Planned to mark the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, it was held largely on London's South Bank and became a showcase for national achievement in the arts, science, technology and industrial design.
Although the iconic Skylon tower, Dome of Discovery and Telekinema have not survived, the Royal Festival Hall still stands as a permanent memorial to the event. In the 1970s, the library of Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) acquired a box of festival-related items that had come from The Daily Mirror.
As word spread, donations and an active acquisitions policy by librarian John Kirby eventually created a substantial collection.
Now housed in the Adsetts Centre, it includes catalogues, posters, commemorative jigsaws, cake tins, teapots, toys, glassware, medals - and the famous nylon knickers. All feature the logo designed by Abram Games, the official poster artist of the Second World War.