The Observer (14/Oct/1883) – Royal Visit to Huddersfield

The following account of the opening of Beaumont Park was OCR’d from the original Observer article and may contain small errors (please leave a comment if you spot any!)

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Huddersfield, Saturday Night.

The Duke and Duchess of Albany visited Huddersfield today for the double purpose of inspecting the Fine Art Exhibition and opening Beaumont Park. The Royal party arrived from Farnley Hall, Otley, at Huddersfield Railway Station at half-past ten o’clock, and they were received by the Mayor and Town Council, who presented them with the following address, which was read by the Town Clerk :—

Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Albany. May it please your Royal Highnesses. We, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the Borough of Huddersfield desire on behalf of all classes of the inhabitants to approach your Highnesses, on the occasion of your honouring the borough with a visit, with assurances of a most cordial and loyal welcome. In welcoming your Royal Highnesses, we not only desire to express our loyalty and attachment to Her Majesty the Queen and her illustrious House, but also to give expression, however inadequately, to our grateful recognition of the warm interest which is taken by Her Majesty and the Royal Family in the prosperity and welfare of the industries of the country, in the first rank of which is the woollen-cloth manufacture, of which Huddersfield is the centre and chief seat. The presence of your Royal Highnesses in our town today is associated with two public objects of great interest and importance to the inhabitants. One is the establishment in connection with the Mechanics’ Institute of a technical school to aid in developing and perfecting, by means of technical instruction to the young, the taste and skill of all those engaged in the various processes and forms of local woollen industry. The other object of the visit of your Royal Highnesses is the opening for public use of a new park, called the Beaumont Park, the site of which has been generously presented to the town by Mr. Henry Frederick Beaumont, of Whitley Beaumont. The Beaumont Park not only presents great elements of beauty in its conformation, and the extensive view which it commands, but will afford space for physical recreation in the fresh pure air so necessary and so grateful to those whose daily hours are spent in arduous toil, often in confined or crowded space and in a vitiated atmosphere. We respectfully ask that your Royal Highnesses will open this park, and that her Royal Highness the Duchess of Albany will be graciously pleased to plant a tree within the park in commemoration of this auspicious occasion. Given under the corporate common seal of the borough this 13th day of October, a.d. 1883. John Fligg Brigg, Mayor ; Joseph Batley, Town Clerk.

His Royal Highness in reply said :—

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 expression of loyalty 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 [applause]. 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 amongst many important manufacturing centres in this port of England [cheers]. It will afford us great pleasure to visit the technical school, and the Industrial and Fine Art 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 [applause]. 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 past years.

A procession was then formed, and their Royal Highnesses, escorted by a regiment of West Yorkshire Yeomanry and accompanied by a large number of the principal residents and officials, proceeded to the Fine Art Exhibition, where they were received by Colonel Brooke, the president, and the committee, and were shown over the building. The Duchess accepted a magnificent Oriental shawl, manufactured by Messrs. Norton Brothers and Co., as a specimen of local manufacture and souvenir of the visit. Both their Royal Highnesses were deeply interested in the machinery and other departments, and asked several questions about various exhibits. Subsequently they proceeded to the Town Hall, where they were entertained at luncheon by the Mayor. A large number of guests had been invited.

The Mayor proposed the loyal toasts, and the Duke of Albany in responding asked to be allowed to state, on behalf of himself and his brothers, that they were all animated by a desire to promote the best interests of the country. After assuring them that they heartily wished success to such enterprises as Huddersfield had embarked in, his Royal Highness expressed regret at not being able to visit that town before, and acknowledged the enthusiastic welcome which he and the Duchess had received. To those who did not know the position which Huddersfield occupied in connection with the woollen industry he would say that this was not the first time the town had awakened to a sense of the importance of affording high class instruction to her artisans. He had been deeply interested in learning that so long ago as 1855 his father’s attention was drawn to the existence at Huddersfield of the Mechanics’ Institute, and was so struck with the merits of the work that he voluntarily sent a contribution to its funds. The technical school at Huddersfield might be described as a development of its Mechanics’ Institute, and the continued success of the one was sufficient guarantee that the people of Huddersfield would not be slow to avail themselves of further improvement in the machinery of education. It had been well said that if we would succeed we must struggle. England had now to face foreign competition, but with her workmen better educated they need not fear to stand the test. Scientific education had made greater advances of late years, and had been considerably helped by the ancient guilds of London — such as, for example, the Worshipful Company of Cloth workers, who had hastened to acknowledge that for such purposes almost legitimate demands might be made upon the funds at their disposal. While Huddersfield and other towns were making such advances in education it could no longer be said that delicate and decorative work could not be produced in England. He congratulated the town upon the success of the Exhibition, and referred in terms of approval to the movement for making part of the present Exhibition into a permanent museum.

Lord Wharncliffe, in reply to the toast of the House of Lords, spoke in terms of high appreciation of the efforts of the Duke of Albany on behalf of the public welfare.

Mr. E.A. Leatham, M.P., responded for the House of Commons.

A large procession of friendly societies, trades, &c., accompanied the Duke and Duchess to Beaumont. There were several triumphal arches, and very extensive decorations on the line of route. The Mayor presented the Duck with a gold key and his Royal Highness formally declared the park open. He dwelt upon the importance of parks to large communities, and referred to the fact that the land was a gift to the town. There were many ways in which those who had means at their disposal might select for brightening and improving the lot of their fellow country-men, and England could point with just pride to the long list of names which would be inseparably bound up with improvements — monuments, more durable than brass, of wise and patriotic generosity.

The Duchess of Albany then planted a tree, and the Royal party afterwards drove to Beaumont, where a number of guests had been asked to meet them at dinner.

The town is illuminated tonight, and rejoicings at the first visit of Royalty are prevalent. On Monday the Duke will be presented with an address by the Freemasons, and will afterwards be entertained by them at luncheon.