London History Day

Celebrate London’s extraordinary history and heritage with activities at Southbank Centre.

London History Day takes place across the capital on 31 May 2017. This day was chosen by Historic England to celebrate the rich and diverse history of London. Organisations across London will be showcasing special objects within their archives and collections with strong links to our city.

Southbank Centre's archive reflects over six decades of our history. One of the most unique objects in our entire collection is the 'Patchwork of the Century'. This large scale quilt was made for Festival of Britain in 1951 and on permanent display in Royal Festival Hall. Made by women’s groups and consisting of 100 individual patches, made of recycled material, each path represents a different event in British history.

We have chosen this special object as inspiration for an afternoon of activities exploring London in the early 1950s.

London History Day Schedule

12 noon – 12.30pm: Southbank Centre and the Festival of Britain
A short interactive talk exploring Southbank Centre's origins and the Festival of Britain (1951) and our roots in 1950s London.

12.30pm – 1pm: Brief City Film (1952) screening
A screening of Brief City. A short documentary made by The Central Office of Information in 1952 about the Festival of Britain.

12.30pm – 3pm: Meet the Archive.
Get hands on with rarely seen original 1950s material. This includes original programmes, diaries, photographs and more from the 1950s. This is a drop-in session.

12.30pm – 3pm: Patchwork of the Century Viewing
Join us as one of our Heritage Team take your around of building where you can discover some of the hidden stories behind the extraordinary Patchwork of the Century. This is a drop-in session.

1pm – 3pm: Quilting workshop
Join us as London Modern Quilt Guild lead a quilting workshop inspired by our Patchwork of the Century. All material will be provided. Places are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates & times

31 May 2017
Approximate run time: 180 mins
  • 12:00 pm


Archive Studio, Level 2, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall



before & after

Hot dogs from Oh My Dog! at Southbank Centre
When was the last time a hot dog made you say Oh My Dog!?
People around the Central Bar at the Southbank Centre
Enjoy a drink at one of London’s longest bars: the iconic Central Bar