World's Fair 1967

One of the most infamous cases I have researched in regards to the strange goings on around Southampton has to be that of The 1967 World’s Fair. As with much of the optimism of the past, World’s Fairs have sadly died out in popularity and so i’m sure there are many alive today who don’t know what they are! Started in the 1800’s World’s Fairs or EXPOs were a coming together of Nations to share their ideas and hopes for the future. For more info here is a link to the article on Wikipedia The most famous of World’s Fair took place in 1964-65 in New York which has been widely and thoroughly documented due to it’s iconic Unisphere and abandoned pavilions still around today. But on the other end of the scale, the Southampton World’s Fair has been largely forgotten and very little is known about it. But is there a reason for that?

A History
The second World War had hit Southampton very hard and being an important dock town, it was directly targeted and many buildings were destroyed . By the end of the 1950’s the City had begun to pick itself up and rebuild. the future looked very bright and hopeful. The advances in technology that were being used came from all corners of the globe and so it was decided to celebrate this coming together of progress by hosting a World’s Fair right in the heart of the city.

The Fair
The war had brought so much destruction and fear to the world, and divided so many people, the theme of collaboration was signed to the Fair. It’s aim was to help you ‘Shake hands with the stranger of tomorrow’. The fair consisted of 6 main Pavilions: The Dream Pavilion, The Space Pavilion, The Triumph of Man, The Pavilion of British development, The Southampton Pavilion and centred around two giant cylindrical towers that greeted you on entrance. Here is a very rare image of one of the souvenir maps that were handed out before the fair opened.

Map from the 1967 Worlds Fair in Southampton

The remains of the Entrance Towers can still be seen today, but sadly the rest of the site has been developed on.

Entrance Towers as seen today

A good friend of mine and fellow Strange Southampton Historian has recently started making a series of online documentaries about the lesser known and stranger stories from the history of Southampton and he’s first entry is regarding this Fair.

Abandoned Southampton - The 1967 World's Fair - Youtube video

From all accounts I’ve ever been able to read about this Fair, it was a complete success. But then why have we never heard about it? AS mentioned in the Abandoned Southampton online documentary, there were reports of something weird happening during the fair and rumours surfaced about a ‘disruption’ and someone trying to ‘derail the Fair’. This very limited account of the disruption from the Daily Echo is the only evidence i’ve been able to find about it, but it wasn’t easy to get hold of. .

Daily Echo coverage of the World's Fair 1967

Again echoing Abandoned Southampton, there have been rumours about a 50th Anniversary Tour this year so maybe some more of the story will be brought to light then.

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