First image from the Evelyn Collection kindly provided by Rita Wood, who also brought to my attention the Internet Archive copy of The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, York (originally discovered there by Susan Major: many thanks to both). Other images downloaded by the present author. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the source and (2) link your document to this URL, or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

The Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition Hall, York, from the Evelyn Collection, YAYAS (Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society).

Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition Hall, York. Designed by Edward Taylor (1831-1908) in association with the firm of J.B. & W. Atkinson (see "Exhibition Square"). 1866. The temporary hall, constructed from timber and glass, was in the then fashionable style of a Swiss chalet.

The Opening of the Exhibition

The Opening of the Exhibition on 24 July 1866. Source: Illustrated London News, Vol. XLIX, 113.

According to a report delivered to the Lord Mayor,

whether we consider the firmness of its construction, the elegance ot its proportions, its external appearance, or its internal fitness, the building reflects the greatest credit on these gentlemen. The cost of the erection, including the decorations, has been about £4,000. It comprises, in addition to this magnificent hall, two spacious picture galleries, an annexe. specially arranged for the exhibition of carriages and machinery, together with a lecture room, refreshment rooms, &c. With the exception of the building erected for the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester, this is the first occasion in which a provincial exhibition of this character has been held in a building specially provided for it.... [The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, 43-44]

Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales

The royal party's procession over the "New Bridge" (the Gothic Revival Lendal Bridge over the Ouse, built in 1863 to the design of the civil engineer, Thomas Page), where a triumphal arch had been erected in their honour. It was raining heavily. Source: Illustrated London News, Vol. XLIX, 166.

The exhibition was graced by a royal visit in the August of that year, when the Prince and Princess of Wales, and their two children spent a few days in the neighbourhood:

They visited, on Friday week, the Yorkshire Fine-Arts and Industrial Exhibition and the annual show of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, besides attending the ceremony of the uncovering of a memorial window, presented by Mr. Alderman Leeman, M.P., to the Guildhall of York, in commemoration of the banquet of Mayors, in October, 1850, when the late Prince Consort occupied the chair. It may be remembered that that entertainment was given by the Lord Mayor of York and the Mayors of other provincial towns in return for the hospitality with which they had been treated by the Lord Mayor of London on the occasion of a pre liminary conference respecting the Great Exhibition of 1851. ["Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to York."]

Although the royal party had other engagements, including a "grand volunteer review" of northern army corps, the exhibition, which recalled the highly successful Great Exhibition of 1851, was the centrepiece of the visit. The Prince of Wales and his fmily arrived there after unveiling the memorial window, which itself sported in its tracery "the arms of the principal nations of the world which took part in the Great Exhibition of 1851." On arrival, he gave the following response to his formal welcome:

The Princess and myself thank you for the terms of affection and devotion in which you have expressed yourselves towards the Queen and the Royal family. To visit this exhibition of art and industry has been our most earnest desire on coming to York; and to witness so successful a result of your labours cannot fail to increase the satisfaction we experience at the opportunity thus afforded. It is impossible for me to pass unnoticed the allusion you have made to him who may be considered the founder of these exhibitions in England — my revered father — or to omit my grateful acknowledgments for the justice you have done to his memory. My last act has been to inaugurate a memorial to perpetuate it, and I now behold another practical result of his thoughts and efforts for the promotion of art and science in England. That such a result must be beneficial to the public cannot be doubted, for the elevation of the taste of the public and the cultivation of a higher order of enjoyment cannot fail to be accompanied by increased happiness and improved habits of morality and religion.

This was followed by the royal party's progress through the various galleries.

Two views from The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, York. Left: The Great Hall, Looking South, facing p. 248. Right: The Gallery, facing p.265.

At the end of the exhibition, which had proved to be such a resounding success, spirits were high:

During the whole of the midnight peregrination through the streets the concourse was of the most orderly character, good humouredly joining the band with vocal strains as they passed along, and certainly surprising some of those quiet go-to-bed citizens, whose existence was proclaimed to the crowd by the bobbing of their night-capped heads through their chamber windows to witness the demonstration. This concluding act of the day was a happy conception of some one, and from the orderly manner in which it was carried out was the most striking compliment which could readily be paid to those whom it was intended to honour. On its conclusion, the band, marching to the centre of Parliament-street, played the National Anthem, and the people quietly dispersed to their homes. [The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, 332-33]

Memorials of the Exhibition

Left: The exhibition medal, designed by local artist John Bell. Source: following p. 363 in The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition. Right: Cover of the copy of this book in the Hathi Trust.

Altogether 113 medals and 143 certificates were awarded to exhibitors, and at the end there was a special mention of the designer of the medal — "pronounced by competent judges, the best design produced for some time past, was designed by our fellow- citizen, Mr. John Bell, and has been entrusted to the medalist who executed the Great Council Medal of 1851" (The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, 341). The exhibition was so successful that a book of over 350 pages was prepared about it, to appear in the following year.

Taylor gets only a few mentions in its pages, but he was very much involved from start to finish. His name appears among those attending the preliminary meeting about it in the Guildhall (9), and among those who were fêted at the end (332). In between, as the architect of the hall, and one of the Secretaries of the Exhibition, he was on the dais to welcome the Prince and Princess of Wales on their visit (302). At the closing of the exhibition he seconded the proposition that thanks should be given to the York County Asylum (on whose land the structure was built) and the York Waterworks Company (which supplied water on "liberal terms"), and "and bore his testimony to the kind and cordial manner in which the Exhibition executive had been treated by the two bodies mentioned in the resolution" (347). This pleasant acknowledgement is the closest we come to hearing the architect's own voice.

Related Material


Evelyn Collection. YAYAS (York Architectural and Your Archaeological Society). Web. 27 July 2020.

"Exhibition Square." York Civic Trust. Web. 27 July 2020.

The History of the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, York: Opened July 24th 1866-Closed October 31st, 1866. Compiled by the York Herald. Internet Archive. Contributed by Getty Research. Web. 27 July 2020.

"Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to York." Illustrated London News. July-December 1866. Vol. XLIX. 18 August 1866. 166. Hathi Trust. Contributed by the University of Michigan. Web. 27 July 2020.

"Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition." Illustrated London News. July-December 1866. Vol. XLIX. 4 August 1866. 111-13. Hathi Trust. Contributed by the University of Michigan. Web. 27 July 2020.

Created 23 July 2020