The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Catch-up events

If you missed any of our virtual events, you can buy a ticket to watch the recording of it below. All ticket proceeds go towards our campaigning to protect outstanding C20 buildings and design.

 

Festival of Britain 70th Anniversary: Battersea Pleasure Gardens

To mark the 70th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain, Geoffrey Hollis and Elain Harwood will talk about the 1951 Battersea Pleasure Gardens – ‘Art and Elegance in Abundance’ .

A roller coaster ride, with thrills, spills, emotion, drama, nail-biting tension – and that was before the gardens had even opened! Planned to be the light relief element of the 1951 Festival of Britain, Battersea Pleasure Gardens were totally different to the Southbank Exhibition both in ambience and content. Visitors were promised ‘Art and Elegance in Abundance’ including exotic settings planned by leading artists and architects, masses of entertainment, commercial sponsorship, nightly fireworks, and lots of things to buy. Despite a delay of nearly a month to the opening, there were over 8 million visitors that summer. This talk will describe the ideas and people behind the event, the challenges they faced, and what visitors experienced.

This recording will be available until 31st August 2021

World Art Deco Day

A celebration of Art Deco in Britain for World Art Deco Day. Elain Harwood will talk about cinemas, seaside buildings, factories and other buildings in this most fantastic of styles, based on her book Art Deco Britain, published by Batsford in 2019.

This recording will be available until 31st August 2021

Ralph Beyer’s Coventry Architectural Inscriptions

The work of the letter carver Ralph Beyer (1921-2008), will be discussed by John Neilson with particular emphasis on Beyer’s architectural lettering, and especially the largest commission of his career at Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral.

This recording will be available until 31st August 2021

Brutal North

During the post-war years the North of England saw the building of some of the most aspirational, enlightened and successful modernist architecture. Simon Phipps, whose photographic exploration Brutal North: Post-War Modernist Architecture in the North of England (2020), is joined in this discussion by Catherine Croft, Dr Christina Malathouni and Matthew Steele.

This recording will be available until 31st August 2021

Wartime Paintings in London

Suzanne Bardgett Head of Research at the Imperial War Museum will talk about the research for Wartime London in Painting, her book about the Imperial War Museum’s paintings of London commissioned during the Second World War which was published last year. The works were purchased or commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee, chaired by Kenneth Clark, and they provide a new visual history of London at that perilous time.

Suzanne will describe how many of the artists encountered the war in a very immediate sense as firemen, fire-watchers or nurses. Their letters to the committee – also held by the museum – document their responses to the extraordinary sights the war produced. Evelyn Dunbar, Frank Dobson, Ruskin Spear, Carel Weight and Charles Ginner are among the artists whose work will be discussed.

This recording will be available until 31st August 2021

Spring Lecture Series Swansea

The destruction of Swansea in the Second World War, after the three nights blitz of February 1941, left a devastated town centre that had lost its heart, soul and architectural character. Following the war a redevelopment plan was undertaken based on pre-war modernist proposals.

Catrin James will look at the post war buildings that brought back civic pride to the city centre. She will also discuss the concrete sculptural mural of 1968 on the façade of the Central Clinic in Orchard Street which is currently at risk. The mural was the work of the sculptor Harry Everington when he was Head of Fine Art at Swansea College of Art in the 1960s.

Catrin James is an archivist and artist who works on the post war architecture of South Wales. She created work for the Cultural Olympiad for Wales in 2012.

This recording is available until 31st July 2021

Spring Lecture Series Milton Keynes

In the new town of Milton Keynes, designated in 1967, flat roofs and clean lines characterized several early housing estates, from Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones’s Netherfield to Norman Foster’s Beanhill. However, by the early 1980s the Milton Keynes Development Corporation was instructing architects to follow a ‘traditional house formula’ instead, and this resulted in such estates as Great Linford and Neath Hill. How did this change come about?

Guy Ortolano is Professor of History at New York University. He is the author of Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town (Cambridge, 2019). He lives in a thirty-storey concrete tower block in New York City.

The recording is available until 31 July 2021.

Spring lecture Series Dublin

Dublin is famous as a city of extremes and contrasts. At the dawn of the twentieth century, it was a city of opulent buildings and some of the worst slums in Europe. On independence the nascent state was faced with the problem of how to deal with these legacies and the challenges of reconstruction after the damage of the 1916 Rising. Later in the century a new wave of spatial modernisation led to the boom of apartments and offices of the Celtic Tiger, and the urban crisis of the ghost estates. Erika Hanna will chart the shifts in the city’s fortunes, and explore some of the city’s more famous and lesser-known buildings.

Dr Erika Hanna is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Bristol and author of Modern Dublin: Urban Change and the Irish Past (Oxford University Press, 2013).

The recording is available until 31 July 2021.

Spring Lecture series Nottingham

Nottingham is a city caught between the Midlands and the north, and is often overlooked. Yet in the twentieth century it had one of the few traditional economies, based on textiles, that boomed, together with new activities such as bicycles (which led to light engineering), Boots pharmaceuticals and more. The city blossomed with new housing, factories and public buildings, a momentum that was sustained through the post-war years.

Elain Harwood’s talk will range from local architects T. Cecil Howitt and cinema specialist Reginald Cooper, to national heroes such as E. Owen Williams at Boots and Peter Moro at the Nottingham Playhouse.

Elain Harwood is a native of Nottinghamshire and author of the Pevsner City Guide to Nottingham (Yale University Press, 2008).
The recording is available until 31 July 2021

Spring Lecture Series Liverpool

Liverpool reached its commercial zenith in the early 20th century, suffered widespread destruction during the Second World War, became a focus of popular culture in the 1960s and experienced catastrophic decline in the ensuing decades. By the 1990s it was reinventing itself as a tourist destination.

Joseph Sharples will explore how the city’s history is reflected in its buildings. American-inspired Classicism dominated the interwar years, revealing the influence of Charles Reilly, head of the Liverpool School of Architecture. Comprehensive redevelopment in the 1960s and 1970s destroyed much, but produced significant monuments such as Tripe & Wakeham’s, Royal Insurance headquarters, and Frederick Gibberd’s, Catholic Cathedral. After a long fallow period, noted architects are once again reshaping the city. The recording is available until 30 June 2021.

Spring Lecture Series: Oxford

In 1977 Alan Bullock observed ‘It comes as a surprise to most people to be told that if they want to see a representative collection of the best British architecture of the last twenty years they cannot do better than visit Oxford.’ The big question, of course, is why? What happened to Oxford to turn it from what Howard Colvin once termed ‘a hotbed of cold feet’ into a place that commissioned much more modern architecture?

William Whyte will look at building projects, designs, town planning schemes and a motorway to address those questions. The answer will tell us much about modern Oxford and also give insight into the debates about building that helped reshape modern Britain. The recording is available until 30 June 2021.

Spring Lecture Series: Edinburgh

This talk will highlight Edinburgh’s twentieth century architectural heritage, ranging from consideration of works by notable designers such as Basil Spence and Robert Matthew to less well-known projects in the city centre and the suburbs. We will see how a constellation of designers and others created modern environments in this historic city. Among the projects to be discussed will be the architecture of the city’s universities, its modern churches, its inter-war and post-war council housing, and the pioneering work of new housing associations in the 1960s and 1970s. The talk will also highlight some more recent interventions in the city centre during the 1980s and 1990s, culminating, briefly, with the new Scottish Parliament.
The recording is available until 30 June 2021

The Festival of Britain 1951, a tonic to the Nation

Presented by Geoffrey Hollis

This is intended as an introduction to the Festival of Britain, in its 70th Anniversary year. The recording is available until 30 June 2021