Torch thumbnail 1
Torch thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Torch

1947 (designed and made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Torch
  • Burner for Olympic Torch
Materials and Techniques
Cast hiduminium and perforated steel
Brief Description
Olympic torch, designed by Ralph Lavers in 1947 for the 1948 London Olympics.
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.
Dimensions
  • Weight: 0.8kg
  • With burner height: 47cm
  • Diameter: 22.6cm
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
'Olympia to London with thanks to the bearer XIVth Olympiad 1948'
Object history
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
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.
Production
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.
Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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
Collection
Accession Number
M.3:1, 2-2006

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record createdApril 21, 2006
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