'Britain Can Make It' Exhibition

Scope and Content

Three files refer to the development of policy in relation to the exhibition. Others cover aspects of financial planning, figures for attendance and records of the sales of publications. Partial information survives about staffing. There are files concerning construction, the planning of a visual record, and the preparation of catalogue entries. Another is on the pottery industry. Mass-Observation was commissioned to evaluate the success of the displays. There is also some correspondence from visitors.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 'Britain Can Make It' exhibition was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1946. It was organised by the Council of Industrial Design at the request of the President of the Board of Trade, Sir Stafford Cripps. The intention of the show was to reveal to the public British manufacturers" preparedness to resume normal production after the Second World War. Just under a million and a half people visited it during the last quarter of the year. The importance of this initiative in relation to the Council"s other exhibition-related work (DCA/14) made it necessary to assign files in this series a distinguishing suffix.


The surviving files have been retained in their original numeric order as allocated by the Council"s Registry. This means that records in a series do not necessarily have consecutive file numbers, and may not be located together.

Access Information

Researchers wishing to consult the collection should make an appointment. Telephone 0044 (0)1273 643217 or email: designarchives@brighton.ac.uk

Archivist's Note

Record created by Lesley Whitworth, with minor edits by Sue Breakell, August 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish any material from the collection must be sought from the curator email: designarchives@brighton.ac.uk

Related Material

Across the collection, a wide variety of other materials illustrate the scope of the Britain Can Make It exhibition. These additional items include guides and photographs in the Design Council collection, as well as details of James Gardner's work as exhibition designer in the Gardner archive (LJG).


Patrick J. Maguire and Jonathan M. Woodham (eds), 'Design and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain: The Britain Can Make It Exhibition of 1946', London: Leicester University Press, 1997.

Penny Sparke (ed), 'Did Britain Make It? British Design In Context 1946-86', London: Design Council, c1986