A recent event saw the unveiling of a lion’s head corbel salvaged from the former Palace of Industry, part of the British Empire Exhibition held in Wembley Park in 1924.
The lion’s head was unveiled to mark the close of Brent Museum’s exhibition commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the British Empire Exhibition called ‘The Lion Roars – the World in Wembley.’
Councillor Butt of Brent welcomed the assembled group of well-wishers as he cut the ribbon. This was followed by a talk from local historian Philip Grant, who explained that the lion was, ‘The symbol of the Exhibition, and also the symbol of Wembley itself’, with its speedway and ice hockey teams both called ‘The Wembley Lions’. The Exhibition first put Wembley on the world map. It attracted many people to come and settle in the area, and also began the process of slowly shifting old ideas of ‘empire’ towards a modern notion of a commonwealth of equal nations and peoples.
Julian Tollast, Head of Masterplanning at Wembley Park, then added, ‘The heritage of Wembley has an important place in the present day. We are working hard to draw on the area’s rich heritage to create a new, outward-looking area proud of its history and excited about its future.’
Members of the Wembley History Society and Exhibition Study Group were present and they provided further fascinating information on the background of The British Empire Exhibition. Donald Knight, author of a book about The British Empire Exhibition called ‘The Lion Roars at Wembley’, and dedicated football fan (he has been to every single FA Cup Final at Wembley), told us that 27 million people visited the Exhibition and in 1924 and 1925, and that it was a truly global event which put Wembley Park on the world stage.