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Festival of Britain memories wanted for living archive

London SE1 website team

Do you have a special memory of the Royal Festival Hall or the Festival of Britain? If so, the South Bank Centre wants to hear from you.

This is the first phase of a major undertaking to form a living archive of memories of the Royal Festival Hall and the 1951 Festival of Britain. The Hall was a symbol of Britain's emergence from post-war gloom and was the centrepiece of the Festival of Britain; it holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people from across the country.

The South Bank Centre wants to hear from a broad range of people whose memories reflect the Hall's importance in their lives, whether as concert-goers, performers, staff or simply those who value such a welcoming open space in the middle of London. Memories from last week are as welcome as those from the 1950s.

"The Festival Hall was originally known as 'The People's Place' and we hope that Love The Festival Hall will celebrate the place it holds in people's affections," says artistic director Jude Kelly. "I believe the refurbished Hall will provide future generations with their own rich treasure trove of memories."

People's memories will play a prominent and creative part in the celebration of the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall in 2007 when the current major refurbishment of this iconic building has been completed.

Jude Kelly's own memory concerns the Brian Wilson concert in February 2005. She recalls: "My early heroes were the Beach Boys, so when Brian Wilson disappeared from view I mourned him as if he were dead. When I took my two teenage children to see him in the Smile concert it was like watching a man on a tightrope crossing a gorge with the entire audience willing him to succeed. Unlike me, my children had no memory of Brian's glory days, but at the end of the concert they jumped to their feet, recognising his greatness. The Festival Hall gave Brian the chance to become what he once was. The downside is that now my children think they discovered him."

Memories can be submitted at by post, or can be left at the Memory Box in the box office on Festival Riverside.

The address to write to is: Freepost RRAE-ZBTX-HEXX, Royal Festival Hall, The South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

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