The Design History behind the official Commonwealth Programmes (1930, 1934)

Commonwealth Games 2014 - Glasgow-

Commonwealth Games 2014 – Glasgow

The Commonwealth Games is an international sporting event and occurs every four years. It is the third biggest sporting event after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games.

Throughout the years, The Commonwealth Games as we have known it since 1978, has evolved through a range of identities. Throughout the 1930s to the early 1950s, it was known as the British Empire Games before rebranding to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954. The event was rebranded again in 1970 to the British Commonwealth Games, an identity that only lasted 2 occurrences of the games.

The Commonwealth Games sees athletes from around the Commonwealth – a group of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire compete in a range of sports, hosted in cities selected by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

When the Scottish city of Glasgow hosts the games in 2014, eighteen cities in seven countries will have hosted the event.

Elanders UK takes a look at the history and design evolution of the official Commonwealth programmes.



The 1930 programme was designed for the first British Empire Games that were held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from August 16th until August 23rd. The opening ceremony, which included Governor General of Canada, Lord Willingdon, officially opening the games in addition to the closing ceremony and many of the events were held at the Civic stadium. Aquatic events were held at the Jimmy Thompson Memoria Pool. 1930 programme

The 1930 programme was produced in both colour and black and white with different front covers used on each. However, the black and white version of the programme is the smaller of the two and was on sale for 10 cents (10¢). Both programmes used the same typeface; with the only variants is the size of the font itself. The front covers of the programmes were slightly different, with a large image of an athlete along with the Union Jack present on the colour version whereas a guard appears on the front cover of the black and white version, complemented with the Union Jack flag and an athlete about to start a race.



The 1934 programme is from the second British Empire Games that were held in London, England. Athletic events were held at the White City stadium with boxing, wresting and aquatics held at the Empire Pool and Arena, Wembley. Cycling events were held in Manchester. The programme for the 1934 games shows a variety of iconic symbols that show the event was being held in England. The Union Jack is in the background and the lion present symbolises the “three lions”, an emblem of the England national team and forms a popular chant heard at many international games when England are playing.

Keep watching this space for more on Design History behind the official Commonwealth Programmes.

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