Burnley Civic Trust Heritage Image Collection

Visit of His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor 13 October 1886

Opening of Burnley and District Victoria Hospital


Prince Albert, known a Eddy, was Queen Victoria's eldest grandson and expect to become king after his father Prince Edward later King Edward VII.

Prince Albert was born in 1864 (aged 26 when he visited Burnley) and died of influenza in January 1892 a week after his 28th birthday.


Burnley Express – Saturday 9 October 1886


Wednesday next will be a great day in the history of the Borough on the Brun. From Wycollar to Whalley, from the gorge of Cliviger to the villages which nestle under the shadow of old Pendle, the people, young and old, will troop into Burnley to take part in the proceeding connected with the opening of the Victoria Hospital, and to give a welcome to the grandson of their Queen.

We, whose good fortune it is to live in the reign of Queen Victoria, have become accustomed to the association of royalty with works of beneficence and charity. Whenever any calamity befalls any considerable number of her people, the Queen is the first to express sympathy with the sufferers, not in the insincere method of common conventionalism, but by messages full of kindness, accompanied by tangible tokens of her interest.

While the name of the Prince Consort is connected with efforts to encourage the study of fine arts, that the Queen will ever be associated in the minds of her subjects with the charities established to soothe and heal and bless, those on whom the hand of affliction has been laid. The very name of our hospital, given by express consent of Her Majesty, will ever remind us and our children of this fact. It strikes us therefore as singularly felicitous, that on the first visit of royal personage to our town, the occasion should be the inauguration of a hospital for the poor of Burnley and district.

There is one cause which enlists the sympathies and touches the hearts of all, at all times, and that is loyalty to the Queen. The visit of Prince Albert Victor will tend to call out and to strengthen this feeling, and we know that next week will rise up from a hundred-thousand Lancashire hearts, the fervent aspiration - "God bless our future King."


Burnley Express Saturday 16 October 1886

Coloured by Edward Walton BCT

HRH Prince Albert

Prince Albert Victor, whose portrait constitutes the centre-piece of the presentation plate, is the eldest son of the Price of Wales, and has therefore the second reversion to the throne.

Commanding in presence, yet affable in manner, he has gained the admiration and respect for the inhabitants of the districts hitherto visited by him, and it is not too much to say that his courteous bearing, his readiness to do everything in his power to promote the success of the Hospital, and his happy speeches have won for him the regard of the inhabitants of the town and district who were privileged to see and hear him on Wednesday last.

After receiving part of his education, the Prince, along with his brother, Prince George, of Wales, had a cruise lasting from 15 July 1879 to 16 August 1882. During this time Mr. William Booth of Whittlefield had the honour of sailing in the 'Bacchante' with the Royal Princes. He described both Princes as exceedingly affable, Prince George being very popular with th bluejackets, with whom the was in the habit of 'spinning yarns'. Both were efficient in their respective duties, and attended to them as diligently as any of the ship's crew. In has opinion Prince George was as good a midshipman as could be found on the vessel. Both their Royal Highnesses were tattooed at Yokahama, in Japan, their left arms being decorated with the design of a scorpion with its stings out.

Besides the Prince on the 'Plate' above are:

Colonel Thursby who donated the site and contributed to the building and maintenance funds. After various commands including the East Lancashire Regiment and later their Honorary Colonel was the Prince's host for the visit.

Mr. John Butterworth, J.P. - Chairman of the Hospital Committee.

Alderman George Keighley - The Mayor of Burnley.

Mr. Joshua Rawlinson - Secretary to the Hospital Committee.

{Note an extensive account of the four gentlemen named above is given in this edition of the Burnley Express along with a detailed description of the Decoration in the Town}.


The Hospital

The Necessity for a hospital has long been felt, and two or three unsuccessful attempts had been made to found such an institution during previous 25 years. It was not, however, until after a meeting held in Carlton road School on 26 October 1882, and convened by the Rev. RH Giles, to consider the advisability of establishing a cottage hospital for the parish of St. Matthew that the movement took a definite form. It was here mentioned that the proposals to found a general hospital had not met with a ready response, but Dr. brown, a gentleman who has since worked with indefatigable zeal in promoting the good work, suggested that another attempt should be made to establish a hospital for the town and district.

A definite step was immediately taken by the passing of a resolution that a hospital to contain at least 30 beds should be built at a cost of 10,000 pounds. Finding that in other districts similar institutions had been established by the aid of public generosity, circulars were sent to the workpeople of the town and district soliciting their aid in this great work, and it is gratifying to learn that in no district has the response been more liberal than among the working classes of Burnley and the vicinity. The final cost of the building was about 15,000 pounds. There were aditional costs when fitting it out.

When, at the laying of the foundation-stone of the Hospital, by Colonel Thursby on 24 May 1884 Alderman Altham, J.P., announced that in all probability an effort would be made to induce a representative of Royalty to be present at the opening ceremony, few among the thousands by whom his works were lustily cheered, anticipated that his desire would be gratified.

The request to the Secretary of State explained:
1. "That the Victoria Hospital is being erected to supply hospital accommodation for Burnley and district, comprising a population of over 120,000 persons. The working-class population of the district are mostly employed in mills, collieries, ironworks, workshops and other occupations of a somewhat dangerous character, and district is therefore greatly in need of hospital accommodation, of which it is now totally destitiute."
2. "The funds for the hospital have been raised by subscriptions, and sum already received by the treasurer exceeds 17,000 pounds (eventually 21,000 pounds). The most remarkable feature of the subscriptions is that 4,500 pounds has been contributed by the working classes by means of weekly and monthly collections made at their various mills and workshops". {Note: all these contributions and work places are itemised in this edition of the Burnley Express}


Arrival of the Prince

The people began to assemble early on Tuesday evening, and by nine o'clock the streets were crowded. Shortly after the mounted police and upwards of 400 constables patrolled the thoroughfares and cleared the barriers. Meanwhile, in awaiting the arrival of his Royal Highness, the crowd took up their positions. Those for which nothing was to be paid had been taken long before, but the stands, erected on various sites along the route, were almost deserted until an hour before he timed to arrive. The race for the free seats was amusing. Even females did not object to climbing and were roughly pushed and pulled by their friends. So it was that the stands came in for later attention, and the apprehension of a few that were too many for the occasion proved to have been a mistaken one. The occupants of the stands were of a mixed character. There were many gaily dressed ladies and children notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, but the same all-prevading spirit of patience seemed to be over them all. The members of the headquarter companies of the 3rd L.R.V. paraded at the Drill-room at 10 o'clock and headed by their band, under Bandmaster Ford, they marched to Manchester road Station at half past. Here 100 men took up their positions on the platform to form a guard of honour. On the down platform sentries were posted, and the band located near to the booking hall, discoursed sweet music in the interval.

Special attention had been paid to the hall, for it was neatly draped, and crimson cloth was laid on the floor, while a number of ferns and hothouse plants from Ormerod House were artistically arrayed. Nearly three hundred of our local citizen soldiers were drawn up in semi-circular line in the station yard. Half a dozen mounted police were drawn up in the yard, and there was also a number of constables on duty.

By eleven o'clock everyone began to get impatient at the station, as the special train had not then left Preston, but at 11.12 it was wired the Scotch express had arrived at that time, being 42 minutes late. Special precautions were taken at Burnley in order to keep the station approaches clear; men being stationed at intervals along the line between the station and the junction at Rosegrove to prevent people from getting on the line.

A special train ran from Preston containing his Royal highness, and it travelled via Blackburn and Padiham, arriving in Burnley at 11.40, amidst a tremendous cheer from the spectators around the Borough Hotel. As the train steamed into the station, the volunteers, who had previously been placed in position, received orders to present arms, which was attended by the band playing the national Anthem, civilians remaining with their heads uncovered.

As the Prince entered the open landau of Colonel Thursby the cheering in the yard and the adjoining streets was most vociferous, and rockets were fired. All were on the tiptoe of expectation, and as two policemen mounted on grey chargers passed into Manchester Road it was a indication that the Prince and party were following. Pavements and much of the roadway as public barriers would permit were covered for most of the distance with a multitude of people - men, women and children, whose eager expectancy was at length gratified by the actual sight of the probable future King of England. To the rear of the Royal carriage were four mounted policemen, while the carriages containing the reception committee immediately followed. The scene on looking down Manchester Road was really a brilliant one when the electric light was put on, and it made a most striking picture. As the party drove quietly down the hill the enthusiasm became greater and greater, and from all quarters windows, window sills and lamp posts were posted loyal and patriotic Englishmen who cheered most lustily. When the party neared the triumphant arch the scene was simply exquisite as the electric orb cast a most pleasing light upon the decorations. In fact all along the route the effect of this illuminating power was greatly admired by all. Near to th Bull corner the number of persons congregated must have been some thousands, and the Royal Prince could not have met with a more brilliant reception than he did at this junction. The hurrahing was loud and continuous, whilst hats and handkerchiefs were waved in a manner which gave undoubted indication of the loyalty and enthusiasm of the Burnley people.

His Royal highness gracefully bowed in acknowledgement of these proofs of esteem. The people rent the air with their shouts, and a perfect forest of cambric and felt was elevated above their heads. Passing along Church street, and the remainder of the journey there was large crowds of denizens and anything but a luke-warm reception was accorded him on the whole of the way to Ormerod House. After the royal party passed through the town, the volunteers and a detachment of police marched through the streets, the band of the Burnley companies and the bugle and drum playing alternately. The volunteers were taken to the drill hall and dismissed, the band playing the National Anthem. The streets were paraded for some time afterwards by a large concourse of spectators but they gradually dispersed. A rather exciting incident occurred shortly after the royal visitor had passed down Manchester road. The triumphal arch near the Mechanics' Institute, caught fire from one of the Venetian lights in the central span, and the covering of the framework was soon ignited. It was feared that the flames would spread over the whole structure, but a number of men immediately ascended the arch and tore off the burning material, and the fire was extinguished without any serious damage.

Continued as Part 2