FTL Design
History of Technology

1886 Liverpool International Exhibition

The International Exhibition of Navigation, Commerce and Industry in Liverpool, England, was opened by Queen Victoria on 11 May 1886.

The images below are from a souvenir booklet published by Lewis’s of Liverpool, a famous department store of the time, which closed only in May 2010 after several changes of ownership. Also shown are a souvenir handkerchief printed on Great Eastern during the exhibition, and a medal commemorating the opening.

The American publication, The Manufacturer and Builder, announced the forthcoming Exhibition in its issue of December 1885:

An International Exhibition of Navigation,
Traveling, Commerce and Manufactures.

We have received from Capt. R. C. Clipperton, British Commissioner for the United States, the prospectus of an international exhibition to be devoted to the above named subjects, and which will be held at Liverpool, commencing in May, 1886. The contemplated exhibition will embrace within its scope everything pertaining, directly or indirectly, to the subject of intercommunication by sea or by land. The object is set forth in a circular-letter issued by Capt. Clipperton, from which we extract the following:

"The exhibition is intended to illustrate traveling by sea, land and air, and as allied to this subject, will also be shown exhibits representative of the manufactures and commerce of the world, bearing upon the means and methods of movement from place to place. The project will also include a collection of models of vessels, and ancient and modern illustrations of the modes and materials of their construction; engineering and other appliances, docks, harbors, lighthouses, life-saving apparatus, and all other matter connected with traveling by water. "In the department of land traveling there will be exhibited chariots, coaches and carriages of all countries and of all times; and the history of steam as a motive power will be fully illustrated by models, examples and technical appliances for the conveyance of travelers and goods; while in the commercial and manufacturing sections there will be specimens and products of English and foreign industries. "Gold, silver and bronze medals, and diplomas of honorable mention are to be awarded to exhibitors on the recommendation of juries. "Should there be any surplus funds at the close of the exhibition, they will be devoted to the foundation in Liverpool of a school of technical, artistic and industrial education. "Special attention is called to the regulations for exhibitors and classification of subjects, published in conjunction with the prospectus, which will be forwarded to intending exhibitors on application to the commissioner, who is prepared to furnish all necessary information as to limit of time for application for space, etc.

"All persons interested are invited to address Robt. Chas. Clipperton, British Commissioner for the United States (Liverpool Exhibition), 413 Locust street, Philadelphia."


Lewis’s Album of Liverpool
Price One Shilling

Promoter of the Exhibition
David Radcliffe, Esq., Mayor of Liverpool, 1885-1886

Articles available at fair prices at Lewis’s great establishment in Ranelagh Street, Liverpool

Prince’s Landing Stage

Liverpool from George’s Landing Stage

Langton Dock from the River

St. Georges Hall

Free Library - Brown’s Museum & Picton Reading Room

Castle Street & Town Hall

Lime Street

Church Street

Ranelagh Street

The Bridge, Sefton Park

The Exchange

New Brighton Pier

Liverpool International Exhibition, 1886

The Great Eastern
chartered for Lewis’s Great Eastern Exhibition Co.

Screen printed handkerchief
souvenir of the Great Eastern.

In Patrick Beaver’s book The Big Ship, he captions the illustration of the handkerchief as follows :

"An example of advertising genius. Visitors to the ship paid Lewis’s one penny for the privilege of having Lewis’s advertising copy printed on their own handkerchiefs".

Brought to Liverpool
May 2nd, 1886.

Ship enthusiasticallly received,
quite a quarter of a million
people lining the river sides.

Open to the Public Daily
Military and other Bands
All Day
Concerts, Promenades, Dancing, Acrobatic, Gymnastic, Equestrian, Vocal, Conjuring, Shooting, and Every Conceivable Performance
Sacred Music on Sundays

Opening medal for the Exhibition

In 1849 Henry Martin emigrated to Australia from Cornwall, and in 1886, during his only trip back to England, he visited the Liverpool International Exhibition. He kept the medal from the opening ceremony and it has been in the family ever since.

These images of Henry Martin's medal are courtesy of his great-grandson, Tony Edwards.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria

The medal measures 34mm from tip to tip of the star.

To Commemorate
Opening of the
by Her Majesty
The Queen
May 1886

Copyright © 2010 FTL Design
Last revised: 26 December, 2019