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Franco-British Exhibition and Olympic Games, 1908 - The White City, London

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Franco-British Exhibition and Olympic Games, 1908 - The White City, London

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Date Posted:May 3rd, 2006
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Description: The Franco-British Exhibition (1908) was held in an area west of London now called White City. It celebrated the Entente Cordiale which had been signed by the United Kingdom and France in 1904. The Olympic Games were held in the stadium alongside the festivities. The exhibition attracted 8 million visitors. The fair was the largest exhibition of its kind in Britain, and the first international exhibition co-organised and sponsored by two countries. It covered an area of some 140 acres, including an artificial lake, surrounded by an immense network of white buildings in elaborate (often Oriental) styles.

The most popular attractions at the exhibition were the two so-called "colonial villages", an "Irish village" and a "Senegalese village", which were designed to communicate the success of colonial imposition. The Irish village ("Ballymaclinton") was inhabited by 150 "colleens" (Irish girls) who demonstrated various forms of domestic industry, as well as displays of manafacturing and even an art gallery. The "Senegalese village" was a so-called "native village" displaying day-to-day life, as well as various artefacts. Press reports commented on the "surprising cleanliness" of the Irish, while readers were reminded that the Senegalese were "cleaner than they looked". BBC Television Centre and BBC White City now occupy the site as well as the White City housing estate.

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