Once again the Directors of the London Exhibitions Limited, with the help of John W. Ryckman, Commissioner for the U.S.A., had found another show for the new Earls Court season. The emphasis seems to have been more on Entertainment and there was not much evidence of the American industrial side of the exhibition. In the Empress Theatre the visitors could enjoy the Red Man Spectacle and the Red Indian Camp. There was a representation of the Sioux Indians going into camp for the night and then breaking camp in the morning, with appropriate dances performed to the Rising Sun and other Red Indian gods. There was also a display of steer roping and Bronco Busting by Cowboys and Cowgirls. Finally the Black Hawk massacre was re-enacted. I n the Midway, many of the amusements had an American flavour, with the Destruction of San Francisco being the best remembered.

There were further exhibitions until the centre closed in 1914 but we have little information regarding them, other than their title and the information from their picture postcards.

The site of the Earls Court exhibition centre did not alter very much during the period covered by this book but in the course of the years the Halls, Gardens and Entertainments were bound to change to suit the times and the changing exhibitions. The site covered an extensive area in the south-western district of the metropolis and consisted of three pieces of land connected with each other by bridges. The first of these divisions, which was approached from Warwick Road was mainly devoted to exhibition purposes, and contained, amongst other buildings, the Ducal Hall and Queen's Palace. The second division comprised of the Imperial Court, Empress Theatre and the Royal Galleries. The third division, the Western Gardens, contained the Welcome Club and was mainly devoted to amusements.

The admission charges for the whole of the period remained stable at 5p, with a season ticket costing 52%p. The opening hours were from 11 am to 11 pm. The amusement section contained the famous Great Wheel which was a dominant feature of the Exhibition grounds for many seasons and from its glass cabins the visitors had a fine view over the city. The machinery that revolved the wheel was not infallible, and, on occasions, broke down marooning the patrons far above ground for an indefinite period. It became something of a joke to plead failure of the Big Wheel for any tardiness on the part of husbands returning home! A compensation of 10 was paid to all sufferers from mechanical breakdown, thus stimulating patronage and making of what used to be a drawback an incentive to its popularity.

In conclusion a mention must be made of the Welcome Club. What had originally been just a comfortable dining room was gradually transformed into a club house in pleasant garden settings, enhanced by several trees left on the site by the builders. Honorary membership was extended to distinguished foreign visitors, this idea was copied from the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


© Exhibition Study Group 2004