THE Dome of Discovery and the Skylon have appeared in Albion Street, Leeds, in the form of a new patterned curtain fabric. The city is now busy getting itself into shape for its own Festival, I find, after being away for a few days in London, racing and Festival viewing.
The red-nosed bomber on Woodhouse Moor was having its white coat washed yesterday. Flower displays and window decorations are springing up like mushrooms in the city. Flags and hanging baskets decorate the platforms of Leeds Central Station. Now a few diffident geraniums are poking up.
Painted tubs, set out in City Station, are planted with French marigolds and other flowers. I do not feel very optimistic about these railway blooms opening on time, but I suppose the gardeners know best.
Bombed church restored
Outside Waterloo Station, London, is the church which has been specially restored for the Festival of Britain. It is rather apt to be overlooked, I fear, with so much to see, but visitors to the South Bank Exhibition, whatever their denomination, will find it most interesting.
Architecturally, it is late Georgian, but the interior decorations are 1951. The inside is painted in ivory and gold with touches of green and red, and two brightly pained murals behind the altar. There are two pulpits, all in cream, with concealed lighting let into the canopies. The effect is quite surprising, and very much in keeping with the general Festival décor.
A tablet near the door records how the building was almost completely destroyed by a bomb during the last war while the 44 parishioners who had taken refuge in her crypt escaped unhurt.
So much has been written about the grace and charm of the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea Park, all of which I fully endorse, that I am surprised more has not been made of the wicker work effects.
Much that appears to be wrought iron at first sight proves to be cane on examination. The illuminated figures, high above the grand vista, were made by the oldest firm of basket-makers in the country. They made the wicker men on which the armour in the Tower of London is displayed, as I have mentioned before, and the framework for the bearskins worn by the Brigade of Guards. Now I learn they also made the airborne panniers dropped to the men of Arnhem.
The arcades thesmelves and the great two and three tier chandeliers, ablaze with soft electric candles, suspended from a semi-circle of arches near the entrance – an enchanting sight in the dark – are all made of cane.
A fine view
There were other enchantments during my last visit to the Gardens. The weather was warm, and the view across the river to Chelsea in a Whistler-ish sunset was magnificent. Night-scented stock bloomed outside our supper place, built around an ancient tree.
The weather is not always kind. When the wind blows cold off the river, hooded basket-work chairs for two – Victorian, I believe, but never bettered – make very popular shelters.
Service in the more popular type of cafeteria in the Gardens is an improvement on most places. A check with the food, payment being made at the door on leaving, speeds things up. Tea and coffee are served separately at the tables from vaccum flasks on trolleys by waitresses empowered to give separate checks.
To come still further off the heights, even the litter bins are modern, twin baskets, hooded and lit. Would that they attracted more users!