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Leighton Buzzard Observer & Linslade Gazette
Tuesday, 11th May 1875

Brief background

Article published in the local newspaper in the week before the exhibition opened. Note: any text enclosed in square bracket are comments by the transcriber relating to possible typos or errors in the original text.

The Article


The preparations and arrangements in connection with the great Leightonian Art and Industrial Exhibition of 1875 will now shortly have been completed, and to-morrow the inaugural ceremony will take place, under the presidency of Earl Cowper, K.G., Lord Lieutenant of the County, and in the presence of the Mayors of Bedford and Dunstable. No doubt the opening will also be attended by a large number of distinguished visitors. The popularity which the undertaking has attained, under the patronage and favoured with the warm support of the whole of the nobility of Bedfordshire and adjoining counties, members of Parliament, ministers of all denominations, gentry, and general public, cannot fail to bring together a brilliant assembly, and to produce an imposing spectacle to-morrow. The opening formality will take place about noon, and the services of the splendid band of the 1st Life Guards have been secured for the occasion. The committee have been at an enormous expense, and a vast deal of trouble and care has been bestowed upon the undertaking from beginning to end. The result of their labour is that the Exhibition contains the largest, most varied, valuable, interesting, and attractive collections of art specimens, scientific paraphernalia, agricultural appliances, educational illustrations, and local mechanical and industrial productions ever brought together in the county of Bedford. Visitors will find an immense variety of sources of attraction. The intellectual store may be replenished, curiosity gratified, and inclinations for amusement profitably indulged. The appeal of the committee made to the general public at the commencement of the year has been heartily and nobly responded to by all classes, and in all forms by which the cause could be advanced. The cup of expectation has been filled to overflowing, and even the whole extent of our commodious and handsome Corn Exchange, crowded from top to bottom, and from ceiling to floor in each of the large halls has proved insufficient to contain exhibits. A spacious annexe was first erected at the rear, the ante-rooms of the building have since been utilised, a large tent has recently been added to the original enlargement, and even now we believe that many minor articles entered for exhibition will not be shown from sheer impossibility to find space. Some idea of the vast amount of labour and trouble expended in promoting the object may be gathered from the fact that during the past three weeks the whole time of Mr. Lewis, one of the secretaries, has been devoted to conducting correspondence and superintending arrangements. Prior to that time no less than 777 hours, or 77 days, had been spent by Mr. Lewis in writing and attending to preliminary matters. This, too, is independent of the time given by his colleague, Mr. Abraham, and many other assistants at various times. The noble and benevolent family of Rothschild have immensely assisted in promoting this Exhibition. Almost every member, we believe, has contributed in one way or another, but to the Baroness and Miss Hannah de Rothschild, of Mentmore, the committee are specially indebted, not only for splendid objects contributed – amongst which are some to be sold for the benefit of the funds - but also for a special course of three lectures to be delivered in the building by E. A. Davidson, Esq., of London, during the time of the Exhibition is open, on architecture, art and natural history. Through the instrumentality of the Baroness the process of engraving on glass will also be illustrated by Mr Eisert, of London. The Duke of Bedford’s contributions are also handsome and costly, and in addition to the loan of these his Grace has given a special donation of £100 to the lecture fund which is to be established on the proceeds of the Exhibition. The contributions of many other patrons are really splendid and of great value. One oil-painting, we are told, is worth 1,000 guineas, and there are numerous other exhibits, the prices of which are calculated by hundreds. The committee must feel greatly honoured in being so freely entrusted with such precious objects – the kindness of the contributors, at all events, cannot be over-estimated. Arrangements have been made for carrying on within the building, or of otherwise illustrating, the processes of striking a commemoration medal, weaving, pipe-making, wood-carving, electro-gilding, the manufacture of aluminium jewellery, &c. Electrical experiments and conjuring performances will also be prominent features; the valuable contributions for the Science and Art Department at South Kensington will command great attention; organ and pianoforte recitals nightly will be appreciated by the musical visitors, entertainments will be given by the Leighton Instrumental Society, and to those who do not tire in their explorations among the vast and varied resources of the Exhibition the doors and gates of the Mentmore Mansion and grounds are most generously thrown open by the Baroness de Rothschild on two days a week. The town, on Wednesday, is to be profusely decorated, a grand public luncheon is to be given to the distinguished visitors, and a rich musical treat will be afforded by the Life Guard’s Band in the evening. Altogether, the day will be a great one to record in the history of Leighton Buzzard; and speaking generally of the Exhibition, which will remain open for three or four weeks, we cannot but think that, notwithstanding all the trouble and expense which have been incurred in getting up what is really a monster display, the undertaking will eventually prove a great success in promoting the special object which the members of the Working Men’s Institute have in view.

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