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British Industries Fair


BRITISH INDUSTRIES FAIR. The British Industries Fair owes its inception to the conditions brought about in 1914 by the sources of supply of many articles hitherto imported in large quantities by British firms being cut off as a result of the war.

To assist British manufacturers in undertaking the supply, a series of sample exhibitions, known as exchange meetings, were organized by the Board of Trade.

The logical sequel was the first British Industries Fair, held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in 1915, with a view to making the new British products known to the trade buyers. Some 600 ex hibitors took part in it and the exhibits occupied an area of about 89,00o square feet. It was so successful that the Government was urged by the exhibitors to make it an annual event.

During the war years which followed the Fair was held under great difficulties, all suitable halls being needed for military pur poses, and all trades capable of manufacturing munitions being necessarily debarred from participation. Nevertheless the fairs of 1916 and 1917, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Imperial Institute, and of 1918 and 1919, held in large sheds at the London docks, were as successful as could be expected.

In 1920 the Fair had commenced to take its place in the com mercial life of the country and, owing partly to the trade boom of that year and partly to the re-admission of the trades excluded during the war, it became necessary to move to the Crystal Palace, where 1,167 exhibitors took space.

The success of the Fair had resulted in the meantime in the organization of subsidiary sections at Glasgow and Birmingham, and, as exhibitors were classified on the basis of trades and no overlapping was permitted, the addition of these new sections raised important questions of policy. In 1920 a Board of Trade committee under the chairmanship of Sir Frank Warner, K.B.E., recommended that the Fair should be maintained on an annual basis with one section in London and one in Birmingham, and that the Glasgow section should be discontinued.

London and Birmingham Sections.—The Fair has con tinued to be held annually on the lines recommended by the com mittee, the London section being organized at the White City by the Department of Overseas Trade, and the Birmingham section at the Castle Bromwich aerodrome by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, under the auspices of the Birmingham Corporation, with the exception of the year 1925, when the London section of the fair was not held because of the British Empire Exhibition.

In 1925 the Government made a grant of L25,000 to defray the cost of publicity, with the result that the Fair of 1926 achieved a success which, coupled with a second grant for publicity, caused the Fair of 1927 to be, in its turn, yet more successful. As a result of the good business at the previous two years the space booked by exhibitors for the Fair of 1928 again increased very considerably and amounted in all to some 420,000 square feet.

The British Industries Fair, being an official organization for the increase of British trade, only permits the exhibition of British goods. It also restricts participation to manufacturing firms, or firms taking the whole output of a factory, so ensuring that, as any article can only be shown once and then only by its maker, trade buyers are able to inspect the exhibits and do their business in the most convenient manner. In both these points the British Industries Fair differs materially from the many fairs organized in Europe since the war. Another important point is the strict classi fication and clear division of the participating trades between the sections in London and Birmingham. As no overlapping is per mitted the buyer knows that the whole of the exhibits in any par ticular trade will be found in either London or Birmingham. Practically all trades are eligible for participation, the machinery, hardware and allied trades forming the Birmingham schedule, while the remainder, mainly consisting of the "small goods" in dustries, such as silver and plate, cutlery, china, glass, musical instruments, leather goods, sports goods, wireless, and the textile, food and chemical industries are shown in London.

In addition to publicity in the press and by an elaborate sys tem of correspondence direct with over 5o,000 trade buyers in all parts of the world, the Government's commercial, diplomatic and consular services, and the trade commissioners and imperial trade correspondents within the British empire work successfully to make the Fair widely known in their respective districts. Active support is also given by British chambers of commerce both at home and abroad. An important feature of the propaganda is the circulation abroad, a month before the opening of the Fair, of an advance edition of the catalogue.

With the exception of the grant for publicity, the fair is or ganized upon a self-supporting basis. The London section, being organized by the Department of Overseas Trade, is financed out of the vote for that department, the receipts from exhibitors being balanced against the expenditure. The Birmingham section is also self-supporting, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce making themselves responsible for the finance of the enterprise. (C. TA.)

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