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Torch

Torch

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (designed)
    Slough (city), England (made)

  • Date:

    1947 (designed and made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lavers, Ralph, born 1907 - died 1969 (designer)
    High Duty Alloys Ltd. (manufacturer)
    Fuel Research Station (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast hiduminium and perforated steel

  • Museum number:

    M.3:1, 2-2006

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Image in copyright

The arrival of the flame at the opening ceremony signals the start of the Olympic Games. The torches are carried by many people throughout numerous countries during the transfer of the flame. The bearers are usually amateur athletes who are allowed to keep the torches as a souvenir. This torch was made for the 1948 London Olympic relay, and is thought to have been used on the Belgium leg of the journey between Olympia and London.
The British Olympic Committee wanted the torch to be 'a good example of British craftsmanship' and chose architect Ralph Lavers to design the holder. Lavers was interested in classical architecture and archaeology, and his design for the torch was successful enough to be used again for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

The torches had to be lightweight because each runner would have to run about one kilometre with it. Each torch weighed just less than a kilogram, and was made in lightweight aluminium. The fuel was supplied in tablet forms, and inserted into the steel burner perforated with holes to protect the flame from strong winds. Each torch had to burn for at least 15 minutes.

The 1948 London games were the first to follow the Second World War. Much of London was still in ruins, and rationing was still in place. Known as ‘the austere games’, the Olympics that year were a low key affair. Athletes brought their own sandwiches to eat and the British team were instructed to make their own uniforms.

Physical description

Olympic torch, made of hiduminium, a high performance aluminium alloy with a steel burner perforated with holes. The Olympic rings are stamped on the holder, underneath which is written "Olympia to London with thanks to the bearer XIVth Olympiad 1948". The torch holder is bucket-shaped and is mounted on a cylindrical handle.

Place of Origin

London, England (designed)
Slough (city), England (made)

Date

1947 (designed and made)

Artist/maker

Lavers, Ralph, born 1907 - died 1969 (designer)
High Duty Alloys Ltd. (manufacturer)
Fuel Research Station (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Cast hiduminium and perforated steel

Marks and inscriptions

'Olympia to London with thanks to the bearer XIVth Olympiad 1948'

Dimensions

Weight: 0.8 kg, Height: 47 cm with burner, Diameter: 22.6 cm

Object history note

The British Olympic Committee wanted the torch to be ‘a good example of British craftsmanship’ and chose architect Ralph Lavers to design the holder. Practical considerations had to be taken into account, such as the weight (each person would have to run about 1 km with it), the length of time it had to be lit (about 15 minutes per torch) and expense, as over one and a half thousand torches had to be manufactured.

The torch is thought to have been used on the Belgium leg of the journey between Olympia and London.

Historical context note

The arrival of the flame at the opening ceremony signals the start of the Olympic Games.. The torches are carried by (and seen by) many people throughout numerous countries during the transfer of the flame. The bearers are usually amateur athletes, and are allowed to keep the torches they carried as a souvenir.
The 1948 London games were the first to follow the second world war. Much of London was still in ruins, and rationing was still in place. Known as ‘ the austere games’ , the Olympics that year were a low key affair compared to the preparations which will precede 2012. Athletes brought their own sandwiches to eat and the British team were instructed to make their own uniforms.

Descriptive line

Olympic torch, designed by Ralph Lavers in 1947 for the 1948 London Olympics.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad. Published by the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad London 1948. Currently available (April 2006) at: http://www.olympic-museum.de/o-reports/report1948.htm
"1948 Olympics," Flight: 90. 22 July 1948
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiduminium

Associated Events

1948 London Olympics

Production Note

Attribution note: 1728 torches were manufactured, this included spares for each leg of the Olympic flame relay and for promotional purposes in England. About 1688 torches were supplied to the various countries involved in the relay (this figure also includes spares). A minimum of 1531 torches were needed to complete the relay.

Materials

Steel; Hiduminium

Techniques

Casting

Subjects depicted

Olympic rings

Categories

Metalwork; Lighting; Sport; Olympics

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection code

MET

Qr_O123217
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