Country Visitors' Guide
The Country Visitors' Guide to the Great Metropolis and the World’s Exhibition of 1851 was a guide that was sold at all railway stations in England to help advertise and encourage attendance to the Great Exhibition for those outside of London. The guide contains a detailed fold out map of London, a brief introduction to the Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace, descriptions of the city of London including the boundaries, population, and key characteristics and landmarks, ways to travel to and throughout London, an example itinerary for spending six days there, an outline of all the attractions, and even a suggested list of places for sightseeing near London.
According to Jason Long’s article “Rural-Urban Migration and Socioeconomic Mobility in Victorian Britain,” “the 1851 population census revealed a watershed demographic event: for the first time in the history of any large nation, more people lived in towns than in the countryside” (2). This shift from the rural to the urban came about because of the Industrial Revolution. People moved into towns and cities as factory jobs became more prevalent. This move from an agricultural society to an industrialized society was the main display of the Great Exhibition.
As The Country Visitors' Guide to the Great Metropolis and the World’s Exhibition of 1851 states in its introduction to the Great Exhibition, “England, the busiest country in the industrial world, the seat of arts and manufactures, should [not] neglect such an opportunity of exhibiting the enormous progress she has made in all the branches of Industry” (3). And this exhibition of progress was not just aimed at the rest of the world but at England’s own citizens as well.
This souvenir stands as a testament to England’s desire to demonstrate its industrial power, not just around the world, but also within the bounds of its nation’s borders. Perhaps part of the reason for the Great Exhibition was to demonstrate to English people outside of London how desirable living in the city was as a way to further encourage movement towards the urban to operate the machine of industrialization and help grow the economy.
Long, Jason. “Rural-Urban Migration and Socioeconomic Mobility in Victorian Britain.” The Journal of Economic History, vol. 65, no. 1, 2005, pp. 1–35., www.jstor.org/stable/3875041.