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Festival of Britain mug - 1951

Norman Makinson’s Festival of Britain mug, ©  Wedgwood Museum
    Norman Makinson’s Festival of Britain mug
    © Wedgwood Museum

The 1951 Festival of Britain exhibition was held on London’s South bank, and was epitomized by the futuristic Skylon. Norman Makinson cleverly captured the spirit of the Skylon in this classic Wedgwood Queen’s ware mug design while also celebrating the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

In the years of austerity following the end of World War Two Britain needed something to look forward to. The centenary of the Great Exhibition provided the inspiration for the Festival of Britain – and the two events are celebrated with this timeless commemorative mug.Probably the most abiding symbol of the Festival of Britain was the Skylon. This ‘Vertical Feature’ was designed by Hidalgo Moya, Philip Powell and Felix Samuely, and was fabricated by Painter Brothers of Hereford at the home of the Festival on London’s South bank. The futuristic sculpture was pointed at both ends, and was supported on cables slung between three steel beams. Norman Makinson captured the spirit of the Skylon structure in this small, but nevertheless classic, mug. The linear design of the pattern echoing not only the skylon’s shape and construction but also the iron structure of the Crystal Palace, scene of the Great Exhibition 100 years before.

  • Type of object: Teaware/mug
    [Printed in black]
    Festival of Britain logo 1951
  • Year produced: 1951
  • Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Glaze: clear glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: hand-enamelled, transfer-printed
  • Accession number: 9143
  • Dimensions: 74 mm (height), 107 mm (width), 76 mm (diameter)

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Related people

  • Norman Makinson Designer

    Norman Makinson - Designer (1923 - 2010)

    Norman Makinson (born 1923) was primarily an artist and designer. He joined the Wedgwood factory at Etruria as an apprentice in 1937, but then joined the Royal Marines in 1940 and served throughout World War II.On returning to the Wedgwood design department after the war, his most famous designs included a limited edition mug commemorating the Festival of Britain and in 1953 the tableware design 'Partridge in a Pear Tree'. Makinson left the Wedgwood factory at Barlaston in 1955, to take up a career in teaching design. In May 1992 he had a display of exhibits called 'Animalesque' at Bodelwyddan Castle. He died in April 2010 aged 88.


  • Queen’s ware

    Queen’s ware

    In 1765 Wedgwood provided a tea and coffee service to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) in the new earthenware body he had recently perfected. She was so pleased with the set that she not only allowed Josiah to style himself ‘Potter to Her Majesty’, she also allowed him to call his new earthenware ‘Queen’s ware’ - a name by which Wedgwood’s cream coloured earthenware is still known today.