Royal Celebrations, 20 June 1897
by Carol Powell M.A.
'I have reigned one day longer than George III
or any previous sovereign'.
Queen Victoria's diary entry,
23 September 1896
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 20 June 1897
The longest serving monarchs in Britain were
Henry III, 56 years; Edward III, 50 years and George III, 59years
In 1897, my grandparents were all young children when they joined in one of the many diamond jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria. This year when we celebrate another, my great-grandson will be of an age when he will remember the occasion and will hopefully pass on his memories of that time to his descendants.
One hundred and fifteen years ago in June, our predecessors were enjoying another Diamond Jubilee — that of Queen Victoria, the longest reigning monarch to date and our Queen's Great-great-grandmother. In common with cities, towns and villages the length and breadth of Britian and abroad, Mumbles spent a memorable day.
On 25 May 1897, The Finance Committee of the Oystermouth Urban District Council had met and decided to allocate £45 which, with a grant of 6d per child to the schools, would give 'a tea and the distribution of Jubilee medals, brooches or suspenders, to local school children under fourteen years of age' on Jubilee day. After tea, at their various schools, the children would meet near the Castleton Schools and form a procession to march, accompanied by the Mumbles Brass band, 'to Mr. Collins's field' at Langland, which he had kindly offered 'for the recreation of the children on the day.' The band would be paid £5..10s and 'all persons (73 in total) in receipt of parish relief should receive 2/-.' It all went off well as planned on the day.
As a lasting commemoration and a 'fitting scheme,' to the occasion, it was proposed to take part in a nationwide campaign by the Duke of Wellington in his quest for District Nurses for town and country, to institute a Queen's Nurse for the locality 'to extend to its poorer inhabitants the benefits of a sick nurse, who hitherto has been the luxury of the rich.' Florence Nightingale, in her recent letter of support for the campaign had written that 'We look upon the district nurse, if she is what she should be . . . and if we give her the training she should have. . . to be the great civilizer of the poor, training as well as nursing them out of ill-health. . . without preaching or patronising.' The South Wales Daily Post wished 'good speed' to the Mumbles Folk in their endeavour.
This was twenty years before Nurse Lloyd, Mumbles' first properly trained Midwife was to open her Mother-and-Baby clinic in her home at 3, Myrtle Terrace, with the aid of a grant from the Oystermouth UDC.
Now in June 2012, with miles of bunting, flags and balloons galore, beautifully decorated shop, pub and restaurant windows and lawns mowed, Mumbles has geared up for another splendid time of celebrations.
On Wednesday 30th May, Grange, which had opened in Coronation year, held a triple celebration to mark its 60th birthday, the Diamond Julbiee and Britian's hosting of the Olympic Games. Several of us 'old' pupils attended and were treated to a guided tour around our old 'stamping grounds' by today's pupils, followed by a concert, plus tea and cakes. Present-day pupils then had a festive lunch outside on the school yard.
Ysgol Llwynderw, Mayals, Oystermouth, Whitestone and Newton Schools all celebrated with their own parties.
Sunday 3rd June was the day ear-marked for a street party in Victoria Avenue in the heart of the village with over one hundred people expected to attend. Many months of organization by a band of willing helpers had gone into preparation for the big day. The weather was drizzly as it had been on Coronation Day itself, nevertheless the party went with a swing, the worst of the weather keeping away during the four hours of the party. Mr. Banfield had given his permission for all the cars on the avenue to be moved onto his land, enabling there to be a car-free street for the festivites. Chairs and trestle tables were borrowed from Oystermouth school and were loaded with plentiful supplies of sausages, saugage rolls, pasties, cakes, sandwiches, crisps and soft drinks, One of the residents, Bertie, made an iced cake where each slice was coloured red, white and blue and Maureen Cottey baked a 'Union Flag' cake.
Victoria Avenue Jubilee Party
Victoria Avenue Diamond Jubilee Street Party
Everyone contributed either with food or cash, which went towards the cost of the party as well as providing a donation towards Mr. Banfield's Care Home fund and raised £175 for the Oystermouth School playground fund.
For entertainment, a clown came from the local firm, 'Plastic Sam' who also allowed all the children to use his hoola hoops and miniature bicycles to play on afterwards. Beforehand, there had been a colouring competition for the children for which all taking part received a prize presented by Mrs. Jean Buckland.
It was a wonderful occasion which brought together neighbours who perhaps, had not met before but left as friends- a true community project.
Woodlands Terrace was the venue for another street party.
On Monday June 3rd, a Diamond Jubilee Fair was held at Picket Mead Green in Newton and another with an evening concert was held in front of the magnificent back-drop of the newly-renovated Oystermouth Castle. The turn-out was so good that many people could not get in. The evening culminated in the lighting of one of the many beacons around the UK, atop the castle battlements and was rounded off with a splendid firework display on the end of Mumbles Pier.
Oystermouth UDC Finance Committee Minutes, 29 May 1897
South Wales Daily Post, 7 May 1897
Victorian photos from OHA Archives
2012 Photos: from Kate Jones, John Powell