway engine "Locomotion" and the L.N.E.R. express locomotive the "Flying Scotsman". These sheets could be obtained through all booksellers for 6d or post free for 9d.


From George Burr

Dear Bill, Following Alan Sabey’s very interesting article on the Gigantic Wheel at Earl’s Court, I would like to inform members of the details relating to dates etc. on the medals I have

Date Metal Manufacturer

1897 Bronze No name

1899 Copper Spink London

1900 Bronze S. M. Co.

1901 Copper M. B.

1903 Bronze M. B.

1904 Bronze M. B.

1906 Copper M. B.

All are 32 mm diameter and have the same description and design of the wheel. On one side of the medal are the words "The Gigantic Wheel at Earl’s Court is 284 feet in diameter & weighs about 900 tons. There are 40 cars each to carry 30 persons. From the top of the wheel about 300 feet Windsor Castle is visible on the west". On the other side of the medal is the wheel and the words "Gigantic Wheel Earls Court" with the date at the bottom.

George also sent me a list of vital statistics of the current giant wheel, the London Eye.

Height 443 ft Weight of wheel 2,100 tonne

Circumference 1,392 ft Number of capsules 32

Total length of cables 3.5 miles Duration of ride 30 minutes

Number of passengers Viewing distance from top More than 25 per revolution 800 miles


Somebody sent me a cutting from the Times newspaper of the 1st of November where they reprinted a short notice from the Times of November 1st 1923 under the heading "Catering for Thirty Million". It states the contract was signed yesterday between J. Lyons and the British Empire Exhibition organisers. J. Lyons is to provide seating arrangements for 25,000 people, and meals have to be provided for an estimated 175,000 visitors daily. They were counting on 30,000,000 visitors to the exhibition. (Don Knight in "The Lion Roars at Wembley" records that the highest daily attendance was 321,232 and a total of 17,403,267 visitors passed through the turnstiles in 1924.) Lyons will set up 20 cafés of the "Tea Shop" type, in addition there will be five restaurants the largest of which will seat 1,500 on each floor. The tariff will vary from that supplied at the Trocadero Grill Room down to that obtained in the popular Café. Buffets will be provided all over the grounds and it is anticipated that no visitor, at any time, will be more than two or three hundred yards from a place of refreshment. Lyons estimate that a staff of at least 7,000 will be permanently employed.

© Exhibition Study Group 2000

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