Southbank Centre History
Southbank Centre was built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain and the concert halls were originally funded and managed by the London County Council and their successors, the Greater London Council. The Centre became an independent arts organisation in April 1988 after two years operating as a constituent part of the Arts Council.
The Hayward Gallery was built in 1968 and was funded and managed by the Arts Council of Great Britain until April 1987 when its administration moved to Southbank Centre. Read more
Southbank Centre Archive
Southbank Centre Archive aims to collect, manage and preserve information, documents and artefacts relating to events and exhibitions held in the performing arts and public spaces of Southbank Centre. This includes Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and outdoor spaces around Southbank Centre site.
Since 2009 Southbank Centre has been embarking on a strategic development plan for the Archive’s future organisation and access. To enable the next stage of this plan to be carried out the Archive is currently closed to general enquiries.
This temporary closure will allow essential intensive work to be carried out on Southbank Centre Archive which will facilitate meaningful access to the materials for the public in future years including the archives use in participatory projects.
Southbank Centre apologises for any disappointment and inconvenience this may cause but we look forward to welcoming your enquiries in the future.
You can check on the progress of the development of the Archive here. Read more
Hayward Gallery Library and Archive
The Hayward Gallery's Library, a reference library reflecting the research needs of the exhibition curators, acquires contemporary material on artists, exhibitions, architecture, photography and critical theory (art). The emphasis is on modern and contemporary art (British and international). There is a small quantity of historic material. The library is able to offer public access as a last resource reference library for consultation by appointment only. Read more
Southbank Centre is looking for memories, personal photographs, film, letters, postcards, diaries or other personal writing about any of the Festival events that took place at the Southbank Centre or anywhere else around the country.
We'd love to hear from you if your family or friends have memories of the Festival or any of the following:
- Photographs or film of you or your family at any Festival of Britain exhibition or event
- Letters, diaries, postcards or other personal writing about experiences at any Festival of Britain event
Visit southbankcentre.co.uk/festivalmemories to see some of the memories we have already collected and find out more about the project.
Love the Festival Hall
Southbank Centre has launched a nationwide call for memories of the Royal Festival Hall, with the support of Age Exchange and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Do you have a memorable moment or special story of the Royal Festival Hall? Why not share it and be part of our archive of memories, which will launch when we open our doors again in the summer of 2007. Share your story and be part of a living archive – a people’s history - a celebration of over 50 years of priceless memories and unforgettable moments.
Visit lovethefestivalhall.org to learn more about the project and entrust your memory to the archive.
The Story of Southbank Centre
Read more about the history of Southbank Centre in Charlotte Mullins' new book A Festival on the River: The Story of Southbank Centre. This fascinating and informative book charts the extraordinary history of Southbank Centre, from the South Bank's agricultural past, through the 1951 Festival of Britain, to the present day.
Read an extract from the book