The Times (15/Oct/1883) - Royal Visit To Huddersfield

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


On Saturday, their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Albany arrived at Huddersfield from Otley, for the purpose of paying a visit to the Huddersfield Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, and opening Beaumont Park. Preparations were made to give their Royal Highnesses a loyal and hearty welcome. The Corporation granted £1,000 out of the corporate funds for decorations, and the inhabitants generally joined in the effort to make the visit an event worthy of the town. At the end of Boston Road an effectively arranged Norman arch, with tower and keep, was erected, and the public buildings, warehouses, and offices along the line of route taken by the Duke and Duchess were gaily decorated ; in fact, there was evidently a desire, on the occasion of this first visit of any of the members of the Royal family to Huddersfield, to show that the town was thoroughly loyal. Fortunately, the weather was fine in the early part of the day, and thousands of persons wended their way into the town, and with the inhabitants of the borough, crowded the streets through which their Royal Highnesses would pass. The first part of the proceedings consisted of the assembly of the guard of honour, consisting of Colonel Freeman, Captain Batley, two lieutenants, five sergeants, and 100 rank and file of the M Battalion West Riding (Huddersfield) Regiment of Volunteers ; and about the same time a procession of the members of the Borough Council was formed and proceeded to the Huddersfield Railway Station where Mr. Henry Frederick Beaumont, D.L., J.P., of Whitley Beaumont, and the visitors who are staying at Whitley Beaumont had already assembled.

At 10:36 precisely, the special Midland train with the Duke and Duchess and their suite, consisting of the Hon. Mrs. Bourke, Captain Perceval, and Mr. R.H. Collins, C.B., drew up alongside the platform, and the volunteer band played the National Anthem.

On the Duke and Duchess alighting from the train, they were received by the Mayor of Huddersfield (Alderman Brigg), and Mrs. Brigg presented a bouquet to the Duchess. Proceeding to the first-class refreshment room, their Royal Highnesses took up a position on a dais, which had been provided for the purpose. The Mayor of Huddersfield then expressed the gratification of the Corporation and the whole community at being honoured with a visit from their Royal Highnesses, and the Council in order to place on permanent record the expression of their loyalty and goodwill to the Royal house on this occasion had adopted an address of welcome which he hoped they would be pleased to accept.

Mr. J. Batley, the Town Clerk, presented an illuminated address on vellum, in the course of which, having warmly welcomed the Duke and Duchess, the Corporation said they desired to give expression to their grateful recognition of the warm interest which was taken by Her Majesty and the Royal family in the prosperity and welfare of the great industries of the country, in the first rank of which is the woollen doth manufacture, of which Huddersfield is the centre and chief seat.

The Duke of Albany read the following reply :—

Mr. Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the Borough of Huddersfield, on the Duchess of Albany's and on my own behalf I beg to thank both you and the inhabitants of Huddersfield for the kind terms of your address. I thank you also for your expressions of loyally to the Queen, and I can assure you that such tokens of attachment on the part of Her Majesty's subjects are highly valued by her. (Cheers.) Both the Duchess and I have looked forward with interest to visiting your town, for we are aware that it has won for itself a high reputation among the many important manufacturing centres in this part of England. (Cheers.) It will afford us great pleasure to visit the Technical School and the Industrial and Fine Arts Exhibition. (Cheers.) Such undertakings as these furnish sufficient proof of the vitality of the industries of Huddersfield, and of the determination of her leading citizens to neglect no legitimate means of raising the standard of taste and knowledge among all classes of their fellow-townsmen. (Cheers.) With no less gratification shall we assist at the ceremony of opening the park, the site of which has been so generously presented to you by Mr. Henry Beaumont. (Cheers.) The Duchess of Albany joins with me in the hope that the town of Huddersfield may continue to enjoy in the future that prosperity which has attended it for so many years. (Cheers.)

Shortly afterwards the Duke and Duchess, and the Mayor and Mayoress took their seats in the Mayor’s carriage, preceded and followed by a field officer's escort of the Yeomanry Cavalry, under the command of Sir Henry Edwards. As soon as the carriage emerged from the covered way in front of the station and their Royal Highnesses were recognized the cheering became enthusiastic. The procession moved from St. George's Square along John William Street, New Street, King Street, and Queen Street, which were all strongly barricaded and the traffic stopped during the Royal progress. Large crowds filled the spaces behind the barricades, and gave the Duke and Duchess a cordial greeting. At the building of the Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition a halt was made, and at the main entrance the Royal party was received by Colonel Brook, the president of the Huddersfield Technical School and Mechanics' Institute, who said that though it was not the opening of the exhibition it was the opening of what he hoped would be a great work of education. The late Prince Consort had been so much interested in the report of the proceedings of the Mechanics' Institute that he made them a handsome contribution. It was on that account that he felt the particular suitability of his Royal Highness being present on that occasion to visit the exhibition in connexion with that institution.

The Mayors of several towns, Mr. Horton (chairman the Clothworkers' Company), Sir Charles W. Sykes (the hon. treasurer of the Mechanics' Institute), the chairmen of the different departmental committees, the Bishop of Huron, Mr. E. A. Leatham, M.P., Sir George Armitage, of Kirklees, and others, were presented to the Duke. Then commenced the tour of inspection through the buildings, and the Duke's attention was drawn to the collection of Huddersfield goods, Ruskin's agates, the water-colour drawings, the collection of oil paintings, and the machinery, with which he seemed particularly pleased. On the way from the exhibition a halt was again made in Ramsden Street, where a children's choir, conducted by Mr. D.W. Evans, sang a number of selections of pieces, including "The Minstrel Boy" and the National Anthem. The Royal party then proceeded to the Town Hall, where they alighted, and were conducted to the Mayor's Room preparatory to the luncheon. This took place in the large hall, and was given by the Mayor in honour of his distinguished visitors. The hall had been appropriately decorated, and a special band and chorus occupied the orchestra. The Mayor of Huddersfield occupied the chair, having on his right the Duke of Albany and on his left the Duchess, and the other guests at the principal table included the Earl and Countess of Wharncliffe, Sir G. Wombwell, Mr. H.F. Beaumont. D.L., who was formerly one of the members for the southern division of the West Riding, Sir J.P. Lester Haye, Lady Radcliffe, Sir H. Edwards, Hon. Mrs. Milnes, Captain Perceval, the Hon. Mrs. Bourke, Hon. R. Milnes, Lady Julia Wombwell, Sir J.P.P. Radcliffe, Lady Lester Have, Mr. E.A. Leatham. M.P., Major-General Cameron, and others. The balcony and gallery were fully occupied by spectators admitted by special ticket. The decorations in the hall were exceedingly effective.

The Mayor proposed the "Health of the Queen," and said he need not assure their Royal Highnesses of the loyalty of the people of Huddersfield, for they had had that day ample evidence that the hearts of the people were in the right place, and that they loved the Royal Family.

The National Anthem was then sung by the special chorus, with organ accompaniment, the company taking part in the performance.

The Mayor proposed "The Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Albany, and the rest of the Royal Family," and it was enthusiastically honoured, the audience and chorus singing "God Bless the Prince of Wales.".

The Duke of Albany, on rising, was greeted with loud and long-continued cheering. He said :—

Mr. Mayor, my lords, ladies, and gentlemen, I beg to return you my most sincere thanks for the kind terms in which, you, Mr. Mayor, have proposed the health of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the other members of the Royal Family, and I thank the company present for the warm reception that they have given to the toast. If I may be allowed to speak on behalf of my brothers as well as myself, I would simply say that we are alike animated by a desire to promote the best interests of our country (cheers), and we are always ready to join, as often as it is possible for us to do so, in any enterprise which has this object in view. (Cheers.) I can assure you, too, that such a welcome as the Duchess of Albany and I have received this morning at the hands of the people of Huddersfield forms a reward, the value of which it is impossible to overestimate. (Loud cheers.) For the kind allusions, Mr. Mayor, you have made to mo personally I can but feel very grateful. Upon this, too, I may congratulate myself, that the Duchess and I have been enabled now to accept your twice-repeated invitation. (Cheers.) While I thus personally express, both to you, Mr. Mayor, and also to those who so kindly joined with you in inviting me here, the great regret which I feel at being unable to be present at the opening of the Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, the enthusiasm attending that ceremony — which was so ably performed by the Duke of Somerset, and the remembrance of which, I feel sure, will linger in the memories of the inhabitants of Huddersfield — fairly demonstrates the importance of the occasion (Cheers.) It must not, however, be supposed by those who may be unacquainted with the high position Huddersfield occupies in connexion with the great woollen Industries that she is now for the first time awakened to a sense of the importance of affording high-class instruction to her labourers and artisans. I have been deeply interested to learn that so long ago as the year 1855 my father's attention was drawn to the existence here of a mechanics' institute, and that he was so struck by its merits that he voluntarily sent a contribution in aid of its funds. The new technical school may be described as a development of this institution (hear, hear), and the continued success of the one is a sufficient guarantee that the people of Huddersfield will not be slow to avail themselves of further improvements in the machinery of education. (Cheers.) It has been well said that if we must succeed we must struggle, nor is it any longer doubtful, as each succeeding year rolls by, that the area is increasing in which the struggle for success in industrial arts is carried on. As a consequence also, this widening of the area of competition, the conditions of the conflict have become entirely changed, and weapons once formerly used have become useless, and have fallen out of date. No sooner was this fact recognized in this country than a widespread demand arose, for technical education, and of such character as might enable the British workman to compete successfully with his foreign rivals. (Loud cheers.) This call was worthily responded to, and individuals whose scientific studies and whose natural gifts of intellect fitted them for being the organizers of, and teachers in the new technical schools came forward to offer their valuable services, while, too, many of the ancient guilds and city companies throughout the land — as, for example, the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers (cheers) — have hastened to acknowledge that for such purposes as this a most legitimate demand might be made upon the large funds at their disposal. (Cheers.) We may say this, that owing to such enterprises as the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institution and the new technical school, we need no longer fear being told that though the English can produce manufactures for the masses it is only on the Continent that the more delicate and decorative of work can be produced. (Cheers.) Before leaving this subject I should like to congratulate those who have originated and brought to a successful issue the scheme of a Fine Arts and Industrial Exhibition. The Duchess and I have been greatly interested by our visit to the exhibition this morning, and I am convinced that such displays cannot but be beneficial to all such as prepare them. I strongly advise all who are interested in the trade and in the prosperity of Huddersfield, and who have not already visited the exhibition, to go there at once, and make a careful examination of what they will find (Cheers.) There is no doubt much pleasure and profit to be derived from the technical study of the arts and sciences, and it would not be easy to overrate the advantages, particularly to men whose minds have been to a certain extent instructed in those matters, of seeing with their own eyes the practical development of the principles and theories which may have been taught in the lecture-room. I understand that the hope has been expressed in influential quarters that the space now occupied by the machinery shed of the exhibition may be made here after, available as a permanent Natural History and Industrial Museum. It is impossible not to sympathize with such an object, and one cannot but honour those who are ready with their material help to farther this scheme. But of course it is one which will require the serious and careful consideration of those who will be hereafter responsible for the maintenance of the museum in a manner not unworthy of this town. (Hear, hear.) Ladies and gentlemen, before I sit down I wish to acquit myself of a duty which has been entrusted to me, and which I need not say I have accepted with the greatest pleasure — it is to propose the health of the Mayor and Corporation of the Borough of Huddersfield. I shall not attempt in the Mayor's presence to give utterance to all those flattering references which I heard made to him, but I should be ungrateful indeed if I did not express on the Duchess's behalf, and on my own, a warm appreciation of all the pains he has been at to enhance the pleasure and comfort of our visit here today. Indeed I can conceive of few positions which, a man may be more justly proud than that which Alderman Brigg now occupies. A Huddersfield man born and bred (cheers) he has, by his own honourable exertions, placed himself in such a position that he has been able, to stand godfather, I might almost say, to all the public and philanthropic enterprises in this noble town and he has so endeared himself to his fellow citizens that he has been called upon three times to hold the responsible office which he now so worthily fills. (Cheers.) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "The Health of the Mayor and Corporation of the Borough of Huddersfield." (Loud cheers).

The toast having been duly honoured, The Mayor of Huddersfield briefly replied and said he hoped they had not failed in their endeavours to make Huddersfield worthy of a visit by Royalty.

Colonel Brooke proposed "The Houses of Parliament," and said that those Houses, while they ruled us, at the same time served us and performed for us services for which we could never be sufficiently grateful.

The Earl of Wharncliffe, in reply, said the House of Lords was not to blame for all the delay with which the Legislative body as a whole was changed, because it was not that House which decided when measures should be brought up.

Mr. E.A. Leatham, M.P., also responded, and said he believed that the House of Commons, in spite of the efforts of some mal-contents within its walls, still enjoyed the entire confidence of the people, not perhaps less because of late it had had to represent not only the constituencies, but, in the presence Of hidden danger, some of their British pluck as well. With regard to the event of the day, he said they sometimes heard of one political party claiming for itself the possession of a peculiar loyalty, but he fought he might, speaking from a long experience, say, that Huddersfield at all events, in loyalty to the throne of England, and devotion to the Royal Family, knew no party and feared no foe. (Cheers.)

Without proposing a formal toast the Mayor referred to the spontaneity with which Mr. H.F. Beaumont had given to Huddersfield a site for a public park, which she town had now partially formed, and in reply, Mr. Beaumont said he had long been of opinion that property had its duties as well as its privileges, but the question had been with him, what were the duties? Of this he was certain, that it was not the duty of a landlord to live for himself alone, but to the best of his ability to promote the interests of those around him. (Cheers.) That had been the desire which had animated him in giving to the town the site of a park, where the people might have the opportunity of breathing a pure atmosphere, and of enjoying the pleasures which the natural beauty of the situation afforded.

The proceedings at the luncheon then terminated.

While luncheon was in progress, a procession was being formed of the trades societies, ancient orders, temperance societies, and trade exhibits, together with members of the Town Council and the various public bodies and the general public, and about 3 o'clock it moved off from the Town Hall, along Buxton Road, Chapel Hill, and the suburbs to Beaumont Park, the site of which Mr. Beaumont has given. The site is 21 acres in extent, and under the care of Mr. R.S. Dugdale, C.E., the borough engineer, it has been admirably laid out with a large lake, a smaller lake, grottoes, and ornamental walks. The works so far have cost the sum of £20,000, but as the park is only about half completed a considerable sum will yet have to be spent upon it. On arriving at the principal entrance gate the Duke of Albany was presented with a gold key, manufactured by Messrs. Barnett and Scott, of Hull, and the Royal party were conducted by the Mayor to the other end of the park, near which a tent had been erected. The decorations here, it may be remarked, were very effective.

The Duke of Albany then spoke as follows :—

Ladies, and gentlemen, in the cordial address of welcome which awaited us on our arrival at Huddersfield this morning the Mayor called attention to the fact that one — and I may almost say the principal — object of our visit here was to open and formally hand over to the people of Huddersfield the park m which we are now assembled. I rejoice to find that I shall perform this pleasing duty in the presence of so many thousands of the inhabitants of this populous town (cheers), and that Huddersfield testifies to-day in a most unmistakeable manner both to her appreciation of the gift which is about to be bestowed upon her and to her gratitude towards the generous donor. (Hear, hear.) I will venture to say, ladies and gentlemen, that there is scarcely a person among this vast assemblage who does not at this moment envy the feelings which must arise in the mind of Mr. Beaumont. For to him has been given not only a generous inclination to devise schemes for adding to the sum of human happiness, coupled with the power of giving a practical effect to such philanthropic desires, but he has also been granted the supreme pleasure of witnessing with his own eyes the realization of his projects. (Loud cheers.) There are many ways which those who have the means at their disposal may select for the purpose of improving and brightening the lot of their fellow-creatures ; and Englishmen can point with just pride to a long list of names which will be inseparably bound up with the monuments, more durable than brass, of a wise and patriotic generosity. Conspicuous among those names will always be that of one whom Yorkshiremen will not readily forget that of my friend the late Mr. Mark Firth. (Cheers.) I well remember, after performing the ceremony of opening the college which he founded, driving with him through the park which had been presented by him to the town of Sheffield, and I could readily enter into the high and complete pleasure with which he regarded the scene around him. Such pleasures as this are in store for Mr. Beaumont and his successors. (Cheers.) I need not attempt to describe them to him or to you, for in the accounts I have been reading of the ceremony which took place here three years ago, when Mr. Beaumont cut the first sod of the future park, Mr. Beaumont most graphically contrasted the lot of those for whom there was no escape from the crowded town with that of those more fortunate beings to whom the pure pleasures of fresh air and natural scenery, boons so priceless to the inhabitants of manufacturing towns, were not denied. (Hear, hear.) In a recent speech of my brother-in-law, the Governor-General of Canada, on the occasion of a visit to those distant parts of the Dominion which are now becoming so rapidly populated, he strongly recommended the fencing off of large open spaces to serve as recreation grounds as a preliminary step on the formation of new townships. In this manner not only is that spot appropriated which is marked out for the purpose by its natural advantages, but its position is secured near the centre of a town where it will do easily accessible to these for whose use it is intended. (Cheers.) It is needless to say that the time has long gone by when such spots can be obtained in the large towns in this country. But the slight disadvantages arising from a park being a little distance from the town, as Beaumont Park is, for example, can easily be minimized, or in some cases even turned to good account. They can be minimized by the neighbouring railway companies running lines to the park and planting stations in its vicinity, and this, I sincerely hope, will soon be done here — a mutual benefit both to the railway companies and to those who will use the railway. (Hear, hear) Or, on the other band, where there is available building land in the vicinity of the park, improved workmen's dwellings can be erected on it. This latter plan has been adopted with great benefit to the working classes, and has been stamped with the approval of Lord Shaftesbury, one group of buildings having been erected at the park which bears his honoured name. Before formally declaring the park open, I would ask leave to congratulate Mr. Dugdale on the taste and skill with which he has adapted the natural beauties of the situation to the purposes to which the ground is henceforth to be devoted ; and, finally, I will call upon all here present to join with me in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont many years of life and health that they may be enabled to witness, in the increased health and prosperity of the town of Huddersfield, the fruits of their good deed. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Mayor, I now beg to declare this park open to the people of Huddersfield. (Loud cheering.)

Mr. H.F. Beaumont, the donor of the park, at the request of the Mayor, gave an address, and was heartily received. He expressed his regret that the park was not in the centre of the town, and that he had not 1,000 acres from which he might have given the people 50 instead of a paltry 21. However, such as he had he gave to them, and he hoped that those who entered the park in the future would never have cause to regret it or think otherwise than pleasantly of its donor.

Mr. Alderman Walker, who was Mayor when the first sod was turned by Mrs. Beaumont, and Mr. Alderman R. Hurst, the chairman of the Park Committee, gave congratulatory addresses.

The Royal visitors and party then proceeded to another portion of the park, where the Mayor presented a silver spade to the Duchess, who performed the interesting ceremony of planting a sycamore tree.

The Mayor having thanked her Royal Highness, the proceedings terminated. The carriages were re-entered, the procession re-formed, and returned by another route to Huddersfield. From the square the Royal party, with Mr. Beaumont and family and guests, and escorted by the Yeomanry Cavalry, drove to Whitley Beaumont, where a dinner party was given, and a reception held in the evening.

Some of the public buildings, the triumphal arch, and several private establishments in the town were brilliantly illuminated in the evening.

Yesterday morning, the Duke of Albany, accompanied by his suite and the members of the family of Mr. Beaumont at Whitley Beaumont, and the visitors at the house, attended Divine service at Kirkheaton Church, one of the oldest churches in the district, and occupied the Beaumont chapel. The church was filled, but not inconveniently so, and outside a large crowd had collected to view the arrival and departure of the Prince. The vicar, the Rev. R.S. Maddox, preached. Sunday though it was, the crowd outside the church heartily cheered his Royal Highness on his departure.

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